The Bike
Now I was on my bike. I was happy to be done with the swim! The bike and run were more familiar territory for me. I was spinning the cranks, working at keeping my heart rate between 138 and 158. My Cateye V3 bike computer was great, since I had my heart rate right there in front of me.
I was already a little familiar with what the bike course would be like. I had watch a video where Heather Gollnick had ridden section of it. I had watched the DVD of the 2007 Louisville Ironman. I have another DVD where it is a virtual ride of the course. Then I had gone over the course on MapMyRide to locate where the steepest parts were, and how steep they were. I knew the first/last part was flat but rough. And yes it was. I rode along over the bumpy road, while trying to eat some Fig Newtons. I was also drinking Pepsi to get some calories and fluids following my swim.
I was happy with my swim time. I didn’t know my actual swim time then. I looked at my watch in the transition test, and it said 1:45. I had estimated my time to be about 1:40 if I had gotten to wear a wetsuit. I was thinking about 1:45 without one. For the bike I was thinking my time would be about 7:30-8:00. I did the Tupper Lake Tinman bike course in 3:27. But that was half the distance, and I had swam only 1.2 miles in a wetsuit. So double that and add some time.
A few miles into the ride, I passed a guy jogging on the other side of the road. I heard something like “Go Rob!” I glanced over my shoulder but couldn’t tell who it was, as I was already a ways down the road. I figured it was Oaks or Shannon.
After the flat start, came rolling hills. At one spot on the road, someone had painted the word Ironman with a circle and slash through it. Apparently some people aren’t thrilled about the race. Somewhere around this area, there was a large tree branch laying across the should of the road. Bikes were swerving around it. I saw a police officer walking down towards it, to remove it. Later, I wondered if someone had thrown it there on purpose to thwart the cyclists. I have read reports of kids throwing sticks at cyclists, or throwing large sticks into the road, maybe hoping to see a crash…
I came to the first steep hill and knew it was probably one of the steepest hills on the course. But I powered right up it.
I loved the out and back portion of the course. I think I passed my first hour on the bike in this section as I remember taking a gel. I didn’t take my gels every hours, but was taking them about every 15 miles or so. The first part of the out and back is kind of flat, followed but a fast downhill. I was down on my aerobars, and coasted picking up speed and distance. That was followed by a long uphill. I like climbing. I get lots of practice where I live. I took advantage and stood on my cranks a bit to stretch my legs out. At the top of the hill, you go around a cone, and over a timing mat. Then you get another fast downhill. I tended to pass people on the downhills for some reason. I think many people are skittish about going to fast. Personally, I avoid the brakes at all costs, and stay aero, pulling my knees in. Then after the fast downhill, there was of course another climb.
We were supposed to avoid drafting by keeping a 4 bike length gap between us and the bike ahead of us. But in these early parts, that was just impossible. There were just too many bikes. I did try to not be riding anybody’s back wheel though.
I passed many expensive bikes many with disc wheels. I loved the distinctive sound of the disc wheels. The whir, whir, whir sound. I even worked out what the sound was during my long ride. The sound is not really created by the disc wheel itself. The big carbon fiber wheel is acting more like a speaker that is amplifying sounds of the road noise, and the chain going over the cogs of the cassette. Sounds cool though!
After the out and back, I was out on the main road again for a while. Then I was on the loop. On my first pass of the loop I got to see some of the pros go by on their second loop. You could tell they were the pros, because their bib #s were a slightly different color. Amazing, they weren’t going blazingly faster than the rest of us. But they were going slightly faster, and did disappear ahead of us. Not sure if I saw any of the leaders. Maybe they had already gone by.
Not too far into the first loop, I passed a guy dressed in a red devil suit cheering the riders on.
One of the best parts of the course is in the loop. It is riding through the town of LaGrange. There are tons of people here cheering on the riders. As I rode through LaGrange, I waved my arms, to egg the crowds on. They got really loud, and I had fun.
Then I was out of town. After LaGrange, you ride on for a bit. Then there is a pretty good downhill with a sharp left turn at the bottom. This is one of the more dangerous parts of the course from what I had heard. I managed to take it at a pretty good clip. It was pretty reminiscent of a corner I ride at home.
