Tuesday, March 07, 2006

IMWI Bike Course Recon...

I was able to finish my recon mission this past weekend in Madison - me and Grandpa wended and winded our way around rural Wisconsin, charting all things. I'm glad to have done it and have a sense for what comes where to keep in mind these next months as I get serious on the bike, and particularly when I can get back to Madison to train on the course. I did shoot video of everything, about 20 minutes long, but it's something like 800MB for me to put online, and that seems a little impractical - and I'm not entirely how useful it is anyway. But, if anybody feels like the video would be a useful part of this, or at least photos, let me know and I'll see what I can do and when I can do it.

Note - this is the '05 course - they haven't made any announcements yet to if or what they might be changing in '06. Probably useful too to go through this step by step with the IMWI maps provided by Ironman:

Course description

Course map

The course starts just off of Lake Monona, at Monona Terrace. This is, of course, where the swim ends. The first 6 miles or so are metropolitan - we start by heading Southeast on John Nolen Drive, which is a straight shot of about a mile.

Just after Lake Monona ends on John Nolen Drive, we jump off onto a bike path that will take us under John Nolen Drive. There was a series of asphalt trails here, so I couldn't gauge what was our path, but it looked pretty short. It exists on the opposite side of John Nolen Drive and connects to Sayle St., crossing a rail road. Sayle takes a sharp jog to the right, where Sayle becomes Van Deusen St. Another block or so take us to Colby, which then takes us another block or so to Olin Avenue. Once we get off of John Nolen Drive, I guess it's not more than 2 miles before we're out of the winding residential area and onto Olin Avenue, which is more of a thoroughfare.

Once on Olin, we turn almost immediately into the Alliant Energy Center parking lot - this entrance was blocked, so I wasn't able to get in and actually chart this route. It's a big complex, so somehow we maneuver around it to Rusk Avenue before getting onto Rimrock. Probably another 1 mile or so. I picked the course back up again coming off of Rusk and turning right onto Rimrock. This entire section of the race is flat, and I imagine full of people and spectators.

Rimrock overpasses the main highway around Madison, called The Beltline. This overpass manufactures a small hill to get up and over. Otherwise, Rimrock is flat and straight, and looks to be the first opportunity to really settle in and get organized on the bike. Rimrock is 2 miles or so, descending at the end to turn quickly left onto Oregon Road, then right onto McCoy Road, which then becomes Syene Road. At this point, rather abruptly, we're in countryside and have been on the bike for about 6 miles. Syene introduces some mostly unchallenging rolling hills, remarkable only because until now it's been mostly entirely flat.

2 miles on Syene and we'll turn right on Irish Lane for less than .5 miles, then onto Caine for less than a mile. Neither road is too remarkable. At around 9.5 - 10 miles into the bike we get onto Whalen Road, which is a long stretch of road that will take us further away from Madison, and get us to the looping point. This stretch is our doorway to and from the meat of the IMWI course.

Whalen Road is about 6 miles long, and is made up of long ascents and descents. The length, and not the grade of the ascents might be what presents any difficulty. I'll be careful not to underestimate the ascents on my way to the IM Loop, taking it really easy and saving my legs. The tail end of Whalen gets into residential Verona - people to welcome us from the trek from Madison!

Whalen turns right onto County Route M, which continues about a mile or a little more before turning left onto Locust, then Right onto Bruce, and finally left onto Route 69. Our time on Locust and Bruce is just a few city blocks.

Route 69 (Paoli) is a wide highway, leaving the residential area of Verona. We'll be on it about .5 miles - at this point around 18 miles into the race. We go underneath highway 18/151, and turn right onto Valley Road.

Valley Road starts off right away with a climb that, racing the same road last year at the Wisconsin Triterium, I remember not being much fun. Again, I'll be working hard to save my legs (a bit oxymoronic, that statement...). Valley Road in general is the first significantly hilly part of the course. Valley Road is about 1 mile, and climbs uphill at the end before turning right onto Sugar River Road. Sugar River Road continues this uphill climb, so with the slow of the climb and the turn, this might be a bit of a challenging intersection.

Sugar River Road is about 1 mile, and is mostly downhill, making up for the climb up Valley Road. However, it's a pretty windy road with some sharp turns, so I think I'll be riding my brakes quite a bit on the downhill - and will have to work turns and curves into my training wherever I can, because the course if full of them.

About 20 miles into the race we turn off of Sugar River Road, right onto Marsh View Road. Marsh View Road is about .5 unremarkable miles before jumping left onto Cty. Route G, which finally affords another opportunity to stop thinking and just pedal.

Cty G. starts out with a fast, long descent - about .5 miles or more. After that it's about 4 miles of rolling hills, some long and slow, some shorter and a bit more steep. This could be a challenging stretch before descending the last .5 miles or so, turning right onto Route 92.

