Vineman AquaBike: The Pre-Race Prep

We drove up Thursday for the Saturday race. A long drive for us – almost 500 miles. At a cozy little restaurant that night, we played a game of guessing who was racing that weekend. Todd realized there would be no escaping enthusiastic triathletes. While we waited for our food, a couple of nice guys who had done the race before struck up a conversation with us. Even though we felt badly that their wives and children were suddenly invisible, we were glad they did. They had both done the Full AquaBike (2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike) before. They warned me that if the river was too shallow to swim in places, definitely avoid walking under the bridges where there might be broken glass from tossed beer bottles. They told us where the tricky spots were on the course – like Sunset Avenue. And described their incredibly training mileage. (They do 60-90 mile rides every Tuesday.)

Sharkbait had sent me an email earlier in the week about pre-race nutrition. So a big breakfast was on tap Friday morning. Then we went to Guerneville to check out the Russian River. While I was there I bumped into my former TriDiva teammate Olga and her trusty sherpa, John. I really liked the venue. It seemed less intimidating than a big harbor with waves.

Next we headed out to explore the bike course. We drove the whole course, including the eight-mile connection to the second loop for the Full Aquabike course. We went past miles and miles of vineyards. (Todd’s nickname is “Toad” so we had to stop at Toad Hollow Vineyard.) The roads were rough in a lot of places and, to be completely honest, it wore us out. Not the best confidence builder the day before the race, but for safety reasons, we had to see the course. After picking up my race packet, we headed straight back to the hotel for lunch and a nap.

We were too full from breakfast and lunch to even think about dinner. We’re used to small meals and opted for a protein drink instead. I did a quick spin on the trainer to open up the capillaries and prep my legs for the next day. Then Todd prepped my bike. I thought he was just going to lube the chain. He’s pretty meticulous about bike prep, so it became more involved.

When we first started dating, he said I needed to give my bike a sexy name. I decided to call it “Macca.” After trying to fine-tune the derailleur for a couple of hours, he had a few other choice names for the bike. (And phrases flew out like, “You’re never racing in this thing again.”) Suffice it to say, its new nickname is “Cat 5.” Okay, so the pre-race jitters hit Todd first. He took his role as unpaid mechanic, race sherpa-extraordinaire very seriously. And I loved him for it. Sacked out a little later than planned, but slept like a rock for the first time ever before a race. It really helped having him there.