Ok, so maybe this doesn't really depict the Aquabike event at the 2006 Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon, or at any triathlon that also includes Aquabike for that matter, but one can dream.
This year, thanks to a not so timely hip fracture, I was not able to do the BSLT 70.3 but was able to salvage something of the race by doing the Aquabike and male 70.3 relay.
First off, as a triathlete I must say that just doing the swim and the bike and then stopping is, well, you can fill in whatever blank you want but let's just say it feels like unfinished business. In Duathlon you run-bike-run but I guess swimming is so detested by triathletes that any event beginning with Aqua just gest cut short, Aquathon: swim-run, Aquabike: Swim-bike; why not swim-run-swim or swim-bike-swim? Anyhow, I digress.
So as I was saying, I participated in the Aquabike and the male 70.3 relay. The Aquabike, Relay teams, Clydes and Athenas took off in the last wave of the 70.3 at 7:05 am. That was cool because I did get to take off in the wave with all my usual compadres. The water was a perfect 74 degrees with a light chop caused by some winds that were in the process of dying down from an early morning storm that was threatening to make this one miserable day.
The start of the swim was a wave start running into the water off the beach. I'm not sure how many were in my wave but there was enough to create the human washing machine effect but not so many that it became like a scene from Dante's Inferno where human bodies were writhing over one another in heaving masses of suffering. I quickly found some open water and began settling into my long-distance pace. I really paid attention to my stroke mechanics, reach - pull through deep, extend to the rear - full stroke - roll onto my side and pull the change out of my pocket - reach over the barrell and site - reach out, full stroke. My breathing was nice and easy and my sighting was excellent. The great thing was that I was feeling pretty fast and relaxed at the same time. I didn't get to draft much because everytime I came upon some feet it was because I was overtaking the next swimmer. I ended up catching several swimmers from the previous two waves. The only "mishap" was about 3/4 of the way through the swim some guy jumped on me, not feet first obviously but none-the-less I was swimming along and wham, there was someone ON MY BACK wand I went under about three feet. I came out and yelled WHAT THE F*&#K?! and this guy is looking at me and sheepishly says...sorry. Any who, I came out of the water in 36 min 40 sec, I call it a good 1.2 mile swim.
Into transition I ran along, yes I RAN YAHOO and didn't feel a thing! Stripped the wetsuit, changed into the cycling gear and was off in a sluggish 3 min 19 sec, I really need to get a faster transition but something usually happend, this time I started to take off and realized I wasn't wearing my sunglasses so I stopped for a moment to wonder if I had brought them from the hotel and then realized that I had just left them in my transition bag so I had to dig through that for a bit and then I was off...for real.
I climbed up and out of the famous BSLT transition hill and immediatly noticed that I was passing people going uphill. As a Clyde I am used to either 1) holding my own on hills or 2) being passed on hills, but rarely do I pass. During the course of this race I did nothing but pass people all day long, up hill, down hill, on flats, straights, curves...pass, pass pass. The bike was totally uneventful other than all the passing I was doing. I suppose this is one of the benifits of going off in the last wave. The BSLT 70.3 bike course is a tough one but enjoyable. I completed it in 2 hrs 46 min 39 sec. My total time in the Aquabike was 3 hrs 26 min 38 sec, which was good enough to earn me 2nd place in the male 39 & under catagory and 3rd overall in the Aquabike.
My partner in the male 70.3 relay took the chip after a bit of a rough hand-off. I ran into transition and turned up the wrong bike rack lane and when he yelled out to me I turned around and immediatly hookrd someone's transition bag with my pedal and started dragging it along. Anyhow, I got the hand off and Sharkbait took off to finish the half-marathon in 1 hr 55 min, AFTER he had won the overall Grand Master (55 yo +) catagory earlier that morning during the Tri-Raider sprint triathlon. In the end, a broken Clydesdale and a Grand Master took second in the BSLT 70.3 male relay, being soundly beaten by a three man team of guys ages 22 to 24 who were each specialists in their respective sport, no shame in that.
In all, it was a great day. I have to admit that while I was hitting the home stretch on the bike all I wanted to do was run and after I got off the bike in transition it took me a while to feel good about my race because I felt like a slacker, I guess a bit like an imposter and a second swim would have probably made me feel better. Oh well, as time went by and more and more of my friends came in off the course I felt better and once Sharkbait crossed the finish line for the 70.3 and I saw how happy he was I really felt like I had been part of something special, I felt good.
Later that evening at the awards cerimony I got to thinking about our friend and fellow Outlaw Len who is laid out with a brain tumor at the moment. I got to thinking how Sharkbait and I had managed to take second place as two men in a field of three man teams, how I had done the bike and swim and Sharkbait had ran a sprint and then done the run. I got to thinking about what it means to me to be a New Mexico Outlaw and the spirit of fellowship that moves us as a team, the spirit that we try and cultivate far beyond any acts of triathlon or competative greatness and I got to thinking about the missing man formation...and I got back to thinking about Len.
Now I would not be so disingenuous to suggest that Sharkbait and I went into this saying "Let's win one for the gipper!" but that's the thing about our team...we DO think of each other, we want to share our experiences with one another, we want to hear about each other's experiences and most of all, when the chips are down for someone, we do come around and strive to lend a hand in whatever way we can. Len is our missing man right now but we hold his space for when he returns. Sharkbait and I had no trouble in reaching the conclusion that Len should have the third trophy, the missing man, the ever present team member.
God's speed Len.