This year’s Harriman Sprint Triathlon marked my 3rd year in the sport, 4th year in running. It is a really fun local race and would be my (triathlon) season closer.
I was rolling up to Harriman with the ‘Dad Posse’ (Jim, Ed and Mike) and we were going to camp there the night before. We got a late start out of ol’ Manhattan Friday night after work and didn’t arrive until maybe 9:30PM. It was a fun drive though as we rode the Ironman NY course and got to reminisce.
Mike had beat us up there and had scouted out a place for us to eat, Rhodes Tavern on Route 17. As we pulled in I noticed an awful lot of motorcycles. Were we going to get in a brawl? Who knew?
We grabbed a table in the dining area and were greeted by cheerful and friendly staff. With a live cover band blasting the likes of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, mixed with our tasty beers we were a happy gang. I ordered the steamed clams and shrimp, not a recommended pre race meal but I have an iron stomach and Harriman was to be a fun race for me. Ed, on the other hand, had a French Onion Soup and french fries… perhaps his smartest race meal yet.
Back at the camp site by 11PM I was determined to have a fire. You simply cannot say you went camping without a fire! From 11-3AM we sat around the camp fire drinking beers and having a blast! You would never know from the looks of it that we had a triathlon in 4 hours!
Mike woke us at 6AM and it hurt. I was in charge of coffee and I got right to it using my Bucaletti, it was fantastic. After we drank our java and had some bagels we hopped in the car for the 5 minute drive to Welch Lake. It’s very ‘Friday the 13th’ in case you were wondering. The temperature was 60 degrees or so but quickly warming with every passing minute as the sun rose.
Doug and his girlfriend met us at the lake. This was his first triathlon and I have been kind of coaching him through emails so I was excited to see what he was gonna do!
We eventually lined up on the beach and prepared for attack. I was very excited and felt feisty.
The gun went off and I plunged into the soup. no longer do I hold back and wait for the masses to clear. Bring the noise.
My swim went well. My form was not as tight as it could be and I floundered once or twice but overall held a nice pace. The water was crystal clear and felt amazing.
I exited the water and Mike and Ed were right with me!
Up in T1 I got my act together fast. I was excited to get my bike on.
Out on the course I felt pretty strong. Since it was a 15 miler I was pushing all I had. The course is pretty hilly, but manageable. We had some wind and unfortunately is was never at our backs!
Blazing down a straightaway, I wasn’t paying attention to the terrain, head down, and hit a rock. It made that characteristic ‘ding’ noise we know so well. “Damn!” I yelled, thinking maybe it would be okay. It was not. 500 more yards and I was flat.
I pulled over, half thinking I was close enough to the finish I could run my bike in. “Officer!” I yelled to a nearby volunteer cop. “How many miles to the finish?” He told me I had 7 to go, no way am I running it. I got to work changing my tire as streams of bikers passed me.
Ed and Doug rode by at the same time and both yelled, “Baker? No!” I think it took me 20 minutes to change the tire due to the last bead being such a pain to get over the rim. I was pretty proud of myself for actually changing a race wheel.
FUN FACT: In my 3 years of triathlon I have never had a flat during a race.
I kept a positive attitude knowing that this was just a fun race for me. Finally, I was ready to go after using my C02 and assembling my bike again. I took it easy knowing that my front tire was most likely not at the proper pressure it needed to be.
Up ahead there was a rider in distress on the side of the road. As I approached I saw that it was Mike! He looked at me and said, “Baker?” Where did you come from?” I quickly explained my situation as he told me his back wheel had fallen off and he was about to throw in the towel. This was Mike’s second triathlon so I thought we had better get him back on the road. I threw my ride in the grass and jumped over to help. The wheel and chain were in a jumble. We straightened the chain, tweaked the rear derailleur and attempted to set the wheel. It wouldn’t set so I grabbed the front tire and pulled while I had Mike pull the rear wheel. It moved correctly and then with a quick punch on the tire it locked into place.
Mike was pretty psyched. We started riding again and he told me to go so I did. I was jazzed up too so I forgot that I was riding on a bunk wheel. 1-2 Miles further I was in aero crushing it on a rough patch of downhill when I heard a fizz and then my wheel totally flatted again! I maintained control and pulled off to the side of the road.
A few minutes later Mike pulled up in disbelief, “Again!?” I told him I was done. He had said he had called the SAG Wagon to pick him up before I had arrived, so I was expecting a ride soon. He took off and in a few minutes an ambulance came up behind me. “You the guy that called for a ride?” “No, but I’ll take one!”
We took up the rear of the race for the next 5 miles following the last racers.
Back at T2 they were already doing the awards! Jim and Ed both got 3rd AG Awards! Nice work guys! I saw Doug too, who was ecstatic for completing his first triathlon! Congrats Doug!
We wrapped up the day with lunch at Rhodes!
It’s a funny feeling not finishing a race. I wasn’t sore or tired and I had this sense of un fulfillment. I wasn’t disappointed in me, I was just sad that I didn’t get to rocket through a run and cross that Finish. There are always more Battles right around the corner…