Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ironaman - The Bike

July 14, 2009 -

I made my way through the labyrinth of bikes and finally descended upon the felt b-12. Loaded up with three water bottles stacked with Gatorade Endurance and ready to go. After a very long and relaxing transition (almost like a day at the spa with all the time I took), I was recovered and ready to get on the bike. I grabbed the bike and started to run down the isle toward the exit as my banana sticking half in and half out of my jersey flew out and went bouncing on the ground...how embarrassing. One of the volunteers swooped in mysteriously, grabbed it for me and handed it over. He also mentioned to me that he had pumped up my front tire that morning. Uh-oh...I had already pumped it up again when I got to transition...problem lurking?

Whatever, couldn't think about that now, I was ready to go go go and nothing was going to stop me from getting out of that transition area and starting leg two of my Ironman journey. As I ran my bike down the grass path through the racks...there I saw my wife Shelly and her sister Jill at the fence cheering and snapping photos. It was an instant pick me up and a great way to start the ride. I zoomed over and said hi, kissed the wifey through the fence and headed out the chute to finally mount up and ride. I was no more than 50 yards out of the start and just getting situated when another group of friends cheered for me. A mixture of pals from college, some that lived there and others that just came out to support (thank-you), were braving the weather and the crowds to come out and make sure through loud cheers that I knew I had their support too.

After that I set out to start the 112 mile haul.

Things were going well for the most part. I was trying to find my pace and place. I didn't really know what the course had in store, nor what I should be trying to pace at to ensure that I had enough juice for the marathon. What I decided was to deal with the bike now, deal with the run later. So I took off and just tried to ride hard when I could and slow down when I needed to. I would have been happy to hit an 18 mph overall for the course....but I also didn't know what that course would have in store for me.

I was feeling great and just cruising along, trying to get into my zone...and then around mile 26 or so I started climbing this hill. It was the first real hill of the course. About halfway up the hill and in my easiest gear...it started getting harder? Then harder, then harder like I was continually gearing up. Until....my bike eventually just stopped. It was like on a spin bike where you gear up and gear up until it doesn't spin anymore. I quickly clicked out before tipping out and immediately started to assess the problem.... as bikes just kept zooming past me.

I got out my bike tool and tried to loosen up the brake cables. I hopped back on the bike only to find I hadn’t done anything. After 10 or so minutes of tinkering and starting to freak out as I couldn’t find the problem and hundreds of people kept flying by....a bike tech car came. He determined my wheel was off balance. It appears that there are two small screws that come out of the mouth of the prongs where your back tire goes in. These screws can be adjusted in and out to balance and control the distance of the wheel from the frame based on your tire size. Funny thing, I had no idea they even existed. After the bike tech determines the problem he realized he didn’t have an allen wrench small enough to adjust them so he just worked it out a little with some other tool and put the tire back on. I tried again to go and it was still rubbing. Now I was really tweaking. So this MacGyver bike tech pulls the wheel back off, grabs a little pebble from the road and jams it in there in front of the screw and clamps the wheel lock down over it....problem solved. After somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes, I was back on the road.

I was riding in the balance of trying not to overdo it and trying to get back to where I was. I kept telling myself that 25 minutes in the course of the whole day was not a big deal, but I couldn’t help but be discouraged. The bike was a two loop course where I found it was a lot hillier course than I anticipated. Nothing too bad, but definitely a consistent amount of hills for the last 15 miles of the loop.

Around mile 61 they had the special needs bags. My number was shouted down the road to a volunteer who met me with my bag as I stopped. He immediately opened up a sandwich and cracked my energy drink for me. I dumped the drink in my aero bottle and ate about half the sandwich in one bite as I thanked the man and started up again. I wasn’t more than a mile down the road when I saw a row of portos and realized it was a good time for a pee. I stopped and a volunteer grabbed my bike for me as I did my thing. He was also waiting for me when I got out. I mounted up and made it a couple hundred yards and realized I had a flat...bah! I changed the tire, but couldn’t fill it up as my CO2 cartridge nozzle was jammed stuck into the screw that attaches it to my seat cage, so I couldn’t attach a cartridge. I had to flag another volunteer to find me a bike pump. All in all, probably another 10 minutes lost with this flat.

