Ironman Canada 1998 - Part 3


Careening down small hills with a tailwind at our backs, this refrain from Blur quickly became the IMC theme for a number of us while out riding the marathon course on Thursday. On the way out a stiff headwind from the south had made the ride a struggle. The return, however, was quite another story.

"I got my head check
By a jumbo jet;
It wasn't easy,
But nothing is----


Cruising gleefully with other RSTers at 25mph, I made a point of taking in the scenery all around us. "Enjoy it now," I thought wryly, '''cause you won't be coming this far out on Sunday, that's for sure."

In truth, Eastside Road is a sumptuous bit of B.C. The sparkling blue of Skaha Lake laps gently upon one side, backed by stately green mountains; dramatic, jagged rock formations face us on the other side of the road, punctuated with brush and pine. In some places the landscape opens up into grassy fields, pastures, and orchards, and somewhere around the 10 mile point a llama ranch appears on a gentle green hillside on the left. The road is smooth and somewhat curvy, with gentle rises and falls, and the occasional steeper section.

Somehow, 13 miles out and back seems absurdly long on the bike here. I'm suddenly giddy with relief at the thought that I do not have to run all of this in the heat on Sunday. Nevertheless, it's a pity I won't have another chance to see it, so I drink it all in now.



Along with dozens of other swimmers I rush headlong for the wetsuit strip area, relieved as heck to be done with the swim, and hoping I haven't permanently tweaked my shoulder. Boy, it was hurting a bit toward the end; hope I haven't screwed it up for Hawaii. Thank heaven that's over! Now it's time for a little fun, my favorite part of this whole business: the bike.

"Tricia!" "Hey, hi Martha!" Martha is working wetsuit strip detail today. I don't get her as my stripper, but I'm delighted to see her here. I fumble feverishly with the sleeve of my wetsuit, trying to get it over my heart rate receiver before the bauble gets shucked clean off with the QR. There! OK, who wants me?

Whoosh! Wetsuit is off, I'm hoisted to my feet by strong, friendly hands, and on my way to the bike gear racks.

"Two-ninety-four! Two-ninety-jfour!" cry the volunteers. I don't even have to look for my bag, it magically appears before me in the hands of a volunteer, who then points me straight to the changing tent. Here we go!

Into the changing tent, see a few familiar faces, and exchange horror stories about the boxing match in which we've just participated. Man, what a zoo, eh? Quick, dump out the contents of your bike bag, dry off a little, start getting dressed. Yet another marvelllous volunteer sees to your every need, down to the point of pulling your socks onto your damp feet for you. Shorts, jersey, socks, and cleats are all on when the volunteer asks, "Is this yours too?"

"Oh, god, yes, thank you for reminding me!"

I grab the little green tin and remark apologetically, "I know this looks absolutely disgusting, but it's got to be done." Down go the shorts and on go gobs of Bag Balm, applied to the more delicate portions of my anatomy. "It's the only way," I sheepishly inform my volunteer .

"Oh, no problem, I can easily understand that. Good luck!"

Thoroughly lubed, I chug out of the changing tent and into the portapotty next door. In a moment I pop back out, ready to tackle that marvellous bike course. Over the lawns of the transition area and out the back to the bike lot, grabbing a cup of Allsport on the way.

Clop, clop, clop, clop, clop, clop! I and a few dozen other triathletes head for our racks, and I can't help but laugh out loud at the clatter we generate. "My god," I giggle breathlessly, "we sound exactly like a thundering herd of horses trotting over pavement! This is too funny, now I _really_ feel like a Clydesdale."

The 200's have great racks close to the bike start. I made a mental note earlier of my rack's location and have no problem locating my trusty steed. Lots of bikes still in the rack, but not as many as last year. But that's ok; nuthin' to prove here. Just get out there and have a good time.

I run the bike to the start line, click in, and hop on.

"Woohooo!" I cry to the crowds lining the start/finish chute. "Yay!" is, in effect, their collective reply. Oh, yeah, this is gonna be awesome! Let's go....

Continue on to Part 4...