The idea of competing in Ironman United Kingdom began in July 2021 when an email from the Ironman corporation landed in my inbox. We were 15 months into the Covid-19 epidemic, five months into the Covid-19 vaccines. It looked like Covid might finally be ending and then the Delta variant hit. So, there was no way to know what the world would look like in 12 months.
I was registered for Ironman Lake Placid 2021 and there were doubts if that race would take place when I proclaimed to my wife Janet,
“We’re going to England next year to do the Ironman!”
“Are you nuts?”
I just stared back at her.
“You are nuts.”
I announced my plans the following month on Facebook to not only race Ironman UK, but to use London as our base of operations for the eight-day trip, which would include the race in Bolton. My friend “Scottish Steve” Morris messaged me,
“You do realize that there are 300 miles between London and Bolton?”
“Can you drive me?”
“No can do, mate.”
“Can I hire a car?”
“Ye can, but it will be bloody expensive.”
That was when my wife Janet took over the travel arrangements. Janet and I hadn’t traveled overseas since 2009 and things looked very different since those days. Waze had just been invented and Google Maps was still directing people to “make the next left” into a body of water. At that time, the economy was in a post 2008 housing market crisis recession. The world had not yet discovered that they could stream Netflix or refill their Amazon order on their phones. In the words of Stephen King’s, “The Gunslinger,” “The world has moved on.” Janet managed the planning, with the uncertainty of what travel would look like a year later. Janet took my plan to land in London, travel to Paris and then Bolton into a series of travel options for two adults, one teen, one middle schooler and one triathlon racing bicycle.
In a “post Covid shut down” world my children came to love the idea of travel, sightseeing and talking to people from other cultures. My children learned how to live out of a suitcase for a week and figured out what to eat when the foods they were accustomed to were not an option … and my kids are picky eaters. My children learned that traveling overseas is really a journey to find your way back home to who you really are at your core.
I had overcome the logistics of taking apart a performance bicycle, transporting it to another continent and reassembling it so it could endure a 112-mile road race. We had to figure out where to locate kosher food, charging cell phones and currency exchanges.
Nineteenth century author H.G. Wells said, “Adapt or perish.” It was more than overcoming the near complete shutdown of my body halfway through Ironman United Kingdom, it was learning to let go of fear and solve what appeared to be an unsolvable problem. There is a little child in all of us. This child is in awe of things we take for granted and as such, sometimes isn’t aware that they should be worried, because they are not overthinking the problem—they are trying to solve the problem. This child knows what their parents said to be true; They can do anything, if they try hard enough.
At some point on one of the many lonely English roads that dotted the bike course I found this child and I was reminded of the words of the Beatles, from their “Abbey Road” record,
“Once there was a way to get back homeward.”
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].