5 Days to Havasu

5 Days to Havasu

Marathon runners

My intention for this post was to discuss traveling with a bike.  I’m dead tired this morning and my brain is not firing on all eight cylinders.  In fact, my brain doesn’t have eight cylinders.  To tell the truth, it doesn’t have any cylinders, because it’s a brain not an engine.

I’ll just start typing and see what comes out.  Bikes and traveling might not make it out.

I’m so tired this morning because I sat on my mountain bike for six and a half hours on Saturday.  Today is Monday.    The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was on Saturday and I swept the race.  If you’re not familiar with the term “swept”, let me explain.   The race sweeper is the person who follows that last person in the race.  In the case of a Marathon, the sweeper is usually riding a bike.

The Good

I love doing that job.  The end of the race is where you get to meet interesting people.  Actually, all people at the race are interesting, but the vast majority are running too fast to talk to you.  Bringing in the last runner across the finish line is also a rewarding experience.  They are always so grateful to have you there helping them achieve their goals.

At this particular race on Saturday, I rode the last eight miles along side of a runner named Will from Chapel Hill, NC.   It was his first marathon.  Sometimes we moved down the road in silence.  Other times we talked about his life in Chapel Hill, his training, his history.  I found out that at one time he weighed 360 pounds (for my readers in Scotland, that’s almost 26 stone!) and that he had been in a near fatal car accident.   Everything he had to overcome just to start this race seemed daunting.

He finished in 5 hours and 58 minutes.  Had he been just 2 minutes later, he would have received a DNF, but he made it and that made me feel good.

In the words of The Voice of IRONMAN, Mike Reilly,

Will was our final winner today.

The Bad

One of the downsides of sweeping a race is that you ride along side some people who you know are not going to make it.  Some of these athletes know fully well that they will be pulled off the course if they don’t reach certain mile markers within an acceptable time.  After all, the race directors can not keep traffic blocked all day.

There are, however, other athletes that are totally oblivious to the fact that they have to be somewhere by a certain time (see the previous blog post).  And most of these are usually quite belligerent when they are told to either quit the race or remove their race number.   You can’t stop them from running if it’s not against the law, but you can remove them from the protection of the organized race simply by taking their race bib.

I think last Saturday’s race was free of any serious confrontations, but there was one gentleman who was not happy about being pulled.   I get it… you’re not happy.  See the previous blog entry in this series.

The Ugly

This is endurance sport.  There is no ugly here.  But that was a good movie, wasn’t it?

WB Marathon Start Line

Wrap Up

Another reason I’m dead tired today is that I had a brick workout yesterday and I ran with Marty this morning.  If you’ve seen the TriRiot videos, you’ve probably heard me talk about Marty.  You might have even seen him in a TriRiot episode.   He’s my friend that was on the injured list for about 6 months back in 2008/2009 because he was hit by a deer on a training ride.   Marty was not an avid deer hunter before that incident.

Maybe tomorrow we can talk about traveling with a bike.

6 Days to Havasu

6 Days to Havasu

Have you ever been running in a triathlon and wondered if you took the wrong turn somewhere?  Or maybe you were disqualified for missing a cutoff time that you didn’t know about?



Today we discuss that magical document that eludes at least 5% of triathletes at any given race:  THE ATHLETE GUIDE.

I could be way off on that 5% estimate.  I pretty much pulled it out of thin air, but every time I work on a triathlon or marathon I deal with at least one athlete (and sometimes several) who either was pulled from the course or missed a turn or received a penalty or unknowingly violated a rule. Most of them admit not reading the athlete guide.

Race Rules

In the case of the Havasu Triathlon, there doesn’t seem to be a formal document called an athlete guide.  However, if you read the website, pretty much everything you need to know is there:  course maps, event schedule, parking, etc.  There’s even a link to the most commonly violated USAT rules.

Havasu Triathlon website home page
Most all the rules you need to know are on the website

I can’t stress this enough: READ THE WEBSITE (I’m not yelling. I’m being adamant)

Nuff said ’bout that… almost.

Interesting Behavior

If you’re an experienced triathlete, you’ve probably already read the race rules and you know the USAT rules by heart.   But even experienced triathletes get lost on any of the swim, bike or run courses.

Pop Quiz:
1. So you're in a race and a race official pulls you from the course for missing a cutoff.  What do you do?

  • A: Get belligerent/Throw a tantrum
  • C: Thank your race staff for a nice ride to the finish line and sign up for another race as soon as you get home.

