Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Phase 2 - Escape on a Bike

The Bike

The event organizers, in their infinite wisdom, put a warm up run between the swim exit and the transition area. Considering that I shed all of my swim gear, donned an old pair of running shoes, stuffed everything into a plastic bag with my number on it, and then ran topless to my bike in 9:53 - you can bet it was not a mile run. Wet and shirtless in San Francisco on this day did not make for much of a warm-up, either. I highly recommend going the "shoe" route - if you ever do this race and think, "it's only a half mile, I don't need shoes for that..." - trust me, the running surface is brutal; you need the shoes.

Diana was there at T1 ringing her bell and cheering me on! Finding my bike was not difficult (remember, 1,400 or so folks had already cleared out of transition...ha!) and before long, I was on my merry, yet cold way. I had donned my raceAthlete cycling jersey - not really a piece of cold weather gear, and I was immediately feeling the cold. Worse yet, I also had to pee. The only negative for the whole race - not a port-o-potty in sight near transition or on the bike course. Believe me - I looked long and hard!

I truly was clueless as what to expect of this course, other than hilly and lots of turns. Understatement. My recent purchase of a 27 cassette was money well spent - that 27 cog got all the workout on this ride. For the first 9 miles I was able to sit and spin up every grade. After the first 2 miles of flats, its all hills, up and down, until you reach Golden Gate Park. Heading back east into the park for the loop and half way point is the flattest part of the course and a place to regroup if you need it. I'll be honest - I was loafing and sightseeing on the bike. I'd see the same group of folks and we'd pass each other back and forth and talk it up a bit. It was a fun ride, at the same time, it was the hardest terrain I'd ever ridden on.

Being an out and back loop, I knew that what I was in for on the way back was a bit worse than on the way out. I was right. The way back found me standing on climbs in places and riding past folks who were walking their bikes up the long, steep climbs. It was brutal, especially for a big Clydesdale Florida flat-lander. There's about 1,750 ft of climbing in 18 miles - but there is some beautiful scenery along the way. Once you poke out of the Lincoln Park area and head all down hill along the Great Highway you get a great view of the Pacific Ocean beaches and countryside. Volunteers and spectators are all over the course, it seemed like there was cheering at the top of every climb.

After the breather in Golden Gate Park, I was so cold that I was looking forward to getting back into the climbs again. Granted, I'm not fast in the steep stuff, but I never felt like I was on my last stroke. In training, I do intervals out of the saddle in the flats in my biggest gears - I'll count out strokes to 80 or 100 then sit back down and bring my cadence and HR back to normal. Anyway, the really hard stuff comes once you leave the park on the second half of the bike. The ride back up the Great Highway is just long. Then you turn into Legion of Honor Drive - that's just mean! That little stretch of road was stand up, quads burning, pedal 'till you drop and don't drop HARD.
Of course, you'd never know it looking at my times - my first 9 miles were done in around 49 minutes, and the back half in 32 minutes - well, the back side just felt harder to me. Who knows!?

Be as prepared as you can for some fast, technical descents. I spent all my descent time on the brakes - I could have gone faster, but with the fog and mist, I was chancing nothing. Plus, lets face it - I never ride fast descents like that - why push the unknown when a crash could hurt you badly and easily? I'm getting more cautious in my old age. There were quite a few crashes and lots of bloody chins, elbows and shoulders on folks I saw later on in the run. I got back into my comfortable aerobars for the final 2 miles of the bike, got my speed up to 21 and passed a few folks just to make me feel better. Hey! I still had an 8 mile run to go; a hilly run with sand and stairs and such! Diana was hitting me with cowbell at the turn into T2, snapping away with the camera and cheering me on. I finished the bike in 1:19:31 for an average speed of 13.5mph. This put me at 1,333rd best bike overall - stop snickering, you! I'm making some headway after the swim, at least!


Comm's said...

What a great race. Look forward to seeing the run part. The last gasp before the finish. The sand, the stairs, the sandy stairs.

How does it end? Biting nails.

Born To Endure said...

Look at you...all smiling..good for you!!

The Stretch Doc said...

Totally Awesome Pictures! I love it.

..still hooked..


bigmike600 said...

Great pictures and your writing makes it all the better. Nice post big man. Can't wait for the run and a definition of sand steps. Not sure what to even picture on that one.

Duane said...

So cool that you took the waterproof camera with you! Great report so far, looking forward to hearing about the sand stairs!

Dan Seifring aka "OBRATS" said...

I have to wait until tomorrow for the conclusion?

Again great job can't wait to read more.

S. Baboo said...

I think it's awesome that you did some loafing and sight seeing on the bike. It would totally be a waste to do a tri like Alcatraz and not spend it doing a nice mix of racing and gawking.

Wrenched Photography said...

Lookin great in that last shot. Di assulted you with cowbell? Maybe she a bit too enthusatic.

You shoulds just peed while riding.

Bolder said...

great pics from Mrs. Bigun per usual!

this was a challenging bike course -- i'm glad you are enjoying it, and the 27...

bring on the run!!

LBTEPA said...

More! More!
And well done, too :)

Unknown said...

Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself, love the pic on the bike - you look like you are having a blast!