Triathlon Across the USA: State #39-Georgia

Triathlon Across the USA: State #39-Georgia

Buford, Georgia, September 23, 2018 – Lake Lanier Triathlon, Lake Lanier Islands Resort

About an hour drive northeast of downtown Atlanta is active, “something for everyone” Lake Lanier Islands Resort, home of the Georgia triathlon in our Triathlon Across the USA adventure.

Planning the Georgia Triathlon

The Georgia Triathlon was the third of five triathlons completed in as many states during consecutive weekends in the fall of 2018.

 

Travel to the Georgia Triathlon

Following the Dixie Triathlon in Huntingdon, Tennessee, Joy and I drove to The Villages, Florida where we enjoyed the hospitality of our friends Don and Sue.

Before we knew it, the week had passed and it was time to move on to Georgia.  We said our farewells on Friday morning and drove to just south of Atlanta.  Here we enjoyed a fun and relaxing evening of conversation with our nephew Joe, his wife, Alaina, and daughter Ruby.

On Saturday morning, we headed toward Lake Lanier Islands Resort for the triathlon.

 

14th Lake Lake Lanier Islands Triathlon

While the race was held on Sunday, participants were required to drop-off our bikes on Saturday afternoon.  In hindsight, this was probably necessary given the number of racers (around 550) and the parking restrictions we found on race morning.

 

A Lesson in Bike Maintenance

During the Dixie Triathlon, the chain of my bike had come off the gears while down-shifting before a steep hill.  I was concerned that this had occurred so soon after a bike tune-up. I decided to take the bike to a Trek bike shop near The Villages, Florida for a checkup.

While the technician could not find anything obvious that would have caused the chain to come off, he pointed out that there was a significant drag of the rear brake on the rear wheel.  Apparently, there was nothing he could do to quickly fix this.   He explained that since the brake is ‘buried’ within the frame, adjusting it would require disassembling the rear portion of the bike.

Walking my bike to the transition area for the Lake Lanier Triathlon on Saturday afternoon, I noticed even more drag than I had remembered.  Joy suggested that we have the bike mechanic on-site at the packet pickup take a look at it.

The young mechanic was confident that he could make the adjustment though found that he had not brought the correct socket with him.  I went back to the van and grabbed my socket and torque wrench set.  As it turned out, my toolkit had the correct socket for the adjustment.

However, even with the correct tool, the technician was unable to fix the problem.  However, he thought that adjusting the wheel could possibly reduce the drag.

After the initial adjustment made matters worse, I asked him to give it another try.   The vision of climbing the hills along the course with the brake effectively on, especially in heat and humidity, was not at all appealing.  Fortunately – and much to my surprise – the second attempt significantly reduced the drag.

 

Even Though the Bike Had Been Recently Tuned

The irony of this situation was that the front gear set had been replaced and the bike had been ‘tuned up’ before the race.  However, I had adjusted the position of the clamp on the wheel skewer (which no doubt affected the alignment) before the Ohio triathlon.  I had not realized that such an adjustment could affect the wheel-brake alignment.

In hindsight, I should have made the adjustment and ridden the bike before leaving home.

While I cannot swear to it, I am sure that the brake was dragging during the previous two races in Ohio and Tennessee, those during which I had found it necessary to walk the bike up the steepest of hills.

 

Triathlon tip: Make sure you give yourself time for a thorough test ride of your bike after a tune-up and before your next race with it.   During the test ride, simulate the triathlon as much as possible.

 

A Mix of Athletes

The Lake Lanier event, managed by Georgia Multisports (Marietta, Georgia), included both sprint triathlon and aquabike (swim and bike; no run) competitions.  There was also a relay option for the sprint triathlon.

Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 0.23 mile (400 yds or 366 m)
  • Bike: 13 mile (21 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)

The triathlon was unique (at least in my experience) in that there were male and female triathletes from several universities – Auburn University, Clemson University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oakwood University, University of Alabama, University of South Carolina, and University of Tennessee – competing in the triathlon.

