Tri for Ole Glory.
July 4th, 2013. 200 meter swim, 8 mile mountain bike, and 3 mile run.
Let it be known, I am not a Mountain Biker. I own a mountain bike, and that is as far as it goes. It’s limited to neighborhood rides with the kids and family strolls on the local greenways. I approached this race as something different and expecting that much of the faster triathletes would be elsewhere. Thus giving me a small opportunity to podium in my age group.
I spent some time in the weeks leading up to the race practicing on the bike course (remember “not a mountain biker”). Using my pre-98 model 26-inch Trek 800 was a great workout. I got in about 5 laps around the course on it and was rewarded with 3 flats. Just a few days before the race a friend offered his 29-incher equipped with Stan’s NoTubes. This was a significant "technological" improvement and (could be psychological) made the course much easier from both an exertion and technical perspective.
Race day arrived with the forecast of 90% chance of rain. It did not disappoint. I arrived early and admired the brain trust of Rick Greif and Mike Gerrity as they laid out the transition flow. Then I got to watch Rick graffiti the parking lot with arrows….hmmm, I'm thinking he may have done this before--in places not associated with triathlons. I was the first racer there, so I got the primo rack location, even though the transition area was very small. I met up with a friend that was doing the race as his first ever triathlon. We enjoyed the scenery filled with nostalgic military aircraft while contemplating what type of carnage might result from the host of rookie/amateur mountain bikers on the new and muddy course. One of the aircraft on display, I actually flew during my days as a helicopter pilot. No, I’m not that old, but the UH-1 has been around a loooong time.
The race was a wave swim start by age group. We moved out onto the platform for the start and waited for the horn. I, apparently, was still waiting when the horn blew, and off the platform I went, with my goggles still on my forehead. I attempted to remedy this mid-air as, I entered the water, and ended up swimming with one eye full of water. I could still see well enough to notice Jonathan Krichev was exiting the water as I cleared the half-way buoy. Either way, I think I was 2nd or 3rd out of the water and jogged through the crowd and into transition.
By this time the rain was coming down in sheets. A little slow in transition, and I must have allowed 1 or 2 racers to get ahead of me. Bike shoes, camelback, mt bike gloves, helmet and off for the fun.
The first loop around the course was pretty uneventful. It was slick but you could still get some traction on the uphills. Came through for the 2nd loop expecting the worst, knowing that the course would be closer to “mud-bogging” than mountain biking. Passing people this time around was not too bad, as most all of the racers were very quick to move to the right or stop in order that I could pass. The only tumble came during a short steep climb on the 2nd half of the loop. I announced my intent to pass on the LEFT, but the racer ahead continued (at slow speed) to attempt to climb the hill. As expected he made it about one third of the way up the hill and then fell over to his LEFT! By this time I had my speed up for the climb. I elected to avoid riding over him and switched to the narrow piece of terrain remaining to his right. This did not work. He was quite apologetic, and we were both uninjured. I ran up the hill, clipped back in and off again. Got in some short words with Joshua Pierson (broken wheel) and Melissa Johnson (free race entry) before exiting the bike course. Hats off to Josh to finish the bike course with a locked up back wheel, and I'm pretty sure Melissa was reconsidering what a good deal her "free" race entry was as she was slogging through the muddy woods in the pouring rain. This is beginning to sound like a verse in a country-western song.
T2 was even a little slower than T1. Lock laces weren’t cooperating on the running shoes and I should have just worn the mountain bike gloves instead of taking the time to get them off.
The run was (fortunately) a little short of the advertised 3 miles. It was NOT short of lots of deep puddles that WERE hard to see on the pavement during the heavy rain. The first water station (ha ha) was un-manned. I guess you could just look up at the sky and get a drink. But it did bait me in to a nice deep puddle as I came by the table hoping to grab a self-serve cup of water. I was passed by 2 runners on the course. One of them cramped up and I was able to pass him in the last mile, the other one was the 1st overall female. I must admit the cramping runner, did start a wave behind me, so he was still faster overall even though I finished ahead of him. Final time was 1:28:06, good enough for 3rd in my age group and 10th overall.
This was a great race and lots of fun for my first mountain bike event. Good to see the Fleet Feet Tri Team representing. Kudos to race director Dan Pline for pulling it off and all the hard work he put into building the course. Thanks to Blevins Bicycle Company for race day support and Gregg Gelmis for the great photography despite the nasty weather. Don’t forget the mountain bike course is open during daylight hours. I highly recommend everyone get out and give it a “Tri” so you are ready for next year. Great venue with the covered "bubble" to keep everyone out of the rain, too! (or sunshine next time)
Check out this little clip....