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Another Reason To Love Triathlon

Training and racing by myself provide a certain amount of satisfaction, but the social aspects are another reason to love triathlon.

Last Saturday the Cape Fear Triathlon Club hosted its first race of the season. Our club captain, leader and all around great guy, Trent, put together a super sprint course. It was good to see several athletes in one place and not through Zoom. We were not a large group, but, for the most part, we did observe the new rules of social etiquette, aka social distancing.

One of the things I love about sprint races is that “…you can be in the beer garden by 9am.” I pulled that quote from Bob Babbitt, and it captures the feeling quite well. Actually, I don’t drink (much) and three of the restaurants near the race were shut down because their employees contracted a nasty virus that’s going around. I’m not going to say which virus it is, but its name rhymes with Arizona.

Lori and I were standing in the parking lot and getting ready to leave when a cyclist pulled up near us and stopped at the car next to me. Under the helmet and behind the glasses there was something familiar about this person and it wasn’t until after he spoke to me that I recognized him. He said something like, “You want to do Savageman again?” Only Jack would ask me that.

Several years ago I met Jack at a bike ride. Or maybe it was an indoor trainer session. I forget exactly. At the time I had recently been beaten up by DNF number 2 at the Savageman race. Back then Jack was asking me about Savageman because he had signed up for it and was looking for details. I couldn’t tell him much other than Garrett County has a nice hospital. That’s where they take you when you get hypothermia while struggling up a hill they call Killer Miller.

Jack signed up for it again this year and was trying to convince me to do the same. I would actually love to do it again, but this year I’m focusing on Chattanooga so I had to bite my lip really hard not to jump at his suggestion. The last time I bit my lip I made a video:

Not long after running into Jack, Lori and I stopped by the bike shop to pick up Xena, my beautiful tri bike. In this new age of COVID-19, the word crowded has a whole new feel to it. The bike shop was crowded.

Xena, the TT bike, at the bike shop

Xena on the examining table in the doctor’s office.

The inside of the shop wasn’t crowded, because customers are not allowed inside. It was the back parking lot that was crowded, with about 10 people waiting to pick up or drop off their bikes. Normally, 10 people can comfortably cram right up to the back door of the shop, but social distancing has ingrained itself so deeply in my mind that I felt a little claustrophobic moving up to the reception desk and within 10 feet of another customer. Of course, everyone wore masks.

A funny story about masks for COVID-19. My friend, Jeff, was told to come to work wearing a mask. Now he looks just like the Loan Ranger (from the neck up)!

Not sure… either Jeff or the Loan Ranger

Anyway, back at the bike shop.

I was waiting in the “crowded” parking lot to pay Xena’s bill when I recognized another familiar pair of eyes. Underneath the mask and the long hair was the guy that got me focused on Chattanooga in the first place, Matt.

It was back in the good old days before COVID-19 shut down the world, November 2019. Just as I was leaving the YMCA locker room to start a random swim workout, Matt caught my eye and we started a typical triathlete conversation:

Me: Hey, Matt. How ya doin?

Matt: Good. You training for anything?

Me: No. You?

Matt: I’m thinking about IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga in May

Me: {silent contemplation}

(For both of you following the blog posts on this site, you already know how that ended. I signed up for IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga a week later. )

It was good to stand around in the parking lot and catch up with Matt. I also saw Charlie, Xena’s mechanic, and Jim the bike shop owner. Misty was even working at the shop that day.

I do miss those days of training and racing together. I made a lot of friends through triathlon and I hope to make many more. It’s just another reason I love this sport.

Until next time…

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