So as I exit the changing tent at T1 the volunteers are there to slather us with sunscreen. I got a quick slather. I think the volunteers were in such a hurry, because they knew we were in a hurry, that they missed a spot or two. I have a couple of random burn spots on my shoulders, but nothing bad. Again, hats off to the volunteers. For some reason at T1 they had sunscreen lotion, but at T2 they used a spray.
I grab my bike and I’m off. Only 112 more miles to go on the bike. No big deal, right?
The bike course at Louisville is a “lollipop” route. You go out, ride a loop twice on one section of the course before turning back for home on the same route on which you went out. Officially there’s a little over 5,000 feet of elevation gain on this course over the 112 miles. My goal was a modest 16 miles per hour. I figured I’d average a little over that, but I set the goal to stay consistent throughout the ride. As long as my computer said I was still averaging 16-17 miles per hour I was happy. This would put me back at T2 after about seven hours on the bike.
I started the course with one water and two Powerades. I would drink the water pretty quickly and not keep any more than two bottles at a time. I didn’t want to carry the weight of four bottles over the entire course given there were plenty of aid stations where I could get replacements. I also took a number of nut bars, gels, and a Clif Bar. If I ate and drank everything onboard I’d consume around 2,300 calories on the bike. Oh, I had 12 salt tablets as well. I did pretty well with the fluids. I never ran out and I consistently consumed waters and energy drinks throughout the course. I couldn’t quite get all of my nutrition down, and I ran out of salt with probably 25 miles to go.
Twice I had to make a pit stop. That first one at about mile 21 was a doozy. I had the longest pee ever! After hydrating all morning and not taking a pee after the swim I had A LOT of urine onboard. Some triathletes talk about peeing on their bikes. I can’t bring myself to do it. If I were competing for a Kona slot, maybe. To be sure, that may be what it takes to qualify for Kona, and I’ll consider it once I’m at that point.
For me, the ride was uneventful. I mean, for a 112 mile ride through the Kentucky countryside it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t wreck. I saw a fellow who wiped out at the bottom of a hill. He already had volunteers surrounding him so I didn’t need to stop, but as I went by I heard ambulance sirens. I didn’t flat out, so that was good. No other mechanical problems. I didn’t find it too hot out there. Really, everything was fine, despite never having ridden that distance in my life. OK, I did 106 miles a couple of weeks prior, but that’s it. From the time I signed up for this race, around 10/01/13, I had ridden 1,151 miles, and 657 of those miles were on the trainer. Again, not saying that’s what you should do, but it’s what I did.
I came in just under the seven hour mark. I could have shaved a few minutes if I hadn’t taken those pit stops, but nothing super significant, maybe 10 minutes or so. I got to the dismount line and got off. The group I came in with, and I, all walked our bikes down to the volunteers and T2. Generally we’re jogging with our bikes as we come in, but not this day, not the group of seven-hour riders. Our legs weren’t ready for jogging (which doesn’t bode well because, well, we now have to run a marathon). The walk was so long back to T2, again about a quarter of a mile, and my toes were sore from being in my cycling shoes (which had never happened to me, I’m not sure what was going on), so I took my shoes off and walked in my socks. I hand my bike to a volunteer and I’m off to the changing tent once more.
The only other thing about the bike is the difficulty of not being in violation of the drafting rule. Drafting is against the rules in long course triathlon, and most short course races as well, but with 2,000 + riders it’s nearly impossible to follow the rule to a T. I did my best not to draft, and I saw several others trying to avoid it as well, but on certain congested sections of the road you couldn’t help but find yourself drafting (at least according to USAT rules). I didn’t get any penalties and I only saw one course official the whole ride. I’m sure they don’t concern themselves with the mere mortals riding at a seven hour pace.
So, I’m off and running.