They say you never forget your first, and that is certainly true of IRONMAN® Coeur d’Alene. In 2004, I toed the line at CdA for the first time. While it was not my first Ironman distance course, it was supposed to be my first attempt to qualify for Kona. I say “supposed to be”, because, as fate would have it, it was the first race that TriBike Transport serviced.
While logging training miles in the Bay Area prior to the race, I began to hatch the idea of a company that would transport fully assembled bikes to races, hassle-free. I had raced in other venues in the past. I had been through the pain of tearing down my bike, packing it up in a bike bag, hauling it through the airport, unpacking it (praying nothing was broken) and reassembling it in time to race, only to do it all over again at the end of a long race day. I decided to give my idea a go.
While our bike pick up and distribution now is a well-oiled machine, it was anything but for that first race. I rented a twin six-footer truck from Ryder and started the 14+ hour drive from San Francisco to Coeur d’Alene. Before heading out, I loaded up bikes from friends, training partners, and other contacts in the Bay Area, and then met up with other triathletes as I made my way north. Well before the time of partner shops, those stops were made at people’s homes, offices, nondescript parking lots, and even on the side of the highway.
As most “normal” people would understand, launching a business can cause a large amount of stress. And, as we triathletes know, a high volume of stress, especially leading up to a big race, is not necessarily the best thing. That stress led to many sleepless nights in the days and weeks leading up to my race, all of which resulted in my worst IM performance to date...but TBT was born.
Over the years, despite my first-time performance and the rain (seriously, it has rained almost all of the 13 years TBT has attended), IRONMAN® CdA has remained one of my favorite races. For a long time, it was also one of our busiest races, growing from 60 bikes in 2004 to almost 750 at its peak. In fact from 2009 - 2013 TBT transported over 700 bikes per year to CdA.
It was also the first time my parents had a chance to see TBT in action. They hopped in an RV and headed south - they live in Alberta, Canada - a few years ago. I had a great time showing them the ins and outs of the operation, walked them through transition and even celebrated with them at the finish line as we watched athletes cross the line and Mike announce them as an “Ironman”. My parents were impressed. They had never seen anything like the race and remained at the finish until the last athlete came in. They even shed a few tears, but haven’t we all after dark at an IM finish line.
This year, TBT will attend IRONMAN® Coeur d’Alene for our 14th and final time. We are sad to see CdA disappear from the race calendar, and doubt we are not the only ones. For a long time, it was the premier domestic IM race, offering scenic views on all elements of the course, that I’m sure most assume do not exist in Idaho.
We would love to read about your CdA experience as well. Please take a few moments and leave some comments below as we bid adieu to this iconic race.