The best thing I did in setting up my stuff (besides putting my towel on top of my shorts on top of my bike shoes) was to fly a bright Canadian flag from my bike seat. I zoomed in on it immediately and ran out of the pool straight towards it.
Off went the swim cap and goggles, on went the glasses and helmet. Those were important – touching my bike without a buckled up helmet would disqualify me from the race. I swished the towel about my person in a futile, impatient attempt to become dry, pulled on my shorts, and sat down to curse my socks (which I’d separated beforehand) and don my bike shoes (which I’d propped open before I left them).
I jumped up and looked at the bag hanging from my handlebars. Shoot. I’d forgotten to put on my shirt before my helmet. Heck, you don’t need a shirt. Your bra & swimsuit will do. Get out of there.
You know what? I can run in my bike cleats. I unracked my bike and ran out past my friend Nancy who was volunteering at the bike end of things. She cheered me on as I clipped into Stretch and rode out onto the bald prairie north of Strathmore.
There was a brief, very slight uphill at the beginning, but then most of the way to the turnaround was a gentle downhill. Wheeeee! I didn’t run out of gears, and was able to keep a good pedaling cadence going. I passed quite a few people. Only one passed me, but the elites weren’t even out on the course yet. The road itself was very, very clean. The climb back up was not as bad as I thought it would be. I was able to settle into the aerobars, put my head down and go. Don’t hold back here either – the run will happen later no matter what.
Many, many of the competitors shouted words of encouragement to each other on the out-and-back course. The volunteers cheered too. The Dianne’s husband had brought the boys out and I saw one leaning out of their minivan. They cheered me on and I waved as I went by.
In the last km I remembered to stretch out the backs of my legs by pushing my heels down. As I approached the dismount line I clipped out one foot a bit too early and had to pedal with the remaining foot alone a few strokes. It gave the volunteers a chuckle, but hey, I didn’t fall over.
I ran back in to where I’d left my bright red bag, racked my bike and doffed my helmet. I changed my shoes quickly (bungee laces rock!), put on my shirt and hat, and left transition as fast as I could.