In case you missed it…
After a great swim, it was time for a quick little bike ride through the picturesque Mont Tremblant. As soon as I started on the bike, I had a feeling I was going to have a fast time. My legs felt absolutely amazing and I quickly got into the zone. I was a bit worried I was going too hard after seeing my first loop split, but at the same time I really didn’t feel like I was pushing myself. While the course was a bit hilly, I sort of new what to expect and just rolled with it. Easy spins up the hills, bomb down the other side, and then get in the zone and hold an even pace on the flats. I found that the course was very manageable and easy to break up into sections. I never thought of it as riding 112 miles. Instead, I just though about getting to the end of Monte Ryan, or getting to the turn around, or riding through the town. That made the course mentally much easier and it never felt overwhelming. I am still a bit shocked with my time as my goal was 5:40-5:45.
Pace: 33.23 km/h (20.6mph)
Overall Place: 158/2097
AG Place: 11/83
T2 Time: 2:43
As I exited transition, the road was lined with cheering spectators. It was a great send off for the long ride. My first of two close encounters of the entire day was in the first .5 km as I went to make a pass. The woman I was passing saw someone she knew and started waving. As she waved, she drifted sharply to the left towards me correcting herself at the very last second. I may have freaked out just a little. Shortly after that, we went through the first roundabout of the day. Racing through these is a blast and makes you feel like your are in the Tour de France or something.
Jennie had stationed herself right in the roundabout because it was very close to the swim exit and she could get there quickly. Plus, it provided a cool background with the waterfall in the background. After seeing her there, she moved back to the transition area where she would see me pass by a few more times.
Overall, this was an absolutely amazing bike course. The roads were super smooth nearly the entire way with a large portion of the course being fresh pavement. It is amazing how much of a difference riding on fresh pavement makes. It is much easier on the body which makes it easier to go fast and have fun. Also, due to the shape of the course, you can pretty much always see other riders – either going in the same direction or in the opposite direction. With each of the turnarounds, I was able to keep an eye out for everyone else I knew racing and cheer for them as we passed in opposite directions. That made it fun because I was just as happy to see everyone else having a great race as I was to be having a great race of my own.
Like I mentioned before, the bike course is easily broken down into sections. I am going to go through through those different sections. It is a little long winded, but I know a bunch of people who are interested in doing this race (both the half and the full) in the future and I thought it might be helpful for them to know what to expect.
The first section of the course is down Monte Ryan (~10k). This section is fairly tame with nothing too major. There is a decent climb going each way (you come back on this road as well), but I bombed down a big downhill before the climb so I really got launched about halfway up the climb from momentum. This section contains the course’s only no passing zone as it crosses over a narrow bridge, but each time I went through I never had to worry about overtaking someone or someone on my wheel.
After Monte Ryan, I turned on to 117 and headed out to Labelle and back. All I can say about this stretch of road is that it is absolutely glorious. Fresh pavement the entire way out and back (~38km). I was only out of aero on a couple of the climbs to stretch out and to take aid on this entire stretch. There is really only one or two big climbs on this stretch where you have to get out of aero. Neither climb is that step but they are longer climbs than some of the other ones on the course.
The next stretch took me through the village of Saint Jovite. This section slows you down a bit because it gets a little crowded and the roads are not as nice. “Not as nice” being a relative term compared to the fresh asphalt on 117. I had my second scare of the day here as someone in front of me popped a bottle. All of sudden someone yelled, “Bottle!” Thankfully I was already up on my horns and could swerve and miss the bottle by inches. Had I been aero at that time, it could have been bad. Because it is a little village, there were a ton of people out lining the streets and cheering which was nice because there wasn’t a lot of fan support on 117 other than at aid stations. There was one short steep climb at the end of town right before the turn around point, but I just small ringed it up easily and hammered down the backside.
