Friday, September 15, 2017

The Season Finale: Out of the Ice Bath and Into the Freezer: LP 70.3 Bike

The Lake Placid bike course starts with a very steep but short downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom.  In previous years, there used to be a big bump half way down the road but that has been fixed.  The one year G and I volunteered we were stationed at the bump and had to warn people to slow down.  This year there was no worry about launching a bottle or anything else off your bike in the first few hundred meters.  You still had to be careful at the turn.  I didn't see any hay bales lining the corner this time around.  Probably because it wasn't wet out.

As soon as I clipped in, I went whipping down that hill.  I was immediately grateful for my last minute decision to put on my rain jacket.  Sure it wasn't going to be the most aero thing but I wanted to stay warm.  My legs and toes on the other hand, were FREEZING.  I could not feel my feet.  I held my effort in check for the first few kilometres.  I took a gel, and settled into my aerobars.  Once I got out of town, I started to push the pace.  There were a lot of people on the course.   I was feeling pretty good, other than my legs were really cold.  According to my Garmin, it was 3.9 degrees when I started the bike.  Had I been going out for a training ride, I would have covered my legs.

Having ridden the bike course more times than I can remember, I was very familiar with most of it.  They changed the course slightly in the last few years.  There used to be one out and back section in Wilmington, which was beautiful.  That has been taken out and has been replaced by TWO out and backs.  The first of which came at about 6km into the bike after the big downhill by the ski jumps.  I flew down that hill and used the momentum to push up the climb that followed.  I could hear someone coming up behind me, so I moved closer to the shoulder to let them pass.  All I heard was "Nice butt" and I turned to see G go flying by me up the hill.  I was a little surprised to see him as I figured he would have been out of the water before me.  I watched him motor up the climb.  I was spinning my legs, trying to measure my effort.  I eventually caught up to a huge group of people so I went around them and started pushing.  I stayed out and just kept passing people.  I couldn't believe the amount of people on the course.  It was just as bad as Tremblant if not worse.  I could see G just up ahead of me.  I kept motoring up the hill.  I crested the top and then made the descent towards the first out and back.

I made the turn onto a road I've ridden by so many times.  It was the road into the bobsled track.  It had been recently paved so riding through here was awesome.  I stayed in aero as much as possible.  Again, it was super crowded in here so I was dodging a lot of people.   The course took us right up to the entrance of the bobsled track where we turned around and went back out.  I could still see G.  He was probably only about 600m or so in front of me.  After we exited the out and back, we started climbing again.  Once again, I got caught in a large group of people.  Once again, I pulled out and pushed up the climb.  I was closing in on G.  Eventually I caught him and passed him.  And, it got caught on camera, ha ha.

Sorry honey, you're getting chicked 
That didn't last for too long.  He caught me and passed me about 5 minutes later.  I realized I hadn't heard my Garmin buzz so I glanced down at it and noticed that all too familiar screen.  The screen that meant that I was in transition.  CRAP.  So I hit lap and glanced down again only to see the run leg come up.  DAMMMMITTTTTT.  I had done it again.  I had managed to screw up my race stats.  I don't remember hitting lap three times before I got on the bike but apparently I did.  Luckily it was only about 8km into the bike.  So I stopped the activity and saved it and then started all over again.  All of this while I was climbing.  The descent into Keene was coming up and I wanted to make sure I was recording the bike segment because I wanted to see how fast I could get going down that descent (Strava told me my max speed was 73.4 kph!).

THAT is a serious downhill.

My eyes started watering as we headed down the descent and once again I was incredibly grateful I had pulled on my rain jacket at the last minute.  Not really being able to see while going down this descent is scary as fuck.  I kept blinking hard to clear the water from my eyes, all while sitting in my aerobars.  I gotta say, I have come a LONG way.  A couple of years ago I wouldn't have even attempted this in my aerobars.   Now I was fully in aero position, tucked as far in as possible, pedalling as much as possible.  Downhills are free speed, if you coast, you're not taking FULL advantage.  I had been yo-yoing back and forth with a woman and I really wanted to drop her.  I figured this would be my chance.  So I hammered the descent.   I sat up for a bit through the wide s-turns but immediately got back into my aerobars.  She was right behind me.  As we came down to the bottom, there's a wide right hand turn.  That turn managed to get fairly congested.  Someone tried to pass me on the inside, which is totally legal but I had no where to move over to so he had to stay behind me until we got out of the turn.

Heading in Jay, I knew this next section was going to be flat and fast and it did not disappoint.  It was also so incredibly congested, it was almost impossible to maintain 6 bike lengths from anyone.  There was a lot of surging to get by people but I always seemed to end up around the same group of people. That girl was in there and I watched her draft off a few guys.  Annoying.  The draft packs along here were ridiculous.  There were also several guys who were completely fucking clueless.  They were riding all over the road, blocking and weaving in and out of people.  Yet they just didn't seem to really get anywhere.  I tried hard to get away from them but I just couldn't.   Once in a while I'd find these little gaps so I'd try to take advantage of them.

