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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ironman Cycle

The cycle part is a 180km (112 miles) which was basically 2 laps in the Austrian countryside with 2 hills and 2 loops per lap.

From the start you went out along a footpath in a park and then joined the road which followed the lake for about 10 miles. This road was gently undulating but was tree covered so gave some rest bite from the warm conditions of 34c (93 F).

When just about to reach the start of the smaller loop on the lap there was a "nice" hill which was the smaller of the two hills on the lap. Below is a video of this hill found on YouTube, it was well supported it felt like being in Tour de France apart from I was doing about 8 mph up the hill !!

For the next few miles it was fairly flat. I then only about 26 miles caught up to and then overtook my younger brother, I was getting a bit worried on the bike as I had not caught him up.

When we got about 30 miles in at the far west of the route I recognized one of the names on the sign going the other way, it was Villach. As this is where the official race beer Villacher is made, I had been sampling this throughout the week in the build up to the race, mmm.

The next 20 miles or so what flat and even some downhill sections!!

The roads had been closed off apart from race vehicles and first aid. The locals did not seem to mind it looked like they were having a party with neighbors and also cheering us on.

After joining the big loop of the lap there was a nice undulating 10 miles came the other hill/mountain. It is height is 686m (2,250 ft) above sea level but the lake was already at 400m (1,300 ft) above sea level, which still left a big climb over the next 2.5km (1.5 miles). On the route map it is listed with a max incline of 11.7% and an average of 5.92%

There was plenty of support on this section and lots of writing on the road (a la Tour de France) at this point I was even overtaking people as I was going up the hill in lowest gear doing about 7 mph!!

Once reaching the top there was a good view of the mountains in the distance which some still were snow capped. There was also a DJ playing music and supporting (I assume as was in German) which you could hear getting closer to the top of the incline.

The remainder of the loop was either flat or down hill which helped get my average speed back up after the slow incline especially using my aerobars.

At each of the aid stations I was ensuring I had enough fluids until the next stop which was about every 15 miles (20 km). I was also having gels, energy bars and banana (both cut in half - easier to open and enough to eat). Due to the different sports drinks they were using here I did not need to add any salt tablets to the mixture, this made it one less thing to carry and made refuelling at the aid stations easier and quicker. I had a packet of RideShots (sports sweets) in my bike bag which I was eating one every 20 minutes or so.

At the end of the lap you headed back in to Klagenfurt passing their football stadium which one of the stadiums used in the UEFA Euro 2008 championship. It looked like a silver UFO had landed on the building, it did look good in the sunshine.

As I got about 400m from the end of my first lap some motorbikes went past and then the woosh of the leader Marino Vanhoenacker came flying past after doing both his 2 laps but he was going for his 5th race win here. It did make me laugh to myself as I got to the more crowded sections as I was the next person after the leader (he was a good country mile ahead of the second place) so looked like I was second until I turned round to start my second lap. On my cycle GPS I noticed I had done the first lap in 3:22 which I was pleased with due to the heat and few inclines.

Ironman Austria

About 1km after this was the special needs aid station. I had put another bag of RideShots and some other gels. I took the other gels in my bike bag as a backup if I needed something between aid stations. I opened the RideShots packet up and attempted to have one, the only problem was they had melted in the heat in to a single blob of sticky stuff!! So I decided not to take them and carried on.

About 10 minutes along the heavens literally opened up, there was thunder, lightening and heavy rain. Over the last few days we had joked it must be 2:30pm as it seemed that was when in thundered, this was over an hour earlier the normal. This then produced a couple of issues of the cycle glasses steaming up, plus the rain was so heavy in volume it was knocking leaves and small branches off the trees and flooding the road. It was becoming quite difficult to get a safe route through luckily the roads were generally in good condition so you did not have to worry too much about pot holes just getting punctures with the amount of crap now washed on to the road now. The next issue was the drop of temperature from 34C to 19C with being fatigued and wet (drowned rat style) I was concerned about getting cold or even pneumonia (not sure how likely that actually was).
This lasted for about 20 minutes which slowed my pace down a bit, I was glad in a way I was in the treed section as the rest of the course would been even more open to the elements. Within about 30 minutes the temperature was back up to 34C. I knew my top would dry quickly due to the heat and speed going at however my socks and feet I was concerned as I did not want to get blister or too wet feet before starting the marathon. Due to having my summer cycling shoes they had more breathable and holes in them to help with ventilation which also helped get more water in. After a few miles I realized if I get a speed up I could stop pedaling and tilt my foot by 90c down to let the water drip out of the ventilation hole. After repeating this for each foot a few times there were getting dry again.

The second lap was starting to get tougher and when finally reached the bug hill again I decided to copy the person ahead of me. They were zig zagging up the hill, I only did this from about 2/3 the way up and only in my side of the road. The theory of this goes back to 3d trigonometry were you decreasing the angle (incline) by going further along the hypotenuse while the opposite height remains the same. The only slight drawback is you will go slightly further but it will be at an easier angle. So GCSE and A-Level Mathematics does come in handy.

From then on you knew it was all down hill from there to the end :-)

There was a lot less people supporting when I was on my second lap, not sure due to the thunder or people going to watch the run.

The last few 100m's of the ride were through the park the main problem was watching out for bumps across the path.

Ironman Austria

From official race timings that we crossed through out the course is my average speed (in mph) for that section and my average for the race. From this you can see my first lap was a lot quicker than the second lap which about 40 minutes slower. This was due to a combination of endurance, heat and rain. However for the last 40km my pace was starting to pick but was still slower than my average. My bike time was 7:13:02 which makes the average of 15.5 mph which I was pleasantly surprised with on this distance and course/conditions.


On next to T2.

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