Triathlon Across The USA: State #27 – Nevada
3,659 miles and 12 states in six days, all to participate in a sprint triathlon in Nevada that lasted roughly one and one-half hours. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Read on. I am sure you will agree.
Once again . . .
The Rage Triathlon in Boulder City, Nevada provided multiple, enjoyable experiences – a road trip during which my wife and I enjoyed conversation and multiple audio books (“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough, “How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age” with Brent Cole to name our favorites), time with family members, seeing new parts of this great country, and the opportunity to race with others who enjoy triathlon.
The decision for Nevada to be the next triathlon target was made in November 2015 following the approach described in an earlier post titled How to select the location and specific race for your next triathlon.
Since my mother’s passing in June 2015, my father has been living alone in his home in the Denver, Colorado area. My parents were six months short of having been married 65 years when my mother passed on. Needless to say, my father has been lonely and I wanted to see him.
Nevada was the first choice. I had already completed a triathlon in Colorado and Nevada was one (and the closest) of the last two western USA states in which I had yet to complete a triathlon – California will be the last.
Travel to the triathlon
After setting the date for the Nevada triathlon, we (my dad and I) had planned for him to join us on the trip from his home to Nevada. However, even before beginning the trip, I knew that it was likely that he would not make the trip. He had fallen in March and injured one of his legs. While he was steadily recovering, he had decided it best to not make the trip.
My wife and I left our Minnesota home at noon on Tuesday, April 12 for our first stop, an overnight one, at our son’s and his family’s home in Bennington, Nebraska. The weather was perfect and we arrived in time to hug the two granddaughters, eat a steak dinner and enjoy a good night’s rest before the next day’s travel to my dad’s house in Parker, Colorado.
We arrived at my dad’s house in the late afternoon on Wednesday and had an early dinner at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant near his home. Early in the visit, my dad told us about the possibility of snow on I-70 west of Denver during the weekend in which we were to return from Nevada to Denver. While we had planned to return home through Denver for a second night’s stay at my dad’s, we now realized that this might not happen.
The next morning following a leisurely breakfast and some very pleasant conversation, we headed on toward Nevada.
It was not long after leaving my dad’s house that I read of a winter storm warning for a major part of Utah, including the area into which we were traveling. We managed to get through the area affected by the storm seeing only a few snowflakes. However, this was the leading edge of the storm that eventually dumped 3 to 5 feet (90 to 150 cm) of snow on the road that we had used to travel from Denver to Boulder City.
The Rage Triathlon was held in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, minutes outside of Boulder City, Nevada and from the Hoover Dam.
Following packet pick-up (another of the rituals of triathlon) in Henderson, Nevada, we traveled onto our hotel in Boulder City and prepared for the race (checked tire pressure, added race numbers, filled water bottle, etc.).
While I was taking care of the last minutes details, my wife was reading information about the area and searching for a restaurant. One of the printed lists of restaurants in the hotel room contained a handwritten note made by a previous guest with a glowing endorsement of Evan’s Old Town Grille.
We decided to follow the recommendation and traveled for an early dinner at Evan’s in the historic section of Boulder City (nice area). The referral turned out to be a good one. Evan’s is a small restaurant with an extensive, economically priced menu. We recommend Evan’s too. We also recommend that you make reservations – it is a busy place with a good mix of locals and visitors.
Whether related to the winter snowstorm to the north or not, the wind was horrendous. I spent a restless night before the triathlon listening to the wind howling, wondering if the race would be canceled or, worse yet, I would be blown off the road during the bike leg of the race.
Upon rising, I checked the weather report on my phone to confirm what I had been hearing from the bed – high winds, actually a ‘wind advisory’.
The race included Sprint (my choice) and Olympic distances, including relays. While the wind was a small factor in the race, it was not nearly as bad as I had imagined.
There were small waves. According to an announcement by the race director prior to the start, the swim course was modified last minute as a result of the wind conditions.
The open water swim involved groups based on gender and age group – I was in the group of men, 40 and over plus Clydesdales. The post-race results showed that this group numbered slightly more than 90.
The water was clear with a bottom containing sharp rocks and small shells – I found three small cuts on my feet after the race. Typical of many open water swims in a triathlon was the person who wanted to pass at all cost, including going over top, and the guy who could not sight (swim in a straight line to the next turn) properly and, instead of swimming in a straight line, followed a ‘zig-zag’ path, repeatedly swimming in front of me until I finally got past him.
The bike course was hilly – my average speed was a little over 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour) yet I reached a top speed of 36 miles per hour (58 km per hour) – downhill, apparently with the wind. The wind gusts did have an effect. In portions of the course where it was most windy, I was reluctant to get into the aero (short for ‘aerodynamic’ in which the rider is hunched over with elbows resting on pads mounted to the handlebars) position for fear of being blown off the road.
Note: After I returned home, I spoke with a person at my local bike shop (Maple Grove Cycling) about this experience and my concern about riding in the aero position with gusty side winds. His suggestion was that confidence would come with experience riding in similar conditions during training rides. I guess that I need more time in the saddle.
The run course was relatively flat and unaffected by the windy conditions. I followed the advice of not running too fast until my legs had adjusted and ended with a strong finish.
The result was a first place finish in the Men’s 60-64 age group and 67th place finish among 157 men of all ages.
First time experiences or observations associated with this triathlon were:
- First race in a National Park.
- First race in which the transition area was setup as a long corridor with bikes lined up along the edges. This approach is generally simpler, though I did find it somewhat more challenging to find my specific transition space since I could not simply count the number of rows from the entrance to the transition area. This approach also makes the distance traveled within the transition area somewhat longer.
- First race in which an age-group podium finisher had only one arm.
In November, while I was beginning to plan the 2016 triathlon season, I assumed that it would be safe to travel through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in April. (Some of you know what ‘assume’ really means – write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know.) Little did I know that April is actually the month with the second highest snowfall in Colorado.
As mentioned above, the winter snowstorm that occurred while we were in Nevada produced enough snow to close I-70 for several hours each on at least two days. This made a return trip using the same route as that for traveling to Nevada impossible unless we would have had delayed our return by at least two days.
The latter, to delay the return, was not possible because of obligations at home. Therefore, we returned using a southern route taking us across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.
Once again, a triathlon provided multiple, enjoyable experiences – a road trip during which my wife and I enjoyed conversation and multiple audio books (“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough, “How to Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age” with Brent Cole to name our favorites), time with family members, seeing new parts of this great country, and the opportunity to race with others who enjoy triathlon.
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