I know the Spring Classic Duathlon is THE event to get the racing season started. It’s the perfect opportunity to dust off the bike, get back into the rhythm of run/bike/run transitions and see familiar faces. With that said, I swore this event off years ago. Just like the Shamrock Run often has less than desirable weather, so does the Spring Classic Duathlon. My brother in law convinced me it would be a perfect event for me to get more comfortable on my bike, since honestly, riding my bike scares me. It’s not really my bike that frightens me, but the cars around me. The entire course is closed off to traffic, making it perfect for the scaredy cat rider like myself. Perfect, except for the time of year and weather. I froze and decided to hold out for warmer months from now on.
Fast forward a few years to the Spring Classic 2014 and I found myself registered for the 5k run/18mile bike/5k run along Marine Drive. It’s not that I had forgotten why I swore this one off, but a number of life circumstances drew me back. Matt Rasmussen bragged about the weather last year, how beautiful it was and, while I consider myself an optimist, I’m not that optimistic. I planned for rain, but was so excited to find sunny skies early that morning. The optimist in me came out as I decided to go with shorts and a tank after looking out the window.
It didn’t take me long to regret my wardrobe decision as the rain picked up the closer it got to the 10AM start time. I got there with plenty of time to pick up my packet, get all my numbers on and set up my transition area. Packet pick up was a breeze. AA Sports puts on a number of events and has the system down, it also helps that this was the 30th year of the Spring Classic. The kinks have been worked out. The port-a-pottie line wasn’t ridiculously long, my technical finisher’s shirt fit perfectly and I didn’t have to worry if I was taking a wrong turn on the course.
As I racked my bike, I noticed all the prepared racers. Bikes with plastic bags on the seats to keep them dry, neatly organized transition bags and some very serious racers. I decided to just stay warm as long as I could in the car, helped with my nerves a little too. The race started promptly at 10AM and the announcer was awesome, giving us directions about the course, general reminders and had us all look at the little patch of blue sky that we hoped would open up.
This event is chip timed, but has a gun start. The first 5k loop runs along Marine Drive and is totally flat. The rain wasn’t too bad for our first run; It was nice to look out at the river, with the birds and wildlife and get into a rhythm. An out and back run followed with a bow-tie shaped bike ride, controls congestion. The wind decided to pick up for the ride.
18 miles on the bike included a completely flat stretch, once again, along the Columbia River. Mother nature decided to add a little challenge with cross winds I have never experienced. I was nervous I was going to tip off of my bike, as most of us were riding at an angle. I was pushed onto the other side of the path three times and just kept picturing myself getting blown into the river. It was windy to the point that spectators had to help hold things down, tents were blown over at the expo area and I had the choice to laugh or cry as we just tried to muscle through the wind. I didn’t see any mile markers for the bike section, which I’m always looking for, but the wind easily could have knocked them over.
I FINALLY made it back to the transition area, went to trade my helmet for my hat, but discovered it had blown away. Fortunately, some quick thinking participants had caught it and secured it under a bike rack. The rain picked up with the final 5k as we headed for our last out and back and I was so grateful some nice person took the time to grab my hat. I was a wet and soggy mess without it, plus it’s a must to keep the rain out of your eyes. Even though the last 5k was the wettest, the miles flew by, probably since I knew it was the last out and back before a hot shower.
The finish line had great volunteers there ready to clip your timing chip off, congratulate us and hand out medals. I appreciate how carefully they watch the bikes, only allowing participants into the transition and checking bikes as you exit. A great experience overall, I can see why the Spring Classic is so popular. I’m no longer a fair weathered rider and have this race to thank for that. Well, this race and Matt Rasmussen for talking me into it. Either way, I’m no longer saying I’ll never do the Spring Classic again. Click here for 2014 Spring Classic Results.