Friday, July 29, 2016

"Rainiering" at The Climb

Author:  Mike Hassur

Thursday was supposed to be hot (~90 degrees).  I had decided to get in a long ride doing hill repeats on the last 2 kilometers of The Climb.  In the back of my mind, I thought that I might attempt to “Rainier” (i.e. climb 14, 411 feet – the height of Mt. Rainier – in one ride), but that was questionable given the high temperatures that had been forecast.  I figured that I would just get to The Climb early, start going up and down, and see what happened.  My main goal was simply to get in a long ride.  My wife, Kathy, and I were planning to go to Portland for the weekend; and this gave me the opportunity to get in some mileage before the weekend.

I parked my van at the base of The Climb’s final 2K where it would be available to me at the finish of each hill repeat. By 5:45 AM, I was on my bike and starting my ride.  Since I was riding alone, I figured that I would just ride a nice, easy pace and try to enjoy myself and my surroundings as much as possible.  I used the first couple of repeats to measure exactly how many feet I would be gaining with each ascent – 344 feet per my Garmin.  At that rate, I figured I needed to do approximately 42 hill repeats if I wanted to get in 14, 411 feet of climbing.  Soon, I had a plan.  Six repeats would give me just over 2000 feet of climbing and would take me roughly one hour and twenty minutes.  I would break my ride up into parts (each part/interval comprised of six repeats).  At the top of each climb segment, I would take a swig from my water bottle.  At the end of each interval (six repeats); I would give myself 5-10 minutes to stop at my van, refill my water bottle, and drink and eat while resting at the back of the van where I had stored all of my supplies.

I tried to simply concentrate on where I was on each set of six repeats (for example, repeat #1 of six, repeat #2 of six… until I finished repeat #6 and stopped at the van).  Also, I kept track in my head of how may intervals of six I had completed knowing that, if I could manage seven of them, I would be just over my goal of 14,411 feet.  Somewhere in the 4-5 hour range, I started to feel sleepy and sort of lethargic.  When I finished that particular interval of six repeats, I made sure to take in some Clif Shot “goo” that had caffeine in it as well as swigging quite a bit of a bottle that I had mixed up using Perpetuem powder which, again, had some caffeine in it.  That seemed to remedy my grogginess in fairly short order.

I had “mini-goals” along the way.  First, I think that the most elevation that I have ever done on The Climb in one ride is 7,000 feet; so I felt a sense of accomplishment when I met that goal sometime around hour five.  After that, I kept telling myself that any additional climbing was sort of a bonus which would add to my personal best.  As I passed through 8,000 and 9,000 feet; I was starting to think about 10,000 feet of climbing.  At the beginning of the ride, I would have been very pleased to get 10,000 feet in.    I reached (and passed) the 10,000 foot mark during my fifth interval.  By this time, I knew that I was probably going to make it to my “Rainiering” goal; because the heat didn’t seem to be bothering me the way that I thought it would and because my legs still felt good.  I think that things were going well, because I wasn’t pushing it on the climbs – just smooth and easyand because upper 2K of The Climb has shade on one side of the road or the other throughout most of the day.

My sixth interval took me up past 12,000 feet (with about 400 feet to spare).  After that sixth interval, I was sitting at my van getting ready for the last interval.  After a short break, I mounted my bike to find my Garmin cycling computer saying “Low Battery”.  This was very disappointing!!  I knew that it would not last for the entirety of those last six repeats.  How could I verify that I had “Rainiered”?  This was a real bummer after all of this work.  Then, the solution dawned on me – when my Garmin shut down, I would simply start the Strava App on my phone and use it to record the last part of my journey.  It would mean that I would have to make two posts to Strava to verify that I had achieved my goal; but, at least, the evidence would be there.  All right!!!  Those last six repeats seemed pretty easy.  I did one extra "half-lap" up the hill at the end just to make sure that I would have enough elevation to get to 14,411 (because of the Garmin dying, I wasn't exactly sure where I was with respect to elevation gain).  The ride ended up being around 110 miles long with just under 14,600 feet of climbing - perfect!!

