Watching from the Sidelines…

Originally published 5/21/17.

May 20th – the day of the Harryman Triathlon at Harriman State Park.  I had signed up for the Olympic distance triathlon last fall with full intention of competing.  

Final work deliverables lined up exactly with the triathlon and since I haven’t been to the gym since the Ragnar Relay, I knew I wasn’t ready.  I also caught a cold with congested sinuses last week and little bit of a dry throat.  Sort of a double whammy of unpreparedness.  😦   If you haven’t deduced by now, I didn’t compete.  I watched from the sidelines and tried to cheer on those who were competing.  

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I heard an announcement that someone didn’t have and needed a bicycle helmet to compete.  I had brought my Specialized bicycle and riding gear because I thought I may potentially go for a ride later in the day.  I thought “What the heck, my helmet is perfectly good and doing nothing in my car right now!”  So I grabbed my helmet, brought it to someone checking contestants into the transition area and said I had a helmet.  It was a young guy that needed it.  He was competing in the triathlon as his senior project and had to compete and finish to graduate.  Yikes dude!  Take my helmet! Best of luck!  His mom is going to wash the helmet and ship it back to me.  

I watched the Half triathlon distance start the swim at about 9:45am.  Just watching those folks run into the water made me want to compete so badly.  I also watched the three waves of Olympic distance contestants start at 10:30, 10:33, and 10:36.   They started finishing the swim and running to the transition area and rolling out on their bikes.  One girl had rolled out and her chain came off.  I was right there watching her trying to figure out how to get it back one and I knew exactly what to do!  So I stepped over and said “I’m not sure I’m allowed to help you but here…” and I took the lower chain, pulled it and the derailer forward to give the chain some slack.  Fixed and good to go she hopped on and rode off.  

I walked to road where the riders complete one loop and continue to ride the second.  It was motivating watch the riders pass by; cheering each of them.  Personally, it is so important to provide every rider with some positive reinforcement, encourage them to keep going.  This is where the second part of my story from yesterday begins. 

There was this couple riding a tandem bike.  Well, they weren’t actually biking… They had paused to cheer folks on as well.  However, the lady was verbally judging every other cyclist as they rode by. This really, really ticked me off.  Yes, some folks weren’t riding a bike properly sized for them, or they didn’t have biking cleats, or some (I did notice) should have had their seats raised slightly higher than they were.  You want to know why this ticks me off?  Because it is people like her who discourage novice riders from starting with the equipment that they have!!! Afraid of being judged by those who have the funds to start with equipment amounting to excess of >$1,000 investment!  Not everyone has that!  I made my cycling start on a mountain bike that was probably $150 from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Did I have bike cleats?  No!  Did I have proper cycling clothing?  No!  I cycled huge hills without all the proper gear – I did it because I loved it and I wanted to and I made the best of what I had at the time!  

So, to that judgmental woman: cyclists have to get their start somewhere!  Everyone that you were judging was probably fighting a battle you couldn’t see to finish that race!  Fighting the thoughts that they don’t belong there because they don’t have the best equipment.  To those that were riding with the gear and the skill and the guts and gumption that you have: You BELONG!  You have as much right as those who were riding very specialized bicycles that cost thousands of dollars.  Take on that challenge and show that anyone at any level can overcome obstacles.  

Congratulations to all the competitors for getting out there and taking on that challenge and the same congratulations to all the race finishers.  I wish I had a medal from yesterday, but it wasn’t quite time.

Until the next triathlon I sign up for… (well, I mean I’ll write before then of course).  Don’t judge other people.  “Always be humble and kind.”    

Transition Area
Pretty sure this was the first or second wave of Olympic contestants.
Outgoing cyclists coming out of the transition area.
The running start and finish line…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s