Triathlon Across the USA: State #9 – Rhode Island
Middletown, Rhode Island, September 22, 2012 – Amica 19.7 Newport, Second Beach and Third Beach.
The goal for 2012, the second year in the ‘triathlon in each state by age 70’ journey, was to complete triathlons in the remaining New England states. It turned out that there were triathlons in Rhode Island and New Hampshire back-to-back days in September. Registration for these two races was also open early so I was able to lock-in the schedule early, on January 20th.
Travel to the Rhode Island Triathlon
Joy and I left Chicopee, Massachusetts at around 3pm on Friday, taking a southern route through Hartford, Connecticut to Newport, Rhode Island. We arrived at the race venue for packet pickup with some difficulty. Since we had forgotten the GPS in Minnesota, we were forced to navigate the ‘old fashioned’ way using printed maps.
After picking up the race packet, we made our way to the hotel for the evening in Swansea, Massachusetts. In order to save some money, I used Priority Club points to book a free night at the nearest Holiday Inn. The hotel was supposed to be 25 minutes drive from Newport. Instead, it took us 45 minutes.
We finally made it to the hotel, a bit frustrated from the difficulties in first getting to the race site and then to the hotel. However, the payoff was a wonderful dinner at Kent’s – Joy had steak and lobster and I had fish and chips. Both were excellent.
The next morning, we rose early and made our way to the race venue. This time, however, we used a more efficient route arriving with time to spare.
3rd Amica 19.7 Newport
2012 was the 3rd running of the Newport 19.7 sprint triathlon sponsored by Amica.
Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:
- Swim: 0.5 mile (800 m)
- Bike: 16.1 mile (25.8 km)
- Run: 3.1 mile (5 km)
By the way, in case you have not already noticed, the number ‘19.7’ in the race name is the sum of the distances, in miles, of the swim, bike, and run legs of the triathlon.
Like the recently completed No Label triathlon in Katy, Texas, the Newport 19.7 had two distinct transition areas – one for the swim to bike in a park at Third Beach and another for the bike to run near Second Beach.
Following the pre-race meeting, we walked our bikes from the second transition area to the swim/bike transition area about a half mile away at Third Beach.
Race time came with a light mist in the air, enough to cover my goggles and later, glasses worn during the bike leg.
The half-mile swim took place in the bay off Third Beach. The water was calm and comfortably warm with a wetsuit. However, beneath the water were sharp rocks that cut my feet in at least two locations during the swim.
As it turned out, I soon forgot about these small cuts.
At somewhere around five miles into the bike course, I started to notice a periodic hissing sound from the front tire. I later learned that this sound was of air leaking from the tube with each revolution of the wheel.
Since it was misting, my glasses were wet and I could not see that the front tire was gradually becoming flat. It finally became apparent that the tire was flat and that I was riding on the rim of the front wheel. I had no choice but to stop and replace the tube.
I decided to make the upcoming turn and pull off the road to replace the tire. That is when I learned how little control one has with a flat front tire.
My First Crash
Upon making the turn, I went down hard on my right side, in front of a crowd of spectators, no less. In the fall, which landed me partially on asphalt and partially on a grassy shoulder of the road, I cut my leg around the knee, scraped my right arm from the wrist to the elbow, jammed my shoulder into the grassy ground next to the road, and superficially scraped other parts of my right side.
I had just removed the front tire as part of the process of replacing the tube, when a person who was driving the course looking for people in my predicament turned the corner. He stopped and asked if I needed help.
Casting any remaining pride and ego aside, I told him that I would very much appreciate his help. He became my Good Samaritan by graciously and quickly replacing the tube. He also replaced the chain that had come off in the fall so that I could continue the race. My best estimate is that the repairs took about four and a half minutes.
Surprising even myself a bit, I got back on the bike and rode hard. I even found myself going fast down some steep hills to finish the course.
After all of the excitement during the bike leg, the run seemed rather uneventful.
I realized that I looked pretty battered when another runner started talking with me. With compassion in his voice, he told me about a similar experience that he had had a week earlier.
From the Finish Line
From the finish line, where Joy was patiently waiting, we made our way to the first aid vehicle. Paramedics cleaned my cuts and scrapes and covered the main ones on my arm and knee with gauze.
While putting the bike into the van, I noticed a relatively large hole in the tire. In fact, the hole was large enough that the new tube protruded from it. It turned out that the tire was not repairable.
On the way to the hotel in New Hampshire, we stopped at a bike shop where they replaced the tire. Near as could be determined from the tire is that the puncture had come from a relatively large piece of glass or unusually sharp rock.
Despite having lost 4-5 minutes with the flat tire and crash, I finished 9th of 16 in my age group.
Fortunately, even five years later, this has been the toughest triathlon from the perspective of injuries. On a positive note, I learned two important lessons that I have taken with me to other races.
The most important lesson was to stop riding at the earliest indication of a tire leak/puncture. Following this experience, I have become a bit ‘gun-shy’ whenever the road is wet and I hear water spraying from the tire. On at least one occasion, I have stopped the bike to verify that the tire was still solid.
A second lesson from this race was that whenever race organizers provide a transition area bag, use it. It helps to avoid losing gear in the chaos of a race.
At packet pickup, race organizers provided a plastic bag which included our race number. Volunteers used the bags to transport racer’s wetsuits and goggles from the individual swim/bike transition spaces to the second transition area.
I made the mistake of not bringing the plastic bag to the swim/bike transition area. The result was that I spent several moments after the race frantically digging through a pile of unbagged swim gear, searching for my wetsuit and goggles. Fortunately (especially given the swim in the Atlantic Ocean during the New Hampshire triathlon the next day), I found both.
- First race with the swim portion in the Atlantic Ocean
- First race in which I had a flat tire
- First race in which I was injured (as a result of the flat tire)
You may also be interested in these posts
- Triathlon Across the USA: State #7 – Connecticut
- Triathlon Across the USA: State #8 – New York
- 15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons