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In a little word play to celebrate the upcoming annual “Wurstfest”in New Braunfels, the good folks at Redemption Race Productions have created the insanely fun and incredibly challenging “Wurst Tri Ever”

Despite the name, it’s one of the best tri’s I have competed in yet!

And, as usual, I am getting ahead of myself a bit here… because this story begins with the end of the last one. I mentioned the hills of the Bastrop Lost Pines Tri being an incredible challenge, and I also mentioned the pavement wasn’t the greatest. I ride Amelia HARD, and that race was no exception. I beat her up a little during that race.

Please don’t think I am blaming the road conditions of the race for what I am about to talk about, I am most certainly NOT- Bastrop was just the straw that broke the camel’s back…or more appropriately, my bicycle’s front rim- you see, the very next group ride I went out on, one of my fellow riders commented on a rattle coming from the front of my bike…”that definitely doesn’t sound good…”

I thought little of it during the ride, thinking maybe it was a loose spoke or other such easily corrected issue. I got her home and put her on the stand, determined to give her some much needed love and TLC, as well as a complete “start from zero” tune-up…you know, the kind of tune up where you go crazy and disconnect all the cables and clean, well, EVERYTHING. With the various mechanical issues I have encountered during recent races, it was overdue!

While everything else was good to go and easy to fix, clean or adjust, there was one issue that nothing could fix-my front wheel had developed a rather nasty looking crack along the sidewall, and would need to be replaced.

Because I had a race coming up soon, I searched around online frantically…ebay, craigslist, REI… and I finally found the Forte Titan 700c Road Wheels at Performance Bike…they had great reviews and several of my friends have used them with good results-plus they were in stock locally. Thus began Amelia’s latest upgrade- I couldn’t just get ONE new wheel, could I? Of course not-one needs a new SET of wheels!

Amelia was an inexpensive bicycle…and as a result, I have found some limitations. I was about to find another.

The Schwinn Seneca is a 14 speed road bike, meaning it has a 7 gear cassette… which is enough gears for me…but most road bikes nowadays have 16-20 speeds or more. Amelia, coming with a 7 speed cassette, had a matching shifter, and while I would love to have more gears to play with, I don’t want to have to swap out my shifters, chain and crank all at the same time. It seems, having said that, I would need a 7 speed cassette.

…but they don’t make 7-speed cassettes for road bikes!!!!

They do for mountain bikes though… and mountain bikes are GREEEAAATTT for climbing-but not so much for going flat-out on the road or pounding a descent tucked into the aero-bars…so I would need a smaller cruiser-gear…the bike mechanics at Performance hooked me up with an 11t cog…

So onto my new road bike wheelset went a customized 7-speed cassette with an incredibly diverse gear range…for me, my old wheel was a 14t-28t….now I had an 11t to 32t gear set…let me tell you, I am cooking with gas….I NEVER have to stand in the saddle now… ok…enough mumbo jumbo about my bike… onto the review…

With New Braunfels being so close to my home base here in San Antonio, I got to sleep in a little late, and even so, I left early in wee dark hours of the morning. I kissed Mrs MuddyJ and the Things Three goodbye without waking them on my way out the door, and Amelia and I headed out into the brisk morning air-It has been cooling down here a little in San Antonio, and the change in temperature is more than welcome!

I hit no traffic and had no issues finding the venue, and, as a result, I was actually one of the first athletes to arrive, meaning I got a primo spot to set-up Amelia in transition:

I got my timing chip, offered my pre-race bribe to the race director and scoped out the area.

Then I had to make a decision- recently I have had this nagging pain in my left heel when I run… and with the upcoming Burnett Extreme Tri, I decided to sit out the run and make this race a Duathlon for me by competing in the swim/bike Duathlon option.

I meandered around a bit, talking to folks here and there meeting up with some friends I have made in the tri scene and sipping some coffee…. and then it was time to start the pre-race briefing.

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I’ll admit, I was apprehensive at first to enter this race, as a 25mph downhill speed limit was mentioned, and  it turned out that this limit was only for the final gnarly descent into the park…the rest of the course was game on! We bowed our heads in unison for a pre race prayer…and headed over to “Wet Willy” to start the race!

…wait a minute… I forgot to mention: The swim was to take place in two separate pools, and The first pool had a two story water slide, named Wet Willy, and that was how the braver and more fun loving folks entered the water for the race. I stepped into the front of the line-up, about 20 people back. Only 4 people at a time were permitted on the wooden staircase, but the line moved very quickly and smoothly…before I knew it, it was my turn to go…

I stepped up, heard the beep of my timing device being accepted, and swung under the beam across the top to gather momentum as I hurled my body down the slide:

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For all of 5 seconds or less I was having the time of my life… then the slide ended, and I hung in mid air for a split second before the breath was knocked from my chest by submersion in the frigid water.

The first of the two pools was a naturally fed spring pool…so it was like swimming in a filtered lake, complete with fish and aquatic plants. As I settled into my stroke, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the underwater garden… I kinda felt like I was a tri version of Jacques Cousteau!

I motored through the first pool, spurred to swim faster to get myself warmed up, and all too soon I was climbing from the pool and speed walking (running was not permitted) the 75-100 yards to the second swimming leg, which took place in an Olympic sized swimming pool…It was hard to get over the shock of the cold water… until we jumped in the bath temperature chlorinated waters of the second pool!

A few down and back laps, and I was over before it really got a chance to start… I hit the path to transition running, and soon enough I was running from transition with Amelia. I managed to execute a flawless flying mount and we headed off into the fray-straight uphill…

The speed limit only pertained to going downhill… moving uphill we were allowed to ride as fast as we wanted… in my case, that was about 10mph max…

My recent tune-up and new wheel-set felt great…but the biggest difference was my new climbing gears… I was able to spin my crank furiously as I climbed up the hills, burning off my quick to recover fast twitch muscles and working my well developed cardio vascular system instead of burning out my quads early on…. and when I hit the down-hills, I tucked into my aero bars and had a blast, topping 45mph in some sections…

Downhills are FUN!!!! Uphills, are not….

1011851_623103634379162_722584291_n(1)Being mostly uphill, the ride out was tougher then the ride back, and since I wasn’t planning on doing the run portion, I cooked off what was left of my legs on the way back, managing to finish the 14 mile-ever-changing-elevations-cycle ride in just over 52 minutes…  to finish 4th over-all in the Swim/Bike Duathlon, and 3rd place in my gender!

Oh, and according to the standings, I kicked ass in the swim leg too… 1st in my gender and second overall for that!

All in all this was a great race…but really, it’s just more practice for the upcoming big boys:

First up, on October 13th:

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Followed closely by:

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and then…because I am a glutton for punishment… I am doing a weekend double header:

Saturday, November 9th, I’ll be conquering the WORLD’S LONGEST MUD PIT IN A 6K at the San Antonio Gladiator Rock and Run (stay tuned for an awesome upcoming giveaway):

in_logo_headerI might do it twice again….

…but then the very next day, I am taking on the Enchanted Rock 25k (I might wear “J”uaraches):

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and that’s just November…. December is going to see a few double headers, With the Illuminations 1/2 marathon, and the T-rex distance of the Natural Bridge Caverns Duathlon (Run/Bike/Run) on December 7th and 8th…

…. and the next weekend I’ll be dragging my newly rebuilt rickshaw out  to the Windcrest City of Lights 5k….before heading off to Glen Rose, TX to conquer the Spartan BEAST!

Stay Muddy My Friends, and stay tuned for new and exciting giveaways!

 

 

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