“…Ben Franklin was unfazed by the violence of the start, with some swimmers trying to elbow him out of the way or even swim over him. In his day, he’d witnessed bare-knuckle boxing matches where fighters fought to exhaustion or death; he was not gulled. He swung hard with his own elbows, powered by his sloping, muscular shoulders, and knocked off the goggles and stunned the noggins of those challenging him, clearing out a personal do-not-enter zone.
He found the aquadynamic suit fast and buoyant. Another big aid was his enhanced bifocal goggles. The distance lens was his own improvement over night-vision goggles he’d recently purchased. It allowed him to see through the murky Potomac like it was the crystalline Caribbean, letting him know the exact position of his rivals. The computer chip he’d implanted in the lens displayed the latest current and wind conditions, allowing him, like a sailboat, to tack in the direction of least resistance, while his rivals stayed on a slower, straight-line approach.
He built up a lead on his younger rivals and, at the turnaround point under the Francis Scott Key Bridge, saw on his lens display that the wind direction was aligned for the ploy he had planned. He flipped onto his back, and while backstroking with one arm, pulled the device out of a hidden pocket with the other, then unfurled it in the churn behind him. Soon the current and the wind pushed the item out of the water and into the breeze. Franklin felt a tremendous surge pull himself up and onto the top of the water. The kite fully unfurled in the wind, hauling Franklin, his feet skimming the waves, along like a water skier, at a good 25 knots.
“How wonderful!” he exclaimed, exhilarated by the onrushing air and the spray kicking up into his face. “Just like I did as a young man, on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill!”
The officials observing his swim from their river-borne kayaks couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing, and before they could pull out their smart phones to take a photo, Franklin—now with a big lead--cut the wire to the kite, and with a head-first dive from his standing position sliced back into the Potomac, and resumed swimming.
As Franklin approached the exit point of the swim, Jefferson was changing into the bicycling attire he’d purchased from a vendor serving the race. He sported a bright-red, tight-fitting Spandex jersey, its zipper pulled down to his stomach, white Spandex shorts, and baby-blue bicycle shoes. And he fielded tips from his new cyclist friend.
“Stay in a pretty easy gear,” he was told, “so that you can do as many revolutions as possible.”
Jefferson nodded, “I rather like revolutions.
“In fact,” he told Abigail Adams, sotto voce, “a Revolution now and again, to replenish the Tree of Liberty with the blood of patriots, is a Good Thing.”
“Remember,” continued the cyclist, “this is a triathlon, not the Tour de France, so drafting is not allowed.”
“I would think,” Jefferson responded, “there’ll be plenty of draughts and toasts after our victory.”
The cyclist shook his head, while Abigail laughed at her friend’s confident, cavalier attitude in the face of a difficult challenge.
“And take this,” said the cyclist, handing Jefferson his space helmet. With the helmet, the red, white, and blue attire, and a black cape draped down his shoulders, the former President cut a striking figure.
Then Franklin came running up from the water, with surprising speed for his age and portly physique. He expected Jefferson to take the timing chip off his ankle, but the ex-President was already on his bike, poised to go. Abigail kneeled down to tear the chip off Dr. Franklin’s leg, and attached its Velcro strap to Jefferson’s ankle.
The latter took off, eager to protect the lead. He tried to maintain, as the cyclist had told him, an even, circular motion with his pedaling, and found his old habit of horseback riding had built up his core strength and stamina. Meantime, Franklin and Abigail trotted over to the nearby Washington Monument, and took the lift to its windowed top floor, which afforded a superb view of the bike course.
Abigail borrowed Franklin’s powerful, portable telescope, and told Jefferson through his radio headset the location and relative speed of the nearest cyclists. She also spotted four of his pursuers who, she was angered to see, were cheating--by drafting behind one another. Manipulating his radio set, Franklin broke in on the race officials’ chatter, informing them of the transgression, which led officials patrolling the course on motorcycles to find and penalize the cheaters.
Dr. Franklin, examining the weather radar on his tablet, warned Jefferson of an incoming storm front, with heavy winds, near the course’s hairpin turnaround at Hains Point, a spit of land close to the Tidal Basin. The lanky Virginian got into an almost horizontal position, on the “aero bars” protruding from the bike’s frame, and reached 30 mph, holding on determinedly at the banked swerve of the turnaround.
As the storm front hit, a 40-mph tailwind benefited him, while a 40-mph headwind buffeted his pursuers still approaching the bend, practically stopping them in their tracks. Seizing advantage of the gust, Jefferson stood up on his pedals and, cycling without hands, grabbed ahold of his cape, held it up like a sail behind his helmet, and picked up even more speed, sailing past the Jefferson Memorial on the route back to the finish.
Atop the Washington Monument, meanwhile, a watching Abigail murmured, “A bravo performance, Thomas.
“But how come my husband John doesn’t have a memorial too?..”
Franklin had brought his swim kite with him, and thought about making a parasail of it to glide down from the Washington Monument, but a wary Abigail vetoed the notion. After taking the lift back down, they obtained Capital Bikeshare rent-a-bikes, and quickly rolled back to the transition area.
At the bike finish Jefferson, as he’d often done with his horses, dismounted in one seamless action, and dramatically held out a leg. Franklin ripped off the timing chip and strapped it to Abigail’s ankle.
The former First Lady was fashionably if demurely attired for the run. Although she appreciated their function, she was astounded at the current fashion for sports bras, horrified that women would run in public in what was in effect an undergarment. So she pulled a loose-fitting red blouse over her white-colored bust support. She was equally disturbed by the very short shorts of some female harriers, and gratified that running skirts had not only become popular, but had been on sale in a bright white color at the race, along with the other items. Abigail was pleased that something called “compression socks” had become the rage, allowing some mystery to remain about a lady’s legs, and sported a blue-colored pair pulled up to her knees.
Finally, in a concession to concern about the broken glass and metal shards in the District’s unswept streets, she wore a pair of thin-soled Vibram “barefoot” running shoes, ultra-light yet affording some protection to her feet. A concession to the rather lower-class style of the times was to wear a sports cap, emblazoned “New England Patriots,” as a sun shield. Bonnets, she sensed, though far more lady-like, would induce mockery.
Jefferson and Franklin, to scout the course for Adams, rode back to the Washington Monument. Abigail, determined as her friends not to let the team down, made a common beginner’s error, starting off at a blazing, not measured, clip, then growing exhausted, before catching her second, and third, wind.
Luckily she found, as the others had, that the hard, pre-industrial life of colonial times had steeled her for the challenge…”
(Excerpted from: Foundering Fathers: What Jefferson, Franklin, and Abigail Adams Saw in Modern D.C.! Copyright © 2012 by Edward P. Moser. Amazon Books.)
All I can see are Nats' Presidents trying to do a triathlon.