Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I Could Be a Triathlete... If You Didn't Have to Do All That Swimming and Running...
The morning looked wet. In fact, I had my first phone call at 7:30AM from someone bailing on today's ride. But, it wasn't raining yet, so I took off to meet whoever would show up for our Saturday morning ride. The parking lot was empty. Until Warren arrived.
So, today's ride would just be the two of us. Which actually, was alright with me. I enjoyed chatting with "War" as we rode through Bothell and onto the Sammamish River Trail through Woodinville and Redmond. I had checked the weather on my iPhone back at the church parking lot and saw that all the rain had already moved through our region and was heading southwest. So, by the radar's indications, we would be mostly dry today.
The trail wasn't too busy, just early morning walkers and runners. When we reached Woodinville, we encountered a high school boys' cross-country team out for their morning training run. We pressed on through Redmond by the I-520 interchange and were met by very large, red signs reading "BIKERS MUST DISMOUNT." So, we stopped, got off our bikes, walked a couple steps, then got back on and rode through the rest of the construction area. Problem was, the sign didn't indicate for HOW LONG bikers needed to dismount... Really, they should clarify these kinds of things.
At Marymoor Park, we got on the W. Lake Sammamish Road and began our easy ride around Lake Samm. We were cruising nicely, making good time around the lake. As we neared Vasa Park, a handful of young women were walking toward us. We moved out of the shoulder to give them room. Warren's wheel caught a groove in the pavement. He leaned left. I thought for sure he was going down. But he quickly jerked the bike back to the right, regained his balance, and pedaled on. Superior bike-handling skills. The girls just stared as this scene played out before them. Warren had avoided disaster and certainly avoided giving these young ladies a story to tell about "the bike-rider guy who, like, totally crashed this morning..."
As we neared Issaquah, I saw a number of cars exiting Lake Sammamish State Park with road bikes on car roof carriers. As I got closer, I saw each bike had a race number mounted on the frame and that many of the bikes were high-end TT or Tri bikes. Ah, this was the Issaquah Triathlon. We rode past the entrance to the park and saw a couple of runners completing the course. Behind them was a white pickup truck and a race organizer retrieving orange pylon cones and placing them in the truck.
"Wow," I commented to Warren. "That has to be discouraging. You're completing the course as the cones are being picked up and the finishers ahead of you are driving out of the park..." It reminded me of a friend of mine who ran a marathon last year. He raced it in just over six hours. The race organizers allowed traffic back onto the course after five and half hours. Again, discouraging... having to dodge cars after running for half a day.
We stopped for our mid-ride break at the Issaquah Tully's. As we sipped our lattes outside the front door, we began to play a game: "Triathlete, Not a Triathlete." Various customers were parking in the lot, walking toward the front door, and strolling past our table. We observed that many of them were wearing running shoes, had black numbers on their calves, or were wearing red, white, and blue finisher medals around their neck. These were the triathletes. Then a very pregnant woman walked into the cafe. Not a triathlete. Then another fit gal with a Issaquah Triathlon t-shirt. Triathlete. Then a morbidly obese man with an NFL t-shirt. Very much NOT a triathlete. Thus, a new game for the morning. A friend of mine later commented that this was a lot like the game she played, "Hairpiece, Not a Hairpiece."
After coffee, we resumed our ride and continued on E. Lake Sammamish Road. The weather was improving and now we even had occasional sunbreaks. The view of the lake from this side of Lake Sammamish is always so attractive. We reached Marymoor Park again and took the new Marymoor Connector trail through the park, reconnecting with the Sammamish River Trail and the end of our route.
Y'know, I really could be a triathlete. I'd be willing to give it a try. I actually don't mind running, in fact, plan to get back to running a few 5Ks in the year ahead, maybe even a half-marathon. I'm not much of a swimmer, but I could learn how to fight through an open-water swim. I think my problem would actually be the cycling... "What?" you say, "You're an awesome cyclist! You rode across the freaking country!" Yes. That's the problem. These triathlons usually have short distances for the cycling leg: 12.4 miles for a Sprint Triathlon and 24.8 miles for an Olympic Distance Tri. I'm just barely getting started after such a short ride! I'd never get to the transition for the run...
I'd still be out on my bike.