Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Dream Team

Knowing that I am a bicycling enthusiast, my son-in-law, Tommy, asked me to participate in a triathlon family relay, with him doing the swim, me doing the bicycle portion and our daughter, Ann, doing the run. Well, I had mainly been doing stationary bicycle workouts rather than regular road bicycle workouts, but, since he asked me early in the summer, I said yes.

The gym I go to has very fancy stationary bicycles with screens that make the various selectable rides very realistic. They give you the mileage, terrain, your heart rate and other data. I love the six-mile tour on those machines in the mountains called the Alpine Tour. The bicycles have 21 gears and on the terrain of that program, I used every one of them. I also enjoyed the Campus Loop, the Redwood Ramble and the Lost Trail, among others. The only problem with that way of conditioning is that you have no wind in your face and a gym can get quite warm.

My son-in-law borrowed a real road bike for me a couple of weeks before the event. It was a Giant brand cruiser and I took it out on my favorite bicycle trail and did the distance of the upcoming triathlon relay in satisfactory time. Even though the bicycle had straight rather than racing handlebars and even though it was a bit heavier than those I used to ride, I enjoyed conditioning on it and was satisfied with the way it adjusted to my, well, my rotundity.

When the day of the event came, hundreds of athletes (dare I count myself as one?) gathered at Alum Creek Reservoir and received instructions for the event. They gave me a number and wrote coded things with markers on my arm and leg, giving me a belt number and issuing our team a Velcro electronic ankle bracelet that we were to pass on to the member of our team next to perform. That’s how they tracked our time.

The swim was first and when Tommy hit the water, I went to stand by at the designated bicycle station, helmet on my head, water bottle full, and adrenaline pumping a bit. About 15 minutes later, Tommy came running up out of the water and we strapped the number around my waist and the Velcro thingy around my ankle and off I went. The tour was well marked and deputies were at every intersection stopping traffic for the racers. The temperature was in the 70’s, the sky was overcast and the ride was fairly flat except for the six-to-eight degree incline on the last mile. My only enemy (besides the excessive calories I carried around my middle) was the wind, the opposite of gym conditions.

People were very friendly as they passed me on the ride, saying things like, “Nice job, sir,” or “Just a few miles left.” Did they pity me? I don’t know, but I wasn’t last. In fact, our team did admirably, probably thanks to the exemplary athleticism of my younger counterparts. The endorphins made me say, at the end of the ride, “That was great family fun. Thanks for including me.” Would I do it again? Can I lose 20 pounds?

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