Monday, July 03, 2006

Mountaineer Race Report - Time to Ride

Here is the bike portion of my race report. I didn't realize I was leaving people hanging in the middle of my report until I saw Buckeye Runner and her husband this past weekend. Training and life have pulled me away from writing. Enjoy this installment.

Like I said in my last post, I’m outta here (on the bike). I love running by people who have stopped just outside of transition in order to mount their bikes. I run clear of them and hop on my bike. I then clip in while rolling down the road. Think Lance Armstrong after his rode across that open field and had to dismount and remount his bike after crossing the drainage ditch.

The race plan was for me to be conservative for the first 75% of the bike then hammer the rest home. I was to ignore all other racers and go with my own plan. Heart rate was to be high Zone 2, around 140. Also had my watch timer set for drinking and eating every 10 minutes. Coach said I should feel like I could go harder, but to stay just below that effort. The first loop of the bike was nice with dry pavement and enthusiastic volunteers at the 15 mile aid station. The first hill at mile 7 was nothing that I haven’t ridden before. The fact that it was straight and you could see quite a ways up the road was a mental test. There was a moment of false hope as you approached a slight left turn on the climb. You had the feeling of relief thinking that the top was just around the corner…then…..BAM….you still have another quarter mile to climb. Oh well, you just hunker down and keep climbing. After cresting the climb the section until the aid station was very fun. There were some short ups with some awesome downhill’s that allow you to recover and get the HR down. Somewhere along the course I reached a max of 40 MPH.

So the top part of this bike course takes us into Pennsylvania. This is where we reach the little town of Taylorville hosting the aid station right before mile 15. My first time through I didn’t need anything but thanked the volunteers anyways. After the aid station there were still some hills to climb. These were more like a staircase, steps that got you up to the top of the hill. When we finally crested the last hill it was all downhill from there.

Prior to the race the RD and several other racers made comment about a dip in the road. Aimee and I saw it during our drive of the course the night before. This “dip” came three feet into the road from the right shoulder. There were arrows and paint guiding you around the depression in the road. This first time through this area I was following, at a safe distance, the guy in front of me. Of course a car was coming towards us. He made it through before the car reached the area of the dip. I however reached the dip when the car did. There was still enough room between me and the dip in the road to make it through safely. The one thing I miscalculated was the speed which I was carrying into the turn. Oh did I forget to mention that the dip was at the apex of a right hand turn? Yes, so maximum velocity, hard right turn, centrifugal forces pushing me to the outside, I had to the fight the bike a little to keep it turning to the right.

After that last downhill we were flat and fast. We went through another area of homes with people standing out cheering for us. The Half Distance course required us to do a small 2 mile out and 2 mile back to extend our course. Pretty much all the way back to the transition area was pretty fast. I did have to make a rolling pee break, which is a good sign. I was hydrated enough that I had to pee. I also had to make sure I kept myself in check and not let the HR get to high. I had another loop to do of that bike course.

I came around the transition area and the bike aid station is immediately after a left hand turn. I knew where it was, had my empty bottle ready to toss and the volunteers had a bottle of water waiting for me. Here is where I share an aid station tip that I find works great. I forget where I got this from but I use it every time. As I approach the aid station I yell for what I want. Those that have what I want usually identify themselves with a “here”. I point and make eye contact with the person I will take the aid from. This way the person I am going for is expecting my grab and I rarely miss. I like making the personal connection with the volunteer, it makes for flawless execution.

Aimee is waiting for me as I exit the aid station and got a picture of me about to make the turn back out onto the course for round two. By now the rain has started to come down. Not heavy or windy rain but wet none the less. It doesn’t have an impact on the course because most of the course is fairly straight. I started to see people I know on the small section where we pass. I was heading back out and some people were heading back from their first lap. My teammate Mel was cruising along and it dawned to me that she was the first female I saw on the bike. I also saw Matt, who I started the swim with, and was wondering when he would catch me on the second loop. Matt is a powerhouse on the bike, think Thor Husvold.

