T1 pretty much went as planned: Dried off super quick, then threw on a shirt and shorts over my soaking wet bathing suit. Next came shoes and socks (I wasn’t about to run sockless), helmet, and sunglasses. Getting my bike off the rack took a little more effort than I had imagined, but no major problems. I ran to the transition exit and hopped on- away I went.
The bike was a 2 loop route out of the park and through some local roads. I was immediately passed by another biker…and another…and another… One person even turned back and yelled to me: “Good for you for trying this on that bike–you’re working 10 times harder than the rest of us!” Really? I was? I thought you could do a triathlon on any bike? That’s what everyone said…they just didn’t mention you would also be super slow! (By the way, I was on hybrid bike, which I like a lot–until I compared my pedal strokes to the people passing me- for every one of their pedals, I would push through at least four times)
Around mile 4 (I think?) is where disaster struck! There was a slight down hill and I was trying to take full advantage of it to make up speed. As the hill evened out and began to go uphill again, I changed gears to start climbing. Or tried to change gears. All of a sudden I couldn’t pedal anymore…my chain had entirely fallen off. I veered over to the edge of the road and jumped off. I tried to put the chain back on, but let’s be honest- I had no idea how I was supposed to do that. The chain had managed to wedge itself between the gear shaft and the back wheel. No matter how much I tugged and twisted I couldn’t get it free. Meanwhile, biker after biker was flying past me. A couple yelled out to see if I was ok. I said yeah…I mean, I wasn’t hurt, and no need to slow down their race. But ok? Not really. At this point my sunglasses were fogging up from sweat and I could barely see. I was almost near tears, this isn’t how I wanted my first triathlon to end. Then I realized I had passed some volunteers marking the way right before I started down the hill. So I picked up my bike and started walking back the way I had come. I finally got close enough to yell out to them that my bike was broken and I needed some help. I saw them look in my direction, but I had no idea whether they had heard me or not.
A few minutes later (which felt like forever) a race support guy came by in a truck. He flipped my bike upside down to get better access to the chain, took one look, and told me he wasn’t sure he could get the chain out without breaking it, and then my race would be over for sure. He said he’d try anyway as he tossed me his ringing cell phone. He told me to answer and tell them he was helping me. (I’m sure I thoroughly confused whoever was on the other end). Just as race-support guy was about to give up, he got the chain free and back in place!! He was a officially my new favorite person. I was back on my bike!
The whole ordeal felt like an eternity, but I’m sure it was only about 10 minutes or so. I did see several bikers pass by twice, so that surely wasn’t a good sign. But I was going to finish the race even if I was the last person on the course (I wasn’t).
The rest of the bike ride was pretty uneventful…the final hill back into the park was brutal. I saw people jumping off their bikes and walking. I put my bike in the lowest front gear (I didn’t change the bike gear again the whole ride, I didn’t want to risk catastrophe #2), stood up, and just kept climbing.
On to the run…