Black Bear Triathlon - Olympic Course - Triathlon

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Lehighton, Pennsylvania
United States
CGI Racing
Total Time = 2h 36m 42s
Overall Rank = 36/328
Age Group = M55-59
Age Group Rank = 1/15
Pre-race routine:

First some history leading up to the race...Mike S, a friend of mine and fellow triathlete, posted about doing Black Bear on Facebook and I decided to take a look at it since I didn't have a race planned after the Rev3 Knoxville AG Championships (see that race report if interested). As the Black Bear Oly would be challenging on the bike and run, I thought that it would be a good warm up event prior to Ironman Syracuse 70.3 on June 22. It should be able to give me more power training data to use during that race as well. So, signed up in March to secure a spot and prepare to "Dare the Bear"! As it turned out (and if you read my Knoxville report), my new bike frame had to be sent back to Felt and I did not have my power meter during this race :(. At least I had a spare tri bike, my older Felt S32. So, I just had the new race wheels from the new bike put on the old bike so I would at least have a bit more aerodynamics to help me there. Now for those possibly going in another year, we stayed at the Sleep Inn in Allentown, about 20 min away from the race site. We did have to pay a small toll on the highway to get to the park exit but it wasn't that big a deal. Nice hotel, decent price, and close to race site plus places to eat. Well turns out it's going to be a sunny weekend with pretty perfect weather Sat and Sunday. Light winds, low humidity, and temps in the 50s morning and 70s by afternoon!

Mike and I got to the race site for packet pickup the day prior to the race and that went pretty smoothly. The timing bands were different in that the ends were essentially taped together. So, you got a shot at getting this correct, though they did have a backup plan for you if you messed it up. The race is at Beltzville State Park to the north of Allentown which is in or near to Lehighton, PA. Considering it hadn't really gotten too warm yet for late May/early June, we were a bit concerned about the water temperature. So, after packet pickup, we went for a test swim for about 20 min. I wore a new Blue Seventy swim cap in case it was really cold but determined after the swim that I wasn't going to need it as the water was warmer than advertised by the fishing sites I check. Nice lake and fairly clear water, so this would be a treat to swim in the next day. I'm not positive when but we also went to the race meeting too for any details and to ask questions. Black Bear is actually 3 distances - Sprint, Olympic, and Half. When asked how many first timers, a LOT of hands went up! Wow and this is not that easy of a course for first time but it's not overly hard. In some ways, I thought the Bath County Sprint I did last year was harder, especially the run. Get to all of that in a moment. When Mike and I were done with what we were to do at the park, we drove the bike course which I always recommend. Oh, I should note that if you signed up early enough, you could have a personalized bib number for the run. Nice.

The course was pretty well marked and we didn't really have any problems finding where to go in that respect. The course I had downloaded, though, was not correct and we just followed the road markings instead after we had determined that. The bike course was noted as being a bit different than in years past due to a bridge that was out as well. The bike course is very rolling with a few short but decent climbs and fast descents. There are also a few places the road was a bit chewed up on which we took note of. I will also add here that it looked a bit trickier when in the car than when riding it on race day. That's the same thing I noted in my Knoxville report. Just like at Knoxville, there were also some technical downhills that one had to be careful of and the race folks marked these quite well.

Once done driving the course, Mike and I headed off to get dinner as well as get a few things for morning breakfast.

And it's O dark something when the alarm goes off. Coffee is definitely needed first ;) Banana, some sports drink, & yogurt come next. We get prepared for the race and head out to the race site. The race crew said to come early for parking and we got there in plenty of time before a line really started to form. Plenty of volunteers for parking too. Sun's coming up and there's some fog in the valley but looks like it'll burn off pretty quick. Chilly out too with temps in the 50s but that'll change quickly as the morning progresses with the sun providing bright sunshine during the race. Mike and I get our gear and head down to secure spots in transition. Not positive whether the bike rack rows had one's number on it or not but the rows did have groupings of numbers. So we each found ours as we had scoped it out a bit the day previously. I always count rows if needed from swim and bike in so I can find my rack easily during the two transitions if needed and believe I did this the day prior as well. Take my time getting things ready and take my transition bag back over to the car as it's just unnecessary in transition. At last it's time to get into my wetsuit and I seem to be having problems. A guy next to me in AG shows me what I have forgotten as far as trick for getting in the wetsuit goes - plastic bag around the foot and slips in. Yeah, for some reason, I had forgotten this trick. Thank him and make introductions. He's Dave Styger which I commented to him about meeting another "Dave". Well wish Dave well (add some notes about him later though) and at last, we head over to the lake and swim start area.
Event warmup:

CGi did provide a roped swim practice area as they wanted to ensure beginners were not overly anxious about the swim and made it a point to tell folks to warm up to get the heart rates up and not be overly anxious. They also made it a point to ensure folks knew this was an Open Water Swim with possible bumping and if folks had unsure thoughts about being there and swimming, that they should discuss it with the race folks and possibly consider dropping out of the race if they were not that strong a swimmer and had a lot of doubts. As I had swam the day previously, I ready didn't think it was necessary to warm up and I wanted my arms to be fresh for the race. Still, it was nice CGI provided the area for folks.
  • 28m 4s
  • 1500 meters
  • 01m 52s / 100 meters

So, the Sprint swim waves start first of which there are only two, then the Olympic, and lastly come the Half folks. Mike's in the first Oly swim wave and I'm in the one following him. I noted we waded out to the start line but then we're treading in-water in back of the start line. So it wasn't shallow enough to stand. Water's a bit chilly to start but that would change in a few minutes after we got going. My swim wave is fairly large with Men 40 & over plus a few other smaller groups. Still, a good number of folks thrashing around me! Well, we get the word about getting ready and counting down. Now unlike at Knoxville where I got confused and had my Garmin count that race as one big swim, I had the multisport mode set now and started the timer with 30 seconds to go. At last we're down to 10...5, 4, 3, 2, 1....GO! Off and swimming on the Black Bear Olympic distance course!

I think I'm like mid to upper pack this time but not out in front. Still, with such a large group, lot of folks around me. As the sun is back behind me, it's not overly difficult seeing the buoys ahead and it's a LONG swim out to the turn buoy heading back to the swim finish area too! Doing okay though for this part but I did have to slow every now and then for someone ahead breast stroking, so tried to get clear water if I could. But making progress and I do remember feeling decent about halfway or maybe a bit more here. As I finally reach the first turn buoy, I unfortunately am "that guy" who somewhat bumped/climbed onto a gal who was going slower rounding the buoy...gosh, sorry about that :(

Make the 90 degree turn around the buoy and it's a relatively short distance to the next one. After rounding that, it's a less than 90 degree turn as we're angling to the last turn buoy where we dogleg left around it to the swim finish. Now, I'm getting a bit tired here as some folks are passing me though I have seen the previous swim wave caps along with many of my own, so I'm not doing too bad. Sun's now kinda in front of us now though off to the right side. Still, it does have some effect and I did have to pause a bit to locate the last buoy. As I'm going along, I do see one guy in my wave who looks like he might be in my AG and I wonder as I'm writing this if this is Dave Stygar who I met in transition this morning?

Well reach the last turn buoy, make the left turn, and head to the swim finish arch! Always seems to be FAAARRR AWAY during the last segment of the swim. But making headway. At last see bottom and when I can touch, stand up and start jogging best I can out of the water to the swim arch....and... Done! Running/jogging into T1!
What would you do differently?:

Not much, decent but pretty typical wetsuit swim finish time for me for the distance.
Transition 1
  • 02m 54s

3rd in AG, 69th OA. Get to my spot in short order since I had practiced getting to it the day prior and there's Dave Stygar just finishing up and getting out of his place, heading out on the bike course. Well, I try to move as smoothly as possible and have just a slight hangup with the wetsuit but it's not really an issue. Then just a little of an issue getting into my bike shoes, but I did okay in T1. As I'm just about to leave my spot, I think my friend Mike is just getting to his spot. No time to chat though as I'm heading out of transition. Just want to note that we did have a bit a ways to go out of T1 and into T2 and through a grassy area that you had to be careful with as there was deep loose sand to one side. Get to the mount area, clip in, and headed out on the bike course!
What would you do differently?:

Not much...things went fairly smooth considering and I did a good bit better than a lot of folks here.
  • 1h 19m 21s
  • 24 miles
  • 18.15 mile/hr

The first and last part of the bike is in the park and as we get on the park road that leads out, the course is marked as a NO PASS zone because it is quite narrow and the part is coned off. Incredibly, a gal starts to pass a few of us here and I yell to her that this is a NO PASS zone! She quickly realized her mistake and found a spot in line with the rest of us. Then right turn onto Pohopoco Drive. During this 7 mile stretch (I think), I'm doing a decent job at passing a few folks folks here and there, especially on the downhills but of course there are others who are better than me up the hills. And the gal who was in the NO PASS zone is one of those as well as another guy who I think was in the 50-54 AG. So for a good amount of this long section, I'm trading places with these two. Tell ya, some climbing rollers with equal amounts of nice downhills too! At last we turn left onto Sheller Hill Road. As Mike and I found yesterday, there's a reason there's the word "Hill" here - yeah, definitely a climb, but thankfully not long-lived. Still, there's fairly significant bunch up of folks here with I would bet a good number being from the sprint. Well, I have my 12-27 on the back and can climb better than most here, which I do but have to be careful and announce that I'm passing on the hill. One gal ahead is like "what do you want me to do?" I reply, "it's okay, just letting you know I'm coming up beside you" and pass by. The hill ends in short order and we come to a T intersection where we're turning right onto Smith Rd for this short out and back of this part of the course. Mostly downhill here and had to be a bit careful as the right part of the road was a bit uneven and rough. Come screaming into this circle part which included first Dotter's Corner and circling back on Memorial Drive to once again meet up with Smith Road, turning right on that. Now it's uphill back to the T intersection. This time we go straight and continue on until making a left on Berger. Then we'd turn right back on Pohopoco and back on the rollers again for a short period. Turn right onto Station and it's a fairly significant climbing section according to the elevation chart (sorry, can't remember this part of the course) on the race web page. I think I do remember a bit of this because as I'm climbing, I pass a guy I think in the AG below me who has an Ironman jersey on. I thought this was the guy I was trading places initially with on the rollers but after I saw the jersey, I realized it wasn't him. Then we turned onto Owl Creek. Mike and I got a bit confused by the directions a bit here as it made it seem like we turn onto Deer Lane. But, it's more a bear left and don't turn right to continue onto Owl Lane. Looking at the log of my Garmin, it's here where there are some technical descents and CGI did a good job warning folks here. I was actually able to take them still in mostly my aerobars though I did have one hand on the back brake in case I needed it. The guy in the Ironman Jersey passes me on a descent and pulls slowly ahead. I'll meet up with him later, though. Along here, there was one fast descent at 17.6 followed by a climb until mile 19.1 and this is .83 mile downhill! Another short climb and come back down as Deer Lane curves left coming to Pohopoco and making a right on that. Shortly thereafter, make a left onto Pine Run Road which is a downhill and you had to slow enough shortly to make the left onto Jefferson where there awaits a short climb. Come back down, make the left onto Green St. And then shortly turn left again back onto Pohopoco for the mile plus back to T2. Gosh I remember coming up to this turning and thinking, "I'm back already?" :) I guess I just hadn't done an Olympic in a while and I also did Knoxville which was a 40 mile course. Speeding back now along this last part and see the right turn up ahead into the park. As this part is again the NO PASS zone, thought this would be a good section to get out of my shoes and did so. One more right and the dismount line is up ahead! Get my right leg over my saddle, balance on one pedal, and hit the ground running into T2!!
What would you do differently?:

I just need to work on me and my weight/power. I was getting there. I was on my old tri bike but it probably didn't make too much difference per se. As I'm writing this long past the race, it would've made a bit of difference according to other races I did later. Might've been able to get up to near 20 mph on average if I had trained a bit better and weighed a bit less.
Transition 2
  • 02m 6s