So I’m just cruising along and hit the hill again at mile 7. Time to start climbing into the sky. This time I alternated between staying in the saddle and standing a little. I wanted to use different muscles this time. I think it worked because I felt better on this hill the second time. Nothing to exciting on this loop, even with the rain. I exchanged water bottles this time at the aid station and thanked everyone for being there.

Some of the hills were taking their toll on the newer triathletes. I passed a teenage boy pushing his mountain bike up the hill. I tried to encourage him with some words. At the top a woman had just finished walking her bike up the hill and was stretching her quads. I offered her some encouragement as well. As I crested the hill I started my decent towards the “dip”. This time as I approached the right hand turn there was no opposing traffic. Cool, I had the green light to let it rip. Unfortunately I ripped it too hard. Again I miscalculated the angle of the turn, the speed I was entering the turn and the amount of G forces that would push me all the way to the left side of the road. Now don’t get me wrong, these are not major highway roads, but if a car had been coming the other way, I’d be a hood ornament. I literally fought my bike to turn away from the soft shoulder on the side of the road. I actually spoke out load, “Cooommme ooonnnn baby”. This was not easy to do while in the aero position. A combination of leaning and a twist of the arms got me back to the right side of the road. That was close.

At least I was on the flat part of the course and really no more climbing to do. At the intersection of the out and back we had to do there was a mining operation. Coal mining to be exact, we are in West Virginia you know. So on the way out to the turn around I didn’t think about it. On the way back I was worried about it being slick but it was a straight shot through the coal dust on the road. Oh, in case you forgot, IT’S BEEN RAINING. I look down at my legs and they are covered in this wet coal dust sprayed up from my front tire. Lucky for me I had a spare water bottle and hosed off my legs. Hey, everyone had to ride through it as well.

Again, the rest of the bike loop was flat and fast. I was given the green light to increase my speed and HR for the last 15 miles of the bike loop. About 3 miles from the transition area I started to prepare for T2. I had everything I needed waiting for me, but I was going to make a slight modification and I knew exactly how to execute it. Did I mention, that IT’S BEEN RAINING?!?! My feet are soaked. My shoes are soaked. My socks are soaked. Of course peeing two more times on the bike course didn’t help, but IT’S BEEN RAINING.

Okay, I have a pair of socks in my transition bag. I know exactly where they are. As I approach T2 I always un-strap my shoes, take my feet out and ride on top of my shoes into transition. However, this time I also take my socks off. Now what am I supposed to do with wet dirty socks as I approach the entrance to transition? Stuff them in my aero water bottle. Sure did. I wasn’t going to drink out of it anymore. It worked great. Into T2, rack the bike, off with the helmet, unzip the bag, grab the socks (right where I knew they were at), socks and shoes on, grab the hat and fuel belt and I’m out of T2.

Bike: 2:48:05
Average speed: 20 MPH
10/32 in Age group
42/209 Overall

T2 : 1:03
I had the fastest T2 in my AG by .35 seconds.

I still can't get pictures up to blogger, suck donkey balls!


BuckeyeRunner said...

Great to see you this past weekend. Loved the latest chapter in the HIM story. Looking forward to the final chapter. T-minus 19 days. You are going to put in the work and are in incredible shape.

BuckeyeRunner said...

PS. That was from husband of Buckeye :-)

TriSaraTops said...

Man, way to rock that course! Amazing average with such a low heart rate! I think you're the fittest freaking person ALIVE. :)

19 days, can you believe it?! I'm gettin' pumped and I ain't even RACING!

BuckeyeRunner said...

Ack! Some close calls on the course - it sounds scary!! Can't wait to see the pics!

Cliff said...

So when can we read the last part of the race :)

Lana said...

Awesome bike leg! You are a machine!

qcmier said...

Not sure if I could ever pee on my bike. Do you just stand up and let it go?

By the way, somewhere I read you were taking in fluids every 10 minutes on the bike. Thanks to you, I have gone from 15 minutes down to 10 minutes.

DaisyDuc said...

My goodness I get nervous for that dip just reading your blog...way to go on the bike!