July 21, 2007

The Yukon Dry-Tri

After I recovered from the Yukon Adventure Challenge, I began to get itchy feet. Since training for the adventure race gave me a great excuse to put down my work for a little while and go and get some exercise, I jumped at the chance to sign-up for the first-ever Yukon Yukon Dry-Tri.

A conventional triathlon has a combination of swimming, running, and cycling, over varying distances. In the Dry-Tri, one of those elements is missing. I won't insult your intelligence by telling you which one.

Now, I'm still struggling with the concept of calling the event a triathlon, since there were only two activities, but one of those activities had to be done twice (the running), so maybe it passes for a triathlon on a technicality.

I knew that I wasn't up to the running. I haven't gone for a real run since last winter, so I fond up a former co-worker, Steve, to see if he'd be willing to cover the running leg of the race. Fortunately, the event allowed for two or three person teams. Without hesitation, Steve agreed and we became "The Dry-Tri Fly By".

It was a beautiful, hot, and sunny day; a little warmer than I would have liked, but I wasn't complaining. Steve did a great job running the first 4km loop and, not long after I hopped on my bike, I caught up with the lead pack of mountain bikers.

I passed several riders on the double track and held my own on the single track during the first 10 km loop. On the second 10 km loop, I felt strong, so I picked up the pace. Unfortunately, I made a bad gear change entering the single track and threw my chain. I hadn't lost a lot of ground though, and redoubled my efforts.

Perhaps I was going too fast. I don't know what I hit, exactly, but one moment I was riding my bike down a smooth section of downhill single track, and the next, I was floating through the air, thrown over the handlebars of my bike, which had stopped in its tracks. As I flew through the air, I thought, "So this is what it feels like to fall horizontally..." It was the only thing that went through my mind. My body went limp and I felt perfectly relaxed.

Either instinctively or by chance, I landed on my back, eyes towards my bike, making sure it wasn't going to flip towards me. I had been thrown quite clear from it. My helmet caught the dirt and I stopped sliding. I lay there for what seemed like a minute, realising that I should hurt more than I did and trying to figure out why I didn't.

I could feel everything. My head was a little sore from when the helmet hit, and I had double-vision but I was fine otherwise. I stood up and shook my head and blinked my eyes. The double-vision cleared a bit and, again, I checked myself for damage, feeling little more than sore stomach and sore neck muscles. I walked slowly over to my bike and pulled it off the trail just in time to allow another rider by.

I had to make a few quick repairs to the handlebars and I had to fit the chain back on before I started riding again, but I had a decision to make: Should I finish the loop? Or should I ride back the way I came and forfeit the race?

I decided that it would be safer to go with the flow, even if the route was longer, and cautiously started riding. My bike's pedal felt odd, but I didn't bother looking - it still worked. Before I knew it, I was gaining speed again. I don't know if it felt like I did the second loop faster than the first (not counting my ground time) but it went by quickly. I rode back into the transition area and tagged Steve, who began the 8km running loop.

Steve, coming in to the finish. (Still looks fresh, doesn't he!)

Our time wasn't bad (about 2 hours and 2 minutes), considering all the time that I lost pretending I was Superman, and we might have actually placed in the top three if I hadn't spent so much time lying on the ground. Still, I had achieved what I had set out to do - get out, have some fun, and burn some energy.

The meal after the Dry-Tri was great and I enjoyed meeting the other participants, many of whom were out for the same reasons I was.

I don't know if there'll be a Dry-Tri again next year, but this is one event that I would enter again in a heartbeat - even I end up with a splitting headache and sore stomach and neck muscles, a bruise (in the shape of my handlebar) that appeared on my thigh several days later, a slightly scratched shoulder and sore ribs.

Note: I have often wondered if the added circumference that a bike helmet adds to my head makes it more likely that my head will strike the ground if/when I fall. While I'm sure that it does, I am now a devoted bike helmet wearer. After my fall, I looked at my helmet for damage and found none. After I returned home, I looked at the helmet again and noticed a series of small but deep cracks running through the back. I'll never know how hard my head would have hit the ground without the helmet, but I would rather have the cracks in my bike helmet than in my skull.

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