This ride taught me some things and reinforced other notions:
1.       It taught me that, when my goal is to make it to the end of a grueling ride, speed is not very important – in fact, it is probably counter-productive.  The fact that I was riding by myself meant that I was never pushing to keep up with faster riders and wasting energy.  I was shocked by how good I felt for this entire ride (and the next morning), and I attribute that to staying with a comfortable pace for the entirety of the ride.  Also, I think that this was why the 90 degree heat was not more of a problem.
2.       It taught me that, when you are really regimented about eating and drinking on a long ride, it makes a big difference in how smoothly your motor continues to work deep into the ride.  I suspect that the short breaks were helpful as well.  I should know this by now, but I don’t always practice what I preach.
3.       It reminded me that The Climb is an awesome place to ride a bike:
a.       It is a beautiful 5 mile climb with very little traffic – that, alone, makes it special to me.
b.      As the trees have grown up, there is more shade for those hot days.
c.       The final 2K is the perfect place to attempt something like “Rainiering”:
                                                               i.      It is very efficient (i.e. there are not flat places where you can waste energy – you are either climbing or descending).  For example, to “Rainier” using the entire Climb; you would have to ride over 140 miles.  Using the final 2K requires about 110 miles.
                                                             ii.      The grade is mostly between 4 and 6 percent (with a couple of short pitches of 7%) which is perfect.  I was not using particularly low gearing (compact front: 50 x 34) and 11-25 rear.  Going uphill, I used the 19 and 21 cogs probably 80% of the time and the 23 cog the other 20% of the time.  I never used my 25 cog, and I never felt like I was struggling or wasting energy.
                                                            iii.      I’ve already mentioned the shade, but it is particularly pronounced on this part of The Climb and was much appreciated.

Well, there you have it.  What was meant to be a long training ride turned into one my most memorable rides. 

I'm hoping that we can post some RAMROD related thoughts soon from the guys that did it (Les, Dwaine, Mario, Kurt, and Scott).

Can’t wait for our next ride!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dwaine's Picture Post for Windy Ridge

Every year Mike schedules one or two official 'Cyclocross' style rides. These rides include routes with some or all dirt roads. Although not billed as a 'Cyclocross' ride this year's 'Windy Ridge' ride included some off roading. Mike did some research regarding a road washout on NF26 and we were prepared to walk  around the washout.  We were all surprised by just how far off the road we hiked to connect the paved bits. Some of us went full 'Cyclocross' including hoisting bikes onto shoulders.
The group, happy to have completed the scrambling portion of the bike ride, took a break where the road breaks out of the trees and reveals a 180 degree view.  Although Mt Saint Helens was not visible Lanny took a moment to take in the view while the author fussed with his camera.

The author was not the only photographer on duty this day. Many of us brought out our cameras at this point. Some approached the edge to capture the rolling green hills on the far side of the valley. Some took a step back to capture the foreground as well as the distant hillsides. And Les photographed a bicycle decoration built atop a NF26 highway marker.
Mike is our leader. On the seven mile climb to Windy Ridge he decided that the Cyclopaths should close the gap up to a lone rider. One by one the other Cyclopaths would not or could not match Mike's pace. By the time Mike caught the lone rider he had littered the road behind him with over worked climbers. Despite the hard climbing Mike quickly changed gears to photographer and continued documenting our ride. Thanks Mike.

The return portion of the Windy Ridge ride included 16 miles of NF99 goodness. Most of this road is twisty, often cut out of the side of the hill, and provided sweeping views to the South. But the goodness did extend to FR25. The years and weather have not been kind to the FR25 paved road surface. As we returned the twenty or so miles on this road we were confronted with mixed sun and shade on the road surface. This mix of light levels hid the many pavement irregularities. In addition to lumpy pavement at least one section of pavement wasn't pavement. In this gravel section Leon found a hidden hole with enough force to rotate his bars in the stem. The group stopped just long enough to make a quick repair and a series of poor tasting jokes.

