IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, April 02, 2007

John Fraser Report

Cyclists must not like to get up early. As I reviewed the information before the race, I realized that the first cyclist didn't take off until 10:00am. I had requested an early start, which turned out to be around 10:30. I've been to some triathlons where I've arrived to transition, had 90 minutes to arrange my transition area and chat with other triathletes, I then swam, biked and ran, took advantage at some of the post-race food, chatted with other triathletes, gone back to my transition area and packed up my stuff and was in the car heading home before 10:30am!!

On the drive out to the race, I must've glanced at the temperature guage in the car at least two dozen times. I watched it slowly move from 51 degrees to 56 degrees. Another difficult thing for me with cycling is that I am still not sure how to dress. For this event, I brought just about everything. I had a thin hat for under my helmet. I had a thin under armor and a thick, long-sleeved one. I had a short-sleeved jersey and arm warmers. I had half-finger gloves and full-finger gloves. I had a thick jacket and a thin windbreaker. I had shorts and long tights. Oh, and toe covers, of course. The temperature this day, however, isn't what scared me. It was the wind. Now, I know the weather forecasters said we were in for some wind, but as we drove by and saw flags standing completely out and the ends flapping uncontrollably, I knew this was going to be an uncomfortable bike ride.

Check in at bike races is also completely different than triathlon. It's quick and hassle-free. There is no Expo, there are no goody bags, you don't wear a chip for timing, etc. Pretty much, you just go in, give your name and they give you your bib. And you get out. Cool, now it's time for a warm-up.

I dressed a little cooler than I thought I'd need to be dressed, pumped up the tires on my bike and headed out for a little spin. As I headed north on the main road, I reached close to 30mph almost effortlessly. Uh oh, I thought, this only means that coming back is going to be painful! I rode up a few minutes, enjoying the beautiful tailwind and then turned heading west. Almost immediately, I had to get out of the aero position because I couldn't control the front wheel. The wind was a bit gusty, and it never really stopped. This tired me quickly so I turned around earlier than I planned. The way back, same thing, extremely difficult to control the bike. Then I turned heading south and....wow, I felt like I was stopped in my tracks. It was like hitting a brick wall. The wind was so strong, I was pumping hard, but the mph showed only 12 mph. As I watched other bikers coming out on this same stretch, enjoying the tailwind, I just thought to myself, "wait until you guys have to come back this way!"

I headed back to my car to drop off some things I wouldn't need for the race, made a pit stop and headed over to the start line. Here is where things go surprisingly fast. They send of a cyclist every 30 seconds. It's amazing how chaotic it all looks with everyone in their colored uniforms all riding around haphazardly, but as soon as they reach the cones, everyone immediately gets in line according to start time.

Before I knew it, there was a guy holding up my bike from behind so you can clip in with both feet. I was given a 10 second warning then a 5 second countdown. Before I even have time to get nervous about the race, it's go time! The guy holding the bike gives you a little push and just like that, you're on you're way. I started spinning and shifting up quickly.

Just when you get into a groove, here comes the first turn. I'm not really comfortable with turns, so I'm sure I slow down a lot more than some of these more experienced cyclists, but right after the turn, I start pushing again.

Almost immediately, I have to remind myself that I have 10 miles to go and coming back is going to be really difficult. Now is not the time to expend too much energy. The course is really smooth and flat, for the most part. I put the bike up into the big chain ring and tried to find a good, strong rhythym. I think I was only 3 miles into the course when I was passed for the first time...and then got passed again almost immediately after that. Well, that sucks! This means these guys were already 30 seconds and a minute ahead of me and I wasn't even half way through the course! (I learned later they were even further ahead of me than I thought). The wind didn't seem so bad, so I was trying to take advantage of that without blowing up. However, as I watched the cyclists coming back (this was an out and back course), I could see the grimaces on their faces and I knew the ride back was NOT going to be pleasant!

Then came the turnaround. And I'm VERY slow at this one. I know I need to practice it! It just seems like such a narrow space to turn around. The volunteer pretty much shakes his head at me for how slow I go around, but hey, I didn't unclip this year! And then the wind hits. Truth is, it was there on the whole way out, which I didn't feel so much, but on the way back, it once again tried taking control of my front wheel. As soon as I was able to get a little speed going, I had to put it back down into my small chain ring in the front.

OK, I thought, a little less than 5 miles of this. This strong wind made going up the couple of small hills on the course seem very difficult. Once again, I saw the speedometer drop to 12 mph and I couldn't believe that was as fast as I could go given the effort I was putting out. My nose was running, but I didn't dare take my hands off the handle bars. The wind was gusting almost regularly which, again, gave me trouble steering. I felt like my whole bike was leaning to the left in order to prevent being blown over by the crosswind. And toward the last 2-3 miles of the ride, it felt like the wind would slow down and it became quiet, so I'd crank up the gears on my bike to try and pick up speed. Unfortunately, the wind only subsided for a few seconds, so as soon as I'd get my bike in a higher gear, the wind started up again and I'd have to shift back down. My front wheel was all over the place and it was more than just a bit unnerving.

I was really happy when this ride was over! I think this was one of the toughest rides I've done. I can only remember one that was tougher - a century ride where we had strong winds coupled with much colder weather. And at that time, I was completely unprepared with what to wear on a ride in those conditions.

I saw lots of Apaches during the ride, but everyone is so hard to recognize when they're going by so fast! As I went back to my care, I saw some other Apaches preparing to race and wished them well. Here's Pascale warming up.


And then we have Liz and Stan warming up.


Unfortunately, I had some things to do in the afternoon, so I couldn't stay to watch the rest of my fellow Apaches race. There was a bit of concern about the wind, of course, but now it looked like it might rain. However, as I look at the results I can see they did well and I'm honored and proud to have them as friends and call them my teammates!

1 comment:

Kim said...

Those Apache kits are so hot! Congrats, MJ!!