Thursday, May 27, 2010
By Bonnie Faceplant
Triathlon is my passion but sometimes you just gotta go off the beaten path.
For the past few years I have gotten to know a few XTerra guys. They've shared with me their adventures and I have to say I've been a bit envious. One particular friend is a well seasoned triathlete and also an XTerra World Champion. He does quite well in triathlon, usually in the top three and so I asked him if he has any adverse effects from the cross training. He was adamant in that he feels that it helps him stay focused, break up any potentially monotony and gives him the chance to just go out and play even harder.
Enter my $75 bike from Target. Enter Mike and his well-used mountain bike. Enter Lebanon Hills.
As we pulled into the bumpy, dusty parking lot, I was acutely aware of the noises the bikes were making on the rack at the back of the car. Well seasoned mountain bikers stood around, all heads simultaneously turning towards us as if their internal radars could instantly detect a newbie entering their turf. I swallowed hard and felt as if the dust had somehow crept through the vents and was forming a dirt clod in the back of my throat.
If you were to survey the planet, you may discover that I am probably the most clumsiest person that ever existed. I have "become one" with the pavement, branches, leaves, rocks and dirt on more than one occasion. And this was all from the comfort of my own home. You'd think this would distract me. You'd think I would have a still small voice beckoning me back to reason. "Stay away! Go back to safety!" I smothered the voice with a loud comment of, "I'm scared to death! Let's DO this!"
We unhooked the bikes and geared up. Out of the corner of my eyes I caught sight of the veterans shaking their heads and pulling out cash to place their bets on how long I would survive, if I survived. Mike assured me we would go slow and that the beginners course would not be too difficult. I was skeptical. We mounted our bikes and I rode onto the soft dirt trail, barely escaping colliding with the welcome sign posted at the opening.
Have you ever noticed how a seemingly small and innocent rock can suddenly appear to be a jagged, jutting luminous villain of death, or appear to be about the size of the stone that chased Indiana Jones through the Temple of Doom? Have you personally witnessed how a twenty foot drop off can suddenly appear to be the edge of the Grand Canyon all the while the trail you're on that runs along side it is quickly shrinks from a casual five foot wide path to about the width of a tight rope? Let's just say you knew where I was on the trail by the screams echoing throughout the peaceful hills. Poor Mike. He'll never be able to show his face there again.
Mountain biking was terrifying. So I went back the next day. This time I earned a few stripes. I hit the aforementioned jagged, jutting rock of luminous death and could not pass through it. It was very unforgiving. After surveying the damage I got back on my Target bike and went on. Eventually, I was able to actually take my aching eye balls off the dirt path in front of me and steal a quick glance around at the lush scenery and understand a little bit better why mountain biking can be such a rejuvenating and incredible experience. I'm still working on uncurling my fingers which appear to be permanently in a tight, handle-bar gripping position but even if I can't get them to relax, at least I can slide them back onto the handle bars and be ready to hit the trails again. Oh- and that beginners trail Mike promised to take me on? That one went left. We went right....
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
DON’T GET DOORED!
By Darin Wieneke
This is the last installment of my posts recognizing Bicycle Safety Month. Please check out MTN’s Safety Page for prior posts.
The two most common bicycle accidents involve getting either “doored” or receiving a “right cross.”
#2 The Door Prize
A driver opens his door right in front of you. You run right into it if you cannot stop in time.
In order to avoid this type of collision, you should ride 3-4 feet to the left of parked cars. You might be wary about riding so far into the lane that cars cannot pass you easily, but you are more likely to get “doored” than you are to get hit from behind by a car which can clearly see you.
#1 The Right Cross
The “right cross” is the most common type of bicycle accident. In fact, Professional Triathlete Jordan Rapp was seriously injured on March 23, 2010 in this exact type of accident. This type of accident occurs when a car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot,or driveway on the right. The car either directly hits you or causes you to slam into it.
The best way to avoid this type of collision is for you to stay as visible as possible by having a headlight or wearing bright clothes. You should also try to make eye contact with the driver. If you cannot make eye contact, you should slow down so you can make a complete stop if necessary. Riding a little further to the left may also make you more visible as the driver is likely looking for other cars and not in the bike lane or close to the curb for bikers.
MTN again wishes you safe biking this summer!
Darin is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney. In addition to posting periodic triathlon safety articles, he will be answering a legal question of the month. Please send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a triathlon-related legal question that you would like him to address on MTN.
Monday, May 24, 2010
("Before"--Top--and "After"--Below--photos of triathlete Jen Martone.)
by Jen Martone
I read an ESPN headline yesterday that said “Think you had a bad day on Thursday? Cheer Up. It had to be better than Lance Armstrong’s.”
By Darin S. Wieneke
The Family Fun Triathlon was held on Saturday in Faribault and it definitely lived up to its name. If you are looking for a fun and casual triathlon to start your season next year, especially with a friend or relative new to the sport, this is the perfect triathlon for you. While you will find lots of smiles and joking at the start line, you will not find timing chips as the race is hand timed and recorded.