This photo shows pavement, cycle shoes, and dirty shins. Those bits can be ignored. What cannot be ignored nor denied is an obvious trend in Cyclopath wear. No fewer than six brightly colored socks were on display for this ride. Although the author's flaming pink socks neither match the orange hue nor reflect as much glow, the movement towards 'visible' socks is clearly afoot. My daughter is immensely proud of the Cyclopath's footwise personal expression.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

2016_07_02 Puyallup Cyclopaths: White Pass, Backbone Ridge (east side), Paradise, Backbone Ridge (west side), Cayuse Pass, and Chinook Pass (Mike's Version)

Author:  Michael Hassur

Okay, I know.  During this ride, I made a pitch for other members of our group to do the blog post for this ride.  “We need other perspectives beside just mine when describing our rides” – I said.  Well, this ride was just too memorable for me not to ramble on about it.  In my humble opinion, it turned out to be one of the most epic rides that we have ever had.  White Pass, both sides of Backbone Ridge, Paradise, Cayuse Pass, and Chinook Pass – that’s the equivalent of doing five passes in one ride  by my calculations (though my friend, Les Becker, may differ with me a little on that assertion).  The ride ended up covering approximately 110 miles and around 11,600 feet of elevation gain!  I simply did not see this “epic-ness” coming.

This ride was not even in the “starting lineup” for this season’s rides.  It was a “substitute”.  Road closures and weather had caused us to postpone a ride or two already this year and to cancel our traditional Skate Creek Loop Ride.  In its place, we did a ride on Saturday, June 25th a portion of which took us up the Sunrise Climb twice.  This weekend (Saturday, July 2) our schedule had us doing the Triple Sunrise Climb (i.e. doing the Sunrise Climb three times when we had just done it twice the week before).  We decided that, as much as we love Sunrise and that climb, five times in a week might be overdoing it.  So, on Wednesday of last week, we decided to substitute something different for the Triple Sunrise Ride.  We decided that it might be interesting to do White Pass, Backbone Ridge (east side), Paradise, Backbone Ridge (west side), and Cayuse Pass. 

I sent out a ride announcement to everyone and got a “tepid” response at best.  Les and Dwaine were in.  Adam Abrams was a maybe.  Everyone else was going to be out of town or had other plans.  Even Leon, who generally makes it to most of our rides, was doubtful because of a long ride that he was doing on Thursday of that week.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have a bigger group, but I really enjoy riding with Les and Dwaine; so I figured that we would have a good ride together.  Then, I heard back from Adam – he was in.  Next, I heard from Mark – he and Mario were coming!!  Our little group had just doubled in size.

Our goal was to meet at the Grove of the Patriarchs Parking Lot which is located just inside the east entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.  We hoped to be on our bikes by 6:30 AM.  The idea was that we might minimize our exposure to traffic by starting early.  The bad part of that idea was that it required us to get up really early as it is about a 90 minute drive from Puyallup and even longer for Les and Dwaine who live in University Place.  I had packed my bike and gear in the van the night before.  I got up around 3:40 AM and showered, had breakfast, etc. and was pulling out of my driveway by 4:25 AM.  The drive took me exactly 90 minutes.  I pulled into the parking lot at Grove of the Patriarchs at 5:55 AM.  Great, I had plenty of time to visit the restroom and to get my gear out and ready.

Aaron Gerry arrives unexpectedly - awesome!!

About 10 minutes later, Aaron Gerry pulled into the parking lot!!  I was surprised to see him and thrilled at the prospect of adding another good rider to our group.  Shortly thereafter, Adam arrived as did Les and Dwaine.  Just before 6:30 AM, Mark and Mario pulled in.  Mark has been battling some back issues which have limited his ability to get out and ride as much as he would like.  He informed me that he was just going to ride on his own up to Paradise and back.  Mario, on the other hand, intended to do the entire ride with us.

We left the parking lot heading for White Pass pretty much on time.  We headed south on Hwy 123 to its junction with Hwy 12, turned left onto Hwy 12, and began the ascent toward White Pass.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that we were climbing pretty rapidly.  In fact, given the number of climbs that we planned on doing in this ride; I was concerned that we were being a little too “generous” with our energy expenditure this early in the ride.  A feeling that was confirmed when drops of sweat starting falling from my forehead as we neared the top – uh oh, that almost never happens on the first climb of the day.  We took some photos at the top and headed back down the way that we had come.  The descent off of White Pass is fast and the road is smooth (mostly), so it didn’t take us long to get back to Hwy 123 where we turned right and headed back to our vehicles to restock on food and liquids and to shed some clothing.

