Trekking by shoe, by wheel and by ski |

Trekking by shoe, by wheel and by ski

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado
SPO Winter Tri 03 TS 02-02-08

TENNESSEE PASS The shoes were big, the tires were square, and the water? Well, it was frozen.At Saturdays Dogma/Athletica Pedal Power Snowshoe Series winter triathlon at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, high-country athletes got a chance to test their endurance in three different snow sports.For some participants, the lesser-known wintry cousin of the classic three-event competition was a new adventure, while for others, it was a typical Saturday.A triathlon usually consists of swimming, biking and running, while the winter version often has a run, a bike and a ski. Saturdays race, held on a bed of fresh snow, aptly started with a 5K snowshoe. After an 8K bike, racers closed things out with a 10K skate ski.Vails Josiah Middaugh one of the top extreme triathletes in the world edged out another Vail endurance legend, Mike Kloser, by 11 seconds. Lisa Isom, of Vail, was the top female placer and was ninth overall.Kloser was a tad disappointed with his performance, but like most of the racers there, he expressed his gratitude that there was a local winter triathlon.I really wish there were more of them, Kloser said. Last year we had the series at Devils Thumb. Its a bummer they didnt do them this year. But Bruce (Kelly) did a fantastic job for a first-time go at it.A few years ago, there was a winter triathlon in Breckenridge, and there have been various duathlons in the area, but most of the events have been held outside of Eagle, Lake and Summit-counties.The big issue was we didnt really have a great place to do it, Kelly said. But (Tennessee Pass) is a wonderful facility, and the guys here were really into it. Certainly we have to make it worth their while, but they figured the first year would be an experiment.Kelly had to make some last-minute course changes Friday night the bike and ski routes were swapped to compensate for the snow.We wanted them to ride their bikes as much as possible, Kelly said, noting that if racers had gone in the regular bike route, they would have likely walked their bikes for considerable portions. One of the drawbacks of the winter triathlon in trying to get the numbers up there is the equipment. But we tried to make the bike (section) ridable on a regular mountain bike.Some recent snow-bike-convert racers had a bit of trouble adjusting.I wasnt prepared, said Gerlinde Debie, of Edwards. I forgot my biking shoes, and I didnt have special bike tires.Snow biking can be done on regular mountain-bike tires, although the fastest racers had snow-rigged systems. The day before the race, Middaugh got a new rim for his back wheel.Its double the width of the regular rim, he said. It spreads out the tire more so you get more contact, especially if you are running at really low air pressure the tire flattens out, so instead of the tire being more round, its more square. You are less likely to spin out.Travis Macy, in his first winter triathlon, found this out.I was lost out there (on the bike), said Macy, who was fourth overall, with the second-best snowshoe leg. I had a terrible system with my wheels. The equipment really made the difference today. Having a wide rear wheel with good treads made the difference. I was doing a lot of running where other guys were biking.Bob Cottrell, of Dillon, used some wider tires and battled with what air pressure to use.You try to adjust the pressure to what you think is best, he said. Some may go with nine pounds (per square inch). Im afraid of pulling the tire right off (the rim).

A familiar scene to any triathlete the near seamless transition wasnt that prevalent Saturday.Its tougher because its more gear-intensive, Middaugh said. There are more shoe changes. And skate ski boots are not set up for being quick for transitions. They have laces, Velcro, zippers, everything you dont want for a fast transition. I put speed laces on (my boots), so I dont have to tie laces, but I still have to Velcro, zipper and another Velcro.Kloser had some trouble the transition from biking to skiing.I lost probably eight or 10 seconds, because I lost my pole and had to circle back to get it, he said.For Kloser, a second-place finish Saturday is acceptable as long as he improves upon it next week at the 2008 Winter Triathlon National Championship in Bend, Ore..It was a good race to iron out a few bugs before next weekend, he said.Macy, meanwhile, used the race as training for an upcoming multi-stage bike race in Mexico.Mexico is a sub-tropical race, where you have shorts on and youll be sweating to death, he said. Here, youve got ice on your face. But training up here at 10,000 feet all winter is probably the best thing you can do.Not to be outdone, Cottrell and his friend Kevin Minard used the race as training for a winter quadrathlon in Grants, N.M.We realized we couldnt keep up with some of the top guys here, said Minard, who finished fifth. We race to our ability. Bob gets me in the skate skiing and I take him in the running.Even with a few crashes on all three legs everyone seemed pleased with the course layout.The skiing was great and Bruce always puts on a really tough snowshoe, Minard said.As hard as they may have worked, and as hungry as triathletes seem for pain, there was a resounding answer when asked if theyd consider adding a swimming leg next time.No.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism