IMLP: The Bike

Transition 1 time (swim -to-bike): 9:14

The Bike

As athletes were  running though the Olympic Oval, there were volunteers on walkie-talkies relaying athlete’s numbers, so that once you got closer to your bike, a volunteer was there with your bike waiting. I ran the bike to the mount line, pulled to the side (so I would not be murdered by other athletes on their bikes), and hopped on the seat that would be the place I’d sit put for the next 7+ hours. Right after I mounted, I heard someone call my name which made me smile (anytime someone shouts your name you get a little burst of energy). Heading out onto the bike course has a couple sharp turns, and is downhill, so I took my time. I ate a luna bar and the bike portion of IMLP began.

The course heads down through Lake Placid, past the famous ski jumps, and then has a gradual 7 mile incline before you head down the famous Keene Descent. Having read as many Lake Placid race course information guides/blogs as I possible could in the past couple of months, I came to LP fearing this descent. People said it was dangerous, curvy, fast, and terrifying. To me, going down from Tannersville to Palenville on a tribike is terrifying, and I assumed this descent would be the same. But I was mistaken. The descent itself is not scary– it is all the crazy triathletes around you that is the scary part. I stayed to the left because I love going fast, but I soon realized that “slower cautious” triathletes had the tendency not to stick to the right side of the road and veer right in front of me, I had to slow down a bit (note: I think it is presumed that if you plan on being slow, you stay to the right side of the road, so that speed demons can be on the left). People can reach 50+mph on that road. I, however, was not one of them.

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Looking back at part of the Keene descent (not on race day!)

Anyway, I heard in the Endurance Nation talk that you should be conservative on the first loop of the ride, and let everyone pass you; you should focus on nutrition and hydration during the first 30 miles (after the descent that is). So, that is what I tried to do. From mile 7 to 30, it is basically descent and flats: perfect for eating/drinking. My goal was to take in one cliff bar per hour (~230-240cals) and take in water ever 20-25 minutes. Then, depending on how much I sweat, take 1-2 salt tabs/hour. I went as fast as my legs felt comfortable: I knew the course was long, so I didn’t feel the need to go super fast.

1105_042575

At about mile 35 you start going uphill from Jay to Wilmington. I was prepared for this (thanks to the EN talk!) and at this point I was starting to feel a bit hot. (Mistake to wear arm warmers!) From this point until you head back into Lake Placid, it is basically 21 miles of gradual uphill. But, gorgeous uphill, with rivers and amazing views. Within the last 10 miles of the course are what are called “the Three bears”: Mama bear, baby bear, and pappa bear. These are three hills. Truth be told, they actually aren’t the worst hills in the world (right after pappa bear, which is the steepest of the three, there is another little hill that you need to go up–I think they should call that one grandpa bear) and all the climbing I’ve done in the Catskills and Gunks really prepared me well for the bike course. On each side of Pappa Bear there are people cheering you on, which is pretty cool.

Back in town, you stop at the bike special needs to grab anything you might need. I took off my arm warmers and made another mistake by putting on sun sleeves which were NOT at all “cooling” like they advertised. In fact, they were BOILING. Right when I was heading back to on the second loop of the bike, I saw my friend Lisa which was pretty cool, as I seem to have missed Kevin and Jen.

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The second loop I did the same thing: focus on nutrition and to just keep pedaling. I stopped at an aid station to get sun tan lotion applied, since the sun sleeves had to go. The aid stations were great. People are ready to help with whatever you need, even if that is spraying on sunscreen.

After that stop, I started to feel waves of nausea ripple through my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was because I wasn’t hydrating enough, or over hydrating, or not eating enough. I just kept pedaling and tried not to think of the nausea. Then, a friend Don pulled up beside me (yay!!! a familiar face!) and asked how I was doing. “Honestly, I’m feeling kinda sick right now and don’t know what to do.”

He suggested maybe taking it easy on the nutrition and sticking to water for a bit. (The food in my stomach was probably sloshing around unable to be digested as fast as I was eating.) I welcomed any advice at this point, and, eventually, the nausea subsided.

Similarly to the swim, I tend to count miles on the ride– only 30 miles left. Only 15miles left. I know rides around my house that are those distances, and it makes it easier to “determine” how much longer I would be on the bike.

When we hit mile 100, I was ready to be off. I was done with riding. My feet started to scream at me with sharp pain and each pedal stroke was miserable. I tried imagining I was pedaling on water to help ease the pain. It didn’t work. I tried to take a bike of a cliff bar, because I had not been keeping to my nutrition plan (due to the stomach issues) and one bite made me want to vomit. Cliff bars had become repulsive. So I sipped gatorade and tried some cliff gummies. I kept waiting for the three bears to come along and it seemed like forever until I saw the little markings for the bears on the road. Once I passed Pappa Bear and headed towards town I started getting a little emotional. (Being emotional is a common theme for me in this race). I could feel tears filling my eyes thinking, “I’m almost done with the bike! I’m almost 2/3 done!” Coming back into town is amazing, because there are lots of people along the course encouraging you to keep going. I saw Jen and Kevin and was so excited– I was scared that I would miss them in town because I had not been very precise with my timing.

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on!

My favorite picture: this is my friend Jen cheering me on! She was literally a foot in the air!

Then before heading back into the Olympic Oval, I was surprised to see my parents which was exciting. I never give up the opportunity to wave while on the bike, as you can see.

Hiiiii

Hiiiii

I dismounted the bike, and was beyond joyful that I was off the bike and had only one more thing to complete: the run!  Volunteers grabbed your bike from you, and I ran to grab my run bag and head back into the women’s changing tent.

Elevation profile of the ride

Elevation profile of the ride

Bike time: 7:29 (pretty stoked since it was my first ride longer than 102 miles!) In retrospect, the bike course is not as bad as I thought it would be. It was difficult, but very doable, and not nearly as tough as Quassy’s bike course.

…To be continued….

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