The next leg of our ride was to take us up over Backbone Ridge and on up to Paradise.  Once again, the pace up the east side of Backbone Ridge was brisk enough that it was a bit of a strain, and I wasn’t feeling that strong.  I suspect that the effort of going up White Pass faster than expected was beginning to take its toll on me.  I decided at that point that I was going to conserve energy on the next part of this climb which would take us through Stevens Canyon and on up to the Paradise Visitor Center.

The Stevens Canyon portion of the climb is usually one of my favorites.  With sheer rock faces on your right and a cliff that falls away into Stevens Canyon on your left, it is pretty awesome.  It is, also, a long and tough climb up to Reflection Lake – especially if you are not feeling very peppy which I wasn’t.  Pretty soon, I was alone.  All of the other guys were ascending faster than me.  It was a little demoralizing.  Here we were less than half way into our ride, and my “motor” was sputtering – WTH!!  I’d been in this position before, so I decided to do what had worked for me in the past.  Stop, ingest a Goo Pack, and take a couple of good drinks of liquid.  After a brief stop, I was on my way.  Soon, I saw Mario headed my way.  He was coming back down to check on me- thanks, Mario.  I got into a rhythm; and, by the time that we arrived at Reflection Lake, I was beginning to recover.

I wondered how the remainder of the climb up to Paradise would feel, but it was fine.  I love Paradise – even when it is crowded on a 4th of July weekend (like on this Saturday).  Everything is beautiful up there: Mt. Rainier, the Tatoosh Mountain Range, the lodge, the visitor center, etc.  We stopped, took photos, ate and drank, topped off our water bottles and headed down.  The descent from Paradise to Reflection Lake is about a 2-3 mile descent.  It was a cloudy day, so no photos of Mt. Rainier reflecting in Reflection Lake.

View of Tatoosh Mountain Range from Paradise...

From there, it was the long, twisting descent on the roads above Stevens Canyon and down the shoulder of Stevens Canyon to Box Canyon.  We were going fast, the road was rough, and it was slightly disconcerting at times – but always fun!!

Next up, we climbed the west side of Backbone Ridge, took a couple of photos at the summit, and flew down the east side back to our cars.  Adam and Aaron had to leave after this second leg of the ride due to family obligations.  We had done around 80 miles and 7800 feet of climbing by this point of the ride, so they didn’t get cheated.

After bidding Adam and Aaron goodbye; it was left to Les, Dwaine, Mario, and me to finish the third leg of this ride – Cayuse Pass.  We refilled our water bottles, stocked up on food, and took off.  Cayuse Pass is about a 10 mile climb with a pretty consistent 6-7% grade.  It is challenging anytime, and we were fatigued from the first two legs of our ride.  We didn’t set any speed records, but we managed to make it to the top of Cayuse at a nice, steady pace which found us all reaching the top together. 

Les and Mike at Cayuse Pass - about to head on up to Chinook Pass...

Dwaine, Mike, and Mario at Cayuse Pass...

About a mile before we reached the top of Cayuse Pass, Dwaine complicated things (he’s good at that).  He said “when we get to the top of Cayuse Pass, I’m going to ride on up to the top of Chinook Pass as well”.  A very brief discussion followed (talking was sort of an effort at this point), and it was determined that we ALL were heading to the top of Chinook Pass.  Thankfully, the grade from Cayuse Pass up to Chinook Pass isn’t very steep; and we were able to maintain our pace up Chinook without too much trouble.

Now, all that was left for us to do was to negotiate the 15 mile or so descent from the top of Chinook Pass back to our cars.  I know that sounds pretty simple and it is; but, when you are a little “fried” mentally, going 35-40 mph down a mountain pass can be risky if you don’t make a real effort to be attentive.  We talked about this before starting our descent, and we made it back to our cars just fine – though the road vibrations on the way down made me feel as though I’d been put through a “blender” by the time we finished.

