Sprint Triathlon Rouyn-Noranda recap
Driving up to Rouyn-Noranda was done under very nice skies. Lots of sun, nice weather, the drive through the Parc de la Vérendrye was uneventful and enjoyable. But like our previous trip there, when we hit Val d’Or, we got some rain… that wouldn’t leave us until we drove back to Montreal (curiously, it stopped about when we left Val d’Or… microclimate?).
That rain would go on and off, but sure enough, one hour before the race, it was on. Pouring on.
I don’t mind running in the rain, or swimming in the rain. But I hate biking in the rain. Maybe that was a precursor to what would happen…
Like Oka, I was pretty much the first one on site, first one to get marked, first one to get soaked. First lesson learned: I do not need to arrive two hours before the race (for some reason I feel like at the airport, I just GOT to be there early). And getting early, and soaked, taught me my second lesson, and third, and pretty much all the way to the twentieth lesson: while I knew what gear to bring, I wasn’t well prepared… I had nothing to keep me warm under the rain (I did have a flimsy rainjacket, with my sleeveless tri top under it – within 30 min I was shivering). I had nothing to keep my gear dry. I had no checklist, either on paper (although since I couldn’t keep my gear dry, the heck that paper would have been useful anyway) or in my head. I forgot to put Bodyglide. I had no idea what to do with my cell phone, my wallet and my car keys (I ended up rolling those in my neoprene swim cap…). The list goes on and on.
So after 2 hours of chatting with other shivering people (at least I wasn’t the only one being frozen), I put on my wetsuit which provided a little bit of extra warmth and went to the beach to shiver while we got instructions and waited for the horn to go off.
After an eternity, we went into the water (which was much warmer than the air outside) and splashed our way around buoys. Twenty-first lesson learned: slow swimmer – in the back. I just got kicked, grabbed, etc. for the first 100m. Not that it slowed me down, but I probably slowed down a few others around me. In any case, I exited the water in 19min or so, pretty sluggish by swimming standard, but pretty standard for me and I also learned (#25): do not swim too close to the buoys or you will get tangled in the anchor line (which I did).
Apparently I spent 90sec in transition – remove wetsuit, put helmet, put glasses, then I stood there for 10-15sec going through everything mentally to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Lesson thirty-two: fly, you fool. Followed by lesson thirty-three: you really need to practice a bit more starting with the shoes already clipped in…
In any case, after a slow bike start fiddling with my velcro on my shoes and wondering if I would find a way to tighten the straps on my aero bottle (lesson forty-six: should have done that before race instead of chatting with other people), once I hit the first long stretch of road, I settled in. Bike is my strong sport, followed by running, so I clearly intended to claw back with these. My goal was to average somewhere between 40 and 45km/h for the bike stretch – it was fairly straight, not too hilly. For the first 5km, I was averaging somewhere around 43km/h then I got my first scare: my front wheel got caught in a crack in the pavement, jerked violently sideways and for a split second I thought I was going to hit the pavement. Hard. Thankfully, I didn’t, saving me bruises, broken bones and broken bike. But my back wheel might not have been so lucky… a minute or so later, I heard a nice « pow », followed by a hissing sound. Lesson fifty-eight: if you heard it, it’s you.
I stopped on the side, put the bike down, unclipped the wheel, got my tire levers out, new tube in, CO2 cartridge on, was about to clip the wheel back – pow again. At that point, I actually saw the rupture on the tire. I had no more tubes, no extra tire, and I didn’t feel like trying to patch the tube. I waited for the police patrol to pass by, signaled I was done, then waited for the pick-up truck to come pick me and the bike, and rode back to the starting line.
(In retrospect, after today’s trip to my LBS – the tire did get some damage – could have been during the race, another ride before… there was nothing I could have done there unless I had an extra tire, because that one went straight to garbage. Just changing the tube, it would have blown again within 1min – the gash was large that pumping up the inner tube made it balloon out of the gash in the tire).
At least I got just in time to see Diana cross the finish line – and win the women 10k 🙂
Sad? Yeah. Obviously. To make up for it, I signed up for a race that’s twice the length. Twice the slow swimming. Twice the chance for another flat tire. And if something can go wrong in the 10k race, I’ll file it under lesson ninety.
I’ll be back Rouyn. Wiser, more experienced. Next year, I’ll be one of the three guys standing on the podium.