A posted sign along the Longhorn 70.3 bike course
...Hope it's not an omen...
I gave the Longhorn 70.3 bike course a final "dress rehearsal" on Sunday morning. My bike and I have been having a bit of a long-distance relationship lately, but I figured I better find out if the old adage is true about never forgetting how to ride a bike...(it's probably more effective when I can actually remember the cliche' phrase, but you get the point)
So, I laced on the Zipp 404 race wheels, velcroed on the aero bottle and bento box, and packed up the Perpetuum for the ride. Surprisingly, not many were out there. There's this thing called "taper" and apparently no one has told me about it! There was one other car next to mine with the peverbial mandatory tri-sticker "How 'bout a Threesome?!" and a few other cars, but I was ready to ride by myself and suffer the demons of doing so.
I'm not sure if it was the constant rattling and splashing of my aero bottle (mental note: get that fixed before race day) or the horrific chip sealing on some of the roads, but I could not relax on this ride. I should've just turned the bike computer off because it was acting up on me. Luckily, I was also wearing my Garmin and I was focusing too much on tempo and pacing instead of just riding. Grrr....I hate that. Some of the roads are really bad. As the race director pointed out in an email this week, the roads are cracking all over the place because it's been such a dry summer. It's going to be an interesting ride. At one point, I just let out the biggest high-pitched scream because it was bugging me so much...that and the damn water bottle rattling. I feel sorry for people who are coming out here to discover the beauty of Austin because this course doesn't provide much. There are some really nice picturesque country roads, but I also saw a lot of trash on the side of the roads too. I'm talking couches, old tires, and other furniture. This is NOT a good representation of Austin. Fortunately, the race expo and all other race events are taking place downtown, which provides a much better picture of this wonderful city. Plus, the field is stacked with some great pros who are coming into town including Simon Lessing, Tim DeBoom, Michellie Jones, Lisa Bentley and others.
I was a little light on my nutrition and was definitely feeling the bonk coming on towards the end of the ride, which culminates with the infamous "bitch" and bastard" hills near Decker. With all that being said, I averaged 18.4 miles per hour and never felt like I was pushing it too hard. There were a couple of hard efforts, but my goal was to remain comfortable. Physically, I was comfortable, but mentally, I was irritated and restless. I think the adrenaline and other athletes will help with the mental issues on Sunday. It's just plain hard to ride by yourself for that long. ugh... That average is faster than I rode the course in last year's race, so I'll be happy with that pace on race day. I was tired, but my legs felt fresh for my two-mile brick run off the bike. Last year, I distinctly remember feeling trashed when I got off the bike. Not so at all yesterday. I just have to focus on getting the calories in my body on the bike. (I still had half bottle of perpetuum when I finished yesterday--oops)
Another good thing is that the weather is supposed to be MUCH better than last year's death march. Still, though, the water temp is in the mid-80s so I'm pretty sure wetsuits will be out. Yesterday's ride was a much-needed cycling confidence booster as I've been slacking off a bit on that discipline in favor of more running. Turns out, the rest may have done me some good. Isn't that always the case?!
Here's to my last triathlon of the season! Hard to believe it started with an IRONMAN way back in April. It's been a good year and the Longhorn will celebrate some of those accomplishments.