Much to my disappointment, he refused to apply the chamois butter. In his defense, he did accept the task of taking all of my swim gear and placing it in the bike bag. Further, he did this as I ran out of the changing tent with my hand down my pants.
The initial part of the course it treacherous. It is very downhill with sharp turns giving you a slalom-like feel. The first year I did this (wow, back in 2007), I did this stretch in my aerobars. Either I am smarter or more of a coward, but I just won't do that now. I stayed firmly on the pursuit bars until I made my way into calmer waters.
If you look at the map, find the word "Olympic" and follow it down to "Keene". Then, look up at the hill profile to the spot where the hill bottoms out. That's an 8 mile stretch of virtually no pedaling and super high speed. I reached a top speed of 48 mph on this stretch. This includes a headwind attempting to slow me down.
At the town of Keene, we take a left hand turn and get back to reality as compared to the average triathlon course. It is mostly flat with a few rolling hills. On race day, this meant a tailwind. There's nothing greater than a sweet tailwind. In regular triathlons/ training rides, I average around 20-22 mph. Between Keene and Jay, I averaged roughly 23.5 mph. I am not that fast. This was further proved by the fact that I was being passed by many, many people.
What helped me out was athlete number 755, Erica. She passed me during this stage but ever so slightly. Now, I'm a stickler for the rules. Triathlon rules strictly forbid drafting and "you must maintain a 3 bike-length distance between you and the hottie in front of you" (verbatim).
Erica was traveling at a pace in which I could handle and I did not mind, ahem, hanging out at 17 feet behind.
Working in my favor, I believe, was my cycling endurance. We, as a group, had already completed about 35 miles at this point and had done a fair bit of climbing. I maintained my patience and refused to hammer. Yes, people were passing me. Yes, there was an entire peloton of riders that I refused to join. Yes, I maintained my regular nutrition and hydration plain. I was, thus far, having a good ride.
At some point between Jay and Upper Jay, I had this though, "I'm riding on borrowed energy." See, I'm a pseudo-science geek. I know that elementary physics has this thing called the "Law of Conservation of Energy". Basically, it states that what goes up must come down. The problem is that I already went down. The down portion was expressed as Kinetic Energy, AKA all of that speed. The Law requires that I must give it back. The climbs are Mother Nature's way of restoring the balance.
Well, the 2 miler from Upper Jay to the town of Wilmington was just the tip of the ice berg. Remember, I had an 8-mile drop at the beginning of the ride. That vertical distance must be restored and I'm six miles in the red.
Even worse is the fact that this is where the pain starts. From that pic back to downtown Lake Placid is roughly 11 miles. Almost all of them are uphill. On race day, exactly all of them were against the wind. All of that speed I had gained on the downhill and flats was about to cash in on my legs.
To make matters worse, this is also the worst stretch of road for smooth pavement. Not only are we going uphill, but we are in a section of road that I lovingly refer to as the "CrotchiNator". It's sort of like the Terminator but exclusively focused on your perineum. There are obstacles of all kinds. Potholes? Check. Grooves in the pavement? Check. Expansion cracks every 10 yards? Check. Any stretch of road that is smooth for more than 100 yards? Nope. It's figuratively insult to injury. I repeat my cycling mantra and spin on.
As you can see, the road is less than could be desired. The hill just keeps going. Worse, the hill doesn't end at your sight limit. There is a sharp right hand turn and the hill continues to go up. On the positive side, the are people. Like real Homo sapiens. Lots of people line the street giving you a Tour de France feel. All of them are singularly rooting for you to make it up over the incline and to complete your journey. It's easy to get lost in the moment.
Lap 2 is where everything calms down. Except for the wind. Meteorology 101- surface winds can be caused by uneven heating of the Earth's surface. As the sun increases in the sky, uneven heating increases. Therefore, more wind. More wind equals slower speeds.
To make matters worse, the winds were in our faces on the downhills. Free speed just got a little less, um, free. The upside- the wind was pushing us on the flats. The flat section is between Keene and Jay. The Au Sable River- East Bank is on our right. This is now the 3rd quarter of the ride. Life is good.
For all practice purposes, Jay is not a good sight. That town marks the ascent. It sucks the first time around. On round 2, the legs are more tired. They are not dead, but the dagger has been inserted. As the course turns around to head back into Placid, the winds smack you in the face. While going uphill. The dagger twists.
|Road conditions still suck|
My goal for the ride was a 5:45. I came in at a comfy 5:55. The winds slowed me down that much. The highlight was that I felt better than ever. I had dropped from 143rd place to 228th place, which I find completely unfathomable. There were at least 100 people that passed me in the peloton on on lap 1. Other than Erica, I can't remember passing another person myself. Yet, the data doesn't lie. I was poised for a great race indeed.
Next comes the real challenge- the run.