Club profile: Bluff Busters Tri Team from La Crosse, Wisconsin
05 May 2012
Bluff Busters Tri Team formed in 2004 as a spin-off of the River City Running Club, a decades old running club in La Crosse, Wis. A number of the running club members had gotten their feet wet doing a few local triathlons and felt a need to become a little more organized to coordinate swim and bike training sessions for those wanting to pursue this new passion and a few organizational meetings later, Bluff Busters Tri Team was born.
The name "Bluff Busters" comes from the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The city of La Crosse and several adjoining communities are located in a long, narrow stretch of the river valley along Wisconsin's "west coast" and you cannot bike or run more than a couple of miles in the east-west direction without "busting" your way up one of the bluffs either on the Wisconsin or Minnesota side of the valley.
La Crosse is located within the driftless area of the Midwest that measures approximately 100 miles in both the east-west and north-south directions that was bypassed by the glaciers. This area is a hidden gem for bike training as we have hundreds of miles of rural roads with low traffic volume and an abundance of hills. Even though our hills max out at only 600-700 feet in elevation change, several of us refer to this area as the Boulder of the Midwest. We can pick a 40-mile route at random and easily include a half dozen 1-mile long, 500-foot climbs with relentless rollers in between each. In the mid to late 1980s, Greg LeMond did a lot of his bike training in this area.
Our club has maintained a membership of approximately 100 triathletes since its formation. Like most clubs, we have members who join just for a year or two to train for a specific event or to get "triathlon" crossed off their bucket list, and others who truly get hooked on the sport and triathlon lifestyle and are here for the duration. We have more than 50 members past and present who have completed at least one Iron-distance event. The experience level of our membership also varies greatly. At present we have at least 15 members training for their first triathlon, several that have competed on Team USA at ITU World Championship events, a number that have competed at the Ironman World Championship in Kona and a few that have achieved USA Triathlon All-American status.
Our club conducts tri clinics focusing on swim, bike and run technique as well as nutrition and the mental aspect of training and racing. We have experienced triathletes designated as mentors for the "newbies" and training coordinators assigned to organize sessions that those training for sprint/olympic, half-iron or iron distance events can include in their training plans.
Our members are very active as both volunteers and members of the organizing committee for the area's annual triathlon sponsored by the La Crosse Area YMCA. We also volunteer and monetarily sponsor the YMCA's Kids Triathlon each summer.