Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pole Pedal Paddle

author's note: the Pole Pedal Paddle is a multi-sport event in Bend, Oregon. The race consists of the following:
  • short sprint uphill in ski boots
  • downhill ski run
  • 5 mile cross-country ski loop
  • 22 mile road bike ride
  • 5 mile run
  • 1.25 mile kayak loop
  • 600 yd sprint
Most normal people do this race on a team. Not being normal, I went solo like the certifiable 5%. The following is the summary I sent to a friend.


Thanks for the note. Race recap follows:

Friday night: kayak is staged, gear is inventoried, numbers are pinned to shirts. I'm ready.

I think.

At 0700 Saturday (race morning), one of my aero bar pads pop off the handlebars, and I can’t get the damned thing to stay on. I figure I can duct-tape the pad to my forearm if need be (seriously). The bike mechanic from Sunnyside grabs my tape and does a 30-second NASCAR pit-stop fix that would impress MacGyver. It works.

Sunnyside rocks.

Did you see me in my racing shorts up at Pine Marten (the lodge halfway up the mountain where the race starts, it was 50F)? Revelation: downhill skiing in thin shorts means a lot of snow on the legs and down the socks. Woke me up, all right.

I use two sets of boots for the ski legs; wasn’t concerned about time in my debut. I saw one of the elites jump straight up out of his DH boots (XC boots inside to save time), clip into the XC skis in about 5 seconds, and do an immediate face-plant. Nice!

You’re so right about the run uphill in boots. My quads actually got a little tired, even though I took my time. I did no alpine this year except for the single practice run, and was a little concerned about that. No need; most of the people were stuck in snowplow mode, so I go straight for the fall line. Doing fine until I hit a pile of slush and go airborne.

Warren Miller (of acrobatic ski movie fame) won’t be calling anytime soon. But maybe Wide World of Sports will (‘the agony of defeat’ ski jumper).
Someone told me about the year with all the snow on the road. Something like 22 degrees up top? Yeah, I’d still be there. Maybe. But not in shorts.

It's only been 3 months since I first clipped into a Nordic binding, and I really need some skate ski lessons; I went classic style just so I wouldn’t burn out. Good choice, but people with walkers and orthopedic shoes are passing me. I get ‘em back on the last hill, though.
Almost forgot about the telescoping poles I rented. Yeah, they telescope all right. Even when I don’t want them to. By the time I finish, I have an 18” difference between them. Ever see Marty Feldman (Igor) in Young Frankenstein? This is me schlepping up the last hill.

Another lesson learned: it’s surprisingly hard to eat a PB&J sandwich on the bike after XC skiing. No moisture at all in my mouth and I’m trying to eat/breathe/pedal all at the same time; it takes me a mile to get it down. Then it’s off to the races; I hit 44+ on my aero bars, with bugs in my teeth and a smile on my face.

I pass a bike chain laying on the shoulder. Someone had a bad day.

Get to the Century/Colorado traffic circle and encounter a huge wall of very silent spectators, so I yell, “Wake up, people, I’m workin’ here!”  Got a rise out of them.

Throw on my running shoes, start off feeling good at 8 minute mile pace. That lasts about a hundred yards. Then it just hurts. Gets a little better after the turnaround, but I’m pretty much blown by now.

Kayak? I’ll be fine. After all, my arms haven’t really worked hard yet.

Yeah, right.

At Riverbend Park, I swear there's about 3 boats left. Wasn’t hard to find mine, not with Kristen, Zoe, and Barbara standing behind it. I get in, take a couple of strokes, and realize I left my shoulders somewhere on Century Drive. Brutal. I was wishing your man Brian and his big arms would jump in and paddle for me.

Right about now, I really need more cowbell.

Halfway thru the boat leg, I realize my legs feel fine, although a little tired. They had a good 35 minute rest in the kayak, so I’ll salvage the day with a violent kick to the line after I beach this sucker. I get pulled out of the boat, take two steps, and realize it’s going to be another half-hour to cover the final 600m sprint.  The wheels are gone, completely gone, kaput.

Note to Molly, race director: ‘Sprint’ is not an appropriate term for that final segment.

In the last 200 yards, I pick off a few more people and somehow find another gear to finish fast. On the beverage table, I grab a Muscle Milk and it tastes pretty damned good. Right now, a frosty glass of bacon fat would taste pretty damned good. My 7-year-old daughter gets a Nathan's hot dog; I nearly chew off her fingers in pursuit.

My first PPP is in the books. Tomorrow, I’m joining the circus.

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