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September 6, 2016 / bikesbytesbites

Weekend in Luray (with a Triathlon)


I was originally signed up for the Luray Olympic Triathlon, happening on Saturday, . August 20. However, on reflection (on my lack of training, mostly), I decided it would be better for me to do the Sprint distance, happening on Sunday, August 21. I switched about two weeks before the event; it was easy, with  a $10 change fee.


I already had my hotel reservation starting Friday night, so I drove out on Friday afternoon. That gave me a chance to do some work (sigh. have computer and wifi will travel), ride over to Lake Arrowhead (very convenient from the Days Inn, Luray), attend the orientation meeting, go for a brief swim, have dinner with my triathlon team,  Team Z, and get back to the hotel at a reasonable hour.


Saturday I planned to go for a short bike ride and to explore downtown Luray (before and after going out to Lake Arrowhead to cheer). My bike route happened to overlap with some of the triathlon’s bike course, so I got a preview of how hilly the course was going to be.  I was on the course after the racers had completed the bike, but the run was still going on. That afternoon, I headed back into town, to pick up my packet for Sunday’s race and to continue exploring downtown Luray. Highlights: a series of murals commemorating a 1950’s car dealership;


the Outdoor Outfitters where packet pick-up was; Hawksbill Bicycles, where the store owner had a classic (late 60’s-early 70’s) Raleigh bicycle for sale in the window; the old railroad station, converted into a museum and the town tourist office;


the farmers’ market; the Hawksbill bike/ped trail along a stream through the center of town. Then early-to-bed, early-to-rise for my race the next day.

Luray Sprint Triathlon

Lessons Learned

  • My swimming-in-a-straight-line is getting better, but still needs some work.
  •  In general, the speed of my swimming needs some work.
  • I thought that maybe this was going to be my first triathlon wearing a wet suit, but the water was too warm.  (I was told it usually is too warm.)  Just as well, because my transition times could use some improvement — I can’t imagine how much more I would have to add to T1 to get out of a wet suit.
  • Setup at the transitions was smoother than it had been previously, so maybe I am learning something. Everything was organized well, and there wasn’t anything that I discovered that I had forgotten at the very moment I needed it.
  • I biked in my Shimano sandals, a mistake.  They are cooler on long summer tours, but gave no appreciable benefit in this triathlon.  Plus, it meant I had to pull on socks for the run on top of my sweaty feet instead of on top of my wet feet. Next time, my regular bicycle shoes, and the socks go on after the swim.
  • I participated without my triathlon watch which bit the dust a while back.  (Fitbit was also non-operational — bit the dust last week.) Garmin tri watches are on sale at REI this week — time to get a replacement. Not the fitbit — that’s history. (Lousy support and lousy functionality. And this is the third one that broke. Since the warranty is based on when I purchased the first one, no replacement is available, except with a 25% discount. NFW. )
  • The bike course was challenging but doable.  The most major hill was at the end of the ride. Or was it at the end of the lollipop in the middle of the ride? Which means I would have to do it twice in the Olympic distance.
  • Ditto the run course. For the first time in a race, I wore my running Camelbak, not full so it didn’t slosh around, but much more convenient than either carrying a water bottle  or trying to sip out of cups at the aid stations.  So, add another 10 seconds to T2, to get the Camelbak on…  Mostly a nicely shaded course, with some sunny spots.  Some hills I walked …


Second in my age group! Collected a glass and a trophy/plaque/whatever the appropriate word is (thanks Anne & David for bringing this home; I wasn’t aware I was going to get a trophy in addition to the inscribed glass.) The woman ahead of me had a MUCH faster swim … also slightly faster in every thing else, but the swim was the biggest difference.

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Sunday Night and Monday

My hotel reservation extended through Monday morning. I wasn’t surprised by how much the hotel cleared out on Sunday afternoon. But I was a little surprised that there seemed to be bunches of people staying there Sunday night. Maybe to visit the local Wrangler wholesale and supply store?  (I passed it on one of my bike rides; it’s huge.)  Or to visit the Page County Fair, happening that week?

The highlight of the evening was seeing a movie at the Page Theatre, a grand old cinema downtown that has been plexed unmercifully. The Page is taking up a collection — they need to digitize their projectors, or else, pretty soon, they won’t be able to display any movies.  Maybe a side-effect of their film projection system was that all I saw was the movie — no ads or coming attractions; those must be available only in digital.

I am not fond of driving. I had another weekend away planned for the weekend after Luray, this one bicycling with friends in Winchester (at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley). Rather than drive back to town on Sunday (2 hours) then drive back out to Winchester the following Friday (an hour and a half), I found an AirBnB in Winchester. On Monday morning, I took the scenic route (US 340) from Luray to WInchester (1 hour).  I resisted the urge to stop in Front Royal, to bicycle on Skyline Drive. Next trip.


I loved Luray and the Luray triathlon. I would seriously consider doing the International next year, provided I can get/keep my training on track.  Next up – the International at Miami Man. They don’t offer a Sprint distance, so it’s either put up or shut up.  I’m still looking for a (local, preferably)  triathlon where I can wear the wet suit — I assume that’s not gonna happen at Miami, either.


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