I’ve never been much of a mountain biker. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tons of fun. I even own a nice bike and would like to ride it more. But riding dirt is less compatible with families and other time pressures than road riding. Have an hour to ride? I could hit the road or jump on the trainer and use the full hour, or I could load the car, drive 20 minutes to the nearest trails, ride for 20, then drive home. Oh, then find time to clean the mud from the bike and the rest of the kit later. It’s no wonder that I rarely ride dirt!
Without serious time on dirt, I just don’t have the bike handling skills that are needed to really go fast. And worse, since I have decently strong legs from road riding, my potential for speed greatly exceeds my actual skill level. Dangerous.
But today I stepped out of my comfort zone and did an Xterra triathlon. It was amazing!
The swim was in Quartermaster Harbor. Normally, this small harbor is quite warm, but today it was a chilly 59 degrees F. Chilly at first anyway. After swimming hard for half of a mile in my wetsuit I was toasty. It was by far the easiest swim I’ve ever done. Flat water, and other than the first 10 seconds off of the start, I swam entirely alone. Almost too easy. 12th out of the water.
Once on the bike, we immediately started climbing a sandy trail. With my legs fried from track racing on Friday, I had a pretty hard time. Shift to a low gear and the tires would spin out, but I didn’t have the power to push a bigger gear on the steeps. I walked it. Not the right way to start a fast ride, but once on the plateau, the singletrack was fast and not too technical. I got passed by a handful of VERY fast cyclists early on the ride, but mostly rode alone until I started passing slower riders on laps two and three. 8th fastest bike of the day. Not bad for a roadie/trackie.
I got through T2 in 26 seconds, among the fastest of the day. I was on a mission to run down as many as I could. Climbing out of T2, I quickly caught one guy. Then cruising the singletrack, I didn’t see anyone for a long time, ahead or behind. When I popped out onto a road section I saw someone maybe a hundred meters ahead. I closed the gap quickly and left him behind as we ducked back on to the single track for lap 2.
On the road again to finish the second lap, I saw a string of runners ahead, but they clearly were running slower and likely were on lap one. I passed them all before reaching the turnoff to the finish. I entered the descent with one runner on my heels, having just passed him. I stayed ahead on the most technical part of the run, sharp turns on sandy soil, rocks, roots, steep descents and short climbs, then a final steep drop to the finish. 3rd fastest run of the day and 11th in the overall standings.
Maybe best of all, my friend Mathieu took second, about 30 seconds back from the winner! Yeah!
Xterra Black Diamond in a month? Might have to do it. So much fun.