Monday, June 4, 2012

Open Water Swims and Bike Crash :-(

First off, I didn't crash...keep reading for the story.

I have a "policy" of doing an open water swim every opportunity I get unless it's expensive or far away, like the OWS put on by a tri shop around here about an hour away which requires driving there in traffic on a weeknight and it's $25. However, Big Shark bike shop (which also has a tri racing team) has been putting on open water swims in a neighborhood about 30 minutes from me. It's the same swim course as the New Town Triathlon in July. It's a 0.62 mile course and it's as many laps as you can swim in 2 hours for $5. Not a bad deal. I think it was cheaper than paying the park entry fee to swim in the Chesapeake Bay.

I've gone the past three Saturdays and my swim times have varied a lot. The first week they were 17:30 each lap with a wetsuit. 19:30-20:00 without a wetsuit last week and about 19 minutes with a wetsuit this past Saturday. I have no clue what went on this week but, it may have something to do with my lack of swimming during the week. It's been a great time so far and they're having a race next weekend to end the series.

After the swim I head out for a ride with some people from the Tri Club. As I haven't really started training for a long race, I opted for the shorter 20 miles ride. It was slower than I wanted to go but the wind made it challenging and I pulled the whole way back into the wind. This weekend I wanted more of a challenge and figured I'd head out with 5 other people for a 40 mile ride. I had no idea how challenging this ride would be.

The ride got off to a bad start. The neighborhood is a very large neighborhood and it's a 2 mile ride to the exit we chose to use. Right before we got out a Penske truck comes flying to a stop sign at an intersection. We didn't have a stop nor did we think the drive was going to stop. I have no idea how this happen but the guy riding in front of me motioned he was going to slow and then put his hand back up to brake and I couldn't believe what I saw next...

His back wheel went up in the air and he went head first over the handlebars with his bike flipping over at the same time. It was one of the few times I've come skidding to a stop on a TT bike. He immediately sat up and everyone rushed over to see if he was alright. He had a few scrapes and said his neck hurt. You could tell from his helmet that he landed right on the top of his head. After several minutes of him sitting there and asking him how he felt, he said he wasn't alright and his neck really hurt. So, we called the ambulance and some people with their kids at the playground ran to their house and got him some ice. Then the ambulance, fire and police came not too long after. The officer said he was going to go after the FedEx guy for reckless driving after explaining the reasons one would be allowed to come to a stop passed the stop sign. 

Anyway, I'm sure he'll be OK. I haven't heard anything about it but I had a similar injury in HS and my neck was very stiff for a few days. With Pat's (the one who crashed) blessing we continued our ride. I'm not sure how he is doing right now as I don't know these guys very well. 

We finally got out on the main roads and I realized they were definitely out of my league. 25mph right away and I was struggling to stay on their wheels. I managed to stay within 15 feet for 4-5 miles and then it was more like within 50 feet and the gap kept getting greater until mile 13. They slowed down on a turn, I said I should have asked how far and HOW FAST, they laughed and told me to just stay straight on this road for 5 miles until I hit the little town and see the convenient store.  By the time I saw them hit an S-turn right before town they were at least 1/2 mile ahead. This is by far the hardest ride I've ever had. I averaged about 24 mph on the way out. The way back was a different story...

I knew we'd be riding into the wind on the way back and damn was it windy. They stopped at a couple turns since I had no idea where they were. The area we were in is mostly corn fields and everything looks the same. The only landmarks are railroad tracks. In short, the ride back was 17mph and my legs were screaming at me. 

It was a great challenge for myself and hopefully I'll be able to pull one week. 


  1. The New Town OWS swim sounds perfect. I need more practice but unfortunately, next week is the last week and I'm out of town. Hopefully next year.

    I did the New Town tri two years ago and besides being like 95 degrees, I thought it was a nice race.

    Scary bike ride! Hope Pat is doing ok.

  2. What a crash!!! I hope Pat is alright. Let us know if you hear anything. I get nervous when drivers creep pass a stop.

    I have been invited to ride with a group of cyclists, but I don't know if I can keep up. I will probably try to get more time into the saddle before I join the group.