Ironman Lake Placid – The Bike


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The beginning of the bike course literally starts with a short, steep decline and a very sharp left turn. There are hay bails set up on the turn to catch run-away cyclists. I started very cautiously since it was pouring rain…gently riding my brakes to stay in control. The first few miles are flat as you head out of town. I was trying to drink and eat a bit. Since my body was so cold, I did not feel like drinking, but it had been a while before my swim since I last had water. I knew I needed to stay on top of my hydration from the beginning, even if I was not thirsty. This part was slow going. I was being smart (ie. cautious due to wet roads), but I still did not have my mind in the race. I talked to myself quite a bit. The bike is my favorite leg of triathlon. I had ridden hundreds of miles to prepare for this day. Yes, conditions were crappy at that moment, but I had to suck it up.

The next section had a number of steady rollers and then one decent climb. I know I did not push my pace at all on this section. I had planned to start conservative and probably ended up being too conservative in this stretch since I was gradually working my mind back to business.  Also, I knew I had some stiff challenges ahead…the descent.

Probably one of the most documented stretches of the IMLP bike course is the descent into Keene. This stretch is approximately eight miles long. The exciting news for 2014, was that a majority of this stretch had been recently re-paved. Most cyclists love downhills. FREE SPEED! The terrain that I typically train on does not have steep descents (in comparison to these). However, I generally feel comfortable descending and since we had driven the bike course, I knew there were not technical turns associated with these descents. I was confident heading into race day. Well, rain changes everything!!! I knew this section would be so very dangerous with the heavy rain we were experiencing. I also knew that I had to remain SMART and in control of my bike. I did just that. I rode this stretch the only way I was comfortable given the conditions.

Overall I felt that the other athletes were very aware and being safe on the roads. I think everyone’s radar was extra sensitive due to the inherently dangerous conditions that the rain brought to the roads…especially on the descents. However, in one area, I passed another female cyclist that had gone down on the descent. She was getting help, but still remained flat out on the pavement. REALITY CHECK!! As the descent continued, any warmth that I had generated on the opening climbs was gone. My teeth were chattering again and my body was shivering. I was just trying to hang in. I told myself that as soon as I made it into the town of Keene and the flat section started, I HAD TO WORK! I needed to get warm and get in my groove!

I vividly remember the mental relief I felt when I made the left hand turn coming off the descent. It was almost as if I turned a page in a book. I started really eating at that point (I had nibbled some a little earlier) and concentrating on my plan. The rain began to ease up and I eventually started seeing a bit of blue sky. Just a peak through the clouds and I know I must of had a big smile on my face! Being optimistic that things were getting better and I would not be a bike popsicle on two pretty purple race wheels!

I saw my complete support crew for the first time around mile 25. At that point in time, I was on cloud nine. I had my mind totally in the race and was eating and drinking according to plan. [I was consistently taking water from the aide stations as well an Bonk Breaker bites.  I was supplementing the water with the concentrated Osmo I had brought on my bike, as well as, peanut butter filled pretzels and Honey Stinger Waffles.]  I was feeling good and relieved that I had fought past this first huge hurdle. It was GAME ON for me!!

The second time I saw the crew was just after the 10 mile out and back section (to/from Ausable Forks) making a right hand turn that immediately tuned into a short steep climb, around mile 35-ish.  When we drove this, Tony instructed me to stand up and climb as soon as I made the turn.  I had no idea they would be there, but sure enough, as soon as I stood up, I spotted them!  I know he was happy that I followed his (good) advice!  Again, big smiles when I saw and heard the crew.  It was amazing every time I saw them!!


Standing climb!!


I passed the guy in the blue jacket on the climb!

I felt like I was in a good groove. Riding like I had trained. Still being smart since that was my game plan for the first loop…not pushing too hard. I had to stop fairly early on for a bathroom break. I was obviously hydrating well! The bad part was that I had waited as long as I could possibly wait and when I saw the next aide station, I stopped. Unfortunately, there were at least five people in line before me. I saw the line as I was dismounting, but there was no way I could make it another ten miles to the next aide station. I knew I would have to stop along the bike course, but I had not really planned on having to wait in line! This stop took a long time and I lost at least 8 to 10 minutes here.

