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 Springs.

An Indirect Route to the Colorado Triathlon

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.

Terry with parents at IHOP before the Colorado triathlon
Enjoying ice cream and good conversation with my parents. Photo courtesy of Joy.

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, 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.

The people working at bike shops are among the most generous I know. The guys at the Parker store of Treads (the local Trek dealer at the time) 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 I could test ride the bike after they implemented what they believed would be a fix for the problem.

The final solution appeared to be applying a grit filled, sticky/greasy substance to the seat post. This material was 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 in case I needed more in the future.

When I left the bike shop, I was convinced they had solved the problem. I headed into the race confident in my equipment.

Inverness Triathlon

The Inverness Triathlon, held at the Colorado Athletic Club in Englewood, included individual and relay sprint triathlon 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. For example, one of the guys who swam in the same group as me competed in the aqua-bike. He explained that he chose this event because of a chronic knee problem that prevented him from running.

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.

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. This is commonly referred to as a ‘time trial start’.

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 as me.

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 we exited the pool at the end of the swim leg at the end opposite from that at which we entered it.

From the exit of the pool, it was a short walk or jog to the transition area just outside the pool area.


The bike course took us through a business area in the south Denver suburb of Englewood. The course had the feel of a labyrinth of side streets lined with modern office buildings and the occasional green space. The altitude was between 5,720 and 5,900 feet – 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 applied to the seat post at the bike shop the day before was not doing its job. In fact, by the time I finished the bike leg, 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 and learn from it.

St. Paul to the Romans (Romans 5:3-4)


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 with the difference in altitude between my Minnesota home and Colorado. 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.

Receiving award at Inverness Triathlon, Englewood, Colorado triathlon.
Receiving the award for a second place age group finish at the Inverness Triathlon, Englewood, Colorado.

Reflections on the Colorado Triathlon

Other than for the swimming portion, triathlon is not much of a spectator sport. Nevertheless, my parents stayed for the entire race and even seemed to enjoy all the activity around the event.

We were glad that we had made the trip. This weekend was among the last times we spent time with my parents. Within a few years, both had passed away.

After the award’s ceremony, we headed back to Minneapolis with an overnight stop in Omaha, Nebraska, to see our son Ben, daughter-in-law Lindsey, and granddaughter Mari (Anna Joy was not yet born). 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.

I no longer needed the grit-filled material for the seat post.

Race Firsts

  • First race at over one mile altitude
  • First triathlon involving a problem that affected the bike fit
  • This was the first (and only) triathlon attended by my parents

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