Cruising along by the river
The second out and back on the course came along this section.  On the old course, you'd get through Jay and Upper Jay and then hang a left and start climbing into Wilmington.  Now, you continued past the turn and rode out about 9km before you turned around and rode back.  This section was also fairly flat.  Well, it was a false flat so it was easy on the way out and a bit harder on the way back.  By the time I got to the turn around, I had to pee so bad, it was uncomfortable for me to be in aero.  So I was in and out of my aero bars through here.  My legs were also starting to feel it.  I was having trouble holding my power.  My feet had finally warmed up but my legs were still cold and I think that's why I couldn't hit my power numbers.

My legs may have been cold but all the layers I had on on top were starting to feel really hot.  I took my gloves off and shoved them down my vest.  I knew once I started climbing I'd have to remove something.  As I got closer to the turn to start the climb into Wilmington, the sun came out in full force.  I started the climb and was totally dying so I stopped just past the aid station to remove my rain jacket and my disposable arm warmers.  I tossed those and packed up my vest and shoved it into my vest pocket.  That felt much better.  Now I was ready to roll.  People were strung out all along this climb.  I pulled into the road and just started passing everyone.  This climb is a long grinder, which is exactly the type of climb that I love.  I motored up it no problem.  I had forgotten about the rollers on this part of the course.  There was a fun descent and then a nice flat spot, followed by some more climbing.  I got a little chilly on the descent but it wasn't too bad.  I flew along through here.  I glanced down at my bike computer to see where I was at distance wise (thankfully I had that as back up for distance and time).  I had just under 20km left to go.  Knowing what was ahead, I started doing the math.  I figured I'd be lucky if I squeaked in under 3 hours on the bike.  Not what I had hoped for going into this race.

I made the turn onto Highway 86 to start the climb back into Lake Placid.  The first part of this climb is horrible.  It's a false flat that really is a grinder and there is ALWAYS a headwind here.  Always.  Today was no exception.  It wasn't horrible but it was enough to affect your forward momentum.  I still really had to pee and that urge had reached critical.  I wasn't going to stop by the side of the road as I'd get a penalty if I got caught.  So, I peed on the bike.  The minute I felt it on my leg I got so grossed out, I stopped peeing.  It was only a little bit but it was enough to relieve the pressure I was feeling.  I figured it was enough to get me to transition.

I got back into my aerobars and spun my legs up the false flat.  I was still passing people so that was good.  The course then starts to climb in earnest.  I was starting to get cold as the road was in the shade and with the headwind, my hands were starting to freeze again.  So I pulled out my gloves and put them on.  I saw Tara P along here and we commiserated about the cold.  With my hands covered I felt better.  My legs were still feeling cold and I was riding more in my small chain ring than my big chain ring, which is not normal for me.  My power was dwindling.  I caught the girl I had been yo-yoing with earlier.  I don't actually remember her passing me but obviously she did.  I think everyone was suffering from the ill effects of the cold.  After some more climbing, the course flattens out for a bit and you can get some good speed along this section by the High Peaks Gorge.   But, you are in the mountains so the flat doesn't last for long.  We started climbing again and I knew the 3 Bears were coming up.  I had ridden them multiple times and the only kind of tough one is Papa Bear, the last one.  I flew up the first two climbs in the big ring and flipped to the small ring for Papa Bear.  Again, not normal but my legs did not feel good.  After the climb, you turn right and are faced with another short really steep climb about 1km in.  That is by far the worst climb because it comes at the worst possible time.  After that, the course is mostly downhill and flat to the finish.  All I could think about was getting off my bike.  I flew along Mirror Lake Drive, took the turn onto the back road really quickly, powered up the hill by the post office and made the wide sweeping turn onto Main Street.  There were a TON of spectators out cheering which was awesome.

I made the final turn off Main street and made my way around the back of the school in up to the dismount line.  I was watching my Garmin the entire time.  I was hoping I'd come in at 2:55 but no, it was 2:56 and change when I crossed the timing mat.  I was SO happy to get off my bike.  I hobbled into T2 and found my rack.  I looked around and only saw ONE other bike on the 3 racks around me. SWEET.

Official Bike:  2:56:53.  Fastest bike in my AG and the 10th fastest bike split overall.  Guess I didn't suck as bad as I thought I did!

I racked my bike, took off my helmet and debated about going into a porta potty.  I knew trying to get my tri suit off would be time consuming and difficult so, I plopped myself down on the grass and peed while I pulled off my vest and cycling shoes and put on my running shoes.  It was like Niagara Falls.  I sat there for much longer than I should have but I wanted to make sure I didn't have to go again on the run.  I grabbed my wet towel that I had used to dry off after the swim and gave myself a quick wipe down.  The girl that I had yo-yoed with on the bike was now in T2.  She had a whole lot of clothing to get off.  I think she was in my AG as she was racked fairly close to me.  I grabbed my hat, stood up and started running.  I felt better but my legs didn't feel awesome.  Here goes nothing, I thought.

T2:  2:48.

I was in the home stretch.  I hoped that I could hold on for a strong finish.

Stay tuned for the run.....

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