As I checked out the transition area, I found one more bike (1) with a basket and pigtails (thanks to some high school pranksters) than I found with Zipp wheels (0). Despite the lack of expensive wheels, the race was exciting and had some close finishes. Ultimately, the short course race, which featured a 200 yard swim, 5 mile bike, and 1 mile run, was won by Christopher Smith in 0:32:11 and Abby Mattson in 0:33:51. The long course, which featured a 400 yard swim, 8 mile bike, and 2 mile run, was won by John Mattson in 1:03:42 and Kelli Koehnle in 1:07:03.
Another reason to think about doing this race next year is because this event is hosted by the United States Deaf Triathlon Association and Hilltoppers Athletic Booster Club and all proceeds benefit the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Athletic Program. This is a fun event that supports a great organization. -DW
Sunday, May 23, 2010
(Photos: Madonna, who wasn't at the race. We don't have a picture of Brooke Larsen yet, though her dad said he'd send us some. If you squint, Brooke and Madonna look an awful lot alike. Well, they both have blonde hair. We'll post pics of Ms. Larsen when they are available. Below - Two-time LBL champ Matt Payne.)
The totally cool and well-produced Land Between the Lakes Triathlon is the first event on our state's annual multisport calendar that features a lake swim. The temps in Fountain Lake has been sub-bath-water-ish during the first five runnings of this race. This morning, however, the water was a quasi-balmy 67.8 degrees according to triathlete Jim Wolter's handy rectal thermometer. (Okay, it wasn't really a rectal thermometer, though it looked like the one that Dr. Shelley at Central Pediatric's uses.)
Assigned the task of taking splits from the transition bike in and out affords a nice view of the race especially when your partner is doing all of the work (thanks Sarah Foley!).
As always this race brings out a stellar field and is fun to see who is on their game early in the year and what new multi-sporters are joining the fray and going to be the next big names on the scene.
DKT had some serious competition on the first run and didn’t have much of a lead going onto the bike but must have crushed on the bike as he came into t2 with a sizeable lead that left no doubt about his taking the victory. And he has really smoking fast transitions! He barely even slows the bike before hopping off in full stride….cool to watch.
After David a couple of guys all kind of came in around the same time, Patrick Parrish, Chad Millner and Brooks G along with a few other guys who I didn’t recognize but was impressed to see them up there with that crew. (assuming those guys I didn’t recognize are Josh R and Josh B, maybe Matt Liebsch who finished a very solid 4 & 7, 8 very nice races!).
My main thought watching those guys is if you want to win at the elite level around here and you don’t run a 15-16 min 5k (on the road) you are in trouble as there are a number of of guys who can just plain run FAST!
I think the women’s field was about as good as it gets, the amount of races during the summer tends to spread the fields out and the next time you will see this many fast women assembled will be at LTF or Turtleman. No surprise that Jenny Wilcox led off the first run, her biking is fast too, very impressive for being relatively new to the sport. As expected Cathy caught her on the bike and managed to put some distance there, she had a decent lead into transition probably about 40-50 seconds. Cathy Lee had a great ride to pull into T2 in second, she looks super fit and really rocked the bike, Julie H pulled in 3rd with the fastest bike split of the day and Jenny followed a moment behind.
This is one tough course and can really kick your butt for the first race of the year.
Story & Photos to follow. Results
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Rain. Wind. Thunder. Lightning zapped a tree across the street from the venue. Seventy minute delay. Squeegees in transition. A fine event, nevertheless. Baby back ribs and pulled pork afterward. Gastronomic heaven.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Making a Comeback Without Making a Scene...
By Bonnie Vivify
If there's one thing I should be good at it's making a come-back to training. In fact, I should be a pro at it by now, unfortunately. As I continue to progressively heal from my lung infection, the Pulmonary Specialists are allowing me to ease into training. First let me point out that these specialists are so busy doing specialistic type things that it was necessary to explain to them what a triathlon consisted of: "Nope, there isn't any jump roping or hog tying involved, it's just swim/bike/run... No, you do the three events back to back, not over the course of the summer.... Yes, people die.... No I have not yet seen someone die in the swim and I hope that I never do... Yes, we are all crazy."
Keeping in mind that exercising minds do not always think alike, I carefully asked the specialists in front of a witness if they were absolutely sure I could commence training, repeating back to them their instructions. They confirmed it in unison and reminded me to go slow and ease back into it. I had them sign a consent form I had hidden in my pocket to give to my mother and then asked them what slow and easing into it meant to them. "Well,.... running and biking and swimming I suppose...." "Let's talk semantics" I suggested. I was emphatic to make sure they understood that a short swim was a half mile, a short bike ride 20 miles and a run around 5-10 miles. They concluded that my body would consider those short and gave me the thumbs up. So, on Mother's Day, I did what I consider pampering myself. I ran 9.6 miles.
