Triathlon Across The USA: State #27 – Nevada

Triathlon Across The USA: State #27 – Nevada

Boulder City, Nevada; April 16, 2016 – Lake Mead Recreation Area, Rage Triathlon

Traveling 3,659 miles through 12 states in six days, all to participate in a sprint triathlon in Nevada lasting about one and a half hours. 

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Triathlon and Visits With Family

During November 2015, Joy and I decided on Nevada as the location for the next triathlon in our 50 state adventure. I used the approach described in How to Choose Your Next Triathlon.

Since my mother’s passing last June, 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 died.  My father was lonely. I wanted to see him.

Nevada was our first choice.  I had already completed a triathlon in Colorado. Nevada was one (and the closest) of the last two western USA states in which I had yet to complete a triathlon. California was the other.

A search on Running in the USA led me to the Rage Triathlon.  After reviewing the race website, we decided to register for it.

Travel to the Nevada Triathlon

My dad had planned to join us on the trip from his home to Nevada.  However, even before beginning the trip, I knew that he would not make the trip with us.  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.

Joy and I left our Minnesota home at noon on Tuesday, April 12 for our first stop, an overnight stay at our son’s home in Bennington, Nebraska.  The weather was perfect for time outdoors with our two grandaughters. After a good night’s rest, we headed toward my dad’s house in Parker, Colorado.

A Second Overnight Stop

We arrived at my dad’s late Wednesday afternoon. During an early dinner at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant near his home, my dad told us about the forecast of snow on I-70 west of Denver during the weekend in which we were to return from Nevada to Denver. We had planned to return home through Denver for a second night’s stay at my dad’s. Now, this seemed unlikely.

The next morning following a leisurely breakfast and wonderful conversation, we started the drive to Nevada.

family members
Travel to the Rage Triathlon in Boulder City, Nevada included visits with our son and his family (left) and with my dad (right).

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.

Triathlon in the Lake Mead Recreation Area

The Rage Triathlon was held in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, minutes from Boulder City, Nevada and from Hoover Dam.

After picking up the race packet and t-shirt in Henderson, we checked into our hotel in Boulder City. Next, it was time to start preparing for the triathlon. This included checking tire pressure, adding race numbers to the bike and race belt, and filling water bottles.

While I was taking care of these, Joy was searching for a restaurant for dinner.  A list 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 having 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.

Evan's Old Town Grille
The service and food at Evan’s Old Time Grille in the historic district of Boulder City, Nevada was excellent.

Race Day

I am not sure if the wind was related to the winter snowstorm to the north. Nevertheless, it caused a restless night as I listened to it howling, at times wondering if the race would be canceled. As the wind seemed to become louder, I started to imagine being blown off the road during the bike leg if the race were held.

Upon rising in the morning, I checked the weather report on my phone. It confirmed what I had been hearing from the bed – high winds, including a ‘Wind Advisory’.

wind advisory
The weather report for the Rage Triathlon race day included a Wind Advisory.

16th Annual Rage Triathlon

The race, first held in 2001 and managed by BBSC Endurance Sports, included Sprint (my choice) and Olympic distances, including relays of these.  While the wind was still a factor in the race, it had calmed with daybreak.

triathlon transition area
The transition area for the Rage Triathlon was a corridor with bikes racked on each side. The ‘Bike Out’ was on one end of the area, while the ‘Run Out’ was at the Lake Mead end.

The advertised distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 750 m (820 yards)
  • Bike: 12.4 miles (20 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)

Swim

There were small waves on Lake Mead.  Just before the start of the triathlon, the race director announced a change to the swim course motivated by the wind.

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 the swim group numbered slightly more than 90.

Lake Mead triathlon
The swim leg of the Rage Triathlon was in Lake Mead. The wind on race day made the swim a bit more challenging.

The water was clear with a bottom containing sharp rocks and small shells. After the race, I found three small cuts on my feet. 

There were also the typical triathlon open water swim challenges. First, there was the person who determined to pass me at all cost, including swimming over top of me. Then, there was the guy who could not swim in a straight line. Instead, this guy followed a ‘zig-zag’ path, repeatedly swimming in front of me. I finally got in front of him.

Bike

The bike course was hilly and windy. My average speed was a little over 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour). However, I also reached a top speed of 36 miles per hour (58 km per hour) going downhill, probably with the wind at my back. 

The wind gusts made me skiddish about getting into the aero (short for ‘aerodynamic’) position for fear of being blown off the road.

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.

Run

The out-and-back run course was relatively flat and unaffected by the windy conditions.  I started out more slowly until my legs had adjusted to running. I was then able to end strong and finish with a time good for me.

Results

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.

Avoiding Snow on the Way Home from the Nevada Triathlon

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.  Little did I know that April is actually the month with the second highest snowfall in Colorado.

Road trip Nevada
Map showing route traveled to and from Minnesota to participate in the Rage Triathlon in Boulder City, Nevada. Dots indicate locations of overnight stops.

The winter snowstorm that occurred while we were in Nevada produced enough snow to close Interstate 70 for several hours on at least two days.  This made a return trip using the same route we had used to travel to Nevada impossible. That is, unless we would have had delayed our return by two days.

Delaying the return was not possible because of commitments at home.  Therefore, we returned using a southern route taking us across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.

Another Fascinating Road Trip

Once again, a triathlon provided multiple, enjoyable experiences – a road trip during which Joy and I enjoyed conversation and several 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) and time with family members. We also saw new parts of this great country while enjoying the opportunity to race with others who enjoy triathlon.

Race Firsts

First time experiences or observations associated with this triathlon were:

  • First race in a national park.
  • The Rage Triathlon was the first race in which the transition area was setup as a long corridor with bikes lined up along the edges.  This approach did make it more challenging to find my transition space since I could not simply count the number of rows from the entrance to my transition area.
  • First race in which an age-group podium finisher had only one arm. Inspiring.

Share Your Questions and Comments

Have you done a triathlon in Nevada? Which one?

Have you done a triathlon in high wind? What was your experience? Any problems?