As I progressed to the back end of the first loop of the bike course, I hit the rolling/climbing section that is also very well documented.  There was one supporter/spectator that was “coaching” everyone to be in the small ring from there to the end of the loop…which was not bad advice.  No need to overwork the legs on the first loop and not have enough left in the tank for the second.  I finally came to the last stretch of climbs that are entitled the “three bears”.  I was not sure when I actually hit them (the order being mama bear, baby bear and papa bear), since they are preceded by plenty of rollers/climbs.   However, I did know when I hit papa bear…I saw it written on the side of the road.  There were also lots of spectators and some even dressed in costumes.

As I was coming back in on the first loop after the bears, I was in the small ring and holding a good cadence to work through the last section into town.  There was one man that was really excited about my cadence. He said “boom, boom, boom…look at that cadence” while cheering for me. It seemed as if there were plenty of spectators that were knowledge about cycling and/or the course! Pretty cool!

I came back into town and made my way back through to start the second loop.  I was feeling good and knew I was where I wanted to be.  Of course as I started the second loop, mentally I was in a place that was a day to night comparison to where I was when I had been in that same spot a few hours earlier.  As I hit the descent into Keene, the roads were dry, so I was really able to take advantage of the downhills.  YES!  They were pretty fun!!

I saw the crew again around mile 65-ish.  It was on the stretch into Keene and these are some great photos of the course.


A nice view of the bike course


Nice scenery on the course


Happy to see the crew!!



I found that there was a sense of camaraderie amongst most of the cyclists. There was one instance when I looked back over my left shoulder to see if the path was clear so I could take a pass and someone was approaching. I was going to slow up. Instead, he verbally allowed me to take the pass first and within legal rules (no drafting). There were a few people I played leap frog with. One other girl and I jumped positions multiple times on the first loop. I spotted her again on the second loop and she commented that it had been a while since we had seen each other. There was one guy that I traded spots with a number of times. One instance when he passed me and said…”I know I will see you again in a few minutes” (he did).  I also received lots of comments on my purple race wheels! One lady commented (whose bike and gear was totally outfitted in pink) that her daughter would love my purple wheels. I was also asked what my favorite color was…ummmm, I wonder!!

My ride remained strong. As I hit the 10-mile out and back section (just after mile 80), I decided to push the pace a bit. My legs responded well. It really felt good to open up. On this stretch, there were three guys that I passed with 2 minutes or so of one another and they were all very supportive of “being chicked”…each one said something supportive like “that is the way to go” or “looking strong”, etc. I just found it interesting that I received three comments in a row.

Unfortunately, I had to take a second pit stop. I would have rather not stopped, but nature called. Still a good sign that I was hydrating well. Once again, there was a bit of a line that took several minutes. Nothing like standing still to really make a dent into my average bike pace!

I was tacking the tail end of the course that is filled with lots of fun rollers and climbs, the bottom fell out.  Once again, it was accompanied by thunder and lightning.  Sure, I would rather it stay dry, but at that point, it really did not bother me.  Other than trying to eat my peanut butter pretzels out of my bento box (the rain was falling into the baggie making for soggy pretzels) and my glasses fogging up, I stayed (mentally) unaffected.  On this challenging stretch, my legs were feeling the effects of nearly 112 miles.  Nothing too concerning and I had taken a few ibuprofen during the second loop to try to mitigate too many aches and pains.  I think it is fair to say I was ready to wrap up the bike leg though.  Considering I had been on the bike for 7 hours, I was ready for a change.

I felt I had executed my plan fairly well.  Hydration wise, I felt in good shape.  Nutrition wise, I had not eaten all that I had planned.  I was not significantly under, but not to the level I thought I needed.

It was exciting to make it back into town. The crowd was lining the road and was super supportive. Nicole was in the crowd, but unfortunately I did not spot her before she took this photo!

Finishing the second loop and heading into T2!!

As I arrived into T2, a volunteer took my bike (cool) and I grabbed my run gear bag and I hit the changing tent.  Off with the bike gear, including the arm warmers, and on with running shorts, socks, shoes, visor and hydration belt.  Once again, the volunteer was awesome help!!  It was run time…my first marathon!!!

Total Bike Time = 7:10.10 (Division Rank: 79/172   Gender Rank: 296/702)

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