Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

The Accidental TT

I am dying of laughter right now. Somehow, in a moment of pure dumb blonde-ness, I managed to accidentally sign up for and compete in a TT event. My photos are on the facebook page, my results (4th female) are online—all for a race I didn't even know I was participating in. Maybe I did more damage with my concussion during the accident than I initially thought... Let me back up.

When I first found out I was moving to Austin, I did a lot of research on the best places to bike. And time and time again the Veloway was one of the go-to places for people who didn't like to ride right next to cars in a 65-mph zone, which seems to be the standard for most riding right around Austin. This morning I went to my doctor and got the green light for riding outside (and running too—yay!) so I thought I would ease back into the waters by starting in a safe place like the Veloway.

Well, when I showed up there were aerohelmets and race wheels and spandex onesies galore. This is where the rationalizing began: "Austin triathletes mean business", "no different than silly show-offs at Hains Point", "people here for some random cycling team group ride." So after gathering all of my gear, I walk up to the girl who parked in front of me and ask where the entrance to the loop is. She points me in a general direction but then first says, "oh, you have to register at that table over there." So I'm like, uhhhh okay... and I go register, write down my name on some sort of waiver, stick a number to the front of my helmet and then start looking for the entrance to the loop.

Again, I roll up next to some guy and ask where the loop is. He rattles off some general directions and is like, "if you follow me, you'll be fine." So I decide to tag along and spend the first ten minutes or so lolly-gagging behind this man, not wanting to get lost and miss the exit to the elusive loop. I'm a little confused at why we're out riding on MoPac (where the speed limit is 65-mph) when all of the reviews said that the Veloway was perfect for speed skaters and folks biking with their kids. This was nothing at all like I had expected.

About ten minutes in, I'm bored of coasting and jump behind a man who's booking it a little faster. I tail him as best I can for another 15-minutes (but really just get dropped and watch him ride off in the distance)... until we end up back at square one.

There are several check-points where I can hear the timing mats going off and while I think it's odd, it never really clicks that it's a race. Again, the endless rationalizing. "Oh, maybe they are worried about someone getting lost out there or hit by a car so they check everyone as they're coming in and out.... etc. etc." 

Turns out there was also a automatic camera. Did not realize that.

Candid camera:

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Befuddled, I ask yet another guy where the entrance to the loop is and he points me way in the other direction, right past where I signed up to ride this supposed loop. Finally, I'm ready to get away from the tight shoulder and speeding cars. And I find the most beautiful, winding, wide-open, car-free path that I could enjoy... and I'm in heaven. I end up having a blast getting used to cornering and climbing again and testing out the shoulder/collarbone. After about 30-minutes of riding, it's almost like I never broke it.

Even 7 weeks later, it's just like riding a bike...

I basically ride until the sun is setting and 1:40 minutes of pure bliss later, I pedal back to the car. After loading up, I'm sitting on the curb finishing off my PowerBar recovery drink while perusing twitter when I see a post by the local tri store Austin Tri-Cyclist about a local TT event that took place this evening. I'm intrigued... and want to see whether there are any other similar events coming up that I could ride in while I'm still recovering my run and swim. Turns out.... the event they were talking about was the very same one I rode in!

Of course I'm cracking up now, and in skimming the results, I realize I came in as fourth female! If only I had realized it was for time and tried a little harder... There are also photos of me riding (apparently oblivious) on the timing company's facebook page.

TOO funny.

So next time one of these takes place, I am definitely going back out and trying to ride for real. But for now, riding under the live oaks and the waning sunset was good enough for this girl.

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I could not be happier about my return to riding than I currently am.

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