Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ironman Race Report - Race Day (Bike)

On our last episode of "24", Jack Bower was pursuing his latest lead regarding the plot to control the President.........

I know. My race report is like "24". I have so much to write and am still very busy with work, spending time with Aimee and getting back into the swing with training. So here goes my Bike Report from IM USA.

I ran past several people mounting their bikes so I could do my running mount onto the bike. I had to clip in quickly because a quick left hand hairpin turn was ahead that dropped you down to the streets. Then down two more hills before reaching the main road heading out of town. I wasn’t surrounded by too may people but enough to keep you company. The first 9 miles was a rolling uphill ride along some beautiful roads. It was nothing hard just a steady climb away from Lake Placid. It was interesting riding because some people were better climbers and some were better downhillers. I’m more of a spinner up the hills as opposed to mashing gears that may get you up there faster. I was definitely a faster downhiller.

I was trading position with a female named Molly. She would pass me on the uphill and I would pass her on the downhill. The longer downhill started as we rode by two small lakes, just beautiful. At this point I passed Molly for what seemed like the 6th time. I looked over at her and said, “Molly we have to stop meeting like this.” I don’t know if she appreciated the humor or not as she looked over at me but I was having fun already. I cruised down the major downhill trying to stay away from other riders and I zipped by in the aero position. The roads were a little wet but that didn’t affect my effort going down. I was pretty aggressive. I don’t know when she passed me again but Molly did and then she was gone. I didn’t see her again until the run course. I couldn’t miss her, she was being escorted by a bike that said “1st amateur female”. Considering there were no pro women at the race, Molly was the 1st overall female.

So let’s get back to the bike. I was keeping my heart rate under control and perceiving my effort to be below all out exertion. This plan of attack was similar to how I raced the Mountaineer Half IM one month prior. I had my nutrition and was also taking bananas at the aid stations. As I approached the town of Jay I was on the lookout for my mother-in-law and Joe. Sure enough they were in the front yard of the B&B they were staying at. They gave me a loud round of cheers as I rode by. The rider next to me said, “That must be nice”. I replied that it was my M-I-L and she has to cheer for me. We quickly turned left and headed toward Wilmington. Immediately we are climbing. I was told it is a three mile climb. When we drove the course the incline didn’t seem like much. However, on a bike any incline is felt, especially when it doesn’t seem to end. Everyone was just trudging along. There were small groups of spectators in front yards and one duo in particular dressed in huge Afro wigs and sporting Harlem Globetrotter jerseys. He was so full of energy cheering on each person as they rode by. He was out there each time I rode that hill. As I looked up the rode I noticed an athlete standing in the middle of the road with his bike lying on the ground. He was looking for help, “650 Tubular, second flat”. Unfortunately the neutral bike sport motorcycle had just gone by the opposite way. I don’t know how he was expecting anyone to help by depleting their own supplies. I wonder what happened to him.

Heading into the town of Wilmington is a nice downhill section. We are about half way into the bike course now. Before heading back to Lake Placid the course turns north for an out and back section. Aimee had ridden her mountain bike from Lake Placid to Wilmington. It was a perfect place for her to see me twice without moving. She also saw some good wipe-outs as people took the corners too aggressively. This road is completely closed off for the race and we start to bunch up again. The rolling hills and narrower roads are full of people. As we climb up on hill the riders ahead are zipping back down on the other side. I just have to remember that I will be zipping back the other way soon also. At one point we are climbing the road in a pack of what seemed like 50. You couldn’t avoid it. You had to have some good bike handling skills to make quick movements to avoid being caught behind a slower rider. Everyone was great about letting people move over. I was vocal in telling people ahead of me, by yelling their name, they could move over or squeeze ahead of me. I was also the recipient of good sportsmanship as well. At the turn around the little town was hopping with activity. A huge Budweiser banner was strung across the street. The banner said Welcome Race Fans. I know it was more meant for NASCAR but it was actually fitting for our day. The aid station was busy and they had a DJ providing music.

