You're The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things
Two years ago, I had my first major bike wreck. With the bike wreck came a concussion that put me on my back for three days with a sickening case of vertigo and a fractured elbow to add to my misery. That wreck happened 2 months prior to my “A” race for the season. Working with my coach and my awesome chiropractor, I soldiered through and trained (as best I could with a fractured elbow and my arm in a splint) and raced that "A" race.
The morning of the race, I took prescription Ibuprofen (not what you’re supposed to do on race day, but I knew the 70.3 mile race would take a painful toll on my elbow) and felt good. Half-a-mile into the 1.2 mile swim I felt a guy’s hand come down on my left bicep right above the fracture site. Making contact in the swim is not uncommon, rather it’s expected, the norm. But the second time it happened, one stroke later, the prescription pain-killer quit putting up a brave front and the pain from the not quite healed fracture vibrated up my left arm into my shoulder and down my left side reaching all the way to my pinky toe.
Because I breathe to the opposite side, I couldn’t see who’d chosen to nail me two times in a row. I quickly adjusted my position and tried to pick up my stroke cadence to create distance. No luck, 30-seconds later it happened again. I threw caution to the wind, changed breathing side to my left side and bowed up my half-numb body (my left side was one big ol’ throbbing warm, angry mess) to render a beat-down (I don’t know how to fight, but I am quite adept at instilling fear with one look) to the person who had obviously mistooken (yup, “mistooken” is a word in my world) the concept of “draft” for the concept of “piggy-back.” It took one breath/glance to get my point across and all of a sudden he realized that there was a WHOLE LAKE out there he could be swimming in and that he needed to find the part of the lake where I WASN’T swimming tout de suite.
A few months ago, during the bike leg of a sprint, some guy hollered at me for being too far to the left. I was legally riding correctly, he was mad that he didn’t have enough room to pass. I’ve got a good idea, why don’t you do what MOST courteous riders do when they are about to pass someone, they holler “on the left” so the person they are passing can move to the right and give them room. You don’t tell me you’re coming, I’m not moving. I’m well within USAT (the governing body of sanctioned triathlons in the United States) guidelines where I’m riding.
One summer at USAT Age Group National Championships, I found myself in a bike wreck that was caused by someone who passed me way too close and without warning and mayhaps had some depth perception issues because he got stuck in the spokes of my back wheel (don’t even ask how it happened, I STILL to this day have no idea how he did it) and he took himself AND me down. COME ON PEOPLE! This is Nationals! How in the world do you qualify for Nationals and NOT have body control on the bike?
This past weekend (while racing in a sprint distance tri in Louisiana) on a semi-congested 18.2 mile bike route, I was passing another cyclist when from behind me, I hear some dude yell: “hurry the f**k up!” USAT guidelines state that once I enter the draft zone I have 15-seconds to pass someone on the bike before I’m penalized and honestly every time I pass someone, I use every bit of that allotted 15-seconds. And I may have used 20-seconds on that particular pass; because, really?!? Who yells like that! LEARN THE RULES CHUCKLES!
It’s gotta be said, people that act like that, are the ones who ruin it for the rest of us! They’re the reason newbies are intimidated and many become “one-and-done” triathletes. Dude, if you’re going to win on the blackened wings of being discourteous throughout the race, then is it really a win? Well to the black of heart I guess it is. But to the rest of us, you’re just a story that we share with each other about those few people who forget that we’re all out here for the love of the game, the thrill of the push, the struggle that ties us together as a family no matter our speed, our nationality, our experience levels, we in essence are “one”. Except for those few people, the ones that sometimes ruin that vibe, the ones that are the “reason we can’t have nice things.”