George Papadakos - Tales in Triathlon
Being part of a small triathlon community in Tillsonburg has its disadvantages.
However the biggest advantage it does have is that it allows me to get out of triathlon specific training, and train with people that are good, if not great, in their individual sports.
A few weeks ago I had one of the best riding experiences ever, and one that I will remember forever.
I had a pretty decent winter as far as training went. I swam three times a week, ran at least two or three times and also coached a weekly spin class that took place every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m.
I was feeling pretty good about where I was, and my ability going forward towards my goal race in August at Ironman Muskoka. I decided that I should test myself with someone who could put me through the paces, and really put a hurt on me.
I decided to hook up with Michael Jaffray, a local rider, that rides for a team out of London, to see just where I stacked up, and to see if I could endure a long ride with a very seasoned rider.
I contacted him via Facebook and we set something up for a Saturday morning at 6 a.m. It worked perfectly as we both had family functions that we had to attend to in the afternoon.
Waiting for Saturday to come was like waiting for a race. I was nervous, and when I told my Wifey that, she laughed. I didn't want to slow him down, and I really wanted to show him that "me" as a triathlete could stay close or at least keep him in sight.
I treated the ride like a triathlon. I got up very early, ate a big bowl of oatmeal, a banana, and two cups of tea.
I had two water bottles filled with fuel (Gatorade), two granola bars and five energy gels ready for whatever Michael threw my way.
As dawn broke I made my way across town to meet up with Michael, a short five-minute ride, which I no doubt would use as an excuse if I conked out early, or if I got dropped.
Rolling into the driveway, I could see Michael running around the kitchen and getting ready. I was greeted at the door with a "good morning" and "do you need a coffee?" I replied with a "no thanks."
With a quick check of tire pressure, and some last minute routes put onto his Garmin device, and we were off.
A nice easy clip of 28 km/h to get the blood pumping, as we made some small talk about our lives, beautiful wives and children.
Michael informed me that we were picking up a teammate named Eric. He is recovering from a broken collar bone, and lives just outside of Alymer.
The more the merrier, although I was thinking they would probably have an unreal pace, and would leave me behind on some dirt road in rural Elgin county.
We biked a total 156 kilometres that day with a good amount of climbing added as well.
Some the best things that I loved about riding with these guys was that we would be riding at 35 km/h, and they were joking around, talking about pro riders and races that they had coming up.
I just sat behind them listening, breathing heavy and honestly loving every minute of it, and hoping that some of their riding machismo would somehow blow off them and unto me.
I stayed close for most of the ride, although I did get dropped near Port Stanley when the thought of a double espresso and a date square pushed Michael into overdrive.
Other things that I noticed was their road presence and awareness. They were very mindful of cracks or loose gravel on the road, and were quick to point out things that might make you blow a tire or make you lose control.
I also noticed that they both had very different riding styles. Michael had a strong cadence pushing a tougher gear, whereas Eric had a very fast cadence. In the end the two different styles produced great rides.
Every once in awhile Michael would look back to see if I was still there, and then I realized that he was looking behind me to see if cars were coming (I think).
It was a true pleasure to ride with two very good riders, and thank you for letting me tag along. I can only hope that some of the things I learned will inspire me to be a better rider.
No matter what your sport is, you can always learn something new or at least approach training or racing with a different perspective. I definitely have a much deeper respect for hardcore riders.
Until I see you at the start line, train safe and have fun!!