After finishing up with Saint Jovite, we headed back on Monte Ryan towards transition. However, once you hit transition, you have to keep going and do one more out and back before starting the second loop. This is the Lac Superieur loop and arguably the most difficult part of the course. None of the climbs are particularly long, but they are steep. (For any Grand Rapidians out there, I liken this part of the course to riding Egypt Valley from Pettis to Cannonsburg.) If you have looked at the official elevation chart for this course, you will see a section labeled 12% incline – that is this section. However, don’t let that 12% scare you. It is such a short 12% that you probably won’t even notice it. Having prerode this section on Thursday, I knew what to expect here. The out portion (~10k) was roughly all uphill. Not straight uphill, but lots of little steps taking you up and up and up. No being a hero here and I small ringed it up nearly every climb regardless of the size. The return really only has one big climb, but other than that it is mostly downhill.
The Lac Superieur portion of the course really hurts on the 2nd loop, but again, it is a matter of being smart and going easy on the climbs. The nice thing is that once you get to the turn around, with the exception of the one climb, it is a nice 10-12k downhill all the way back to transition. It is a great way to finish off the bike course and spin easy to let you get your legs ready to run.
For the full distance, there is a special needs pickup near the transition area before heading out and doing a 2nd lap of the course. The 70.3 race takes you right back to transition.
I ended up finishing my first loop in 2:39:XX which was a bit faster than I had planned. At that point, I was a bit worried that I had gone to hard on the first loop and would pay for it on the second loop and/or the run. I tried to back off on the 2nd loop but my legs continued to feel pretty good so I just went with it. I did change up my strategy a bit and took it a bit easier on the descents on the 2nd loop and did more coasting rather than powering down the hills. I ended up rounding out loop 2 in 2:44:XX for a 5:24:29 bike split. I am absolutely thrilled with that and got off the bike beaming.
One thing that I am super proud of is how well I was able to tackle the hills. On my 2nd loop, as we headed back Monte Ryan, there was a spectator calling off placing on the side of the road. I was either 165 or 166 at that point (I was riding next to a guy and chatting for a minute, so not sure exactly). Any ways, I ended up 158th on the bike overall which means I picked up 7 or 8 spots on the second Lac Superieur loop. Boom!
Nutrition-wise, I thought I did pretty good on the bike course. As planned, I started off with two bottles of EFS on my bike, one flask of Liquid Shot, and some waffles. At the bike special needs, I picked up two new bottles of EFS and a new flash of Liquid Shot as well as a Snickers bar. At each aid station, I took a bottle of water. In order to try and avoid getting sick of the EFS drink, for the first hour, I drank EFS, but then for the 2nd hour, I drank only water and ate a waffle for my calories, and then was back to EFS for the 3rd hour. I repeated this for the 2nd loop but ate my Snickers bar instead of a waffle for my extra calories. In hindsight, I probably could have used an extra Liquid Shots flask, but other than that, my nutrition seemed spot on.
Aid stations on the course were placed nearly perfectly. They all seemed to be at spot where you were already moving slowly – at the top of the hill or after a turn around – so you didn’t have to worry about loosing too much momentum to grab something. There is one spot where I felt they could have used an extra aid station, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where (possibly between Monte Ryan and Lac Superieur turn around?). I just remember being on the course and wishing there was another stop for a fresh water bottle. One cool thing they had at the aid stations was hockey nets to throw your empty bottles and trash in (it is Canada after all, eh). Each net was manned by one or two kids with hockey sticks sweeping errant trash into the net. On one occasion, I notice the kid tapping his stick on the ground like he was waiting for a pass. So, I took my empty and launched it at his stick. He one-timed it straight into the net and we both cheered as I went by.
Overall, super, super fun bike course. Challenging, but manageable. I honestly think I would rather this sort of course over a flat course because at least this one gives you a chance to recover on the down hills and provides some variety.
T2 for this race was pretty awesome. For the bike dismount, you actually ride into transition on a red carpet. I slipped out of my shoes in the final 1/2km and dismounted right at the line. I quickly handed my bike off to a bike catcher and ran into transition. I threw on a pair of socks, my new Hoka Speeds, a visor, my Garmin, and reapplied sunscreen. Whoever invented spray-on sunscreen is a freaking genius.
In and out of transition in a speedy 2:43.
Now it is just time for a quick victory run. Stay tuned!