Then we were on a narrow country road with short rolling hills. Back here was an aid station. I finally took the opportunity to get off my bike, stretch my legs, and use a porta potty. I downed a gel, and drank some water. I also poured some cold water over my head.
After a bit, I took off riding again. My bike computer had stopped registering my speed. I stopped and resynced it. I had had this problem occasionally. I got a new sensor unit from Cateye, but have come to think that it was operator error. That the unit may have gone partially to sleep, and that I needed to wake it up by pressing one of the buttons. Still working on that.
I got going again. I passed many people repairing flat tires. There was a guy on a scooter riding around and helping people fix their bikes. Great job guy! My bike was making various strange noises. There was a ticking sound what seemed every second or third rotation of the cranks. And it felt like my left foot was racing to catch up with my right foot. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. (When I got home, I found my left crank arm was loose)
Along the way, I grabbed bananas from volunteers, drank Pepsi and water, ate gels, Fig Newtons, and even a Snickers bar. My Pepsi ran out, and I started drinking some orange Gatorade. I didn’t like it much.
Then I was out on the main road again. More pros passed me. I was on this road for a while. I passed a sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead, and saying finish. But they was not in my cards yet. I had to take the left turn and start my second loop. I seemed to be making pretty good time. I needed to be off the bike by 10.5 hours after the last swimmer entered to water. I should easily make that.
Before LaGrange, I came to the special needs bag pickup. Shortly before you get there, you shout your number. Then as you get up ahead, they have you bag ready. I got my bag, and starting pulling stuff out. I had two 24oz bottles of Pepsi, gus, Snickers bars, and more Fig Newtons. I got the stuff I wanted, and trashed the bag.
Then as I was coming into the LaGrange for my second time, I said to another cyclist, “Want to see something cool?” I rode up ahead, and again egged on the crowds in LaGrange. It was fun and I am easily amused.
I again stopped at the same aid station I did before. I used the porta potty again. I stretched my legs, and borrowed some sunblock from one of the volunteers. The volunteers were great!
Then after a while I was back on the main road. More flat tires. I heard from people after the race, that someone had put tacks out along the course. Near the finish of the second loop, a guy in front of me suddenly stuck out his left leg. I asked if he was alright. He asked if I heard anything. I told him no, just the sound of his Zipp wheels. He asked me if he had a flat. I looked, and both tired looked fine. But I kept watching, and then noticed his read tire was now starting to look low. I told him, and he stopped.
Now I was passed the turnoff for the loop. I was in the final stretch. I just kept cranking along. I was passing lots of riders now. On one downill section, I was coasting and gaining speed. I was coming up behind a guy slowly passing another rider. I yelled on your left. He didn’t move. I was getting closer. On your left!!! He didn’t move. I screamed, 19## ON YOUR LEFT!!! He moved over a bit, and I flew passed between him and an orange safety cone. I DID NOT want to hit my brakes. I started cranking even a little harder, pissed off at this moron for blocking.
I came to the steep hill that I climbed up earlier in the day, and flew down it passing more riders. It amazed me how many riders did not take advantage of their aerobars of the downhills. It was like this all along the course.
Then I got to the flat section and focused on spinning the cranks. I was maintaining a speed of 20-21mph and flying by other cyclists.
It was in the final section that I met up with Shannon. I think he was riding the other way, and I passed him. He easily caught up with me and rode with me for a little bit. We chatted while I continued cranking away. Soon, Shannon peeled off, and I made my way to the finish. The last mile or two is littered with rough patches on the road, and some potholes. I maneuvered my bike around these and kept going. As I approached the finish, volunteers were warning us to slow down for a sharp turn and bump. I slowed and hopped my bike over the bump as best I could. I came to the dismount line, and jumped off the bike. I pushed it to the transition entrance. A volunteer took my bike and I ran to get my run bag. Okay, I didn’t run. I sort of hobbled. I was hoping that my legs loosened up soon. Someone had said the bike course was long, maybe about 115 miles. But I hit the finish with almost exactly 112 miles on my bike computer.
I had arrived back in transition well under nine hours. I had a great shot to finish under 14 hours. I had debated about how fast to run. While on the bike, I pretty much decided to run it easy, and not risk blowing up.