Thursday, November 13, 2008

The day I helped win the Half-Ironman World Championship

A fews week ago I was riding to work on a slightly longer route than I normally take. I can avoid a nasty wee hill if I go a little bit out of my way. It was such a nice morning I was enjoying the sunshine for as long as possible before being entombed in a windowless building for twelve or more hours and emerging in the dark of night for my ride home. 

I'll set the scene;

Location: A quiet suburban street. It's all uphill, but not too hard going - middle chainring stuff. The odd car, but a pleasant ride because the road is wide and you don't need to concentrate too hard. The upper portion borders a golf course with nice views of the harbour.

Equipment: Ancient mountainbike covered in black electrical tape sporting fenders and a rear rack with my lunch, dinner and raincoat precariously bungied to it.

Attire: T-shirt, cargo shorts, sandals and socks.

Rider: Emaciated 42-year-old caucasian.

Demeanor: Both hands on the bars but not concentrating on the road at all. Instead looking at the houses beside me to identify a new acquaintance's abode. Totally in world of my own I was whistling a tune, either audibly or inside my head, I can't be sure.


I just about lost control of my bike. Partly from the shock of being woken from my daydream, but more from the enormity of the occasion.


I'll repeat it again in-case it hasn't sunk-in yet: 

I've just typed it out but I still can't believe it. Only the second time this has happened in the past two years and the first time I was pulling Carla in the trailer, so I had the "cute kid factor" working for me.

You should have seen him, he was gorgeous. All sleek and tanned and wrapped in Lycra like a shrink-wrapped Adonis. It's enough to make you change teams... and the bike, the bike! A time-trial Specialized in featherweight carbon fibre contorted and distorted to cheat the wind - my lunch weighed more. 

I made my move and accelerated up the road to ride alongside him. I had to talk more with this rare breed of road-rider. I call this technique "Aggressive Friendliness". I'm finding the older I get, much like my father, I can talk to absolute strangers about absolutely nothing with comparative ease, despite my natural shyness.

Well we chatted for what seemed like hours for a minute and a half, mostly about absolutely nothing, but cycling was mentioned at times. I was having some trouble talking, breathing and remaining upright on the bike all at the same time, so it was with some relief that we reached the top of the hill and parted company in opposite directions.

As we were talking it dawned on me who he was - local triathlete Terenzo Bozzone. Even his name is sexy.

The impossibly handsome TB and his plain girlfriend

I have seen him out running on many occasions over the years but have not recognized him on a bike before. The lycra-cowboys all pretty much look the same to me with their matching shades, helmets and shoes.

New Zealand is blessed with an abundance of talented multi-sport athletes. Although Terenzo was a double Junior World Champion in both Duathlon and Triathlon two years in a row, he failed to make our three man triathlon squad for Beijing. Well he didn't sit around and sulk, this week he went out and won the Half-Ironman World Championship in Florida and that was the impetus to write this post. It's not often you meet a World Champion, let alone ride with one (although coincidentally the surgeon who rebuilt my ankle was also a Duathlon World Champ). 

I'm sure the old guy on the beat-up commuter bike was in the back of his mind as he left the water for the 90km cycle stage. "If he can keep up with me on that old bike and talk so much crap I had better ride faster if I'm gonna win this thing". Despite the title of this post I accept no credit for his victory, but I know in my own small way I played a part ;^)

Well done Mr Bozzone, and if you need another training ride when you're back in town drop me an email. I'll ride the Pugsley next time to keep you honest.

New Zealand won Triathlon silver in Beijing and the Gold/Silver quinella four years earlier in Athens. I hope Terenzo makes the team for London and brings home another Olympic Gold. It couldn't happen to a nicer roadie.