Mike - all done... in more ways than one...

That's an "epic ride" smile from Les...

Epic ride with a wonderful group of guys.  Can’t wait for our next ride!!

To see all the photos associated with this ride, click on the following link:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Dwaine's Picture Post for the Eleven K Ride

The crew still looks fresh after an overcast climb to the White Pass ski resort. We were about a third of the way into the days climbing and thinking 'how hard could it be?'.

After stopping at the cars and filling our pockets with food we climbed to Reflection Lake. The sun was trying to peak through but the clouds prevented any interesting reflections. A few of us, myself included, finished this climb by burning a few too many matches.

When we arrived at Paradise we found that the mountain remained veiled in clouds. Many motorized visitors were in attendance and probably feeling  more disappointed. As cyclists we derive joy from the climb and not just a view of Mount Rainer. Looking around we noticed a line of wooden Fred Flinstone style bike racks. Mike was able to utilize the bike rack despite the colorfully dressed drifter taking temporary residence.

With over ten thousand feet of climbing in the bank we were feeling pretty tired and plenty proud when we arrived at the top of Cayuse pass. Mario was a few minutes behind us due to his dip in a road side waterfall. Yes, really. While we waited I looked for a quick picture. This is the first time I've used the built in flash on my pocket camera and it did pretty well providing some fill.

I was able to 'sell' the idea of finishing the day at the top of Chinook pass. On the way up I salvaged a large screwdriver off the shoulder of the road and was so pleased with my find I posed with it instead of my bike. While Les was busy creating this wonderful composure Mike was looking over my shoulder and admiring my new found tool. Before we started the descent Mike warned me against descending all the way to the vehicles with this large chunk of steel in my back pocket due to the danger of impalement should I step off. Mike was even kind enough to show me a good place to stash it for pickup on the drive home.

After about 110 miles and almost 12k feet of climbing, we were thrashed. Getting off the bike never felt so good. I snapped this quick photo showing our finish location, my bike, and one tired rider. Mike, Les, Mario, and myself congratulated each other on finishing a really tough ride and Mike skedaddled on his way. Les and I had carpooled and we took our time getting on the road. On the drive home I was surprised and disappointed at the discovery that the large screwdriver was not where I left it. As we continued the drive home Les and I wondered who knew where it was stashed?  Who had the opportunity to retrieve it before I returned? Who, other than me, even wanted a roadside screwdriver? Weird.

2016_07_02 Puyallup Cyclopaths: White Pass, Backbone Ridge (east side), Paradise, Backbone Ridge (west side), Cayuse Pass, and Chinook Pass

Author:  Adam Abrams

This was my third ride with the group and my first trip into the mountains. To say I was excited was would be an understatement; I literally couldn’t sleep the night before and when my alarm woke me up at 4:00 am I almost ran out of the house. 

The trip up white pass was really nice. I spent most of the time catching up with Aaron, Les and Dwaine. The conversations took me right up the mountain and before I knew it we were at the top. When we reached the top and I saw the sign reading “Entering Yakima County”, it struck me that I had just climbed my fist mountain pass. I was really excited by this but I had to play it cool because I was surrounded by such accomplished cyclists. 

Our group ascending White Pass...

Photo next to the White Pass Ski Lodge...

Les and Adam...

While I was feeling great about climbing my first mountain pass, I knew the descent was coming up next. As a newer rider I face every descent with a mix of excitement and fear. The latter of which was only intensified when Mike reminded us of the need to be careful.  I started the descent near the back in the group watching the others and gathering my confidence. I quickly became comfortable and moved to a spot behind Aaron and Dwaine; those guys can absolutely fly. That descent was really fun!

On our way back to the vehicles to restock after climbing White Pass...

The trip to Paradise started much the same as the trip up White Pass. I spent most of the first climb getting to know Mario. However things changed as we crested Backbone Ridge. Once again I found myself on a descent behind Aaron and Dwaine but this time I tried to hold on. That was really fun but once we got to the bottom Arron didn’t slow down. I found myself breathing hard and just trying to hold the wheel that was in front of me.  