We zipped back down the road to Wilmington and finally headed back towards Lake Placid. Route 86 back to LP is simply amazing. There is more uphill than downhill, but you also have the great views of Whiteface Mountain and the river next to the road. It was during this time I came up on Meridith LaRosa. My sister-in-law (Becky) works with Meridith’s neighbor (James); Me -> Becky -> James -> Meridith. Got it? I recognized her name and number since I looked them up in the race guide. I called out her name and explained the connection. I rode on and wished her good luck. She would pass me on the run and finish with a time of 11:05 and be in the top 15 women. James says she is a monster athlete.

The final climbs to LP is a three step process. I never really felt the difference between the three steps and was surprised when I was on the third called Papa Bear. The last uphill is the straightest part of the course and you get a great view of what is ahead of you. The road is closed and hundreds of people have lined up on both sides to cheer you up the hill. This was truly what the Tour de France must feel like. People are 3-4 feet away from you on both sides, clapping, cheering, ringing cow bells, banging thunder sticks and helping you get up that hill. We turn to the right and still have to climb up a little more. I thought we were done climbing when one more small climb appeared and there were awesome crowds cheering there as well. I gave it an extra little push because of the energy I was getting from the crowds.

After cresting the last climb we turn onto Lake Placid Drive and head towards downtown LP. Before reaching town I approached the bike special needs area. A volunteer with a walkie-talkie would relay the race number to a person with a mega-phone. A volunteer was waiting for me with my bag. I stripped off my gloves and arm warmers, leaving on my vest and leg warmers. I refilled my aero bottle and placed a full bottle on my frame. I grabbed a tube of Endurolytes and another Clif bar. I should have known things weren’t right when I only had to grab one Clif bar. My nutrition plan called for me to eat two bars each lap. I reasoned that it was okay because I was grabbing bananas at the aid stations. I left the special needs area and headed into downtown. Going around one corner I saw a water bottle fly across the road and a spectator quickly scooped it up. I thanked him for the quick action as I rode by. What a feeling to be riding through the closed off streets of Lake Placid with spectators lining both sides of the street. As I cut through the corners I heard my name called out on the PA system. So now I had to make a good showing. Don’t crash out in the turns but also look powerful as I ride by everyone. I made it through without incident. We crossed the timing mats for the first loop split and rejoined the course for lap two. Up to this point I had peed 2-3 times on the bike so I knew I was properly hydrated.

I kept myself under control for the second half of the bike. I was warned to not get overly pumped up for the second lap and conserve myself until after the big downhill. The roads were drier for the second loop and I bombed the downhill to Keene as fast as I could. I don’t know which loop was faster on the downhill but my max was 46MPH. I think with my race weight of 152 pounds that was as fast as I could have gone. I’m sure some of the heavier riders were topping out in the 50’s, but I didn’t want that weight during the climbs. I stayed steady during the second lap.

Along the climb between Jay and Wilmington I received a pleasant surprise. As an athlete began to ride past my on the left he called out my name. It was Jim Berbee, founder and Chairman of Berbee Information Networks, my employer. He is not as involved with the company anymore but is a multiple Ironman finisher. We shook hands and he asked me how I liked the course. All I could say was beautiful. Jim is a strong athlete at 42. We traded positions several times before he pulled ahead for good. I would later pass him on the run but he still finished in 12:21. He told me later that his run training wasn’t what it should have been and he suffered on the run.

I peed 2-3 more times while on the bike. I know some people are freaking out about peeing on the bike and yes guys have it easier than women, but you have to consider the time involved. I saw people stopping at porta-potties. I even saw people get off their bike and march into the woods 20 yards from the road. For a single pee break off the bike you could be spending 2-5 minutes decelerating, peeing and accelerating. Multiply that by 4 or 5 and you have lost anywhere from 8 - 30 minutes. Just something to think about. Actually during my last pee break during a small downhill section a guy rode by me and said, “That’s awesome”. Maybe he has never seen that before but I’m surprised that he didn’t think to ask about it from someone. Oh well.

