Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What makes a good triathlon training City? My take on Bowie.

You hear this a lot and not just on the Slowtwitch Forums! "I might be moving to XXX town, what's it like for triathlon training" and just recently I got thinking about how this applies to where we live. It's probably one of the first things I would think about if ever we were to move from Bowie, MD but 10 years ago when we came to the USA, it was really all about "how close to the office was it?" and "what is there nearby?".

Fortunately we really lucked out with where we chose after a fleeting four day trip from the UK in 2004 and Bowie, MD has turned out to be awesome in more ways than one but especially good for training.  Ironman listed their top ten locations in 2014 here....Bowie didn't make it (unsurprisingly when you look at the list) but here's my take. What do you like about your training town?

Bowie, MD

Bowie Location

Year round you can train outside, sure it gets cold and a little snowy/icy at times in the winter but sustained periods of indoor training are few and far between. Riding out from Bowie to the better cycling routes in the South Counties are easy and relatively light in traffic. Over the years I have built a good library of routes depending upon on the desired length ranging from a simple 10mile loop to a 120mile loop. Running around town again is pretty good with some flat paved trails away from traffic (WB&A trail) as well as some off-road trails. The majority of the Bowie roads have wide enough shoulders that running on the road is fine (such as this past week when the sidewalks are a little icy).

I guess the only major downside, but this goes for the majority of the eastern side of the State is the lack of decent climbs in the area. We have rolling hills and the flats but nothing that can count as major climbs with the nearest being an hour or so away in Frederick or beyond at Skyline Drive.

Training partners in the local area are plentiful -  a ton of cycling teams and clubs (personally I am biased towards the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team and the team sponsor Parvilla Cycles) that range all abilities and goals.  There are bunch of different triathlon clubs although none actually located in Bowie itself (check here for USAT registered clubs).

Possibly the only training aspect in Bowie that is lacking is a public swimming pool both indoors and outdoors. I swim at Sportfit Bowie, a private health club, which is fine for a 25yd lap pool but it lacks a masters program and has competing demands for its use (swim lessons, aerobics etc). The closest public pools are either at PG Community College or at the Arundel Swim Center just outside of Annapolis. A year-round outdoor 25m pool would be awesome!

Now if only Sportfit converted the summer fun pool into a year-round lap pool!

With not having a body of open water of good enough quality, a local race is asking a bit much but the central location of Bowie in the Mid-Atlantic region means that you can pretty much race every weekend in the season with only a 2-hour drive or less. The stand out races are the Eagleman Ironman 70.3m and Ironman Maryland, both of which take place in Cambridge, MD an 80min drive from Bowie. If an M-Dot race isn't your cup of tea there are some quality races put on by Set-Up Events, Piranha Sports and Racine Multisports.

For some distractions you can also race on the road from Spring to Fall with the Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association or any numbers of running events year round!

After 10 years in Bowie I am no doubt bias when it comes to liking the City as training town....It's all I have ever known from a triathlon training perspective as I was purely a cyclist back in the UK (and living towards the end of an Estuary gets old when you cycle the sames routes to get in and out!) but it fits the bill for me.....now should I get an offer to live in Boulder, San Diego or St. George then I might be packing my training gear!

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