Friday, October 12, 2007

Mission Beach Aquatics Festival

Mission Beach

Lisa and I went to Mission Beach last weekend which is about a 2 hours drive South of Cairns. Mission Beach is known for its Cassowaries, which are large, endangered, flightless birds. It's home to 50-60 of them and has the densest population of them in the world. Despite this and the many signs indicating that we should be cautious drivers we saw a grand total of zero.

We stayed at a place called Sanctuary. It offers accommadations to tourists in the middle of a bit of conserved rainforest just north of Mission Beach on Garner's Beach. We stayed in a rainforest hut which was like a screened in porch with two beds and a night stand. At night we could hear all the creatures of the forest come alives. So even though we never saw a cassowary, we are convinced that we definitely heard one. They either go "ribbit," "hoo hoo," or "cock-a-doodle-doo."

Sanctuary also boasts an organic farm (which you can work on for accommodations), a yoga studio, and an incredibly yummy restaurant. With everything there, there is a sense of responsibility, that you are renting a part of the community there. Thus, when the yoga class is done, you wash your own mat. If you would like dinner in the restaurant, you must order by 6pm off the menu which is announced at 4pm and it will be served between 7 and 8. It's the type of place that by the second day you get the feeling that you had significantly destressed. If you could stay there for a week, you may no longer be recognizable to your friends and family.

Ultimately, the rationale for going to Mission Beach was to see the Mission Beach Aquatics festival and to compete in the triathlon that Sunday. The Festival was small. And I feel like I'm starting to see the same "local flavor" bits again and again. The highlight of the festival was supposed to be the world's largest sarong. But when we went we saw that, in fact, it had been just many pieces of fabric pinned together in a patchwork sarong, and that most of it had already been disassembled. We then found a good table to grab a beer and watch the parade. The parade consisted of an old tyme car, kids with surfboards, scouts dressed as flip-flops and a firetruck. I think they might have won the award for the world's shortest parade. Our waitress went to get our beers and when she came back she had missed it.

I bought shoes for my bike. They clip into the pedals so you can both pull up on the pedals as well as push down. This is a big step in my cycling career. And it's to be expected that you will fall off your bike a few times as you get the hang of using them. Saturday, the day before the race, I still had not tried them out with the bike in motion (I had practiced them with the bike stationary and held in an upright position). So after two beers and the excitement of the parade, we decided it was time to practice. Lisa ran out ahead of me, so I could ride to her and she could catch me if I started to tip. I clipped in, pedalled a bit, clipped out and came to a stop right in front of her, still upright! She ran a bit further. Again, I made it successfully. "This is awesome" "You're a natural" "Ok, let's try it one more time, back to the car and we'll be good" As Lisa ran back toward the car, I turned the bike around with one foot still clipped in. And then, I was on the ground, laughing and calling out to Lisa. We tried a few more times and I didn't fall again, so I was feeling good for the race the next day.

I woke up in the morning anxious. Worried about the shoes still. But Suzie was there. Whew, not going to be last. Then it turns out, she was doing the half distance course. They explained the course to us: four buoys on the swim, left out of the lot on the bike, road turns right, over a small bridge, take a turn, out to South Mission Beach, around the cone, back, second lap, run across the street, pass the "Run-turnaround sign", but don't turn around there, take a turn up a hill, follow the cones, back to the turnaround sign, second loop and back to the transition area. What? I'll just follow the signs. The group of us traipsed out to the beach for the swim. I saw two buoys close to shore, where were the other two? Off on the horizon, I spotted two small orange dots. Those were them. Was it possible that was 750m? I started to panic. I can't swim that far in the ocean, I have clippy shoes I'm going to fall out of, I have no idea what the course is. I looked around and spotted Greg a member of the club. I told him I was anxious about the swim. He said not to worry about it, just take it easy, take my time, don't try to go out too hard and I'd make it.

He was right. I was very slow, and I got caught in a rip coming back in and kept getting pushed off course, but I made it out of the water. The very last person out. At this point I was a bit disheartened, but strapped on my new clippy shoes and took my bike out to the course. I couldn't get my right foot in. I had practiced starting with one foot in, and now I couldn't get it in. I stood on the right pedal, I heard it clip, but then my weight was on the right, and down I went. My second spill with the shoes. A race official came back over to me to help. He offered to hold the bike up right, and I could just clip both of them in. But I couldn't do that, that wasn't how I had practiced, I knew I would fall again. I managed to get the right foot back in with him holding the bike, then finally got on my way.

Ok, right turn, over the bridge, out to the intersection, there are people there directing traffic. I hang a right. I swear I pass people cheering me on. Then it's just winding hills. Where's the turnaround? I see a sign "Caution bikes on road", ok I'm still going the right way. Then the road ends, another intersection and there's no sign, there's no one there. Which way do I go? Where are all the other riders? I must have screwed up. I turn around. I go all the way back to the transition area. I spot Simone, "Where's the turn around?" "There's a cone in the middle of the road" How could I have missed that? Back out, I come to the first intersection, and I yell out, "Where's the turn around?" "It's to the left." The left. I turned right last time. Why didn't you stop me before?

Maybe, I should just rack my bike, and not run. But as I get back to the transition. There's Lisa, cheering me on. I get off my bike, and I don't fall over. Ok, time to run. It's now about 10:45am, it's getting hot. I'm running. I do the first lap slowly, and I know at this point that every one else has finished. I ask the official, "can I finish?" He says "Yeah". I turn around at this point things start to click. My strides feel good. I make it up the hill this time with a lot less effort. And when I turn the corner to the finish line, there's Lisa and Simone cheering once again.

I don't really care about being last. I do care about being so far behind. It's hard to keep myself motivated to push hard when I can't see any one ahead of me. And I feel guilty for making people wait on me. One more triathlon next weekend...


Paul October 14, 2007 at 11:55 PM'll get 'em next time!

Mike October 15, 2007 at 2:09 PM  

nice job sticking with it! i'm very impressed; clippy pedals scare me to death. i'm convinced i'll die somewhere in the middle of nowhere, trapped under my bike, unable to escape from my clippy pedals.

so maybe that's not too likely. Awesome job and best of luck on the next triathlon!

Jon October 16, 2007 at 1:24 PM  

Your determination alone outshines probably 90% of the people I know!

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