And the correct answer is…

It doesn’t matter what you do.  Your race results are going to be the same.    However, if you  want to be known as the person who got pissed off for not reading the rules, choose answer A.  If you do choose answer A, I know a few people who are going to make fun of you behind your back for years to come.

Conclusion

Don’t be known as the person who cussed out  the race volunteers and officials.  RTFAG: Read The Athlete Guide.   I mean that in the nicest way possible.   😉

 

 

7 Days to Havasu

7 Days to Havasu

What can you do in the middle of nowhere?  Be a tourist, of course.

If you’ve been following this countdown to the Havasu Triathlon,  you’re probably wondering when I’m going to say something meaningful or something of substance.    While you’re waiting, read on.

The Big Picture

If you’re not from the Desert, think of the most desolate place you’ve ever been.  Got it?   Now open a window to Google Earth or your favorite mapping app and query up ‘Lake Havasu City’.   Don’t zoom in too much.  Make sure you can see all the way from Kingman in the North to Interstate 10 in the South.

Need I continue?

Don’t get me wrong, because the middle of nowhere has never looked so good IMHO.  When you get down on the ground, there’s a beauty in the desert that you won’t find anywhere else.   Have you ever smelled the desert after a rain?  That’s something that just gets in your blood and you don’t want it out.

Tourist Activities

In six days, I’m going to be in Lake Havasu City and I’m wondering what else can I do besides swim, bike, run and vomit?  (The vomiting  is not part of the race: it’s a consequence of the race).  There are a few good websites and Facebook pages that can tell you what you want to know about things to do in Lake Havasu City (try this one here), but I already have a To Do list.

If water in the desert is a luxury,  Lake Havasu is a luxurious playground.  I’m no spokesperson for the area, but I plan on doing one or more of the following:

  1. Rent one of those little motorcycles of the boat world: Jet Ski
  2. Take selfies on the London Bridge
  3. Take selfies next to the London Bridge
  4. Take selfies under the London Bridge
  5. Photo bomb people taking selfies near the London Bridge
  6. Ride one of those water canon jet things that shoot you way up (if they have it there).  Should I do this before or after the race?  Probably after.  There’s likely to be more vomiting involved.
  7. Watch a desert sunset.  Just like the smell after a rain, you will never forget one of those spectacular desert sunsets.

If I Had More Time

There are a couple of day trips that I would love to take if only I were staying a bit longer.

  1. Drive North to Kingman, visit the Route 66 museum, and visit the railroad museum.
    Route66 museum

    Kingman Railroad museum
    Railroad museum
  2. Drive South to the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge.  I’d love to explore that rugged, harsh landscape with a camera.

    KOFA NWR
  3. Drive a litter farther South and East to the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant.  I don’t know if they give tours, but it would be worth the phone call to find out.

    Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant

Whatever I actually end up doing, I know I’m going to enjoy it.

 

 

8 Days to Havasu

8 Days to Havasu

Arizona weather may not be what you think it is.

But then again, I could be wrong.

Dry Heat

Everyone jokes about the heat,

“… sure it’s hot here.  But it’s a DRY heat.”  🌵

I grew up in Tucson, spent a summer in Yuma, a few summers in Mesa and Gilbert, traveled all over the state and I have yet to find one area  of the state that is so hot that I would take that joke seriously.  In fact, Flagstaff can be damn cold in the Winter.   For today’s countdown, I’m going to talk about what I expect the weather to  be like on race day in Lake Havasu City.

Why should you listen to me talk about the weather?  My credentials are pretty darn thin and  I’ve never lived in Lake Havasu City (but I have been there).     I’m going to tell you anyway, because I have DATA: not a lot of data, but enough to get an idea of what to expect.  If you are a resident of Lake Havasu City (can I just say LHC?),  you might find this blog post completely useless.  In fact, no matter where you call home you might draw the same conclusion, but on we go with my predictions.

Temperature

A little note about the data… I downloaded historical data for the area from the years 2000 through 2018.  Data from 2005 is missing for some reason  (Maybe there was no weather that year).  So, I have 18 data points, one for 9am March 16 of each year.  I told you it wasn’t much data.

Have a look at the following plot.

Temperature plot

The March 16, 9am temperatures  in Lake Havasu City range from 50F to 78.1F.  There are only six years where the temperature was above 70F and if humidity is low, 70F can feel pretty good.  We’ll get to humidity later.    Also, I’m not going to predict an actual temperature.  Instead, I’m going to prepare for a cool morning swim and a chilly ride on the first part of the bike.  I don’t think I’ll wear arm warmers. The run will be comfortable to hot.

