This past weekend I took part in the 2014 edition (25th Annual) West Point sprint triathlon. Its popular local triathlon held at Camp Buckner, in West Point NY , just a short distance from the Military Academy campus. The race itself is a sprint triathlon, Its a 800m swim, 14mile bike and 5k run.
The race is an hour’s drive from where I live and arriving around 6:30 left plenty of time for the scheduled 8:30 start.The weather looked good, a little cool in the low 60’s at 6am but it would warm quickly into the mid 70’s by race time., just a few scattered clouds, and when we arrived we saw rainbow..cool..
This year water temp was 72 , so it was wet suit-legal, like last year’s race. The lake swim is an 800m swim in a counter clockwise rectangular course.
Because I entered a new age group I was bumped to the back of the line in terms of wave starts. I would be starting in the final wave. The races first wave went off at 8:30a and about a half an hour later our wave went in. Being in the last wave I though I would need to deal with a lot of traffic, bt tit was actually one of the swims where I had little contact.
Aside from the usual contact at the start, the swimmers were pretty well spread out by the time we approached the first marker bouy. I cranked it the first few 100 years and quickly felt “heavy arms” so I needed to dial it back a bit and settle into a rhythm. Scattered clouds meant sun would not be an issue. The first left return buoy took a while to arrive, but I was glad to see I was taking a clean line towards all the buoys. I did navigate a bit off course when I swam breathing to my right, I tend to pull right when I breathe out of my, I just need to sight more in this case. The second turn bouy came, and then it was the turn for home. I picked up my rhythm a bit more and began to pass some of the slower wave traffic from the previous waves.
With the Swim exit in sight , I kept swimming until I could see the grass leaves and sand then it was a quick stand up and out through swim exit. High -fived some spectators and then it was onto T1, wetsuit came off mostly cleanly but my left left with the timing chip caused it to bunch up ,after a few chosen curse words the suit final came off. Once removed I elected to put on my shoes and hobbled off to the mount area.
Clipping in took a few tries then I was off, I didn’t feel particularly strong starting the bike, need to remind myself, its mostly uphill the first 3+ miles, so don’t be surprised to see sub 20 mph speeds. So I slowly started . The road out of camp Buckner has a poor road surface, they marked t the worst potholes, but it still a road you will be bouncing a lot on..
Once I turned onto route 293 it was just a matter of pacing and catching up the slower riders from the earlier waves. I made a little bit of progress, and slowly bring back riders on most of the climbs . The longest climb starts about 2.5 miles in , its the one approaching the first turn around , you’ll have about 1/3mile long 7-8% grade climb, here you just need to be in your lower gear and pace yourself up the hill. I managed to pass riders all the way up and reached the top breathing heavilyy but ready to crank it on the downhill.. After the turn around I clicked into my 52T chainring and began slowly accelerating it wasn’t long before I was going 25mph , then the road dropped even more and into the the 30’s I accelerated.
Dreaded Bicycle speed “death”wobble / shimmy
About a 1/4 of the way into the downhill I moved onto the main road away from the shoulder to go around slower traffic, and picked up more speed. As I approached 40+ mph , I started feeling a slight shaking vibration coming from what appeared the rear wheel, then the shaking became stronger. I was like “cr*p” ! at 40+mph I must have a flat or some tire issue. I gingerly squeezed the rear brake, but the shaking wobble continued, at this point I was sure I was going down. I expected that a flat would soon have me riding the rim, but no,the damn bike just kept shaking I did my best to stay on it, I could hear riders yelling at me at me from behind to stop swerving and get on the right as I was trying to control this” bucking bronco”. In what seemed like forever eventually near the end of the hill my speed came back under 30mph and the shaking subsided and finally stopped. Still expecting to be riding a flat, I looked down , but no my tire still seemed inflated.
It turned out I experienced (for the first time) the infamous speed wobble, which occurs on bikes,skateboards and motorcycles when a critical speed is reached (usually > 35mph+ for bicycles) any reverberating vibration (caused by wind, mechanical issues, road surface , rider handling or a combination) creates an un-dampened oscillating vibration throughout the frame. This harmonic vibration will continue, until speed is reduced or somehow dampened. I learned that one can minimize (dampen) the wobble by firmly placing ones knees against the top tube. Of course I learned that after the fact.
The actual cause of the wobble varies, but I did have some contributing factors, high tire pressure, forward seat position, crosswinds and slightly unbalanced rear wheel ,. So I’m now a more experienced rider and luckily it didn’t cost me any skin..
Here’s a video of what it looks on a road bike like taken by another rider..
After that little adventure, I rode the rest of the bike leg very gingerly, I was afraid to go over 25mph,and nearing the second turn around the final descent I was on the brakes all the way down keeping my speed in the low 20’s. Then at the turn around its another climb back up to the top before the rolling course flattens out at bit and you approach the light and the right hand turn back into Camp Buckner.
I unstrapped my feet from my shoes and approached the dismount point, happy to arrive in one piece.. but my caution set me back 4 minutes slower than last year… Here’s My Garmin Data from the course…
With no bike shoes to undo, I slipped on my Kinveras, and off on the run I went. Started off pretty sluggishly and a few of my age group competitors passed me pretty quickly on the run. Then I settled into a rhythm, approaching the main climb on the run. I chugged up the hill passing a few othe earlier wave folks.. Then it was back down the climb.. After the turn around at the base of the climb is the 1 mile mark and its there, I saw the dreaded mile split. time. horrible.
I picked up the pace in the next few miles, but I for some reason was definitely not going full gas, my HR was in the 150 range, which is low for me so I don’t think I was pushing as hard as I could be, but I just didn’t have the energy to go any faster.. Eventually I managed to get into a decent rhythm and maintain a better 8/min/mile pace through the remaining miles, but it was not good enough to salvage the run. Coming back through transition I looked down at my watch and could see my last year’s time of 1:28 flashing by…still had about a half mile to go..
After the final turn around point at about mile 2.7 I crested a small rise and decided to kick it in a bit to place some time between a few competitors that were pacing off me.. then the finish shoot came into view and I wrapped up the race….
Then it was onto some post race food, and camaraderie with fellow competitors, its what racing is all about. We also met our old Randolph Tri park relay team rivals, Bob, Donna and Louise (who won the relay division) .
This was my slowest Westpoint tri slower by over 5 minutes from last year.. Here’s the breakout from this year’s race.. The swim was faster, but after my “death” wobble on the bike, and my abysmal run, I was slower..All things considered a slow finish is better than a DNF..
Male race winner and local Triathlete extraordinaire Chris Nocera did the course in 1:01 , Female winner Julie Gillis-Beygnak did the race in 1:18 and Relay team winners were our old nemesis from Lincoln Park The Flying Dutchman they did their race in 1:24, congrats to all.. And especially congrats to the Challenged athletes for their inspiration…
|Year||Swim (800m)||T1||Bike (14mi)||T2||Run (3.1mi)||Finish|
|2014||14:55*||1:46||46:33 (17.6 mph)||1:19||28:47 (9:16/mi)||1:33:47|
|2013||15:19*||2:02||43:43 (19.2 mph)||0:54||26:34 (8:34/mi)||1:28:29|
|2012||17:56||2:12||43:24 (19.3 mph)||1:21||27:14 (8:47/mi)||1:31:06|
* westuit legal
Once I get a better handle on what happened on the bike, Ill feel more confident to attack the bike course here next year..
Free Race Photos
Help yourself to any the photos…
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