1st AG, 53 OA. So again, fairly long jog/run with my bike into transition for T2. Avoid the sand again. Think "the Preacher" was there cheering the athletes on but I'm not sure I remember now. I saw him in action later after I was done though :) Find my spot from my practice run, rack the bike, helmet off, socks on, run shoes on, grab everything else, and go!
What would you do differently?:

Not much. It was just a fairly long run into transition and you had to avoid the sand areas. I'm fairly decent at T2 now.
  • 44m 16s
  • 6.2 miles
  • 07m 08s  min/mile

Mike and I didn't have a chance to see what the run course was like, but I had read previous race reports about how this is really a trail run 10K and they weren't kidding! The first part takes us along then lake where we curve right onto a dirt/gravel path in the woods. I'm moving along pretty well maintaining a 7:38 pace for the first mile. We pop out onto a road which goes across the spillway area of the damn. Going downhill here where I just go! Then we come up to where we really start to go down and it's pretty gravelly here. Bear right into the woods again and think I passed the guy in the Ironman jersey here I believe. I'm just zipping along since I know how to run downhill. Look at my Garmin and I'm sub-7! I just keep going because I know what's coming up after we get to the bottom. The only thing is I think my friend Mike passed me just around mile 2 in the course...could've been at mile 3 but I do remember thinking that I wanted to be a bit more ahead of him. Still, he isn't pulling too far ahead quickly and I am able to keep in him site at least until around mile 4. Next, curve around left and now the real fun of this course starts...up hill for nearly a mile (maybe only 3/4)! Really gravelly here and I slowed at one point briefly to a 15 min pace...ugh! But take baby steps and press onward and upward. Pass the gal here who I recognize from her jersey as the NO PASS gal. That was satisfying only from that perspective. Found out later she did actually come out ahead because she started in the wave behind me. Anyway, making my way up and passing folks along the way as I pretty much have most of this time (except for Mike :( ). Get up on the dam where it's kinda uneven due to the gravelly surface again. So, a little tough picking a running route here. And I realize after a while that I seem have a shadow, plus I'm following someone myself up ahead. Making slow gains but not really much. So, use him to pace off of. This is a 1.5 mile of out and back and you can see those ahead of you on the way out and those behind on the way back. I saw Mike heading back as I continued to the turn around point. Get beyond that and see the guy who's trailing me along with others I've past. Feeling pretty strong along this whole part and maintaining just under 7 pace here! Off the dam surface and the guy who was trailing passes me here plus the guy I was using as a pacer also kicks it up a notch. I can't maintain those paces but just keep going. Back into the woods now and come up to the point where I see others going out on there run. I'm still moving well here for this last mile at just over a 7 pace. Come out of the woods by the lake and I know the finish is close and kick! I'm just giving it my all as I pass by the flags and come into the Finish! Yes! "Dared the Bear" and finished!!
What would you do differently?:

I had a great 10K run and it made up for the not-so-good run at Knoxville where my legs nearly buckled near the finish.
Post race
Warm down:

Whew! I really did put out effort during the last part! Gladly accepted my very nice and BIG finishing medal and slowly moved out of the finish area taking in some water I believe. Now while there were some folks who had done the sprint, there weren't really that many folks around outside of the immediate area. But Mike was there as he finished a little under 4 min ahead of me. We didn't think results would be in yet and decided to get our post-race food and sit a spell. Found a place near where the folks were leaving and entering transition. CGI provided decent post-race food in box lunches. Sat there for quite some time and talking to the one volunteer who was right there helping folks direct them in and out of transition. After we were done with food and drink, went over to check results. WELLLLL...lo and behold, I've taken 1ST IN AG! WOO HOO! And Mike took 3rd!!! Wow!! Since we had to wait around for awards, decided to go to the car, get our transition bags, and see about packing up our gear before then. After that, we just hung before awards. They had finished the Sprint folks while we were at the car and getting ready for the Olympic distance now. Just before the awards, they were giving out some freebies. I wasn't really listening because the criteria to win had been something that didn't pertain to me. But ears perked up when I heard "...18 in your bib number.." Hey! My number was 1218 and I rushed out saying so, not knowing what they were giving away (chuckle). Well, turns out they were giving away a free entry to next year's Olympic race! How COOL IS THAT??! Took my info and I did receive the comp entry via email later.

