I thought we'd done our last Donner Tri in 2015. Ferrell was adament - it was over. Done. Out to pasture... it came back from the dead for at least one more year. The rationale was, it would be good altitude training for Pikes Peak a month later. Fine by me; I was doing Pikes Peak as well, and the Donner race is always a lot of fun. Dan and Patty were to join us, and Rick got a classic little cabin just a few blocks from the start. The adventure got off to a rocky start. I had strained my back in the gym a few days earlier, and had been fretting whether I'd be able to do any racing at all, and put off packing until just an hour before Ferrell showed up at my door, finally deciding "what the hell. I know I'll regret it if I just stay home sore in bed". I didn't think I'd be able to run, but I knew I could swim and probably bike, and the venues for both are spectacularly beautiful and always a great invigorating experience. But after we'd driven over the hill and were in Los Gatos, I suddenly realized I'd forgotten both my bike lock and my bike cleats! Damn, there goes my bike race. Traffic going the other direction on Hwy 17 this hot Saturday morning was already bumper-to-bumper jammed, so turning around to get them my shoes wasn't in the cards.

Picking up our keys, next door was this outfit - ~20 years ago when I did this race, these folks decided to tow my car while I was out racing. Yeah. Welcome to Donner Lake Resort!

Picking up race numbers. Seems a little early to be getting inked up (but at least it involved a lovely volunteer). Makes you feel kinda like those cows with the tags stapled to their ears. After pickup and arrival at the cabin, I got on my bike and pedalled around the lake (8 miles) to see if I could possibly do the bike race in my running shoes, unlocked to my pedals. Alas, I almost got blisters in those 8 miles, as my Look pedals were hardly flat.

The Tour de France didn't come on local TV till 9pm, late enough to interfere with our "beauty sleep", but luckily Dan's phone could stream it from a different broadcast. Here we're flipping channels in vain on the TV, while the real race is on the phone

Our cabin - a nice quiet spot next to a creek, with a deck perfect for a late afternoon beer. A scheduling problem meant Patty couldn't join us, so it was just the 3 of us.

I fixed a pasta dinner, and we watched the Tour de France outside on the deck on the iPhone screen. This was the final actual race day, a mountain stage, before the largely ceremonial final ride into Paris on Sunday.

Picking thru a panoply of perspicaciously planned goodies to stuff into the race jersey

6:30am - time to head down to the transition. I decided I'd just be able to do the swim, and would give the run a go, hoping for the best with my strained back.

Donner Lake at sunrise. It was going to be a perfect day for racing

Rubberized and Ready!

The water temperature was perfect; about 65F

I navigated well on the swim, but again it took till the first of the triangle leg out to the first bouy before I settled into a good stroke and the thin oxygen up here was accomodated to. At the 1/3 point, Ferrell was just 10 ft ahead of me as we rounded the bouy. I thought I had a fairly good swim, but my time was fully 2 minutes slower than last year. Granted last year I trained harder - this year's swim training yardage is much lower. Ferrell's swimming was also equally slower (after all, he's heading off to the world of shuffleboard!), and he beat me out of the water by 20 seconds. I got out of my wetsuit, ran back to the cabin, made my final decision to scotch the bike segment, ate fig bar, and then ran back to the transition area to photo some of the early bikers coming in off Donner Pass. After the first ~20 came in, I started my own run around the lake. Wow, it hurt - my right side was locked up and that put additional strain on my left hip, which ground me to a slow shuffle earlier than planned. I won't share my time - it was ugly. I need to do some major heal/recovery time.

Just before turning off the road and into the campground around the lake, Ferrell catches up to me.

Race is done. All smiles

Transition area repacking. Dan is center left. Ferrell (or part of him) is poking up in the foreground row.

Rick scored 3rd place in his age group - another competitive performance, out sprinting a competitor by seconds.

Dan did even better - his amazing 24 minute swim put him far ahead of his (and my) age group, and he held off all but the 1st place guy on the bike and run. Congratulations!

Functional awards - beer tumblers, engraved

Buzz, Dan, Ferrell, and me

Back at the cabin. I usually don't go for red meat, but after a race is different. Skirt steak was delicious. I promised the corn would be done in 15 minutes. It took 30. I offered that a factor of 2 was within "astronomical accuracy" (albeit less true today in this era of Precision Cosmology)

Enjoying our steak out on the deck - the weather was so perfect we couldn't bring ourselves to go indoors to watch the Tour de France and so watched it through the windows

Monday morning - the ceremonial repacking of the bikes. Our original plan had been to drive to Squaw Valley and hike to the top of the mountain and take the tram back down... but my left leg hip flexors were shot, and Ferrell was a bit spent too, so we bailed on that.

Here's the race results:

Post race addendum. It was a mistake to try to do that 6.5 miles of running, plus 2 more getting to/from the cabin, with my back injury. Kinda like when the rod goes through the piston head, it starts a chain reaction whereby the camshaft then shatters the bearings, and then the whole engine blows. It's now a week later and I'm grounded still. Can't run, and even walking is painful. I can swim, and that's it. Got the OK from my chiropractor that it's just muscle and soft-tissue, no blow disc or nerve thing, despite the pain. So... I've got to really focus on recovery because my BIG summer adventure is right around the corner and if I'm laid up and unable to do Pikes Peak or even to drive there comfortably, and the mountain adventures I've planned along the way, well that'll put me in a foul mood to start the new school year for sure.