July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman Lake Placid 2022: Part 16

8:06 a.m. (1 hour and 27 minutes since race start)

I trotted down the block, my feat going “squish” with every step on the carpeted path between the beach and the Olympic Oval where my bike eagerly awaited my arrival.

(Your bike “eagerly awaited” your arrival?)

I think about my bike when I’m not riding, so I’m sure my bike thinks about me as well.

Once I crossed the street I was on the cool grass of the Olympic Oval. I grabbed my transition bag of bike gear and I headed into the changing tent.

I sat down and opened the bag … and realized that the one thing I had to have for the bike ride was not here … no tzitzis.

I always wear my tzitzis. Ever since I heard Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard speak about the ways that we can connect the physical to the spiritual on a daily basis, I have viewed the wearing of tzitzis as my spiritual bullet proof vest.

My parents raised me to believe that this is the easiest mitzvah I could do, so why not just wear them. My father wears them as did his father, and his father before him, when he emigrated to the United States in 1881 from his father’s home in a town called Strelisk. That makes me the link in a 250 year-long chain. From my first triathlon over 16 years ago, I have had nothing but positive interactions with other triathletes over my tzitzis. My favorite is when Israeli athletes come up to me on the course and call out to me:

“Shalom!” or “Tzadik!” or “Baruch Hashem!” or “Aren’t you overheating in those?”

(How do you keep from overheating?)

It’s cotton, not wool.

(So, what happened to your racing tzitzis?)

I brought them to the hotel with the rest of my racing gear but somehow, I forgot to pack them into this bike gear bag.

First thought: Go up to the hotel and get them.

Second thought: I might get disqualified for leaving the racecourse.

Third thought: Wearing them while racing is not mandatory.

Many rabbis say that one does not need them while racing.

It would be weird, but I was going to go forward without my “spiritual bullet proof vest.”

While I changed from swimming to riding gear, I kept hearing the volunteer repeat over and over to the athletes,

“Toss your bag of swim stuff to the left as you exit to your bike.”

After the fifth time it started to become annoying, so as I zipped up my bike top, I called out,

“What if I forgot my bike???”

The tent erupted in laughter.

Riding clothing on, I stuffed my soggy wetsuit into the bag that had just held my bike gear.

As I exited the tent, I tossed my bag into the pile of bike gear bags “to my left.”

(Man, that bag is going to smell bad by the end of the race.)

8:11 a.m. (1 hour and 32 minutes since race start)

I lifted my bike off the rack and turned on the “bike computer” as I started pushing the bike to the end of the grassy field.

(You brought your laptop to be your bike computer?)

Nah, I’m talking about a 1 x 2-inch device that sits on my handlebars and feeds back data to me like an Apollo moon mission control display.

(Except, yours is probably more powerful than a 1969 IBM mainframe.)

I don’t know if it’s more powerful, but it is certainly smaller than a 1969 IBM mainframe.

It usually takes me 30-60 seconds from the point I grab my bike until I’ve reached the “Mount Bike Here” sign and I wanted to give the bike computer enough time to locate the global positioning satellites it was going to need.

(But doesn’t it take most of its data off the spinning of your back wheel?)

Yes, but nothing messes up your data like a computer stuck looking for a signal. The Apollo 14 moon landing almost didn’t happen due to a similar problem. While on final descent the landing radar “dropped out” and the mission rules stated that without radar the mission could not commit to a moon landing. Someone at Mission Control realized that the landing radar computer was locked up on infinity. All it took was pulling the breaker to reset the computer, which we would call an “control-alt-delete” and the data started to flow again. With that in mind, I wanted my computer spitting back data like an infant with pureed peas by the time I put tires to asphalt.


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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