Here’s where we left off with the swim.
Bike – 90K (56 mi)
It was fun to get on the bike, although slightly overwhelming to think of the distance that lay ahead. During the swim, all I was able to think about was the swim. Now it was easier for my thoughts to get carried away knowing I had so far to ride (and then run). I pep-talked myself into staying in the moment, to focus on what I was doing right now and that’s it.
First things first, I made sure to take in a good amount of fluid since I had not had any since before the start. Then I had to settle into the ride, finding my position and (hopefully) some open road. Right away I could tell that it was not going to be a comfortable ride. Rather than resting my elbows on the aero pads in the usual position, I had to pull back by several inches in order to keep pressure off my bad spot. It was immediately uncomfortable for my back and I also found that my knees were then touching my elbows with every stroke. Sitting slightly farther back on the seat seemed to help with that, but it was not exactly the best way to go into such a long ride. I willed myself not to dwell on it, and instead focused on what I could control – monitoring my speed/exertion and taking in nutrition/hydration on schedule.
I should mention that this was my first time taking in nutrition or reaching down for a water bottle on the bike while riding. On training rides, I have always done so only when stopped since I am too nervous to take a hand off the bike. I was counting on the race environment taking care of my nerves, and it seemed to work. I didn’t have too much of an issue, but definitely need to start practicing this on all rides so it becomes easier.
As usual, I had a lot of people to pass from the get-go. It was pretty crowded and people were riding in clusters or lines all over the place (drafting illegally!). It was driving me crazy and made it very difficult to pass. Unfortunately this continued for the duration of the race. I leap-frogged with a few groups in particular several times and I was constantly paranoid about getting dinged for drafting even though I was trying to keep out of it. So frustrating! (I found out later that over 70 drafting penalties were given – good to know that everyone was not getting away with it.)
Other than that, I was enjoying the ride. It was a scenic route on quiet country roads. They were open to traffic but I encountered very few vehicles and all intersections were well controlled by police. It was also pancake flat, which was great for me especially since I could not easily reach my gears in my modified position. I was in “cruise control” mode for most of the race (aside from passing) and maintaining a steady effort. I switched my bike computer to show average speed only and it stayed between 34.2 and 34.7 (KPH) for the entire ride.
During the first half of the ride, I had a string if mishaps including:
- disposable bottle got stuck in the cover of my aero bottle during a refill, pulling it off and sending it flying
- right shoe came undone and despite trying to fix it several times while riding, I could not get it right. (honestly, how do people put their shoes on and take them off while in motion on the bike??)
- hit a bad pothole, which sent my taped-on gels flying and popped open my rear storage box, sending my repair stuff flying as well
I was still able to drink from the aero bottle; it just meant that I had no splash protection, but this was manageable. I could tolerate the loose shoe situation. I was riding with the lid of my rear storage box hanging down and knocking my wheel or shoe occasionally. More than one cyclist pointed it out and I thanked them, but I didn’t want to stop until the aid station. At this point, my biggest concern was having no more nutrition and being only half way through the ride. An aid station came up around 60K so I pulled over, quickly closed my box, grabbed a water refill and two gels then got on my way.
Thankfully, the rest of the ride was uneventful. I had a lot more space in the later miles and often rode quite a distance without seeing another cyclist, which was okay by me. I liked having the opportunity to zone out a little bit. That being said, I found the ride to be very mentally exhausting. It’s tough staying so focused and sharp for so long, which is essential for safety reasons. I found the ride to be much more demanding on my mind than my body and for that reason in particular, I was ready to get off the bike.
I had another clumsy moment after dismounting, running around a sharp corner into transition where I tripped and nearly dropped my bike. Whoops! There was a collective gasp from the crowd waiting in the area. I just wanted to give them some excitement. 😉
90K (56 mi) – 2:36:53 – 34.4 KPH (21.4 mph)
3/15 F30-34, 119/403 overall
Calories consumed: 700 (2 pkg Shot Bloks, 3 Gu) + 100 in T1 (1/2 waffle)
Salt Stick caps (stats): 1 (planned 2 during ride but lost 1) + 1 in T1
h2o: ~80 oz
I ran to rack my bike and noticed that transition was still looking pretty bare, which was a good feeling. Racked the bike, helmet off, swap shoes, grab handheld and off I went!
T2 = 1:00
Meanwhile, Hubs and Miles were having an exhausting day themselves…