Now onto the awards. For AG awards, they were giving the similar HUGE gold, silver, and bronze medals. Considering the finisher's medal was just as big and looked really nice in and of itself, I guess I would've preferred a pint glass or something else practical. I'm always more into that for AG awards rather than even more bling. Still, I proudly accepted my 1st place medal along with the 2nd and 3rd guys in my AG, who interestingly enough were also "Dave"s. The 2nd place winner, Dave Styger, asks about my bike split and looks like he might've taken first if not for 2 dropped chains he had to stop for on the bike. As I'm writing this report months later, I can relate to that feeling considering what happened at Syracuse and Beach 2 Battleship. I'll be getting to those reports soon.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Well, the swim is always a bit of an issue for me. While I didn't have my new bike frame and the race wheels did seem to help, the engine (i.e. me) could've still used some work. I had a great run, though, and fairly pleased with my performance here overall considering what all happened at Knoxville.

Event comments:

I was VERY impressed with CGI's hosting and organization of this race! I have not done a race with them in a while and wasn't sure about them since they had to let the Northeast Tri go to Piranha Sports. So, I was quite pleased with nearly every aspect of the race and would give this more of a 4.5 race if I could rate it any higher. The things I liked about CGI's handling of the event was the concern for beginners/newbies during the swim and having a practice swim area for those that needed it. The bike course was marked appropriately with areas to pay attention to and there were plenty of volunteers. Good parking at the race site and lake was a pleasure to swim in. The finishing & AG medals were HUGE! I would've preferred a practical AG Award, though. And door prizes are always a nice touch. Post race food was decent too! One thing I really dislike is boxed cheap pizza right after an event and fortunately, post race food did not consist of that. I will say that for beginners, this is fairly challenging course especially the run. That was more like a trail run than anything else though you can run with regular running shoes. You just had to watch your footing a bit more. Still, my 10K run time says that one can still have a fairly fast run here. The bike course also provided a challenge and actually reminded me a good bit of Knoxville a few weeks prior.

So, if you're looking for an early season Olympic course (or Sprint/Half for that matter) that provides just enough of a challenge, consider "Daring the Bear"! I plan to be back in 2015 since I did have a free entry!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2014-03-16 12:00 AM
00:28:04 | 1500 meters | 01m 52s / 100meters
Age Group: 5/15
Overall: 106/328
Performance: Average
Suit: Blue Seventy Sprint
Course: Long out to first turn buoy, 90 degree right turn with short leg to next turn, then angled right turn to next turn buoy, and dog leg left to the finish
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 68F / 20C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Average
Breathing: Average Drafting: Average
Waves: Navigation: Average
Rounding: Average
Time: 02:54
Performance: Average
Cap removal: Good Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Yes Run with bike: Yes
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
01:19:21 | 24 miles | 18.15 mile/hr
Age Group: 1/15
Overall: 38/328
Performance: Good
Wind: Little
Course: Essentially an out and back (though the back portion is on roads paralleling the out segment) with segment that's an out and back in itself near the beginning of the back portion of the course. Primarily rolling terrain with a few short climbs and some technical descents that are well marked by the race officials. Some of the road is a bit rough. And the section in and out of the park is a "NO PASS" zone.
Road: Rough Dry Cadence:
Turns: Good Cornering: Good
Gear changes: Good Hills: Average
Race pace: Comfortable Drinks: Just right
Time: 02:06
Overall: Good
Riding w/ feet on shoes Good
Jumping off bike Good
Running with bike Good
Racking bike Good
Shoe and helmet removal Good
00:44:16 | 06.2 miles | 07m 08s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/15
Overall: 23/328
Performance: Good
Course: The run segment is really mostly a trail run going through some woods, then down, down, down first on a bit of a road but then on gravel to where you loop back up, up, up along the dam, run along the top of the dam, and loop back through the woods and end up along some of the same trail you started on back to the finish. The surface can be quite uneven at times. Normal running shoes do work in it, though.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4