I’m still processing the Austin 70.3. So much happened that I’m constantly going over it all in my head. It wasn’t a bad race by any means, but it wasn’t the race I wanted. But before I get into all that I want to go back to Friday, the day I arrived in Austin, TX, with fellow racers Leanne and Valerie and Valerie’s husband and race supporter extraordinaire, Mike.
Disaster almost strikes early when Valerie and Mike arrive at the gate without seat assignments, having been told the flight was oversold and United is looking for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for a $200 flight coupon. A few tense moments follow before the screen shows that Valerie and Mike are off the blacklist and now have seats. Boarding begins and Leanne hasn’t appeared. So I text her and she texts back that she just got through security after waiting in line 40 mins. So as we’re getting on the plane I ask the agent how long until the gate closes, and text back to Leanne that she has 11 minutes so I hope she’s got her running shoes on. She made it in time…just.
Interlude for uneventful 3 hr flight….provide your own entertainment…
There are tons of bike bags at Austin airport, confirming that we’re at the right place. But Mike can’t remember which company we’re renting a car from and has to look it up. We head over to car rental desk to discover we’re supposed to be picking up a car from downtown…clearly that isn’t going to work so they cancel that and rebook us a car from the airport. We head out to find our car and as we go to put the luggage in the back, we almost step on this:
Sorry if you just ate lunch, especially if it was wings or chicken, but seriously, this was right behind our car. I couldn’t decide if it was a good luck sign. It was definitely dead…
Our first stop was FedEx to pick up our bikes, which had enjoyed their own adventure. When they had arrived safely in Austin on Tuesday, according to FedEx tracking, I tried to call the location to let them know we’d be picking them up on Friday, but I got no answer after calling all day. In the end I sent them an e-mail and, the following day, got a response that they’d had to close the store because of an “emergency” and all the boxes had been taken to the hub. Of course I wondered whether the emergency involved any damage to my bike…but in the end the bikes were taken back to the store and seemed no worse the wear for their little detour.
So off we drove to find someplace for lunch. We ended up on South Congress which is the trendy part of Austin, in a hippie, psychedelic way. There was a parking lot with a row of Airstream trailers selling various different foods. I was tempted to sample something from each but we had to be good, with the race coming up. We ate at a restaurant across the street where the service was unbearably slow and the food just OK. Trailer probably would have been a better option. Still, I got this great shot of Mike eating a
rawhide bone cannoli while we all drooled and pretended to enjoy our veggies and carbs.
Our next stop was the race site so we could do athlete check in and avoid the lines on Saturday. The drive there was interesting. We passed half a dozen Pinata/Moonbounce storefronts in what seemed to be a very dodgy area on our way to Ludecke Arena. Any thoughts we had previously entertained of riding our bikes to the race site disappeared as we imagined getting bikejacked along the way.
We got to Ludecke Arena 40 mins too early for check in so we drove over to Decker Lake, where the swim and transition to bike would take place. We found a few people swimming in the lake and were surprised that the water felt cool, as the air was stinking hot. We couldn’t get to our bags to change out of our jeans because the bike boxes were in the way, although Leanne managed to wriggle her bag out and changed into shorts in one of the billion portapotties set up for the event. Have you ever noticed how portapotties sitting out in the sun provide a personal sauna?
We wandered over to T1 to find out where we’d be racking our bikes. Valerie and I were over in the dirt section, while Leanne, who’s in a different age group, was on the grass, with a tree blocking her direct route to the bike out. Mind you, at least she didn’t have to rack her bike in a huge hole or next to the massive steel pole. Yeah, there were some rough spots.
We took so long checking it all out that we didn’t get back to the arena until an hour later. By then there was a line for check in and it seemed to take forever. (Mind you, that was nothing compared to what we saw on Saturday, when the line snaked out the door…) They definitely needed more staff – and more space – for the check in. We got all our stuff (bibs, swim caps, timing chips, shirts, etc.) and then went to buy all our Austin 70.3 stuff. It was a zoo.
We finally got out of there after spending several million dollars and headed to our rental house, which was NOT in the dodgy part of town.
More to follow later!!!