Triathlon Across the USA: State #17 – Colorado
Englewood, Colorado, September 8, 2013 – Inverness Triathlon
Adding Colorado to the 2013 Triathlon Season
We decided that 2013 was the year to share my love for triathlon with my parents. Since they were living in the south Denver suburb of Parker, it was a matter of finding Colorado triathlons that fit our schedule. We decided on the one closest to Parker.
As long as we were making the trip, Joy and I decided to add a few days and a couple of extra stops to check in on family in South Dakota and Nebraska and to visit friends in Colorado.
An Indirect Route to Colorado
The path from Minneapolis to Denver was anything but direct. We started the six-day, six-state trip on Wednesday morning by heading to Rapid City, South Dakota for a visit with Joy’s aunt Evelyn.
The next day, we reached our friends Steve and Lori in Colorado Springs for a visit with them. Then, on Friday, we made the hour and a half drive from Colorado Springs to my parent’s house in Parker.
Last Minute Equipment Problem
While on a short bike ride around my parent’s neighborhood on Friday afternoon, I noticed that the seat kept sliding down, not just a little but almost a foot within a few blocks. While I could still ride the bike, it took more effort to keep moving at a normal pace than it did with the seat at its correct height.
Not wanting to over tighten (over torque) the seat post clamp and risk cracking the carbon fiber frame of the Trek SpeedConcept 7.5, I called the Trek bike shop in Parker for ideas on how to solve the problem.
We agreed that I would bring the bike into the shop on Saturday.
In my experience, the people working at bike shops are among the most generous I know. The guys at the Parker store of Treads were no exception.
They spent several hours trying to solve the mystery of the sinking seat. Much of the time was spent with the bike on a trainer so that I could test ride the bike after they implemented what they believed would be a fix for the problem.
The final solution appeared to come with applying a grit filled, sticky/greasy substance to the seat post. This material is designed to create additional friction between the seat post and clamp to keep the post from moving.
In the end, they did not ask for anything. I decided to purchase a tube of the grit filled material for possible future use.
When I left the bike shop, I was convinced that they had solved the problem. I headed into the race confident in my equipment.
The Inverness Triathlon, which was held at the Colorado Athletic Club in Englewood, included both the sprint triathlon (individual and relay) and aqua-bike events.
Distances for the individual legs of the USAT-sanctioned Inverness triathlon were:
- Swim: 0.3 mile (574 yd or 525 m)
- Bike: 12 mile (19.3 km)
- Run: 3 mile (4.8 km)
The aqua-bike race was available for those who did not want to or were unable to run the three mile distance of the triathlon. The aqua-bike included the swim and bike distances of the triathlon with only short walk or jog to the finish line from the transition area.
One of the guys who swam in the same group as me participated in the aqua-bike. He explained that he was competing in this event because of a chronic knee problem that prevented him from running.
Later, while chatting before the race, he told me that, from his perspective, the bike course for this race was ‘quite flat’. When we later met on the course, I shared with him that flat from the perspective of a Minnesotan is clearly different from that of one from Colorado.
The triathlon began with the slowest swimmers (those who reported the longest expected swim times) starting first. Five swimmers occupied each lane and started about 10 seconds apart from each other.
There was also one lane for the fastest swimmers, those who expected to swim the 525 m in 7 minutes 30 seconds or less.
Since I was in neither camp – neither among the slowest nor the fastest, I waited and eventually found a group of five other swimmers who expected to complete the swim in a similar time.
The swim involved 21 lengths of the 25 m pool, all within the same lane shared by the five swimmers. The odd number of lengths meant that we exited the pool at the end of the swim leg at the end opposite from that at which we entered the pool.
From the exit of the pool, it was a short walk/jog to the transition area just outside the pool area.
The bike course was a labyrinth of side streets populated by modern office buildings mixed with the occasional green space in the south Denver suburb of Englewood. The altitude was between 5,720 and 5,900 ft – a little over one mile high.
The bike course was a bit hillier than typical venues, though not especially difficult. After a 120 foot descent over the first 2-1/2 miles, the course ascended 180 feet over the next 8 miles.
Late in the bike leg, it became clear that the gritty material that had been put on the seat post was not completely effective. In fact, by the time I got off the bike, the seat post had dropped about a foot. At least it had taken longer for this to happen than it had on Friday.
While the bike was still working fine, I was not generating the same amount of power with each stroke of the pedal as with the seat at the correct height. The result: it was taking longer to get through the course.
What should I have done differently? The guys at the bike shop in Parker had done everything that they knew to do.
In hindsight, I should have taken the bike for a ride a week before leaving home for Colorado. This would have at least provided more time to diagnose and solve the problem.
Another lesson learned.
Triathlon Lesson: A triathlon is a microcosm of life. The unexpected often occurs during a race. It is best to accept whatever comes along. (Romans 5:3)
The run was partially on a combined walking and running trail and partially on city sidewalks, all behind the fitness center. Even though the run course was relatively flat, my run was actually a mix of running and walking.
I expected the run to be a challenge given the difference in altitude between my home in Minnesota and that of Englewood. Running near my parent’s home during several previous visits had taught me that running at the higher altitude was more difficult.
Despite the challenges with the bike and run legs of this race, I ended up finishing 50th of 200 overall and second within my 60-64 year men’s age group. For me, that was respectable.
Admittedly, other than the swimming portion, triathlon is not much of a spectator sport. Nevertheless, my parents stayed for the entire race and even seemed to enjoy the activity.
We were glad that we made the trip. This weekend was among the last times that we spent time with my parents. Within a few years they had both passed away.
After the award’s ceremony, we headed back to Minneapolis with an overnight stop to see our son Ben, daughter-in-law Lindsey, and granddaughter Mari (Anna Joy was not yet born) in Omaha, Nebraska. More precious time with family.
Fixing the Bike Seat
A week or so after returning home, I took the bike into my local bike shop, Maple Grove Cycling . After explaining the problem, I learned that Trek had very recently announced a recall of the seat post clamp. A Maple Grove Cycling technician installed the new and improved clamp.
The grit filled material for the seat post was no longer needed.
- First race at over one mile altitude
- First triathlon involving a problem that affected the bike fit
- First (and only) triathlon attended by my parents