I am a true believer that luck is the combination of preparation and opportunity. And avoiding bad luck is as fortunate as receiving good luck. Long distance triathlons are a haven for both.
It happened to me at Lake Placid in 2014 when the on course bike mechanic arrived seconds after my inner tube punctured for the third time and I was out of replacements. It happened in IM Zurich when I did not quit even though my mental math told me I needed to run 8-minute miles to finished by the cut off, but then later discovered my math was wrong and I have plenty of time to finish. And again, at EagleMan when I looked at my transition area during the National Anthem to realize I did not have my bike shoes. Never mind the hundreds of hours I have trained without an injury. Lady luck is around this sport and she tapped me on the shoulder again in Roth.
After great research and debate, we decided to travel to Roth with our bikes packed in bike boxes. The upside of doing this is you have your bike with you (unless the airline loses it); the downside is it is expensive and you need to lug your bike around along with your family, kids’ gear, and your stuff. You then need to rebuild your bike upon arrival at your race hotel. And then repeat the above when heading home.
We made the decision to travel to Challenge Roth with a travel group who specializes in this race. RaceQuest is one of three travel agents that organizes groups to travel to and from Challenge Roth. They offer a 3 or 5 day package that includes a race entry (priceless), airport transfers, accommodations, breakfast, transportation to all race activities, along with the collection of your gear after the race (also priceless). The packages are great for athletes as you have less things to worry about but are hard on the family as the hotel tends not to be convenient to the race.
The travel group also offered a mechanic to rebuild your bike upon arrival and then break down the bike when you are finished. It is an extra cost but it was the best money we spent that week. We took our bikes for a test drive after the mechanic rebuilt them. Just a simple half mile loop around the hotel to check the gearing, brakes, and overall feel.
I mentioned to the mechanic that my rear brake pads were a little squeaky “Your rims are probably dirty. Hand me your bike and I will clean them”. He puts the bike on the stand and discovers that there is a two-inch slash across my tire. The slash was almost deep enough reach the inner tube. “Greg, this tire will not last through the race”. “Ok, do you have another tire?” I responded. “Nope.”
Luckily it was the day before we needed to rack our bikes so I would have some time to get to the expo for a new tire. I found what I needed, returned to the hotel and replaced the tire myself. Pumped up the inner tube, back in business.
Thank you, Lady Luck, for causing the noise in my back brake. Without you, my day would have ended very early. Checking the conditions of my tires is now a step on my pre-race checklist.