Eventually Aaron relented and I found myself out front as we started up Steven’s Canyon. I got into a zone on that climb and quickly found myself alone in the front. That climb is absolutely beautiful.  At several points on the way up I wanted to stop to take a look. As we reached the beginning of the switchbacks, Les, Aaron, and Dwaine caught me. I’ve noticed they have a way of sneaking up on me when I’ve been out front for a while. Then I was reminded how strong these guys are when Dwaine took off at the turn on the switch back. Les looked at me and said "go catch him" and thought to myself yeah right.  At the top of the switch back we reached Reflection Lake and I was ready for a break.

While resting and refueling at Reflection Lake I made the decision that I wasn’t going to have enough time to complete the third climb of the day. So when the group started the final climb to Paradise I took a spot at the front with Mario. I was happy to let him lead us through some unexpected construction zones that had left the roads covered with gravel. But when we got to the intersection with Longmire road and I knew we had just a mile to Paradise I decided to give it one last push for the day. 

As I approached Paradise I noticed some strange looks from people getting out of their cars. I’m not sure if these looks were due to my Lycra clad appearance or in recognition of the fact that I had just ridden up the same mountain that they had driven. Either way they only added to my sense of accomplishment for having just completed the climb.  

Our stay at Paradise was nice and despite the clouds the parking lots were full and there were lots of people enjoying their day on the mountain. I’m always surprised by the number of international travelers that make the trip to Paradise. It’s a good reminder of how lucky we are to have such an amazing park just hours from our homes. While at Paradise the group took a few minutes to fill our water bottles, refuel, and take a few pictures before heading back down the mountain. 

The descent from Paradise was amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. Once again Dwaine and Arron were out front and I tucked in behind Mike and we flew down the mountain. It was pretty cool to watch those guys descend. I’ve learned a lot by watching the way they pick their lines through the corners and open it up on the straight aways. I even saw a few bunny hops over drainage grates while going down Stevens Canyon at 30 + MPH. 

The final up and down over Backbone Ridge flew by as I was still energized by the descent from Paradise. We got to our vehicles and I headed home as Mike, Les, Dwaine and Mario prepared to climb Cayuse Pass. While I wished I had more time to finish the ride I was pleased with what I had already accomplished. This was my first ride in the mountains and  I can see what keeps the group coming back.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

2016_06_26 Lanny Moore's Coeur d'Alene Ironman 70.3 (i.e. "half-Ironman")

