Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ironman Wisconsin - Bike

The bike course goes out on the country roads of Dane County. It’s a nice 12 mile ride out to the city of Verona where the loop begins. People refer to it as the “stick” and the “lollipop” due to how it looks on paper.

The race plan called for a very controlled heart rate on the “stick”. I was to be in the low 130’s. My body however had different ideas. I was running around 140 BPM all the way to Verona. I finally saw 130 as I passed the special needs area. I was feeling fine, legs weren’t getting pushed hard, just a high heart rate.

I was eating and sipping Gatorade for the first hour of the ride along with a Z-Bar to eat. I would then switch to Perpetuem for the second hour. I planned on switching like this each hour to mix solid and liquid calories during the bike.

The bike was a normal ride through the country, only the hills were constant and sometimes steeper than expected. Hodska posted on his blog that this course will keep you honest. It will be rewarding if you prepared for it or punish you if the bike was neglected. My training was good for this course and I was hoping for the best.

You can’t explain a 112 mile bike ride in too much detail but I’ll at least give some highlights.

I was trading position with a girl that was riding very strong. Her race number was folded under her race belt so I didn’t know her name. Her bike was a nice Aegis painted green and yellow. I asked her if it was painted for the Green Bay Packers and she said no. As I rode in front of her she called out my name and asked if I do any power lifting. Something about power squats. I responded that I rarely weight train and actually hate weight lifting. She was impressed with my calves and said they looked good from her view. I told her I play soccer and the ham hock calves come from that.

At Mount Horeb I saw Hodska and Baker. Eric said he would call Angela with my status and Baker was taking video. I hope to see it some time. Not much further was an aid station where I took some water and a banana. My mom and dad had driven to this aid station and were cheering for me and waving signs they had made.

My favorite aid station was at Cross Plains. The volunteers and aid station were dressed in a Pirate theme. As I approached the aid station I raised my arm, hooked my finger and yelled “AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH”. The bottle drop was also labeled, “drop your booty here.”

After Cross Plains I had my first sighting of Mark Durno. Mark is an SBR teammate who was watching about six of us from Cleveland. He surprised me by being on the bike course but I managed to give him a wave as he took my picture. I knew I would be seeing him again.

Depending upon who you talk to there are 2, 3, or 4 hills on the bike course. There are many rollers but the actual hills are another story. I really only thought there were two major climbs and that is where the fan support is awesome. People were lined up on both sides of the road beating drums, ringing cowbells, waving signs, cheering you up the hill.

Heading into Verona there is a section near the high school where all of the spectators gather. There is an aid station at this point as well. The cool part is riding down a street that is covered in chalk. It’s hard to read all of the writing on the street when you are going 20 MPH but just the fact that the street was covered proved the crowd support was tremendous. Aimee, Rosana, Tammy and a couple other wives had taken the shuttle to this point to watch us ride by.

We zipped down the road between two rows of barricades. This got me all jacked up as I powered through the city. I looked down and saw my HR was 150…..whoa big fella….slow that heart rate down. After the barricades we approached a left hand turn. As I headed into the turn my bike was tracking right towards a small hole in the road. It was the natural way to take the turn but I was heading right for this thing. So in mid-turn I took the risk of giving the small hole a bunny hop. If the roads were wet I would have been down, but the dry pavement grabbed my wheels when I landed and I completed the turn.

After a couple more miles I was back to where we started the “lollipop” loop. Time for loop two. Just outside of town the bike special needs bags were lined up waiting for us. I stopped at the volunteer who had my bag and replaced all three bottles on my bike. I still had enough fuel with me so the remaining items stayed in the bag. While this was a nice break from riding I made sure to keep it short. I thanked the volunteers as I passed them.

As we headed West we could tell that the wind had picked up. Fortunately we wouldn’t be heading into the wind for very long. Most of the second loop was just a repeat of the prior. I saw my parents at Mount Horeb again which is always a boost to your morale. I also saw Debbie taking pictures on the course. She was waiting to see our friend Amy on the bike course.

As we headed towards the hills of the course I was passed by another rider. I looked at his calf and saw his age. I almost couldn’t believe what I saw. This person was 60 years old and riding strong. At one point I commented to him that I hope I will be riding that well in twenty years. Checking the results after the race he won his age group. He also came out of the water behind me….meaning he caught up to me on the bike. Damn.

The fan support during the second lap was still as strong as the first lap. At one point I was riding by and someone shouted out my first AND last name. I tried to look behind me at who it was but I couldn’t get a good view. I think it was a co-worker who lives in the Madison area.

As I went through Verona I kept myself under control and didn’t push the pace like I did the first time. The intersection with the hole in the middle of the corner was marked this time with orange paint so I could make the turn without any problems.

Heading back to Madison I kept the final 12 miles under control. There is one last hill that some people tend to forget about. Once I made it past that hill it was smooth sailing. I didn’t push hard into transition but put forth a solid effort. As we approached the helix up to the top parking deck I slipped my feet out of my shoes so I wouldn’t have to worry about it during the climb. Some spectators were cheering on the ramp and were telling people to take their feet out of their shoes. When I went by I heard one say, “oops he already did”.

Once I reached the top of the helix I rounded the corner and headed toward the bike handlers at the dismount line. One person yelled “orange” indicating the top of my jersey. I coasted toward him and handed off my bike.

I jogged into the room with our transition bags. A volunteer grabbed my bag as I approached and handed me the bag as I went by. Once inside the changing area I slipped off my helmet and grabbed my hat and race belt containing my PowerGels. There wasn’t much in the bag. I did a quick inventory, told the volunteer I had everything and said he could pack away the bag.

As I headed out the door I found the two guys I was looking for, ART doctors. ART is Active Release Technique. It helps release the tension in the muscles through the use of pressure and active movement. I asked them to work on my hamstrings. I did the same thing in Lake Placid and it worked wonders. They each worked on my legs to prepare the hamstrings for the marathon. Once they were done I thanked them and headed outside.

So yes Alan, I had another massage in T2 with a smokin’ transition time.

Through the door I was greeted by a line of women waiting to rub my body. Of course they were wearing rubber gloves covered in sunscreen. A quick rubdown with sunscreen and I was heading out to the run course.

Bike time: 5:46:53
T2 time: 3:48


Anonymous said...

The whole rub down at T2 makes me want to do an IM

Flatman said...

WOOT! That is an awesome bike split...way to go man!

Can't wait to hear about the run... :)

Anonymous said...

Okay, now on to the run. Nice report so far. I, too, liked the pirate themed aide station, the support on the 2 major climbs and Verona. By the way, it's nice to know someone else noticed the hill on the "flat lollipop section" of the course heading back in. - Mary

triguyjt said...

great narrative on the bike....

man you were flying... plus that transistion complete with the ART was still pretty darn quick...

glad you did not wipe out on that turn.....

look forward to the run stuff..
say hi to your lovely bride for me

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric. Looking forward to the rest. Also thanks for the encouragement during Akron, much appreciated.

Cliff said...

That was a smoking time in T2 plus the massage.

From what i heard IM Moo has a lot of rollers and turns. Do you find it hard to eat and drink?