Finally, I was on the bike again. I was cruising and feeling pretty good, especially with the food fuel. I made it another 17 miles before....boom...another stinking flat. I got the tire off, changed out the tube, and just before I was pushing the tire back over the rim a bike tech cruised up on his moped, and took over the operation. He put it back together, filled it up and put the wheel back on. I also had him get that screw piece out of my CO2 nozzle. This flat was about five minutes.

I was on my way again and cruising pretty good, but the wind really started picking up and whipping and the hills seemed to grow harder and more never ending than the first loop. My lower back, neck/shoulders and ass were all getting sore. I ate my last sandwich at 92 miles and kept cranking. At mile 100 I felt this sense of accomplishment like I had done it, I was there......but I was wrong. That last 12 miles seemed to be the toughest and longest of the bike.

I was watching my odometer, trying to focus on anything but my sore rear and just keep cranking one after the other. Finally, after well surpassing my time goal, three peanut butter and honey sandwiches, four GU’s, one pack of power tabs, four bottles of Gatorade Endurance, one Energy Drink and two waters....I was done. I had completed the 112 mile bike of my Ironman....with a huge grin/grimace on my face as I dismounted and tried to teach my legs how to walk again. My butt was so sore, I was stoked to start running because I was just so thrilled to be off that bike.

BIKE SPLIT 1: 34 mi 34 mi. (2:08:11) 15.91 mph
BIKE SPLIT 2: 90 mi 56 mi. (3:22:57) 16.56 mph
BIKE SPLIT 3: 112 mi 22 mi. (1:17:36) 17.01 mph

TOTAL BIKE: 112 mi 112 mi. (6:48:44) 16.44 mph

(My goal was to hit between 6 and 6:30, I missed that by a bunch, but also figured I lost around 30 minutes with flats and the wheel balance thing.)

A couple other notable things on the bike - first, were the partiers. There were so many spectators out on their lawns having Ironman parties. Some trashy and boozy and some young and fun. Everything from loud stereos to a live band, to cowbells and megaphones and a few keggers. The local contingent support was pretty funny and often times put a smile on my face.

The second, was my support crew. My wife and kids, her two sisters and parents came out to support as well as a few clusters of friends from the area that I went to college with. They way they moved from point to point around that course and planned it all out so they could see me at such precise times was amazing and motivating as you fly by can catch the cheers and a glimpse of your true fans. However, as you are flying on the bike it is definitely quick; both you and them gotta be on the ball to catch each other because it is kind of a blur. Most times I heard the screams as I was passing and had to look back with a wave.

As I got off the bike, a volunteer grabbed my bike to escort it back to it’s place on the racks and I headed to meet up with another volunteer who got me my run transition bag. I made my way into the men’s changing tent where, once again, I took my time. I dried off, put on fresh socks and running shoes, peed, put on the visor and my shades and headed back out.

T2 Time: 7:38 - (I was going for 10 minutes or less, so I was cool with this.)

Two down and one to go. I headed out of the men’s changing tent and through the Ironman blow-up archway to start my 26.2 Ironman run. At then end of this I would be an Ironman. I was so curious to find out what would happen on the run. How fast I could go for how long? How much would I run, how much would I walk? The run was really the only part of Ironman that I just could not predict what would happen because I had no clue how my legs would hold up after those first two events.

So, I head out, through the crowds, onto the course and began my marathon.

To be continued......

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear about your bike problems. But it seems like it didn't affect you too much which is so cool. I thought that the volunteers were so good. When I had to stop and pee they grabbed my bike and that helped so much. Thanks for reminding me about that.