Author:  Lanny Moore

Well, I’m only half crazy.  Last Sunday, 26 Jun, I participated in my first triathlon which happened to be the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene (CdA).  After hearing from a cousin about this event back in August, that she was going to do the run portion for a relay team, and having a few friends who have competed in half and full Ironman events, I decided it was time to commit in participating in one.  Especially one that was located in my old stomping grounds as I was born and raised in Spokane and used to hang in Coeur d’Alene during the summers.  So as soon as I could, I joined the Y as I needed to learn how to swim again.  As a kid I grew up a half block from a pool and participated on the summer swim team as well as taking all eight levels of swim lessons they offered.  However, I haven’t been in the water since 1990 when I left Guam, where playing in the ocean was almost an everyday occurrence.
Going into this event my mantra was “Survive the Swim. Enjoy the Ride. Conquer the Run.” The weather on Friday in CdA for sign in was stormy.  Saturday morning for my practice swim the temps were in the low 50’s with the wind blowing in from the south (in our face as we stood on the beach) creating some nice chops on the water.  During my practice swim, those chops hit me in the face and water went up my nose and down my mouth.  I didn’t panic and was able to spit everything out.  I chuckled as I said to myself, “Great! Drown the day before the event”.
Sunday was absolutely perfect. Clear. No wind and sunny. The temps were forecasted to reach the mid 80’s which they did. As I stood on the beach waiting to start the air temp was colder (56) than the water temp (60). The swim start was a rolling start and I was in the back in the estimate 45-minute swim time group. The cannon sounded at 6:10am and the pros were off!  When they reached the beach about twenty minutes later my group hadn’t even started yet…lol  
Finally, it was time to go and any nerves that I may have had prior to the race were suddenly gone. I started out slowly trying to find a good object to spot from, gain control of my breathing (the cool water takes some getting used to) and to keep an eye on any swimmers ahead of me.  Like the guy to my left who was backstroking (?) and crossed a few yards in front of me and proceeded to run into another swimmer.  I found a large yacht that stationed beyond the course in between the buoys and the rescue paddlers.  I slowly made my way to the first turn, made my turn and spotted off the sun as that’s all you could see.  Made the second turn, looked up and saw the athlete’s village, sighted off that and headed to the finish. My swim time was 48:56. I’ll take it.  All those early hour swim sessions paid off as I survived the swim and now it was time to go enjoy my ride.
My transition to the bike was a little longer than I wanted but that was due to breaking some serious cycling etiquette by donning my compression socks so all I would have to do were to change into my running shoes during the next transition.  Besides, I knew I wasn’t going to win by age group or anything. With shoes and helmet on I grabbed my bike and hustled to the mount line and mounted my bike and took off.
The course took us east/southeast through downtown and adjacent neighborhoods where the locals were out in force. With my adrenalin pumping it was hard not to go all out to soon.  I had to reel myself in some and find a nice steady tempo.  The course was hilly but nothing that hard. The toughest hill was comparable to the hill going out to Carbonado.  A nice steady climb where you could sit back and ride with a good tempo. Since I was one of the last in the water and probably close to being the last out I was passing people left and right.  Also, not to brag, but since I was wearing my Cyclopaths jersey I’m proud to say that not one person passed me going uphill.  I did all the passing. In fact, anyone who passed me on a tri-bike going downhill or on a flat I caught them on a hill and put distance between us.  I went from an overall rank after the swim of 1971 to 1709 after the bike. If anyone passed me, it was at the last aid station where I had to stop.  You see, before the race, I did what every good triathlete does, or so I’ve heard, I waded waist deep in the water and relieved myself prior to the start.  So I’m good, right? Wrong. After starting on the bike I felt the urge to go thanks to the effect of the cold water. I played it off telling myself I can wait until the next transition.  Well keeping myself hydrated along the way made matters worse and I wasn’t going to go on my bike.  Five minutes later I was on my bike perusing the people who passed me.  I finished the bike portion in 3:20:07.  Even though I enjoyed the ride, I was a little disappointed in my time as I was shooting for closer to 3.  
My transition into the run was seamless and I headed out to the run course feeling great and looking for a solid run performance like the week before in the Seattle Rock n Roll Half where I set a personal best of 2:02:00.
Wrong! Two miles into the run the balls of my feet started to hurt and tingle.  I stopped a few times to loosen my laces but it never went away. I just tried my best to push through the discomfort.  The run course was two laps that took us through a park out to a residential area, where again, the locals were out in force showing their support, and out to the road that was the first part of the bike course. However, for the run we were on an adjacent MUP.  At around the six-mile point on the MUP we looped back the same way we came.  Then the temps started to take its toll on me and other runners. It wasn’t blistering hot, but the mid 80-s aren’t cool and there wasn’t much shade.  When we made our way to the park there was a fork in the road with a sign that read, “2nd Lap/Finish.  I told the volunteer, “That’s’ cold.  I guess I’ll see ya soon”. On the second lap that is where I started to break down.  Not being able to get fully comfortable on the run due to the balls of my feet nagging at me and the temps, I started to do more walk/running than running.  Also, I really wasn’t hungry or thirsty and grew tired of drinking and popping gels. As I made my way back to the park, I was a block away when I pulled myself together and started running so I could finish strong.  It helped that there were many along the way cheering you on, especially when you left the park, went up block, which was a small hill, then turn the corner for a small downhill finish on the main drag, where people were lined up two to three deep on each side cheering you on.  Like any good cyclist, before I turned the corner, I zipped up my jersey and headed towards the finish with a time of 7:10:58.  I was hoping for better than that but I’m pleased that I finished. My overall rank was 1733 out of 2449.
Toughest event I’ve ever participated in and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I plan on going back next year to improve my time. Who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll give a full Ironman a tri.  Until then, I’m only half crazy.