Cottage country – it calls you to swim, bike and run. If you are lucky enough to spend some time in our beautiful north, you will agree that there is nothing like an early morning swim in a clear lake, a mostly car-free bike ride along a shaded rolling road and run thru a pine tree scented trail. Ahh, the cottage…. So what better place to do your own race. Especially if the official one got rained out (or you were too chicken to participate). Darin Graham did just that, and his story is quintessential cottage………..
I had hoped to do the Sprint Tri at Gravenhurst on Sunday, but alas the weather didn’t cooperate. None the less, it was a fun day with a little story behind it that I’d like to share.
I had gone up to my wife (Jane) sister’s cottage on Lake Muskoka with Jane, her sisters and their husbands to stay just outside of Gravenhurst for the weekend. We did it for the race last year and it worked out well. But on Sunday night it was raining really hard, and when I got up at 5:30am the wind was howling, the waves high and the rain belting down. At 7am it had settled a bit, but barely with high waves and solid rain…and now thunderstorms predicted for 9-11 am right during the race. I don’t like biking in rain as its too slippery for chicken me, so back to bed and wait for the next race.
We did get out to the race to see the die hards in action. We arrived just as the first group was coming out of the water. Like the rest of the crowd protected by our umbrellas, we cheered them on. I didn’t see anyone I recognized but hoped the best for everyone. Although the bay was sheltered and the waves not too bad for the swim, the rain picked up just as the bike portion started and the transition zone was filled with muddy puddles. Maybe they had turned the event into a Mudder and didn’t tell anyone. After everyone was off on the bike we decided to leave because the rain was just not welcoming.
I was a little depressed not having raced that morning, but knowing that I had made a good choice for me. In the early afternoon the wind died down a little, the waves weren’t too bad on the open lake, the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out. My bike was standing beside the cottage and my tri gear all ready to go…both them and myself sad because we didn’t get out. So, I decided to do the first annual Alternative Gravenhurst Tri. Jane got in the kayak as the safety boat and my brother in law John (who is a good swimmer) and I started out across Lake Muskoka for the 750m swim. John turned back after 100m as it was too cold, but I pushed on through the waves. It was my first time in waves of any sort (about 1 foot from peak to trough) but I touched the goal point and returned back against the wind and waves. It felt good as I came out of the water…thanks to some open water training with Beth at Gulliver’s.
I had used the front porch of the cottage as the transition zone and the family were waiting there cheering me on and taking pictures. I got on my bike and off I went. They had just paved some gravel roads around the cottage area that now made a good loop for biking. Steve and Maggie (sister and brother in law who own the cottage) wanted to know how big the loop was for biking themselves. It was very hilly…much more hilly than the actual Gravenhurst Tri. The loop was only about 18km so I did some extra to make up the required distance.
On my return at the end of the driveway everyone was cheering and making noise with the clappers. In the transition, Steve and Maggie were waiting in their running gear. Both of them run but hadn’t been out in a month or so and thought it would a great time to get a run in. All three of us headed out to tackle the 5km loop of gravel and paved roads that they use for their typical morning run. Steve is a solid fast runner so I had to push it to keep up with him on the hills.
Before I knew it I was back at the finish line with the crowds cheering me on. And I had come in 1st place!!! It was more hilly than the Gravenhurst Tri I did last year and I guess I shaved about 10min off of that time.
The whole family got involved and it was a great way to spend the afternoon after a very dreary and disappointing morning. The race may not be official but it certainly was fun for everyone.