Wind

Windspeed Plot

The plot above shows both wind speed and wind direction.  The text of the wind direction label is sized according to the wind speed.  For example, in the year 2000, the wind came from the North at a speed over 20mph so the word North is much bigger than a wind that moved at a slower speed.  I can’t read the wind directions when the wind speed was 0, but that’s ok.  IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY (yes, I’m yelling).   A quick visual summary of the plot tells me to prepare for a mild wind from the North which means we could have a head wind on the first half of the bike.

Humidity

Normally, I wouldn’t care about humidity for a sprint or Olympic distance race, but the data was there so…

What the plot tells me is that we are likely to have clear skies which means I will bring a brand new bottle of SPF50 sunscreen with me.  Humidity will be quite low, so I’ll plan on taking more water than I usually would and take electrolytes too.  Humidity and Conditions Plot

  Conclusion

I’ll tell you right now that I don’t plan on beating anyone other than my own ghosts.  However, I do feel pretty good right now about the weather conditions that we may have on race day.   My statistics training does force me to consider the possibility of 50 degrees with a 20mph headwind in heavy rain.  And being trained in statistics, I will give that scenario a very small probability.

9 Days to Havasu

9 Days to Havasu

What do chainsaws and the London Bridge have in common?

London Bridge, London
Londoners cross the London Bridge on their way to work.

The funny thing, for me, is that you always hear about THE London Bridge as though there is only one.   I suppose there is only one London Bridge that crosses the River Thames at any given time, but throughout history there have been several bridges called the London Bridge.

London Bridge at night
London Bridge at night

When I was in my early teens, I had heard about this place in the middle of the desert to where THE London Bridge had been moved.  My first thought was, “How are all those Londoners going to cross the river?”   Well, I was in London last year for the first time and I’m happy to report that there are many bridges in London that cross the river.  And one of those bridges is called London Bridge.   Do not confuse the London Bridge with the iconic Tower Bridge.  They are within walking distance of each other, but very different.  One is full of tourists and the other is full of Londoners going to and from work.

London's Tower Bridge
London’s Tower Bridge

So, how did one certain incarnation of the London Bridge find its way to the middle of the desert of Arizona?  It’s a fascinating story and you can read about it on various web pages and blog sites.  In short, a wealthy businessman purchased land in Arizona in the early 1960’s.  His intention was to build a city.  Around 1967, this businessman needed a gimmick or something to attract people to his city and at the same time, the city of London was considering selling the London Bridge.   One thing led to another and the bridge was purchased from London for about two and a half million dollars.  That was just the purchase price.  Now remember, this is before Amazon Prime and free shipping so the cost to dismantle and ship the bridge was pretty damn high.  Our eccentric businessman paid the price and had the bridge reconstructed on dry land.   Dry land?  Yes. If you look at a map of Lake Havasu City today, you can see that the bridge spans a narrow stretch of water between the river bank and an island in the river.   That island used to be a peninsula.  After the bridge was built, a canal was dug underneath the bridge separating the peninsula from the mainland.  (why can’t all bridges be built this way?).

The bridge in the desert is nothing spectacular to look at.  The reason you go to see it is to pay homage to a wealthy eccentric American who had the balls and the money to undertake such a project.  You go to the bridge to celebrate the American dream that anything is possible even it makes little sense.  The bridge is there to remind us that we should never be limited by the practicality of a situation:  dream it and it can be done. That bridge embodies the same spirit as we triathletes do.

Don’t get me wrong.  Walking across that bridge in Lake Havasu City won’t blow your mind or shake your spiritual foundation.  If it does, then that’s your thing.    It’s just one of those things that you look at and wonder why would anyone do this:  much the same as our friends and family members look at us triathletes and wonder the same thing.

In hindsight, it was one of Robert McCulloch’s good decisions.  It drew people to Lake Havasu City.   Do you recognize McCulloch’s name?  He is the one who founded Lake Havasu City and purchased the bridge.  He is also the founder of McCulloch chainsaws.

If Paul Harvey were alive, I’d ask him for his signature quote here…

“and now you know the rest of the story”

10 Days to Havasu

10 Days to Havasu

This is the first day of the TriRiot countdown to the Lake Havasu City Triathlon.

