The 2016 Luz annual triathlon, the 3rd, took place on 23 April.
The day did not start particularly well. It was overcast and dull. Quite possibly that was welcomed by the triathletes, as it meant is was a bit cooler and there was no wind.
As I walked down Rua Primeira de Maio I was passed by a hearse, complete with coffin decked with flowers, obviously heading for the church. A few seconds later, a car pulled up alongside and asked for directions to the church. I guess I was going to have a better day than the funeral party.
I got to the beach around the time things were supposed to start, about 9.45am. It took about another 15-20mins before it actually got under way.
The competitors were split into 2 groups. First up was the Sprint group, which was going to do shorter distances, then after a fair gap, the Olympic Group, which going to tackle a more extended course.
After videoing some of the swimming, I headed off up Rua da Praia, one of the steeper hills on the course, to catch some of the cycling. Then I cut across to the junction of Rua Primeira de Maio and Rua do Cemitério. So far the GNR and the stewards had everything under under control.
Then I nipped along to the west end of Cemitério, where it joins Rua 25 de Abril, just north of the mound that Operation Grange dug up in June 2014.
I had gone there last year in the triathlon and it was a total shambles. It is, in effect a junction of 5 roads, it as a critical part of the Luz 1-way system (though all roads are 2-way at this point), and trying to get the cyclists through safely was a nightmare.
If you look at the photo, the M537 from Burgau is at the bottom, where this graphic was captured.. The M537 goes up the other way on the left. That is quite a major road and the junction is the bottom of a steep hill, in both directions. Behind the Paraíso Da Luz sign is the entrance to the Paraíso urbanisation. It is normally fairly busy, though there are another 2 ways in/out of the urbanisation, so blocking it off would not be a big deal. However it was left open. Straight down the centre is Rua 25 de Maio, running past the site of the Operation Grange dig. Finally, just between the purplish bush and the large tree is the entrance/exit of Rua do Cemitério. At this junction, all of these roads are 2-way.
This year it was a bit better as the number of GNR officers had increased significantly. Everything seemed to be going fairly well. The cyclists came west along Cemitério, did a tiny dog-leg up 25 de Abril, then headed west up the hill to Burgau. So they emerged near that purplish bush and headed off to the right, along the M537.
As the cyclists were now well spread out, there was little time to get vehicles through in any direction, so traffic started backing up, tempers got frayed, and drivers started doing stupid things.
One silly sod on 25 de Abril decided he couldn’t see what the issue was, so he ‘parked’ on the outside of the waiting column of vehicles, blocking off the road in both directions. That road is supposed to be the run downhill for cyclists getting back from Burgau, and it was now sealed.
At that point, a police car came down the M537 from the direction of Burgau. It had its police lights flashing and a warning horn sounding, as it slowly came down the hill. Then it turned into the entrance of 25 de Abril, and stopped in the middle of the lane, right on the corner, to chat to another officer.
So there was now a large obstacle at the entrance at the top of the road, and it was completely blocked 100 yards further down.
And just at that moment, the leading cyclist bombed down the hill on his way back from Burgau. Trying to to turn into 25 de Abril at speed, he did a last second correction to avoid smacking into the GNR car, and simultaneously vented a choice epithet.
With amazing reactions he looked ahead and saw that 25 de Abril was blocked. So he did another high speed swerve and headed east along Cemitério. He was now heading in the wrong direction, and at the east end Cemitério becomes 1-way, blocking his exit there. I wonder what became of him. I think it is probably a given that he does not hold the Luz Triathlon in high regard.
I have done some editing on the video I captured of the event. It turned out that trying to video an ‘action’ event is incredibly difficult. Most of what I took was so bad it was promptly deleted. I may have rescued some footage, but I want sleep on it as to whether I publish something that looks dreadfully amateurish, or whether I discard it entirely, and simply learn the lessons.