I woke up at 5AM on my own with no alarm. Talk about routine. I wish I could sleep in sometimes. We got to the clubhouse and racked our bikes. You had the choice of a 20 mile, 30 mile, 40 mile friendly or 40 mile peppy. You signed up for the
race ride that you wanted the night before. The speeds for the friendly ride were to be 16 MPH and the peppy ride more like 20 MPH. I knew these were lies.
The Bike Rack supplied mechanical support.
After the bikes were racked I went inside and grabbed some coffee. It was much needed. I was very tired from the day before. Breakfast was soon served and we loaded up our plates. I talked with some of the athletes that I had met the night before. While still snacking the coaches took center stage to discuss the mornings topic:
“There’s More to Bike Training than Simply Riding”
The first part of the lecture was all about hills. That is a sore subject here in Mississippi. You see, you have to go and find most of the hills. Oh, we have a few but they are not everywhere. When I lived in Indiana (believe it or not but the southern part of the state is VERY hilly – it is not just corn fields) it was often stated that it is not a hill unless it has a name. For example, Bear Wallow, Breakfast / Lunch / and Dinner and numerous other monikers. By that definition, the only true hills that I know around here are red and white bluff.
But anyway, the bullet points for riding (tackling as I like to call it) are:
- relax your body
- stay aero as long as possible – basically, if you can feel the wind then stay aero. Your chest acts like a parachute.
- standing can be more powerful but it is less efficient. It also uses different muscles so it can be beneficial. Small athletes are better at standing – less weight to support.
- divide the hill into thirds and pace yourself. The first third should not be any harder effort than on the flats.
- power over the hills and get back up to speed as quick as possible – don’t stop at the top of the hill.
- train what you race – if you are going to a hilly race then train on hills – pretty simple but you would be surprised.
We mounted up by group and hit the road. Grabbed a water bottle. Took a group picture.
The ride took off and Justin Daerr was leading our group. The pace was brisk. Nothing major. However, once we turned onto a main road the speed increased. I was on my road bike. If you remember I had a crash last month and I was ridding with a bunch of people that I do not know. I was on a wheel but I was cautious. The pace line was like a slinky. I stayed in about 4th position. The pace was still brisk or comfortably hard but nothing major. We soon turned across the reservoir and straight into the wind. We had been instructed to stay in groups of 5 so that automobile traffic could pass easily. I let the first group go ahead and started following at a good distance. Nick (from TX) was pulling at this point and at a good pace. But, as happens in these rides, it was not fast enough. Nick was soon overtaken. The next rider got a gap on us of about 100 feet and then promptly exploded. Another rider went around us. It happens. However, we were able to bridge the gap. We were now on the Natchez Trace. This is the part of the ride that the Heat Wave is on (I’m already signed up by the way). It is deceptive. You are flying and thinking you are strong but it is all down hill. Very soon the some of the riders in the first group (which we had caught) turned around. Some continued on. I looked at my cyclometer and we had already gone 20 miles. I made a u-turn. Now we were riding uphill. I was in fourth position. The rider in third was starting to fade and a gap was developing. I made the decision to bridge the gap and stick with the front runners. There were three of us, Tyler from Jackson and John from Hattiesburg. They were both on their race bikes. I was on the road bike and continued to enjoy the draft. I did not take many pulls but when they started to fade I jumped to the front to keep the pace high.
Gordo on the 30 mile ride
At some point John dropped off and it was me and Tyler. A few miles later, from out of nowhere John bridged the gap. He had been working hard. Next Tyler dropped off. Now it was me and John. John was still putting up a fight but he was pretty cooked at some points. We passed the 20 miler group on the way back, but not knowing the area we stopped at the last turn to make sure we were on the right track. At this point Tyler flew by. I jumped and made a hard sprint to grab his wheel. We were now all back together and trading pulls. I was fresher than the others, thanks to the free ride.
I pulled into the transition but my running shoes were inside. My T2 times was slow. John had taken off for the 4 mile run. Once my shoes were on I decided to try to run John down. He had a pretty good lead on me but I was closing the gap. I was having a good time just playing. I caught John about a quarter mile from the turn around aid station. We ran for a bit together. I dropped John at the aid station. I wanted him to come with me, but …
After the ride and run I was pretty spent. It was a challenging ride and a challenging run. The ride averaged just over 20 MPH and the run was just under 7 minute miles.
Hot and sweaty
I changed clothes quickly and then I discovered the pool. It was cold – perfect for recovery. I did not get in all of the way but it was nice lounging around after the ride.
Lounging at the pool
Me and Tyler lounging by the pool
Lunch was served soon after. Next was afternoon sessions for training for short course or HIM & IM. I’ll have to save all of these TIPS for another post.
After dinner the coaches had another session and then Gordo had a book signing for Going Long: Training for Triathlon's Ultimate Challenge (Ultrafit Multisport Training Series).
How cool is that!
Once we got home, Jeff, Kendrick and I had a beer and talked some more shop. However, we were even more tired. We turned in much earlier than the night before.