Monday, June 25, 2007

A Day at the Races

On Saturday, I was in my first ever bike race. Well, it wasn't exactly a bike race; it was a team pentathalon called Echo Challenge, a fundraiser for our local YMCA, located at Echo Lake, a 45 minute drive from Regina in the beautiful Qu'Appelle Valley. However, it was a bike race to me because my event was the 10 KM cycling stage.

My team, Thunder, didn't have a good start. I'm not sure how experienced our swimmer was, because he came out of the water dead last, and by a significant margin. In his defence, it was tough swim: 750 M in cold water that was extremely choppy because of strong winds (which would also play a factor in my event). I'm really glad it wasn't me in that stage. Most of our team members were first-timers (like me) so I wasn't expecting us to be competitive, but I didn't think we'd be 25 minutes behind the leaders after the first stage.

The next stage was a hill run, which is exactly what it sounds like: you run up a hill and then back down. Our runner was very fast; it seemed like he disappeared into the tree line and reappeared just a moment later. He tagged me and I took off.

I knew it was windy but I wasn't expecting it to be quite that bad: 40 KPH head-winds the entire distance. Also, it was very hilly -- mostly uphill the entire way with a long descent at the very end. The wind was much more challenging than the hills, though. Fortunately, I was feeling pretty strong so I just put my head down and went as fast as I could. I managed to pass four cyclists (not bad considering the lead they had) and almost passed a fifth. Unfortunately, while shifting into my highest gear so I could pass him, the chain went past the last gear and got lodged between it and the bike frame. Rather than stopping to fix it, I coasted down the long descent until it started to flatten out, then got off my bike and sprinted with it the last 100 M.

My wife Peggy, son Nicholas, and friend Joanne and Molly Wade cheered me on throughout the stage. They drove about 1 KM ahead, cheered me as I went past, then moved another 1 or 2 KM ahead. They also cheered me at the finish line. Here's a picture of Nick and I a few minutes after finishing:

The next stage was a 6 KM run. Our runner didn't have any water with her, expecting that there'd be frequent water stations, but unfortunately there wasn't. As a result, she had a tough run on a pretty warm day.

The last stage of the event swamped us, literally. Our team captain, one of two members in the 1600 M canoe race, had never canoed before, and the other member didn't have much more experience. Unfortunately, they overturned the canoe 100 M from the start. As a result, we finished in last place.

The event was a lot of fun and other than the wind (which died down shortly after the cycling stage was over; it figures) and bit of rain before it started, it was a gorgeous day in a beautiful setting, and we raised $22,000 for programming for the YMCA.

The other benefit, from a personal perspective, is that it fired me up for cycling, so I'm planning on riding a lot more this summer.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure that isn't Lance Armstrong with Nicky ? Tracey

Anonymous said...

Well done. Its addicting. Next you'll be buying a $3k carbon roadbike, race wetsuit, and some decent running shoes and eating ClifBars and CarbBoom packs. ChrisO