By Tri-California Ambassador Clyde Floyd
This was my first experience with Wildflower, and it did not disappoint on any level! Friends tried to get me to race last year, but I chickened out, even when told “you have to experience Wildflower, it’s so much more than a race!” I held back. Well this year I figured, 30th Anniversary, promise of fun, promise of an easy race … oh wait, promise of a really hard race…how could I go wrong? So I made the commitment, and even talked my son into racing too (I think he has disowned me now ... ha!)
We arrive Friday evening and while waiting to get through the entrance we take in the hills and chalk up to memory that there would still be a little climbing coming back into the park on the bike. There are a lot of people out on training rides and runs, and there are a lot of people period! Well we get into the camping area, set up camp, and make our way via shuttle (thank you Tri-Cal) to the expo area and packet pick-up. After a quick look over the transition area and the great view of the lake, it’s back on the shuttle and back to camp. A nice dinner, followed by prepping the bikes and transition bag, and we are ready for an early night. We realize, darn we forgot a bike lock, now what to do? No worries we’re told, just lean them against a tree, they’ll be fine … uhhh, ok? We look around and yep, bikes all over, and really nice bikes, just leaning against trees. This was a part of the WF experience we weren’t prepared for. The sense of community and commonness was incredible and only added to the unique and special feel of the weekend.
Morning came soon enough, so up and at it! Get some breakfast (thanks Cory for the awesome ‘BeLean Pancakes’!) and then head on down to transition. Cory’s wave started at 8:15, and I didn’t go until 9:00, so a bit of waiting for me. Cory is ready to get warmed up, so I give him a hug, wish him a great race, and he’s off to the start. I see a couple of people I‘ve met in the past , wish them a great race, and do the same to people I’m getting to meet for the first time as well. What a great start to the day! Pretty soon its time to get down to the start, so wetsuit on, I find my friends Dan, David and their wives. We take photos, wish David well and he is off in an earlier wave. Pretty soon it is time to get in the water and warm-up a bit. The water temp is soooo nice, very unlike the SF or Monterey bay waters, no ice cream head today. Then its time, and Julie Moss and Nick Tuttle send us on our way.
Out of the water and onto the bike. Starting up the first hill, I see that someone has broke a chain and its left behind on the road, man feel bad or them, but maybe they are feeling bad for us? Well out of the park and onto the roads, Wow! Having never been in a race this big, I am amazed at how many bikes are on the road. It’s a pretty constant line of bikes all day. I had been forewarned that the course was hilly, but really? The hills seemed to never stop….and then across an unassuming metal bridge, through some rolling hills and uh oh … it’s ‘Nasty Grade.’ I was recently told that some climbs only seem bad because they were given an intimidating name, well not this one. Everyone is suffering up the climb, there is little breeze and plenty of wonderful California sunshine. Again the sense of community shows as people are making nervous laughter and jokes (might have even been a little sadistic). Soon there is some noise on the road ahead… it’s the Energizer Bunny and his friend (not sure what he was supposed to be) and we are over Nasty Grade … uh, not so quick. Make a right hand turn and more hill, of course. Soon enough back into the park and a few more hills before heading down Lynch Hill and into transition.
Off the bike, I head out on the run. I was having a tough time and after a little back and forth with another racer, he says “it’s ok, today’s a beautiful day for a walk, we will get there.” We introduce ourselves, and Jim and I will need to rely on each other before the run is over. At one point I was struggling mightily, even considered a DNF, but Jim was patient and encouraging until I started to feel better. Soon enough he was struggling and I was able to return the favor. The atmosphere on the run course was an experience. People out to cheer and even offer help … hot dogs and beer, Vaseline (for chafing) and beer, beer bong, we passed on all of those, then a kind lady had cold orange slices. I could have taken the whole plate, but didn’t. Only a couple more hills to climb, and then down Lynch Hill, and into the finishing chute. Cory had already finished, and was waiting along the fence for me to finish. I waved to him and then Jim and I finished the race together. What a long, painful, hot …. and yes, incredible day.
All of the volunteers were so amazing, always in a great mood, enthusiastic, and encouraging. They deserve so much thanks and appreciation from each of us, because they make our day so much better! All the people who sit along the course and cheer us on…it is like no other race. What a great weekend! I am so glad to have been a part of the 30th Anniversary of the Wildflower Triathlon.