Sunday, September 18, 2011

Race Report: Millstadt Parks Biathlon

I spent the past two days waffling on whether or not I was going to race today. I've raced the Millstadt Biathlon a couple of times before and it's a fun but very challenging race. My only hesitation this time was the forecast. I don't mind running in the rain... in fact, I've noticed that I race better in the rain. But biking is another story. I never ride my bike in the rain so I'm not used to riding on wet roads. After seeing the 50/50 chances of rain, I decided to brave it and chose to race this morning.

It was a bad decision.

I left in plenty of time to get over to Millstadt, register, and set up my bike in the transition area. Not a drop of rain fell that whole time. Then we lined up at the starting line and the first rain shower descended upon us.

(The transition area before the rain.)

(The last picture of my beautiful bike befor I mangled it.)

The Millstadt Biathlon is a 5 Mile run followed by a 22 Mile bike. The first mile of the run was in a steady rain and even though I felt like I was holding back and controlling my pace, I ran the first mile too fast. I was still under control though and eased off the pace without completely falling apart. The rolling hills on the course gave me an advantage and I slowly made my way through the pack ahead of me. The course is 2.5 Miles out to a turn-around and then back to the transition area. The turn-around makes it easy to see where you are in the standings and I was the 11th runner to return to the transition area.

I knew I was going to get passed by quite a few people on the bike so I was hoping to stay near the front on the run. I lost even more places in this year's bike than I normally would because I was overly cautious on the early portion of the ride. The rain picked up again for the last mile of the run and the first portion of the bike and the wet roads made me nervous. The bike course is notoriously difficult with a lot of hills and sharp turns. I was taking the turns very slow and I was riding the brakes on the downhills.

Normally, I Love a nice, smooth, asphalt road when riding my bike. But when there's standing water on that asphalt, my road tires feel too squirrely for my liking. Today, I was happy to hit the patches of road that had a little texture to them. I was slowing for all of the turns and downhills and then sprinting on any straight, flat roads I could find. Luckily, the rain died down and I gained confidence as the ride went on. By the last 6 or 7 miles, I was cruising pretty well and going so slow earlier had rested my legs a bit so I picked off a couple of riders at the end of the race.

I crossed the finish line in an hour and 41 minutes... grabbed my shoes from the transition area... loaded my bike on the car... and changed into some dry clothes. Then the sky cut loose and it poured. I felt bad for the riders still out on the course and I was happy to be hiding under the pavilion out of the rain.

I didn't place in my age group and my name wasn't drawn for an attendance prize so I was left to reflect on whether it was worth the trip and entry fee to race in the rain and go home empty-handed. While I drove home, I decided I enjoyed the race and was happy with the effort. I even thought it was convenient that it started raining so hard before I left because it washed all of the grime off of my bike and it was shining like new again. It was a memorable race and I was glad I got out of bed for it.

I'm not so glad anymore.

I was almost home and had turned off of 5th Street onto Viola when I saw another car coming in the opposite direction driving down the middle of the road. I slowed almost to a stop and considered driving over the curb and into the grass to avoid being hit but the guy finally looked up and swerved back to his side of the road. The near-collision got me worked up (and distracted) and I pulled into the driveway still thinking about how close I came to having an accident. Then I had an accident. I completely forgot my bike was still on the roof rack and drove into the garage. Crunch.

I hit the brakes and winced, knowing I had likely just killed my bike and hoping my car and house weren't also badly damaged. I backed out and just sat there not wanting to get out and see how bad it really was. It was bad.

The sad thing is, this is the second time I've done this. I did the same thing after the MS 150 two years ago. This bike replaced the last bike I drove into the garage. I don't know if I was more upset about the bike and the money it will take to fix (or replace it), or if I was more upset with myself just for being dumb enough to make the same big mistake twice.

So, I have two new dents in the wood frame around my garage door that will need to be painted. I have a bent bike rack tray that might be salvaged but looks pretty ridiculous if I can't straighten it out. And I have a bike with a fork bent so bad that the handlebars won't turn and it looks like a lowrider.

(That's not how the front of my bike should be shaped.)

(My broken fork.)

Liz did a great job of talking me down from my self-directed anger but I've been in a funk all day because of the wreck. I spent that whole bike ride being so careful not to have an accident for fear of hurting myself or messing up my bike and then I drove it into my house and ruined it. I totally tainted my biathlon experience which went from a good effort and memorable race to 'that race that I did before I broke my bike'.

But if my biggest problem in life is that one of my expensive toys is broken, I'd have to say that life is pretty damn good.

Goal For The Day: Race.
28th out of 213 finishers.
6th out of 35 males ages 30-34.
Run - 31:41. (6:20 Avg.)
Bike - 1:10:13 (18.5mph Avg.)
Finish Time: 1:41:54.

Notes: The results don't list a transition area and I'm not sure when they consider the start/finish of the run and the start of the bike. I stopped my watch on the run at 4.90 Miles in 33:04. 6:45 Avg. (6:06, 6:21, 6:30, 6:33, 5:59*). Then I have a transition time of 1:32. I clocked the bike at 21.22 Miles in 1:08:50. 18.5mph Avg. I guess my 'Bike' mileage total won't be changing for a while. Blah.

Daily Miles: 5.00 Miles Run. 22.00 Miles Biked.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 320.08 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 10,050+ meters.


  1. So sorry to hear that but everyone makes mistakes :)

  2. I'm still glad you took it easy and didn't get in an accident at the race. It's only a bike. Love you!

  3. I hate it when things like that happen. Hang in there Brad!