I bolted out of transition like a woman on a mission! I had specific instructions/watts to stay within throughout the race. From downtown to the turn where we rode with some serious tail wind (14 miles), to the windy open section by the water which may have as well been uphill (12 miles) , to the section back into town (14 mile), repeat x 3.
I immediately put my head down and went to work. The name of the game today was "How long can you stay aero for?" and I am happy to report, that you will not find a picture of me non-aero! I was as comfortable as if I was sitting on my couch watching movies :) (Oh wait, I did that)
Trying my best to "turtle"
How small can I get to cut through the wind?
Drinking and staying aero!
I knew it was going to be hot, and windy and the conditions didn’t disappoint. We even experienced an awesome downpour but my living room had prepared me for the elements! Those long fan-less trainer rides had me sweating like you wouldn't believe so I was used to feeling like I just rode through a monsoon! The wind although strong actually felt refreshingly good! Having experienced the 2012 Kona heat and crosswinds, I really didn't think the wind was bad but it definitely was strong and relentless!
Check out couple of those palm trees on the right side of the pic! It was windy!
The first part of each loop from Chankanaab park all the way to the beginning of the wide open and very windy section, we enjoyed an unbelievable tail wind. I was staying on the lower end of my watts, which I thought was a bit too low to begin with, yet I was almost breaking the speed limit. I was moving anywhere between 25-26mph and just absolutely flying. I had passed a lot of people some of which were riding legally, and some which were not. I knew that was going to be the case, and did my best to ignore it and of course rode legally and rode my own race.
Top 3 easily avoidable things that frustrate me the most:
- It really is NOT difficult to drop back 4 bike lengths when passed! However, it becomes extremely difficult when being passed by a peloton instead of a single rider!
- Passing someone within the allotted 20 seconds is NOT difficult when you are moving significantly faster than them, and don’t just work your ass off to pass their front wheel, and stop!
- Finally, riding in a pack/peloton or just barely passing people and cutting them off is extremely dangerous!
As someone that is not a front of the pack swimmer yet, but is a strong cyclist, I am used to passing many people on the bike and navigating through the crowds. It really is NOT difficult to complete a legal pass within the allotted 20 seconds if you are actually moving faster than the people in front of you! In Cozumel, I went from 634th place to 104th place. That is 530 passes in 5 hours! Many of those that were riding legally, and others not so much. I passed groups of various sizes that apparently forgot this was a triathlon and not the Tour de France. I knew I was going have to deal with this, but I was definitely shocked when I saw the size of some of these groups! I shook my head a few times, and may have said a few not so nice words addressed directly at the cheaters, but I quickly realized I needed to just mind my own business and let cheaters be cheaters! I had a bigger fish to fry. I just wish I didn’t fry my own lower back!
Notice the exposed section of my lower back! It wasn't pretty post race - OUCH!
Little did I know that surely but slowly I was forming my own peloton! Surprisingly (NOT) by the time I made it through the second part of the first loop which was the wide open section by the water, my power would increase yet my speed would significantly decrease, while the size of what I now call the Czech Chicked peloton had grown significantly! I was no longer breaking the speed limit, and I was barely hitting 20 mph. None of the members of the Czech Chicked peloton however were interested in doing any work. Shocking, I know!
One of my friends who has many more friends attached to him! I went out of my way to find some of them ...
I put a little puzzle together - and I know there more!
I honestly didn't even know how many guys/girls I dragged around the island, until we hit the section where you start going back into town, and headwind turned into either a very slight tailwind or not much wind at all. On the very first loop shortly after I made that turn, hero #1 of the peloton had decided he had enough of staring at my back side, and decided to make a pass. I started to drop back to establish my legal distance, and that is when I realized the size of the peloton I created! I sat up, and no matter how much I slowed down, I was being just swallowed up and boxed in! For the first time since I hopped on my bike, I actually turned around, and realized what was happening behind me. I am NOT exaggerating, but I couldn’t see the end of it! The peloton grew not only super long, but also very wide, and I wanted no part of it! This situation was becoming more and more dangerous by the second as people were now passing me on the right and left. I got really frustrated because I just spend close to an hour passing and dragging these people behind me, and I promised myself that I would ride legal no matter what! I didn’t want a 4 minute penalty and worse yet I didn’t want my day to end in a bike crash either!
Here is an example of a peloton although it really does it no justice. It was much worse than what you see here.
Many, many guys ... 1 girl smack in the middle - recurring theme!
Same group! I passed these guys during the first loop, and I can tell you that during my hours of looking through the "Lost & Found" section of race photo's, I found these folks together on every single loop, falling further and further behind me. How can I tell? They were part of the peloton that swallowed me up on the 1st loop, and I only remember because it's hard to forget that girl sitting smack in the middle of all the boys! I am venturing out to say these folks road 112 miles TOGETHER, and I really hope they feel very good about themselves! SHAME on all of them!