Ah, yes, the great outdoors once again! In case you are unaware until this fatal moment, Eagan is the equivalent to the hills in Tour de France. If you doubt it, just run Diffley after you finish Cliff and Pilot Knob. Last Sunday Lebanon Hills was bedded down with a beautiful blanket of fog that stretched across Cliff Road and the early morning sun streamed down through the clouds. Mike and I jogged at a very slow pace, allowing the fog to envelope us and eventually eject us out the other side, being careful to go just barely faster than a walk. I breathed in the cool, crisp air and my very being was instantly rejuvenated as I sifted through the scents that remind me that spring is here and the rain washes everything clean and fresh.
A long time later we finished the run. Injury free. As I continue to ease back into my training I am reminded daily that exercise and health are a gift we give ourselves, not something that we should take lightly. Be kind to your body in every way. Without it, how could you run Tour de France?
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The 6th Land Between the Lakes, a.k.a. the Albert Lea Triathlon, will be contested this Sunday and close to 200 participants are expected.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
(Photo R - Jenny Wilcox at Oakdale.)
See that really skinny limb up there? That's the one. We're going to climb out onto it.
AVOID THE RIGHT HOOK, LEFT CROSS, AND RED LIGHT OF DEATH
By Darin Wieneke
There are many days when I am biking that I think I might be safer in a boxing ring facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr. or Manny Pacquiao. Biking accident statistics in Minnesota support this sentiment. According to the Star Tribune, officials at St. Paul’s Regions Hospital saw a thirty (30) percent increase in bicycle-motor vehicle crash injuries in 2008 and officials at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale saw fifty (50) victims during the Summer of 2008, as compared to twenty-eight (28) the previous year. Editorial. “Sharing the Road.” Star Tribune, 6 October 2008.
As noted in a previous post, May is Bicycle Safety Month and MTN wants you to be safe this summer! Accordingly, I will be highlighting five of the most common bicycle accidents and how to avoid those accidents this month.
#5 The Right Hook
This type of accident occurs when a car makes a right turn directly in front of you, or right into you. A “right hook” generally occurs soon after a car passes you or when you are attempting to pass a car on the right.
Important ways to avoid this type of accident is to pay very close attention to traffic going in your direction, and even behind you, as you approach an intersection to make sure no one “hooks” you. Also, do not pass on the right. If a car is going slowly in front of you near an intersection or elsewhere, it will likely start moving faster. If it does not, you can pass the vehicle on the left when it is safe to do so. You should also ride behind a vehicle, and not in the vehicle’s blind spot.
#4 The Left Cross
If a car coming toward you makes a left turn right in front of you, or right into you, you will feel the pain of a “left cross.” Visibility is important in regard to avoiding this type of accident. You should be sure to have a headlight if riding at night and should always wear something bright, even during the day. You should also try to make eye contact with a driver that is turning. If you cannot make eye contact, you should slow down so you can make a complete stop if necessary. While slowing down is inconvenient, it beats a trip to the emergency room.
#3 Red Light of Death
This type of accident occurs when you stop your bike to the right of a car that is already waiting at a red light or stop sign. When the light turns green, they turn right into you. This can occur whether you move forward or not after the light turns. Numerous cyclists have been crushed by semi-trucks that have made a tight right-hand turn.
You can avoid this accident by not stopping in the car’s blind spot. If you stop behind the car, you will be visible to that car and the car behind you.
I hope this information is helpful to you. The “Door Prize” and “Right Cross” will be featured in my next post.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Is it pronounced "Fair-Rib-Bow?" Or "Fair-Rib-Balt?" Never figured that one out.
Monday, May 17, 2010
While researching these subjects, I ran across a few notable quotes/sayings regarding bicycle safety: "Let trouble pass you by" and "Here lies the body of Edward Grey, who died, defending his right of way. He was right, dead right, as he pedaled along, but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong." If you have a bicycle quote you would like to share on MTN, please forward it to me at email@example.com.
TEN RULES OF THE ROAD FOR BICYCLISTS
1. Always wear a properly fit helmet (photos: not what we had in mind). It should be snug, level, and stable. It is recommended that you wear a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Snell, or the America Society for Testing Materials (ASTM).
3. Obey all the same traffic laws and regulations as motorists. Bicyclists have the right to ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted. They also are required to follow the same applicable requirements.
4. Ride in the same direction as traffic. While it is safer to ride single file on most roads, you may ride 2 abreast as long as you are not impeding the normal flow of traffic.
5. Ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of roadway. While there does not seem to be a clear definition of practicable, you should ride as far right as possible, while still being safe from debris, parked cars, and traffic.
6. Obey all traffic stop signs and stop lights.
7. Motorists and bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to each other. Making eye contact with motorists assists in ensuring that you are seen.
8. Keep well back from moving cars as they might stop suddenly. Also, keep at least 3 feet away from parked motor vehicles in order to avoid colliding with an opening motor vehicle door.
9. Use hand signals to indicate when making turns and changing lanes. Arm signals must be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, unless the arm is needed to control the bicycle, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn.
10. Be a polite and courteous rider. Be appreciative of gracious motorists and do not negatively comment or make hand gestures in response to motorist actions or provocations.