Many cyclists I know also do Triathlons, however I am not one of those people. Until now. Sorta.
I got talked into doing the 32nd Annual Rotary Pineapple Man Triathalon this year in Melbourne Beach Florida as a part of a Relay Team. That meant that I didn’t have to run or swim, just ride a bike. Simple, right? Well, not as simple as I thought. Our team was comprised of Andrew: a former collegiate swimmer, myself: a mountain biker with a unique TT bike (more on that machine some other day), and Town Commissioner Wyatt Hoover: another former collegiate swimmer who thought he could run a 5k. In other words, the Triathlon version of the A-Team.
Each of us had done varying levels of preparation for this event, but we really didn’t know what to expect as most of the racers weren’t doing a relay but a true solo Triathlon effort. The Pineapple Man Triathlon is on the longer end of the spectrum for a “Sprint” tri, that is a 500M open water swim, 15.5 Mile bike, and 3.34 mile run. The Melbourne Beach Rotary club setup a great course for the bike so I knew we were in for a great day.
We rode into the start area early to a beautiful sunrise and saw some familiar faces from riding and racing all over, it was really a nice melting pot of people from different athletic disciplines throughout Florida. I fielded a couple questions about what this mountain biker was doing at a triathlon from my riding buddies who’d never seen me on a TT bike before. The IronGoat Endurance crew was out there in force helping everyone with last minute preparation and encouragement.
We were starting in the 2nd wave behind the Elite Men (Hi Barnowl!) so I knew I’d have a chance to pace some of the really fast guys on the bike. The gun went off as I waited in the transition area with my bike as the first few elite men started to come in and jump on their bikes. Wow, were those guys moving! You can tell who is in what wave by what color swim cap they had on, and I saw the first swimmer from our wave with the other Relay Teams come through. Turns out he is a current collegiate swimmer, and set the fastest swim time of the day while crushing everyone in his path.
I knew Andrew couldn’t be too far behind and he wasn’t. Wyatt swapped our transponder ankle monitor and I was off on the bike.
While 15.5 miles may seem like a long ride to some, I had been doing much longer rides in the Florida Endurance Series the last few months so I figured this would be a piece of cake. Boy was I wrong. This was going to be about 40 minutes of pain, which I realized early on. The first part of the bike course was through a neighborhood, which I was able to whiz through as I’d seen the course the day before. While these riders were going to be much stronger than me once we got to A1A, I was able to put my mountain bike handling skills to good use and rail the corners on the tiny 650x23c tires and put a little gap on a few riders. Sure enough once we got out on A1A it didn’t take long for them to pass me at 27mph or more.
Without any kind of warmup I settled in to my “happy” HR zone around 180ish, put my head down and started to get in the groove. Time Trial or Triathlon riding is a very different discipline than anything I had done before, as there’s no woods, berms, rocks, or other riders to draft. It’s just you and the bike. I was able to keep a couple of the elite men in sight for the first half of the race, but as they started to pick up the pace I was at my limit. I was hoping to catch the rider from the other Relay Team that was ahead of us, but I saw that he was significantly ahead of me and gaining time on the elite men! Wow! I buried my head and gave it all I had coming back up the island and through the neighborhood. My goal was to get in under 40 minutes and I was able to do that with a 39:49, right around a 23mph average. I quickly dismounted and sprinted into the Transition zone for Wyatt to take the transponder and finish strong.
We went over to the food tent and refueled with some great food and beer from Intracoastal Brewing
while we waited for final results. After a great team effort on the day we ended up sneaking up onto the podium with a 3rd place finish! None of us knew what to expect but I think we all had fun. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a triathlon by myself because I hate running, but if you’ve ever thought about it I’d definitely recommend finding a couple of friends and doing a Relay Team. We’ve all got some things to work on for next year, but we’ll see if we can repeat or improve our performance with a little more focused training (*cough*Wyatt*cough)
Here are some more of our favorite pics from the event, and my wife Jemma was out there taking these photos, she decided to take a bunch, so if you were racing, there’s a great chance you’re in these 700+ photo gallery of the 2017 Pineapple Man Triathlon