There were plenty of these guys, and I did see people in penalty tents, but not enough!
But back to my little peloton situation! I was able to drop back, pull out all the way to the left side of the road where I couldn’t get boxed in, and lucky for me an aid station came up! As everyone began to slow down to grab drinks, I made my move that allowed me to get rid of the ever so dangerous peloton and get to the front forever. Coming through the town was awesome! The crowds were unbelievable and the three 90 degree turns that had to be made provided a nice change of pace from the long straightaways that this bike course consists of!
Loops 2 and 3 were very similar but this time I didn’t have to deal with pelotons swallowing me up, because there was nobody even attempting to become the peloton leader, and the headwinds during the entire windy section were picking up with each loop. I stuck to my plan pretty much perfectly, and I never looked behind me. I held very similar or slightly higher watts on loop 2, but my speed was now in the 19pmh range. By loop 3, I was in the 18 mph range but I continued to feel strong.
Aero and happy! My signature thumbs up! :)
Somewhere during the 2nd loop, one of the members of the now newly formed loop 2vCzech Chicked Peloton one of the members pulled up next to me to inform me that I was pulling about 20 guys behind me. Although I appreciated the gesture, I am not quite sure what I was supposed to do with that information. I told him they were cheaters, and I had no interest in playing the game. It honestly didn’t bother me. I was riding my own race, and if everyone else also wanted to ride my race than be it. I was just glad to be at the front riding nice and steady and exactly how I wanted.
By loop 3, I was pretty much alone, and there were fewer and fewer leaches. By this time, I knew I was near the front if not in the front of the age group race because I had passed couple of super swimmers earlier during the 2nd loop (Angela Bancroft, Michelle Simmons), and I also passed a few professional women who started 20 minutes ahead of me. The tail wind seemed to be the same, while the headwind kept picking up. At this point I had the green light to either go a bit harder if I felt good or stay where I have been. I was feeling great, but knowing how relatively early into the race I passed couple of the super swimmers that are no slouches on the bike, I made a strategic decision to “save” my mega legs for the run. (Unfortunately I blew that very early into the run, but on that later).
The island really is pretty but my eyes were mostly on the road!
The leach I dragged around the island on the loop 3 was the “best”! This dude was literally stuck to my back wheel and I could see how close he was because I didn’t even have to turn around to see him! Having some random dude that close to me made me a bit uncomfortable and so I tried to shake him. I would drop my watts to see if my leach was interested in taking the lead, but he clearly wasn’t. Lucky for me, not so lucky for him, I had to pee really badly and you know what that means! Normally I would feel bad, but guess what I had no shame and literally peed all over this dude! YES, I DID! Had he kept his legal riding distance, he wouldn’t have to worry about getting peed on! He is lucky I was hydrated really well, because I wish I wasn't! Boom! This really made me chuckle, and before I knew it, I was now nearing the end of the bike ride. I was hydrated well (I figured out how to relieve myself on a flat course without any downhills, which I was a little afraid of), I went through all my nutrition (gels and potatoes), and I was ready to run! This blog wouldn't be complete without my eating some papas on the bike.
Mmmm potatos ready for race day!
Mmmmmm YUM! (See left cheek)
I hit mile 112 and T2 was nowhere to be found. I had no idea what the entrance into T2 looked like since this is a two transition race, and I was really afraid of missing it. I also didn’t want to get stuck with my feet still in my shoes, so at mile 112 I took my feet out of the shoes! Little did I know this course was over a mile long, and I spent the next mile pedaling with my feet on top of my shoes – duh! I am sure I left 4 seconds in that last mile somewhere, and having a sub 5 hour bike would really be cool. Aaaaah well – running to my potential would be even cooler but I digress.
I will leave you with a quick look at my ride: Super steady ride, less than 5 minutes of coasting which would include 3 pee breakes, aid stations, and the 3 turns through town x 3 and you be the judge!
Yellow is power, blue is speed, green is cadence ... My VI you ask? 1.01 - Basically 0 variability - near perfect ride!
My cadence distribution - SOLID!
Coasting? Non-existent except for the reasons I mentioned above! I do wish I could pee while pedaling but that is a skill I do not have!
Now I would really love to see a power file of someone that was part of the multiple Czech Chicked Pelotons! Wouldn't you?
In the end, I am very happy with the way I executed the race plan! The dreaded long trainers rides on weekend have definitely paid off, and this was one of, if not the easiest 112 mile ride I had ever done. I got off the bike, and I felt like a million bucks. I felt awesome, and ready to run!
Next Up: The RUN!