 

Race Day

The morning started with a walk to the transition area in near pitch darkness.  However, once the sun rose, we looked into clear and calm skies with an air temperature in the mid-60’s °F.

The pre-race meeting held near the swim start was concluded with the playing of the national anthem during which one of the collegiate males held the USA flag.

 

Swim

The swim took place in the Margaritaville water park within the Lake Lanier Islands Resort.  Starting from the sugar sand beach, swimmers within a wave walked into the water to just beyond the roped-off area and awaited the start signal, a blast on a compressed air horn.

The official water temperature was 81.7°F so, according to USAT rules, wetsuits were not allowed for anyone wishing to be eligible for prizes or awards.

There were a total of fifteen waves, or groups of swimmers, beginning with collegiate males.  Waves continued with groups of males by age from youngest to oldest.  My wave, the last group of males, consisted of all of the 69 males aged 50 and over.

It was then time for the female collegiate swimmers to start their race.  This group was followed, as with the males, by females in age groups from youngest to oldest.

The swim course involved two turns (see the inset in the picture below). After swimming away from the swim start in a direction opposite the exit, we reached the first turn buoy.  From here, it was a nearly straight shot toward the exit.  The last turn occurred before heading into the beach.

area-of-the-Georgia-triathlon-swim

Location of the swim start and exit. This picture was taken from the elevation of the transition area. The inset picture at the lower right is my actual path from the GPS watch worn during the race.

 

Once out of the water, it was a few steps to the dock that led us across the water onto a long and steep concrete path toward the parking lot and into the transition area.

 

Bike

We mounted the bike on a flat area just outside the transition area.  From here, it was down a short but steep hill out of the parking lot followed by a right turn onto the parkway.  A block-long flat stretch gave me time to slip my feet into the bike shoes.  It was then up the first hill.

The picturesque ride followed a series of gently rolling hills on an open course, one we shared with normal automobile and truck traffic.  However, with plenty of volunteer and police support, bikers remained safe.

The course eventually left the resort property and continued onto a loop on local roads before returning back to the resort.  While a small stretch of the course was under repair, most of the roads were good quality.

There were a few areas of congestion caused by the mixed car and bike traffic.   Thanks to one area of congestion within the resort, I was actually able to pass a black sports car which had slowed while following another biker.

Scenes-from-the-bike-course-of-the-Lake-Lanier-Islands-Sprint-Triathlon.

Scenes from the bike course of the Lake Lanier Islands Sprint Triathlon.

 

Run

The run course was within the resort and separate from the bike course.  The initial half to three-quarters of a mile was relatively flat.  However, it became progressively hillier as we went through this leg.

Late in the run, I was reminded of the encouragement that characterizes triathlons, especially among us ‘age groupers’ and weekend athletes.

A young lady, who I recognized to be 35 years old by the magic marker labeled left calf, slapped me on the back as she passed by, turned, and said with a big smile ‘Way to go! You’ve got this!’.

The embarrassing part of this for me was that as she slapped my back, I noticed a sloppy, splashing sound.  Appreciating the encouragement but feeling embarrassed, I yelled out to her, “Sorry for the sweat.”

Her comeback was precious.  Still smiling, she replied “That’s lake water. Right?”

“Right”, I replied, now also smiling.  The memory of that exchange still brings a smile.

near-the-finish-line-at-the-Georgia-triathlon

Caption: My sprint to the finish line at the Lake Lanier Islands Triathlon 2018.  The picture was taken by Tim Nettleton for TrueSpeedPhoto.com and provided compliments of Georgia Multisports.

 

Joy met me at the finish line with a bottle of cold water.   We headed over to the food table for a couple of banana halves, a slice of pizza, and some more liquid refreshment.

 

After the Race

After collecting the gear from the transition area, it was on to the Atlantic Coast in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, curious as to what we would find in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

 

Race First’s

  • First time competing with collegiate triathletes.
  • First time with a swim at a waterpark beach.
  • Longest distance from the exit of the water to the transition area.

 

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