Missed the beginning?
I got to the mount line and hopped on my bike. The ride out of the Res was lined with spectators, and we zoomed along the slight downhill and out onto the open roads.
The first several miles of the bike are a long false flat that really kick your butt if you’re still trying to find your bike legs. And there are a couple small, yet unpleasant hills right as you exit the Res as well. But at this point, I had ridden this course so many times, it was a non-issue. That’s one of the perks of living here. I feel like I know this course inside and out at this point.
We worked our way up 36 and north out of Boulder. The ride up 36 is beautiful, and a bit challenging. However, these short climbs don’t feel too bad on fresh legs, and I powered my way through them feeling quite strong.
Then I got to the out-and-back spur on St. Vrain. As I turned right off of 36, I was looking forward to the lovely long downhill that awaited me. I flew down it, knowing full well that I was going to have to do a u-turn and power my way back up it in only a few moments.
Going up was MISERABLE. YUCK.
Everyone was huffing and puffing and working as hard as they thought they could spare. When I finally saw the turn to go back into 36 and continue north, I was ecstatic. MORE DOWNHILL! Hooray! We had earned it!
Most of the first half of the bike course is uneventful. The roads are smooth. The hills are manageable. And the day was still young (read: not too hot). We rode our way north up into Loveland (just south of Fort Collins) without much to report.
A friend of mine lives in that area, and had told me to keep a lookout for her around mile 40.
Sure enough, at mile 42, there she was!
It took both of us a minute to notice each other, but we gave each other a shout, and she flipped her sign over to reveal a nice big “FSU” (PG version: Mess Stuff Up). That gave me a good laugh as I continued along the next uphill. My awesome friend also caught me again a few miles later. Superstar spectator! I’m so glad she was out there!
Around Loveland, the bike starts to get ugly. Good thing we only have 60+ more miles to go! (Please note the sarcasm.)
The whole second half of the bike course is either long, gentle uphills, or never-ending false flats.
Also, at this point in the day, it’s starting to get hot. It was actually a pretty glorious day, compared to the weather we had had for the last several weeks (in the 90s, and brutally hot – over 105 out on the roads). But there were a ton of people out on the bike course just dropping like flies. It could be anything from the altitude, to the intensity of the sun (much more intense when you’re at elevation), the dryness, the heat – who knows? But it was getting ugly out there.
I continued on – knowing full well what was in front of me. I hated this part of the course in training, and I hated it now. But for some reason, it felt SO MUCH WORSE today. I think that was partly because I had gassed my legs on the swim with all the backstroking. I have to kick a lot to keep them from sinking when I backstroke. I barely kick at all when I swim normally. I think it was also partly because on race day, you inevitably end up going JUST a tad harder than normal due to excitement and all the other people around you. It just happens.
Whatever it was, I was feeling it today.
I rode my way south along Colorado, and then eventually on Highway 119. Around the little rectangle of 6th and 7th, and then west on highway 52. This is my least favorite part of the whole course. Highway 52 just keeps going, and going. And it’s one hill after another. And by now, I’m SO TIRED.
As I was plugging my way up the second to last hill on 52, the girl about 30 feet in front of me looked like she was about to topple over. I saw her pull over and get off her bike, doubled over in pain.
Myself, and another girl who was right there both stopped to check on her. Apparently she had hit a bump early in the bike, and lost all her nutrition. She had been trying to make do with the aid stations, but was not doing well. She was cramping up bad, and looked like she was in a lot of pain. We started rifling through our pockets and bento bags and giving her everything we could spare to eat and drink – nuun tablets, potato chips, coconut water, gummy bunnies…
After a few minutes, a sheriff arrived and called in someone from medical. There were people dropping left and right, so after we assured him that we could keep an eye on her until medical arrived, he went off to check on the next person.
While we waited for medical to arrive, we chatted a bit. Turns out, this girl was a local, and was in my tri club! So hey, I made a new friend. Races are funny like that.
After a while, a race official showed up and told us we could take off. They would keep an eye on our friend until medical arrived. We all exchanged some parting words of encouragement, and went our separate ways. All in all, it had been about 13 minutes. But that’s race karma. I would hope that someone would do that for me if I were in the situation. And really, at the end of the day, 13 minutes on my time doesn’t matter.
I pushed my way up the last hill on 52. At this point, I was at mile 99 of the bike and nearly done. I kept telling myself, “Okay, just fly down this downhill, make the left, power up The Bitches, then it’s all over except for that little hill on 57th… Nearly done!”
I flew down the downhill at the end of 52, and made the left onto 79th.
The first Bitch loomed in front of me.
I made her my bitch.
Then the second.
Then the third.
I was done with the worst of it! I turned right onto Lookout and felt like I was flying down the downhill. The left onto 75th, right onto Jay, and then left onto 57th all flew by in a blur.
The small hill on 57th wasn’t great – it’s so small, but at that point, my legs are SO TIRED. But I got up it, yelled to a spectator “yay! All the hills are done!” and continued on.
After the short little bridge to get back onto Jay, I felt like I was home free. I turned onto 26th/Valmont, and the last two miles flew by. I was blowing through town, yelling “I love you!” to every volunteer and cop I could see.
When I finally got to the turn into Arapahoe, I told the volunteer at the corner “and I love you the most!”
I flew down Arapahoe, towards the high school, SO ready to be off my bike.
And my awesome friend caught me again just as I was about to turn into the high school.
I think I might be fist pumping in this picture… Hard to tell…
I turned into the high school, rolled up to the dismount line, told the volunteers how much I loved them, and hopped off my bike.
Bike time: 7:42:07
Not great, but if you subtract the 13 minutes helping my new friend, that puts me just under 7:30, which was what I was aiming for. So I’m happy with that.
I jogged/walked my bike through the chute and into the transition area. This was a rather long 1/4 mile run in bike shoes, which a lot of people complained about after the race. Quite honestly, I was just so happy to be done with my bike that I didn’t give a crap. Although, a note for anyone racing next year – do NOT do this run barefoot. A lot of people did, and ended up burning their feet (badly) on the black track. At LEAST wear socks.
I handed my bike off to a volunteer, and ran down the row to get my run gear bag.
In the changing tent, yet another wonderful volunteer took care of me and all my gear. I changed shorts and shoes, put on my hat and my race belt, grabbed my handheld water, and was on my way. All I had left now was the run.
Transition time: 9:21
To be continued…