Earlier this year I was invited to do the Twenty-12 Talent ID invitational Triathlon. The race was an ITU style Draft Legal Tri. It consisted of a 750 Meter Swim, 13 mile bike, and a 5k. The race was scheduled to Start at 2:50 PM on Saturday the 18th following the National Collegiate Championship in Lubbock. Apparently I should have dont my homework more. I was unaware that lubbock not only had hills but the wind apparently consistantly blows 25+. The day of the race I got up and had breakfast at 9 am which is very odd in the sport since we are usually in the middle or occasional already finished by that time. I headed down to the race site and for the first time saw the massive set of hills that I would have to repeat 3 times on the bike course. I also noticed that the wind was steadily picking up. I watched the end of the NCAA race and started to get ready for my race. There were only about 50 people racing in the invitational and there were no age groups, so it was everyone for themselves. I put on the decals (no body markings for this one) with some difficulty then went for a quick bike ride (only road bikes allowed in draft legal) to test the hills. After doing a quick out and back I figured the hills wouldn't be that bad so I headed for transisiton. The transistion was great all carpet each person had their name printed on their spot on the rack, as well as a bin to place race items. By the time I got everything set up there was about 40 minutes to the race. I started talking to the other competitors and realized I was about the only person that wasn't a current or former college swimmer....That when I started to think this might be a long race. Just then I heard a loud crash and looked over to see half of the racks from the college race fall over from a 35+ mile wind gust.
Everyone got their wet suits on and we started making our way to the start line. The start was a running beach with everyone in one wave. They announced us to the crowed and one by one and we lined up on specific starting pads. I was already nervous about the wind and the compitiion when the gun went off and it was go time. The water was hovering at 58 degrees and stung pretty bad as the adlrinalne wore off. I thought I was sitting pretty good after the first 200 meters, but then I rounded the bouy and was in the full force of the wind. I tried to find a good person to draft behind but ended up getting behind someone even slower than myself....luckily the swim ended up being about 200 meters short and I got out in high 6: something, which was well in the back of the pack. My only hope was that the guys around me and I could get a good group going because there was about a 3 mile streach of head wind after the first two hills that would be repeated 3 times. I was able to collect myself after a horrible transistion and start to pound the bike. I passed two people up the hills, then hit the flat and almost went backward. The wind was insane. I managed to get with a small group of 3 and said to one of them, "lets work togeather switch ever 10-15." The first guy pulled, then I took the next effort. When the third guy went to the front the second guy lost it and started to fall behind. By the time I took a drink and looked up the two of us were off the back. I trie dto surge back to get on the first guys wheel, but it wasn't going ot happen. For the next two laps I was stuck by myself and misrable. I later found out that the guy in first was way out in front and then there was a nice pack, but for the most part everyone was spread out. Not at all what I expected from a draft legal race. By the time I got to the runn portion I was dead, I picked up the pace and passed a few people in what turned out to be a 6 k run, but my day was pretty much over from the beginning. I finished a sprint in around 1 hour and 16 minutes, my slowest time in that distance since 2004. I had antipcated finishing in about 57 minutes or so. But, to put it in perspective the fastes bike split of the day was only 21 mph. This was by far the hardest race I've done at this distance and the best compition outside of worlds that I've ever raced against. Mark Van Akkeren an absolute stud and prerace favorite won the race and lead from start to finish. I think I came in 31st, but the experience was amazing. If I get to do it again next year I'll be sure to get a few practice races in before.
By Ryan Cooper