As biking was the most familiar event for me, I chose to spend more time (and money) on preparing for the swim and run segments. As a result my sweet ride was a 2008 Diamondback insight hybrid. Lets just say that my 2 year old daughter can get about the same performance out of her tricycle. I do love my bike though. It is comfortable, sturdy but not very heavy, shifts and brakes just fine (after a good tune-up) and it has a super easy granny gear for all those hills. I can peddle up Lombard Street without breaking a sweat, but at a snail’s pace. On the Olympic bike course at Wildflower, to my pleasant surprise, I ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack on bike time.
The transition area seemed very calm and peaceful the day before the race…but was quite insane during the race. We had very little room on the racks and all my gear had to be stored underneath the bike. No matter though, since I took so long with the swim I think I was the only bike in my rack and I had all the space I needed to change. The 40Km (24.8m) course was hilly but all my San Francisco riding paid off. You start the segment with a massive 400 feet vertical climb with Lynch Hill which caused more than a handful of riders to dismount. My granny gear came in handy though and so did all the advice I had received about taking it easy on the first couple of miles. Following the advice, I only ate once I got to the top of the hill which prevented my stomach from going into overdrive. You proceed to Interlake Drive and head north on San Antonio Road over some nice rolling hills then turn around at 12.4m and backtrack. I did manage to nourish and hydrate a lot during the ride, however, I don’t think I got enough electrolytes in me (that cost me during the run). The route presents some truly amazing scenery. I guess I know where the name Wildflower comes from. As you huff and puff along, your breath is taken away by the beautiful and colorful flowers that are like plush carpets strewn about the hillside. As you clear the aid stations and the encouraging crowds, you can hear the stillness of the hills broken occasionally by birds and more often by your heavy breathing and peddling. Along with the noises of other bikes belonging to the 2,400 Olympic distance triathletes on the course.
I was doing a number of double takes on some fine bikes as they flew by me. Flashy bikes sporting arrow bars and various shaped handle bars all designed to custom fit your particular long distance and performance riding posture. Others had fancy zip wheels and some even had disc wheels with no spokes and made really loud sounds (like a skateboard). I was pleased to see other non-road bikers, but I was definitely in the minority. As you can tell, I am simply building up the justification to go out and drop some coin on a nice set of wheels. Well since I actually finished my first triathlon and I most definitely want to do it again, I think I will be shopping in the next couple of months. More on that to come, but feel free to send me your thoughts on good bike deals.
The pleasant conversations I struck up with a number of my fellow riders and the swift descent on Lynch Hill were among my most enjoyable moments on the ride. It was hard to finally hit the brakes and dismount before entering the transition area as my fingers were numb and my legs were gently complaining about the grueling 10K run up ahead.