Remember Ride Cincinnati?? The 100k bike ride I did last year after my usual training ride was about a third of that? The ride that I was thrilled to conquer because I spent a good portion of it being miserable?
It was that time again. This year, though, I was optimistic about what it would bring. I've done longer rides this year and I can keep up with the group really well. I can ride up crazy hills. (I still hate them though.) I knew it would go better this time around, I just didn't know how much better. And, a few days beforehand, a friend posted about how ridiculous the mile 25 hill and the mile 32-immediately-post-turnaround hill is and how it's so bad you can barely keep your bike moving, and I got nervous about them again. But I know I did them last year, and I know I sucked as a cyclist last year, compared to now at least, and last year I NEVER rode hills. I would be ok.
First of all, I will so do the event again. I love this ride. However, I will never again pick up my packet the day of. Parking sucked. I was trying to get into the parking lot, turning left, and alllll the people turning right would not let me in. I ended up whipping around, squealing my tires (I am NOT nice before 6 AM) and finding a spot farther out. By the time I rode to packet pickup, got my stuff (and maneuvered around the many cyclists riding all willy-nilly), took it back to my car and rode back to the start, there were only 5 minutes to go. Luckily, I still managed to find my group.
There was the sloooooow start over the bridge again, and one of the guys in our group got a flat tire. Seriously. We weren't even over the bridge into KY yet! Haha. A few of them stayed back, the rest of us moved on, and I ended up AHEAD of the group. I wasn't trying to be, but I did want to make this a good training ride. Not necessarilly FAST....well, ok, I did want to be competitive with my time from the year before, but moreso, I wanted to see if I could maintain a comfortable but steady pace, and an easy gear/high cadence combo. I've been reading up on Ironman stuff and it sounds like THAT is the way to do an Ironman bike, in order to keep your legs from getting completely blown up before the run.
I accomplished ALL of those goals and then some. These are the highlights:
-Made it to the 31 point whatever turnaround in 1:53, nearly 10 minutes faster than last year's time.
-That hill at mile 25? I KILLED it. It still wasn't fun, but I high cadenced my way up that mother and felt strong about it. I was surprised when I reached the top because it felt relatively quick.
-OK, the last few miles between that hill and the turnaround were kinda blah. They're quite rolling, and at that point, I was getting hungry. I was dying for those animal crackers. I love animal crackers.
-Yep, the rolling hills sucked coming back, too. The first hill after the turnaround was the worst part of that ride, but that wasn't even TOO bad. It just sucked because I probably took too long of a break and my legs had locked up a bit. Even so, I was able to strike up a conversation with someone and laugh as I was going up that hill - until I freaking got ahead of him!
-Yes, *I* was PASSING people on hills!!! I know, I couldn't believe it either.
-I felt strong the whole entire ride. No lie. I passed lots of people in the last handful of miles.
-The other hills on the ride? Piece. Of. Cake.
-I hit 50 miles in less than 3 hours. That wasn't even my goal but it was total icing on the cake. I saw 49.8 and 2:59 and I gunned it, while staring at the Garmin (not smart!) to see if I could do it. Yep, it still said 2:59 when I hit 50.
-I pretty much did the race all by my lonesome. I chatted with people here and there, but didn't have anyone to talk to. And...I was good with it. I got a little bored, but not torturously so. Honestly, I figure it's good IM training, since I won't have company on the bike. I still enjoyed it, and time seemed to pass pretty quickly.
-Not only did I keep the same speed throughout, I negative split that bad boy. I was at 16.5 average at the turnaround. I finished at 16.6 average....and it came down from 16.8 in the last 3 miles because we hit town and had to ride single-file and deal with lights and traffic.
-Nutrition was good for the ride. One bottle of gatorade (which I had to keep reminding myself to drink because it wasn't that hot, but I knew I was starting to bonk at the halfway point), plus bread with pb, a large portion of animal crackers (yay!!!!), some trail mix and a gel (for the caffeine - did I mention I had to get up at 5 am?) at the turnaround.
-I think I will want to eat about 25% more than that when I do a half ironman. I was pretty hungry afterward, and I'll still need to fuel a run.
-I did it in 3:45. 40 minutes faster than last year, feeling about 100% better. Rock. On.
If I can keep building up the mileage, at this rate, I think I can feel good about the bike leg of the Ironman.