||Carpinteria Triathlon (Sprint Course)
It was a foggy day for racing in the scenic small town of Carpinteria, located off the 101, just south of Santa Barbara. According to a sign that used to welcome visitors, it is the world's safest beach. I have biked here many times, often just up and down the highway between Ventura State Beach and downtown Carpinteria, and sometimes as part of the Casitas loop. I chose the sprint distance (.5k swim, 15k bike, 5k run), though there is also an Olympic distance race.
Because I was in one of the last waves, I got to watch all the Olympic distance and most of the sprint distance athletes begin. Because of the low marine layer, I couldn't see the Olympic distance athletes as they headed out to the far buoys. The pleasant surprise was that the water was 67 degrees or so, which is downright warm for this part of the coast. I did my very first race not far from here (the MESP Day At The Beach Santa Barbara in 1994) in 62 degree water, sans wetsuit. I have a short sleeve wetsuit, so I was quite pleased that my shoulders wouldn't be chilled. The waves were mild. They weren't completely non-existent, but they were not at all big. I made it almost the entire 500 meters without swallowing any salt water, but gulp it I did near the end of the swim.
The bike ride was familiar territory, though it has been many years since I pedaled through these roads. I realized quickly that I was much thinner back then. My plans for the bike ride changed drastically when I realized that I had lost one of my bike shoes. It's not a tragedy, as I have always disliked those shoes, but I would have rather lost them at my convenience. My mountain bike has stirrups, so I decided to use that instead. On the day after the race, a friend of said "Why didn't you just change the pedals?" Have you ever noticed that some people always give you great advice a day too late?
The bike course for the sprint goes through mild, rolling hills, with one very short, steep climb. I'm told the Olympic course takes one through some much more challenging hills. The highlight (if I am using the world correctly) may have been the dead skunk in the middle of the road on Casitas Pass Rd. With apologies to Loudon Wainwright III, he was not "Stinkin' to high heaven." As soon as I had climbed the steep hill, it was a quick downhill, through the orchards, to downtown Carpinteria and the transition area.
The run course took us through the neighborhoods of downtown Carpinteria. Judging by the architecture, these houses were built in the 50's and 60's and are quite charming. Many of the residents were outside, cheering us on. It was mostly an up and down, slightly hilly course, through these calm streets. It was a loop through the residential area, with the first and last part of the course on the sidewalk along Carpinteria Avenue.
Other than the fine scenery, the highlight of this race was probably the welcoming attitude of the townsfolk.