Saturday, June 09, 2007

Heatwave Classic Triathlon 2007

The 1st wave of swimmers in the 2007 Heatwave Tri is about to start their 1/2 mile swim in the picture above. I was soon to follow in the 3rd wave. This was my second appearance at this event, the hometown race I consider the high point of my triathlon season. I'll do a few more but this is the big deal for me.

The swim leg was a great improvement for me over last year. I shaved about 4 minutes off my time, thanks to smoother water, a better strategy, and an additional 125,000 yards of swim training.

At right, 3 Legends of Swimming: myself, Niece of the South Woods, and Flowood Fighting Flounders Masters Swim Team Founder, K.E.. Of course we appear calm and relaxed, but what is really going on under that facade is what makes me love this stuff. A mixture of fear, excitement, determination and a strong desire to pee or throw up even though you don't need to. Swim finish times, respectively: 16:02, 13:35 and 13:47. Not bad at all.

My trusty bike awaits on the rack in the transition area. It's not fancy - an early 1990s vintage Dave Scott Ironman Centurion. I found it on EBay for $150, and then had Gary at Pro Bike go over it completely. He changed the handlebars, added aerobars and moved the shift levers, gave it a new paint job, new front ring gears, a new seat, cables and I bought a new set of tires. I am told the frame is still one of the best steel frames ever made. Not as light as the high-tech carbon and aluminum, but smooth and comfortable.

This year's bike leg was a little strange, in that we were mixing with stopped traffic while the inbound and outbound racers from the bike and run intersected. My friend KayVee's blog describes her experience with her usual entertaining skill at Tri 3X Fun. She adds that there was a timing and distance problem with the course also.

I was able to finish in 2:50:04, a 3 minute
improvement over last year. With an adjustment for the bike leg maybe I did even better. It was much hotter than 2005, so my run training only earned me a few seconds improvement. Running is my weak link, but I will continue to work at it. I have so much fun doing this stuff... I can't quit now.

Red Creek May 2007

Our annual Memorial Day Weekend Canoe Trip was another great one. It was Red Creek again, this time from Ramsey Springs to Highway 57. This trip was two nights camping on the sand bars and some great water for a leisurely float. The only thing that kept this trip from being one of the best ever was the Saturday afternoon encounter with dozens of ATVs.

I consider ATVs, more commonly called 4-Wheelers, a scourge and a nuisance. Fun to ride, I'm sure, but the noise and damage they cause in the wild, peaceful outdoors is enough to make you wish they were never invented. They are an obnoxious vehicle whose primary purpose was to make the mighty deer hunter less inconvenienced by having to walk in and out of the woods with his equipment and kill. So what do you do with this expensive toy when deer season ends? Ride it for fun wherever you're allowed, and unfortunately for Red Creek canoeists, it is at an off-road park adjacent to one of the nicest scenic waterways in the South.
The ATV has two cousins, the Jet Ski and the Snowmobile. Both are very popular recreational vehicles and both bring the same obnoxious noise and disturbance wherever they are ridden. I believe there's a common thread connecting folks who love this kind of entertainment - ATVs, Jet Skis, Snowmobiles, loud exhaust pipes on pickup trucks, guns, killing animals for pleasure - all involve noise and mechanical devices anyone can purchase. No special skill or intelligence required. Dedication, discipline, hard work, study, practice, and talent bring rewards of personal achievement, as does a respect for nature and the knowledge gained by enjoying it as unobtrusively as possible. Not so a machine that abuses the environment and disturbs everyone but the operator.