As I approached the final hill on the bike course I was happy to see it. Not from a, “I can’t wait to get off the bike”, attitude but an “I can’t wait to get started on the run”. I never wanted to get my ass off the bike. I completely enjoyed riding 112 miles. As I attacked the final climb of the day Aimee was there waiting for me. She had ridden back from Wilmington to watch me on this final portion of the bike course. I loved seeing her on the course so much.

The same climbs back to Lake Placid Drive were missing some spectators who moved over to the run course but those left over were still cheering loudly. Making the left hand turn onto Lake Placid Drive I was greeted by the back end of an SUV. On the back of said support vehicle was a sign reading, “Last Cyclist”. I had caught the lantern rouge completing the first loop. I had to make a decision. The SUV was going too slow. I tried to pass near the curb and he also swerved that way. I moved to the driver side and tried to make contact with the driver to let him know I was going to pass. I finally made a sprint move past the SUV and also past the last rider. I tried to offer some words of encouragement. I checked the results and she wasn’t allowed to start her second loop, she only had a swim time in the results book. I cruised through the turns in the middle of town and made my way to the entrance to transition. As I rode behind Lake Placid High School I un-strapped my shoes and took my feet out. I swung my leg over the saddle and coasted to a stop before the timing mats standing on my left pedal. After I crossed the mat a volunteer grabbed my bike and told me to run right. I went around the oval towards the transition bags. A volunteer with a megaphone called out my number and a second volunteer went ahead of me and was holding out my bag. All I had to do was run by him, grab the bag and enter the changing tent.

Bike Time: 5:53:48

As I ran into the changing tent I asked for some work on my legs from one of the ART guys. I dumped my T2 bag out on the chair next to me and started taking off my socks, leg warmers and wind vest. A volunteer asked if I had everything I needed before he put my gear in the T2 bag and took it away. An ART guy came over asking if I needed sunscreen so I decided to have him spray some on. After I got my socks and shoes on I jumped on the ART table and had both hamstrings stretched out. When he was done stretching me out I stood up and someone put my fuel belt around me. I grabbed the reast of my stuff and headed out of the changing tent. As I crossed the timing matts and entered the street I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses on. Fortunately I had my hat on so I didn’t worry about it, I was running.

T2 Time: 4:48


TriSaraTops said...

Awesome!!! Sounds like fun. I'm getting so pumped!!!

Okay, okay...I'll make peace with peeing on the bike....:) But ONLY that day!

qcmier said...

Awesome.. can't wait for the good stuff - the run.

Jodi said...

Awesome reports!

One question about the peeing:
How do you avoid getting urine on your water bottles? I can imagine drenching both the bottle on the down tube and the back of the seat bottles. That is what grosses me out a bit.

Lloyd said...

Dude, I am in awe! Your cycling is tremendous.

Hurry up, you've got me in suspense for the run.

Cliff said...

Great report..Eric. I signed up for IMLP 2007. Reading your report word by word to understand how the course is like.

greyhound said...

Oh, just out for a little 112 mile ride in the country, after a wee swim of 2.4 miles and before jaunting 26.2.

Holy crap, dude. When exactly do you start to sweat?

Eric said...

He he, greyhound said wee. Jodi and Sara are commenting about peeing also.

Okay, I will get a post up next week specifically about peeing on the bike.

Run report WILL be posted this weekend. Thanks for being patient.

Hak said...


Again, a great report. I admire your efforts and respect the time commitment it takes just to toe the start line...especially for a family man who has to work for a living...even if you are from Cleveland (I was born and raised outside of the Toledo).

Just a reminder to write a post with photos showing us your running bike mount technique and perhaps even a peeing on the bike technique (I could do without the photos on that one).


E-Speed said...

you got a freaking massage and were out in less than 5 minutes? That's impressive!

Great ride!