"The team made it work with and around such commitments and goings on as family vacations, job duties, summer mission trips, professional school, training injuries, food-borne illness, etc…"
"...if you have never road tripped to an event with a handful of fellow athletes (club, team, training partners), please consider it. Memorable and rewarding…"
Fourteen team members would make the haul but the traditional van + pickup truck + enclosed trailer (i.e. bike transport) would be abandoned given a somewhat fractured array of travel plans amongst the multiple team members. The team made it work with and around such commitments and goings on as family vacations, job duties, summer mission trips, professional school, training injuries, food-borne illness, etc…
It truly is a team effort on coordinating this team road trip: hotel reservations, transport vehicles, bike transport, pre-race meal, hounding everyone to remember to register for the event. This is how the annual team road trip manifests every year. That said, as the dust has barely settled on the 2018 outing, an unofficial polling of Chain members would indicate excitement in planning and preparing for the 2019 version of the annual trip.
In an attempt to break away from a hackneyed “race report” this author offers a bullet-pointed summary of the activities surrounding the trip and raceday:
- the AL-25 / US-231 Birmingham bypass is a nice drive and avoids the summer Saturday afternoon backup on I-65 near Birmingham while basically taking the same amount of travel time
- packet pickup the day prior to the event was fast, efficient, and smooth even following a HUGE storm (70mph winds, hail) basically flattening the expo site less than an hour before the team’s arrival (kudos to those who pieced the place back together - scary)
- the city of Chattanooga rolls out the red carpet for multisport events, this fueled the pre-race excitement
- related, the hundreds of volunteers and staff members are fantastic, from top to bottom everything is covered and done so in a friendly and encouraging manner - enough said
- having a team member who is originally from the area makes for a great opportunity to leverage resources for a pre-race meal and for a post-event recreational outing, the team was spoiled with a catered Italian feast beforehand and a speedboat outing afterwards
- the point-to-point swim makes for a logistical obstacle which has been mastered with buses, multiple volunteers, and a seemingly direct traffic route dedicated to the aforementioned buses - one needs only board the buses with speedsuit, goggles, swim cap, and pre-race nutrition; leave the footwear in transition as a nicely-manicured open space serves as a staging area at the swim start
- yes, the Tennessee River has a decent current for this downriver swim - estimate your swim time accordingly
- bike: 10k out, 10k back, repeat… fast, fun, secure and perhaps subject to some winds (return leg) which slowly built through the morning
- iced towels can save a soul - run course and finish line, awesome!
- don’t get caught walking or sandbagging on the run course as your teammates may see you coming/going the other direction - the out-and-back course also allows for keeping an eye on your competition
- The SpringHill Suites 0.5 mile from transition makes for a great opportunity to return race gear, change clothes, and still make it to the awards presentation
- Team Magic’s “hairiest male athlete” competition blends hirsuteness with comic relief and agility (don’t knock over the awards table)
- the local media do a great job covering the event, check it out at The Chattanoogan, the Times Free Press, and News Channel 9
All that said, this is a top-notch event which served as a great destination for the annual team trip. So much so that USA Triathlon partnered with the deserving race directorship group to designate it as the Mideast Regional Championship which made for a fast, competitive field of athletes. If you haven’t gotten around to racing in Chattanooga in June, put it on your list of “must do” events.
The members of Chain Tri Team enjoyed this event and appreciate the effort which goes into conducting an event of this scale in the center of a large metro area. Many thanks to the race directorship, event volunteers, event sponsors, local law enforcement, fellow athletes, and USA Triathlon for making this a memorable outing for the team.
Now, with fourteen members making the trip this year and with a different combination of team members attending every year seems there has been enough data collected over time to entertain an FAQ on the team road trip… Beyond that, if you have never road tripped to an event with a handful of fellow athletes (club, team, training partners), please consider it. Memorable and rewarding…
Until next time!
What is the requisite distance for a team roadtrip?
400 - 500 miles, beyond that and someone starts getting a little crispy, anything less than that and the vibe and camaraderie of the trip experience wanes almost in a linear (maybe exponential) manner.
What sort of vehicle or vehicles get(s) the job done?
A large rental van, heavy-duty pickup truck, and enclosed trailer usually do the trick. If travel demands dictate, multiple trucks and a few borrowed bike racks sans van or trailer can also fill the gap. Expect 3-4 travelers and 3-5 bikes per vehicle, save for the post-race dinner outing wherein 10+ athletes may perhaps ride in one vehicle so as to minimize the risk of parking tickets administered by local governing bodies. Pro tip - some jurisdictions enforce parking on Sunday evenings.
What is the attire?
Triathlete casual - old race t-shirts, khaki shorts, sandals which may also double up on yard and lawn duty in the home environment; ideal for the time spent in the vehicles
Triathlete formal - team kit, post-race team shirt, race flats, aero helmet; requisite for raceday
Triathlete casual dressy - race shirt (perhaps one from an epic event serving as the backdoor brag when amongst fellow athletes), jeans (i.e. well-worn pair of Wrangler for instance), shorts not used for lawn duty, maybe a collared shirt (may also feature a race logo or “finisher” inscription), sandals (keep them clean and you can use the same pair the entire trip); ideal for post-race dinner and social time
Recreational outing - boardshorts, extra workout clothes, double duty on the travel clothing is an option; one should not confuse swim briefs as an acceptable substitute for boardshorts
How do I make myself a good travel companion?
Bring snacks and drinks to share. Back seat drivers are frowned upon. Willingness to share phone chargers earns points with the group. Also, be willing to share stories from high school, prior race experiences, your job, or your family members - truthfulness not a requirement, embellishment welcome and encouraged.
What sort of fare can I look forward to?
Looking back at every team road trip since 2014, this would make at least the fourth trip which included a minimum of one stop at Chipotle. Pre-race group dinners depend upon the venue, Chattanooga 2018 featured the aforementioned Italian feast hosted by team member Chad Hon and family - that one will be tough to beat in future years. Beyond that some fun establishments with a variety of menu items is clutch when traveling with 12-15 guys (i.e. Chattanooga’s Community Pie or Urban Stack). Finally, a hotel with a complimentary breakfast makes for a great morning rally point.
What sort of weather conditions might one encounter?
Traditionally, the team road trip lands between late-June and early-August so 80F - 90F (100F+ heat index), pop-up thunderstorms, and high-humidity are par for the course. 2018 would include relatively pleasant 75F temperatures and low humidity on raceday morning, climbing to the mid-80’s by the end of the event. The reliability of the weather (translated - basically hot and humid) makes for ease in packing and also saves on hauling space as there is no need for layers upon layers of clothing.
Even though it is June, July, August should I bring my wetsuit?
Sure, throw it in the back of the truck. Never know when half the team may trot back to the hotel to grab their wetsuits, buoyancy shorts, etc… if the magical mercury settles under 78F. No trotting back to the truck this year as the 80F water temperature announcement was made early in the transition hustle and bustle, right around when a couple of the team members were locating their relocated bikes in transition (see - 70mph winds and hail as referenced above).
What sort of music can I look forward to?
A diverse selection makes for a successful trip, be willing to offer up your personal play list from your mobile device. Becoming lost in the wormhole of YouTube videos also works well.