Wednesday, September 25, 2013

off road triathlon. how hard could it be?

Earlier this year when I saw the rise in sprint prices from $500 to $1000 and more I realized I wouldn't be doing too many triathlons.  When I started a couple years ago I was doing the first edition of triathlons offered and the sprints ran around $500.  I figured that was reasonable.  However, the sport is exploding.  This year we got a state organization and sprints are popping up all over the place but the kids aren't going to put themselves through school, so I knew I'd be backing off the races this year.

I was intrigued enough, however, to sign up for an off-road triathlon that couldn't quite get enough participants the year before.  I just needed a mountain bike.  Well, I figured I did.  I thought it was likely that the event would be just on gravel roads versus paved roads but figured I might fall with the road bike.  Boy, was that an understatement of thought.  I liked the distances - 1km swim, 21km bike (how hard could that be?  we do that in around 30 minutes on our road bikes...) and an 8km (ish) run through the jungle.

I had seen mention of a beach finish and figured people were just being pussies and bellyaching about the sand run.  At any rate, with no concrete to run on, my hips would thank me as well as my complaining ankle.  So I signed myself up and tasked Jamie with cludging a mountain bike out of spare parts.  And he did.  It was more steel than rust (pretty much) and the gears decided what gear they'd be in, not me, but the wheels rolled and the handle bars steered and the seat stayed in place.  After all, it was only 21k; how long could that take?

I looked up the finishing times the night before and was floored to see women finishing in the 3- to 4-hour range.  This was very confusing.  I figured I'd take some gels and Skratch (electrolyte mix) and see what happened.  I found out that there was no water on the bike course so I decided to take 2 large bottles on teh bike and 1 small in my jersey.

I had a GREAT swim and came out first woman (it was a small field).  I threw my bike jersey on and headed out on the bike only to find it was a ride comprised of slabs of rocks, giant boulders, tree roots, logs crossing the path.  I figured it was likely hard at the start but it HAD to get better/flatter/more like a road, RIGHT?  ah, no.

I caught trees in my handlebars, waddled through deep sand I couldn't ride through and kissed a lot of slabs of rocks.  Towards the end of the first loop I was so done I was just going to quit.  I was having No fun, it was Sissy's birthday and it just didn't seem worth the trouble to be away from family on an important day doing something that was so NOT FUN.  Unfortunately I was on the 2nd loop before I knew it and figured I may as well finish the thing.  I thought I was muddy from spray from the course until I took a bath in a rancid mud puddle after one of my many falls.  then I KNEW
I was muddy.

I was never So Glad to get off the bike.  The run was back out in the jungle, on the single track, and much more manageable when you only had to dodge trees with your body and not bike.  The run ended with about 750m of deep sand run because apparently the event needed to make it just that extra bit harder.  I'll never do one again.  My hands were full of blisters, cramped into claws from holding the handlebars and I had a hard time locating the blood and bruises under the mud.

Punta Venado is a lovely location though and the organizers are putting on a run there in October.  That just might pull me in, especially since there will be NO bike involved!

1 comment:

Jody said...

Hahaha!! Great report but I'll bet you will be back to shoot for first next year! ;*) Mountain biking is a whole new ball game for sure. We did Slick Rock on our honeymoon and after doing the practice loop thought "that wasn't too bad" and went on to do the whole loop. Holy Hell was it a bear. It was hotter than Hades, and we ran out of water in the freaking desert of Utah. We had to climb petrified dunes grabbing onto tree roots and pulling ourselves up while dragging the bike with the other arm. And we were experienced mtb riders! Got back to the car severely dehydrated and damn sick. It is only a 12 mile loop but took us more than 4 hours. It was pure Hell....beautiful but Hell nonetheless.