The Bike Mount Memoirs (SunRype Tri Kids Triathlon)

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Motivation
Tags: , , ,

Now that I’ve begun the all-haloed taper before my big event, I’m finding that it’s not as enjoyable as I had originally envisioned.  No, now I find myself inundated with just about every doubt, worry, and other conceivable drama my mind can conjure up.  Am I good enough?  Can I do this?  Have I prepared enough?  What’s that ache I feel?  Oh no, I think I’m getting sick.  You name it; it’s probably gone through my head in the last 48 hours alone.  Maybe this is typical for most triathletes before an event of this magnitude, specifically if it’s your first, but, whatever; it’s been driving me absolutely crazy.  But I’ve also come to appreciate that you can find motivation sometimes in the strangest places, usually, when you’re least expecting it and today I found the motherload.

Thanks to my own buffoonery and inability to plan properly, I missed the registration cut-off for my seven-year-old step daughter to participate in this weekend’s SunRype Tri Kids triathlon series at Ridley College in St. Catharines.  I know… I’m a total idiot.  What can you do?  Last week, however, I was alerted that they were in need of volunteers to help out so I decided that I’d lend a hand instead, particularly as I don’t get enough opportunities to be involved with kids these days in lieu of my own training regimen.  I was scheduled for my own long bike ride this morning but that could definitely wait until later.  Hey, it might even be fun.

I showed up an hour early as requested and promptly informed that I would be assisting out on the bike course.  Crap!  Unfortunately, what this typically means is that you stand there like a boob holding a flag and directing traffic along the course.  I realize it’s one of those thankless but necessary roles that needs to be filled like any other but I had been hoping for something, well, a bit more involved shall we say.  I have my Level One Coaching Certification now and I’m looking for chances to work with and coach little kids so the thought of standing around waving a flag was not a happy one.  But, whatever, I said I’d help out right?

Thankfully, one of the volunteers had gotten lost and they needed a last minute fill in at the mounting line to help kids get on their bike and give them some last words of encouragement before launching them out on the course.  Sweet!  So with a little finagling and coercing with the race organizers, I managed to get myself positioned at this very spot instead, so things were beginning to look up.  What followed were about the most rewarding and inspirational seven hours I could have ever have hoped for.  Brussel Sprout Power personified!

First up were the 3-5  year old’s.  Think of the last transition zone you saw at your last triathlon; the $8,000  carbon fiber flying machines, the limitless gadgets and hi-tech devices, the exact precision and meticulousness that the athletes place into setting up their stuff just so.  Now take a gander at this:

How awesome is this?

How cute is that?  C’mon, say it with me:  “Awwwwwwwwwww.”

Kind of puts things in a different perspective, doesn’t it?

As each kid came out from their swim, their eyes were as big as saucers and full of “Oh.  My.  God”.  Transitioning between the disciplines can be a bit disorientating, especially when you’re only knee high to a grasshopper.  But to all their credit, not to mention with a little help from their parents, they came out, dried off, got suited up in their bike stuff and hit the 500m  out-and-back bike course with all the grit, focus and determination of any accomplished triathlete.  Talk about ‘awesome’!  I couldn’t help but smile as I helped them on their bikes and got them going in the right direction…most of the time.  Just seeing their enthusiasm and excitement in the face of what must have been for them a rather daunting challenge was enough to provide me limitless stores of motivation for Wales and I consider myself very fortunate to have shared that experience with them.

Transition (3-5 year old’s)

Next up were the 6-7  year old’s looking to tackle the same obstacle, a 1.5k bike course around the Ridley campus.  They didn’t need so much help getting on the bike as they did a friendly word of encouragement, a reminder to b-r-e-a-t-h-e, be safe and, most importantly…to have fun.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had some, well, ‘moments’, as I remember all too well the feeling of first approaching that bike mount line after a swim, my heart racing, and a cloud of uncertainly lingering about regarding what was to come next.  Can I do this?  How’s this going to go?  But then again, I also remember those words of encouragement provided to me at one of my first triathlons over four years ago by a then volunteer at the line:  “Hey, smile.  This is the fun part!  Now go get ‘em!”

Riley gettin’ ready to giv’er…

For the rest of the day, wave after wave of happy, sometimes nervous, sometimes just plain scared kids exited the pool, mounted their bike with me at the line before heading out to conquer their demons, whatever they were.  My hat goes off to all of them; particularly one girl, let’s call her ‘Brooke’.

Maddy lovin’ it all and having a great time…

Brooke (12 years old) was one of the last girls to get off the bike with me at the dismount line.  It was clear to me from the time that she got on her bike that she was finding this to be very challenging, and being chased through transition by her, shall we say, ‘very excitable’ parents, I think, it had all become very nerve wracking for her.  She confided to me shyly while walking her bike to the running leg that she had a “rough” swim ad her bike “could have been better”  but also that she “had to finish”; all the time, her parents pleading for her to “Pick it up”, and to “Go, Go, Go!”  It sure didn’t seem like much fun to me.  But I digress…

I can also remember that feeling of loneliness you can experience out on the run course, especially when you’re already tired, hot, hurting, and just about fed up with it all.  But she was determined to finish and I respect that.  In fact, I respect that much more than some of the other 12-year-old super kids in speed suits with the customized Specialized bikes complete with GPS navigational systems, cadence counters and SPD clip-on pedals and whatnot all shooting for new PB’s.  Here’s a kid, just desperately trying to not to let her parents down or herself as she had admittedly “trained really hard for this race”.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for an underdog.  So together we ran/walked the entire 3k  to the finish line where an entire crowd of volunteers and spectators were waiting to cheer her in.  Perfect end to a perfect day.

Now, I know there’s little chance that she’ll ever read this, but Brooke: YOU were my hero today.  When things didn’t go your way, you smiled and did your best anyway.  You faced your challenges head on and bulldozed through them.  You finished and you should be very proud of yourself.

So, in a way, thank you.  I only hope I can tackle my own event in three weeks with as much spirit and determination as you demonstrated today.  Believe me, I’ll remember you when the wheels begin to fall off as I know they will eventually, and I’ll be thinking to myself:  ‘if she can do it….’   

I never did get to my bike ride afterwards as I figured I had already gained something so much more significant.  After all, a bike ride is just another bike ride but inspiration transcends mere mileage.  I’m ready.  I can do this…

  1. Louise Coyne says:

    Well done Terry, very inspirational indeed.

  2. Carla says:

    Great story, Terry. My girls were amoung the athletes that you helped on Sunday…they had an absolute blast. And they were so proud that you saw them at their first tri-gig. Thanks for giving your time to our kids! And may the wind be with you in Wales!!

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