I promise, I’m not trying to drag this out to be dramatic. Unfortunately, I feel like I’m lucky if I can find five or ten free minutes in the day this week to recount my thoughts about the past weekend’s race; so, it’s going to come in short bursts. Tonight, the bike.
Coming out of the water in nearly last place, I had a decision to make; I could let the struggle of the swim throw off the rest of the race I’d been preparing months to run, or I could be glad I survived the swim and recover in my two stronger events, the bike and the run. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to put the swim behind me and focus on the task that lay ahead.
T1 went well, although I can see why lots of triathletes abandon socks. Trying to pull on a pair of socks over wet feet is a challenge, made even worse when your hands are shaking from having just finished a swim and 1/4 mile run to the transition area. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to risk the option of clipping my shoes into the pedals and trying to jump onto the bike barefoot, then get my feet in the shoes while pedaling. I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time. Please.
I trotted out of transition, got onto the bike, and headed out. My heart rate was fairly high, but I expected that. Hindsight tells me to turn off the heart rate alarm on my monitor for a race, otherwise I’m going to get to listen to the beep for most of the hour. Oh, the stuff you learn.
I settled into a good cadence early, and the ride was great. The temperatures had started to climb by now, as had the humidity, but there was a high cloud cover that made things a lot more comfortable. I have to say I really enjoyed the bike leg.
The only downside was an embarrassing loss of bike parts. Somehow, the dual bottle cage that mounts behind my seat came loose. It mounts at an angle, and I was carrying an extra water bottle and my “flat pack” in it. At some point, the mounting screw must have worked itself free, and the dual cage went from an angle to hanging level with the ground. Eventually, the extra water bottle succumbed to gravity and hit the road. “Stay on task,” I thought. “I can go back and get it later.” Seven or eight miles later, I heard another clunk. I reached back to find that my flat pack, carried in an empty water bottle, had left the station. Okay, better not have any flats.
Finally, with about 5 miles to go in the bike leg, the cage itself called it quits. Perhaps it had heard about my swim results, and wanted nothing more to do with this endeavor. At any rate, it left the mount at a high rate of speed, taking two CO2 canisters with it. Good thing they didn’t blow when they hit the ground.
I had the best of intentions to go back and pick up all of the equipment after the race, and did find the first water bottle. Unfortunately, that’s about the time the skies opened up and the rains came down. No luck with the remainder of my gear. Lost to the triathlon abyss.
I made up a decent amount of time on the bike leg, finishing with an average speed of about 21 mph. It was satisfying, in an evil sort of way, to pass a number of folks that I know finished the swim well before me. I pushed hard enough to regain lost ground, but focused on saving enough for the run that remained.
Riding a successful bike leg did a lot to restore my confidence. I had always assumed the run would be my strongest event, but I’m not so sure anymore. The bike legs on my recent duathlon and the triathlon have me rethinking that position. By the time I hit T2, I was primed for a good run.