The Date:  Saturday, March 16, 2019

Normally, I would make a video of the countdown.  Lately, however, I’ve been full of excuses as to why I can not get a video posted.  I will spare you my list of excuses except to quote the great Henny Youngman who once said:

“Doctor, my leg hurts. What can I do?” The doctor says, “Limp!”

So I’ll just limp along this countdown as though everything is perfectly normal. 🙂

Regardless, there is plenty of stuff to talk about for this countdown.  For example, did you know that the London bridge that used to span the River Thames was purchased from the city of London, shipped to the U.S. and rebuilt, brick by brick, in Lake Havasu City?   That is absolutely crazy, right?

Also in this countdown, I’ll show off my new bike bag: not a bag that goes on the bike, rather a bag big enough to hold the bike.

Ten days to go until the race in the desert along the Colorado River by the London bridge.  Stay tuned to this blog for the next nine days (and beyond).

2018 Was a Rough Year

It’s been a while…

It’s also been a rough year.  Here’s a short list of 2018’s highlights in my personal calendar:

  • My dear friend, Carol, died unexpectedly.
  • My father-in-law died.
  • Another friend, Mark, died tragically.
  • Joan died from cancer.
  • Channing died from cancer.  You may remember Channing from a recent video: LG’s Coaching Secrets
  • My cousin barely survived a horrible car wreck driving from Phoenix to LA.  She’s still recovering after two months.
  • California was ravaged by wildfires.
  • Florida’s panhandle was ravaged by Hurricane Michael.
  • My house flooded in Hurricane Florence.
Thank god she survived
Barely anything was left of Jeanne’s car after the wreck.

First of all, I’m too young to know this many dead people.  And second, I’m literally homeless.  I’m not on the streets, but my house is not yet livable.   The water rose to 8 inches above floor level and sat there for about 6 days.   It doesn’t sound like much, but it destroyed the floor and weakened the subfloor.  The moisture wicked up the walls almost 30 inches and the mold was everywhere.

I’m not looking for sympathy.  Honestly, I’m not.

I’m building a case to defend why I haven’t posted anything on YouTube since September.    So much energy has gone into fixing the house.

 

Flood damage.

 

 

 

All that is about to change.   I hope to have new videos out as soon as possible.

In spite of all these setbacks, I’m looking forward to a great year of training, racing and video making.

We Are Triathletes

We Are Triathletes  came to Wilmington on August 8, 2018.

GREAT NEWS:  $49.30 was earned for promoting this film and was  donated to the Challenged Athlete’s Foundation.

“It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.”

CAF Mission


The TriRiot web show is on vacation for the 2018 North American triathlon season.  See you in the Fall.

New Triathlon Movie

Triathlon Movies

There are not too many movies about triathlon in general release.  The most recent one I can think of is called TRI.  It was released a couple of years ago and it was not at all what I was hoping for.   I gave it a luke warm review because I wanted to be positive.  I was probably too generous, but it wasn’t bad: it was just lacking clear focus and direction and the acting was mediocre.  (Who am I to talk?  I have no acting talent myself).

But a year or two before TRI was released, I found out about a Triathlon documentary which I talked about in this TriRiot episode:

Finally Here

The triathlon movie that I talked about in early 2015 is almost ready for general release!  There’s been a bit more activity lately on the movie’s Facebook Page suggesting that it should be released sometime in the summer of 2018.  They actually have a movie poster, so it must be close to release.  I am excited, to say the least.

Movie poster posted on Facebook

What I Know About This Film

Most audiences are familiar with the annual broadcast of the Ironman World Championship.  I expect this documentary to be a bit like that, but with more focus on individual athletes rather than race specifics.   The annual broadcast is probably one reason that the sport of triathlon has enjoyed popularity for quite some time.   One of the goals of this new movie is to promote the sport and attract new participants according to Bob Babbitt , the film’s executive producer.

From one of the movie posters I learned that:

  1.  Bob Babbitt is the executive producer.  He is a big name in the world of triathlon.  In fact, he hosts Babbittville Radio and Breakfast with Bob: two shows full of great interviews.  When he posts on twitter (@Bob_Babbitt), I read it.
  2. The film features two big name athletes: Mirinda Carfrae and Rudy Garcia Tolson.  There are other athletes, but I am not as familiar with them.
  3. The title is, “We Are Triathletes
  4. The tag line is, “The mental and emotional challenge is greater than the physical challenge

This Week’s Episode

Why so many people are excited about triathlon

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