Return of the Mountain Man: Treasure Island

Return of the Mountain Man: Treasure Island
By Kelly Guest

November 8, 2005 –Last weekend I raced the Tri California Series Championships at Treasure Island, San Francisco. It was an interesting weekend — racing and otherwise.

First of all, I can’t say enough about the Tri California crew. They put on great events. It has been so much fun doing the Tri-Cal series. This is partly due to the amazing crewmembers whom I have had the chance to get to know. They really treat you like a friend. For example, I had to have a set of bars cut down, so I asked some of the crew if they had any tools I could borrow. They did better than that – one of the fellows, Chad, found a hacksaw and cut the bars for me, just like that. Then he asked if I was hungry, and the second I’d uttered my usual response to the question — “Uhm, yeah” — boom, I was sitting down to a bowl of homemade soup in the old airplane hanger the crew uses to hold their gear.

When I go to races now, I usually car camp. By that I mean that I drop the back seats of my rental car down so I can sleep back there, and I put my bike across the front seats. The biggest advantage of car camping is that I am right at the race when I wake up in the morning – yes, it’s a little rustic, but it works, and it helps keep the travel expenses down. Generally, if I have a late start, like I did in the Treasure Island race, I will find a little nook to park the car in so I’m just far enough away from it all to not be disturbed by the earlier wave starts. I was pleased to discover that at Treasure Island, which is an old military base, there are plenty of nooks to choose from.

I found what I thought would be a great spot to park. So there I was, the night before the race, sound asleep in the back of my rental car, when I was awakened by a voice over a loud speaker. It said, “Step out of the vehicle with your hands up! Step out of the vehicle, with your hands up!” Then, when I stepped out of the vehicle with my hands up, the voice told me to, “Step away from the vehicle! Keep your hands up and walk slowly toward my voice!”

The person behind the voice was hidden by an amazing amount of really bright lights that were blinding me. I thought to myself, “I hope these people are the police.” I figured if it was the police, then I could explain what I was doing. I also figured if it wasn’t the police, I was in big trouble.

Luckily, it was the police. I stood in my pajamas with my hands up against the wall as one of the officers watched me and the other searched my truck. Upon finding nothing except my bike stuffed in the front seat and a pile of lycra clothing, one of the officers asked me what I was doing there. I explained I was in the triathlon the next day and I was simply trying to get some sleep. As soon as they heard that, both of them started laughing. They shook my hand, wished me good luck in the race and started chit-chatting with me. I wanted to say, “This is fun and all but it is 10 minutes to one in the morning — and I need a change of pajamas.” But, in the end, I decided against it.

After that experience, the race was pretty uneventful. As usual, Tri California put on a real top-shelf event. My race didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped for. I am not sure what happened in the swim, but I seemed to go backwards and with great skill and speed.

Exiting the water, I heard the announcer say that the group that I was in was a minute and a half down on the leading group. This was a deficit I did not recovered on the bike. In fact, it grew. By the end of the bike, I heard people saying that I was over two and a half minutes down.

I headed out on the run and squeezed everything I could out of my tired body to run my way back into the race. The cool part of this event (at least for me) was the race within the race. This was the Tri California point series championship — a series that I went into the event leading. I had figured I needed to finish within two places of Brian Lavelle to maintain the series lead. Unfortunately, he came off the bike in the lead group two and a half minutes ahead of me. In the last kilometer I managed to run into ninth place. Brian was in seventh place. Mission accomplished.

So in the end I managed to hang on to the Tri California series title, and I have a great story to tell. Really, isn’t that what our sport is all about — great people, challenging courses and lots of good stories?

Until, next time this is the Mountain Man saying, “Keep an open mind to every situation and it may well turn out to be your next great story!”

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