It was at mile 60 just after the turn around that the wind really picked up. I pushed the watts up to over 400 and the chasing group of Lance Armstrong, Chris Maccormack, Craig Alexander, Dave Scott and Mark Allen was beginning to lose time. The Hawaii Ironman World Championships is said to be one of the toughest races on the planet. Pro athletes were dropping out left right and centre and with the heavy rain it made things even tougher. I got word that I was now 12 minutes ahead on the bike and pulling away with both the bike course and total course record in my grasp.
Then the unthinkable happened.
There was a red light at the crossroad and I had to let pedestrians cross. I got the green and continued on. Weirdly the chase pack were still 12 minutes back and losing time. Even stranger was the fact that only days before I had beaten Miguel Indurain and Armstrong up Ventoux in Le Tour. All in the same month that I broke away from the lead pack in the Olympics Triathlon.
Maybe we are triathletes because it is healthy, invigorating and prevents ill health. Maybe we are triathletes because we are out doors kind of people. Maybe even, we are triathletes because we like to brag. Maybe.
Or maybe, its something else entirely.
Young at heart.
Do you remember the first time you ever got on a bike as a kid? The feeling of travelling so fast using only your own legs to do so? How about those days on the beach where you didn’t want to get out of the sea, until it was too cold to stay in? Or the first time you played chasing with your friends?
Perhaps even the first time you caught someone while playing chasing? When putting on a skin tight lycra tri suit and about to embark on an epic journey, whether it Sprint or Iron, it is hard not to feel a little bit like the superhero you dreamed you might be, when you were only as tall as your bike. Many of us triathletes actively pursue being seen as a superhuman maybe even superhero. The evidence of this? Facebook.
See how many of your friends profile pictures are themselves in the process of swimming, biking or running in some form of supersuit.
This is by no means a cheap sport. We have been known to spend exorbitant amounts of money on race entries, equipment, insurances, club fees, clothes and above all else, our child/best friend/pride and joy – Our bike. One does not need look any further then the Trek Speed Concept, Cervelo P-whatever, Specialised Shiv etcetera etcetera to see that we take our bikes seriously. We pride ourselves on our fit, our aerodynamics.
But why is it that we may well spend thousands of euro more on a bike that is only marginally better then another? Is it because those 3 minutes saved over 180k will get us a medal or make our pay cheque more substantial? Possibly, but very unlikely.
However, if it is possible for the athlete to afford this bike, this should be the first thing to spend money on. Not for its performance improvements, those would be far surpassed by simply training harder. No. The reason to buy this bike if possible, is for the feeling it gives you when you climb on to it after that hard swim. Maybe you are the first bike out of T-1, maybe you are the last, but starting the bike leg it should make you feel excited, hopeful, fast and above all else – 8 years old. (but maybe a very fit 8 year old). There is a great sense of occasion in a Triathlon and this may be your best race, ever. With happiness comes success. The kind of happiness that is felt the first time you climb on a bike and roll down the street with stabilisers.
Hopefully, triathlon will give you the opportunity to be truly young at heart whether 20 or 120, though with any luck, you wont need the stabilisers.
If you are looking for me, I will be out my winning 197th world championship.