Route 92 starts off of the turnoff with an immediate climb - so again, slowing down to make the turn and heading right into an ascent will slow things down a bit - and quash the momentum from coming down at the end of Cty. G. Route 92 is about 5 miles long, and about 2 miles into it - about mile 27 of the course - there's the most significant climb on this stretch. Otherwise it's a pretty rolling stretch, but not as hilly at Cty. G. was. Mostly on this stretch, whatever we ascend is equaled on the other side in the descent. The last mile or so - starting at around mile 30 of the race - starts a slow climb into the town of Mt. Horeb, where we'll turn right onto 8th street.

8th street is a short residential road, mostly insignificant. It turns right onto County Route S, which is a new road, so it's nicely surfaced. Cty. S. is about a mile, mostly flat.

Turning left onto Witte, about 33 miles or so into the race, and this road immediately falls onto a long descent, which leads back to a long ascent. This road is about 1.5 miles, and is the hilliest road yet, with lots of short, quick hills, some a bit steep. At this stage in the course, this road starts a challenging section. There's another long ascent at the end of Witte, taking us to a right turn onto County Route J.

Cty Route J is short, but continues the same terrain as Witte steep up and downs. It will be a challenge here to keep fresh legs throughout.

Turning left onto Garfoot at about 35 miles into the race, the terrain continues. There's a decent right away, then a long ascent for the rest of the mile or so of Garfoot before it jogs off left onto Mineral Point Road.

Mineral Point Road is maybe .10 of a mile or so, downhill, before turning right onto Garfoot's continuation. Garfoot on this stretch is mostly downhill, and essentially the worst climbing of the loop is behind you. There are a few short climbs on this stretch, and it's really winding, but it's mostly downhill or level ground for about 4 miles before turning right onto County Route K-P (which, incidentally, is marked by an amusing sign that's hidden immediately - like, inches away - behind a stop sign).

Cty. K-P is maybe 1.5 miles long, and takes us into the town of Crosspoint Plains. Turning right onto Bourbon Road, which is a wide street, it's a short jog until we turn right again, heading south now on County Route P. At this point we're probably 41 miles or so into the race.

Cty. P is flat and fast for about a mile or a little more before we turn left onto Stagecoach Road. Stagecoach is about 1.5 miles long, again flat and fast, and then we turn right onto North Birth Trail.

North Birch Trail remains pretty flat for about a mile, when it becomes Old Sauk Pass after a sharp turn left (that's kind of blind and appears on the outset that you're actually pulling into a farmstead or something.)

Old Sauk Pass is mostly flat and very windy, on a pretty narrow road. There's a long climb at about mile 46 of the race that's about .5 - .75 miles long, and winding. The first challenging hill we've seen in more than 10 miles, however.

Old Sauk Pass Road gets hillier as it continues, before turning hard right at about 49 miles in, where it becomes Timber Lane. Timber Lane has an initial long climb before leveling out again into a residential area of. The terrain on the last half of Old Sauk Pass and into the first part of Timber Lane is similar to some of the long, slow climbs that we first see in the race on Syene and Whalen. Timber Lane is also the first road that wasn't in pretty great shape during the race. After the initial mile or so Timber Lane flattens out pretty well again.

Timber Lane is about 5 miles long or a little less, and the last section is pretty much downhill, making for a fast descent before turning left onto Midtown Road. However, it is pretty windy with some signifcant hard turns.

Turning left onto Midtown Road, we again have a mostly unremarkable climb right away. Midtown is a short road with some really substantial houses (estates) on our left, before turning right onto Shady Oak Lane.

Shady Oak Lane is about a 2.5 mile stretch, and windy - like the rest of the short sections of the course - but downhill or flat.

Turning right off of Shady Oak Lane, we turn left onto Cty PD at around 54 miles or so into the race. Cty PD is a mostly unremarkable 1/3 mile before turning right onto North Nine Mound Road.

North Nine Mound Road is about .5 miles or so, flat and fast. It brings us back into the city of Verona, where our loop originates. It turns left onto Cross Country Road.

Cross Country Road is about a mile long, in residential Verona. The road is in good shape and is flat. We'll turn right off of it, onto County Route M, which is also Main Street Verona.

Less than a mile on Main Street brings us to the intersection of Main Street and Verona Ave - we're just up the road from Locust Ave, which is very close to where our loop starts. This will be a packed intersection as it's in the business district of Verona, and is a great stretch for friends and family and spectators.

Turning left on Verona Avenue at about 56 miles into the race or so, Verona Avenue opens up into a less residential road after about .5 miles or so. We'll turn right onto Old Hwy PB. Less than an unremarkable mile on PB and we'll intersect Whalen - turn to the right to repeat the lap, or turn left to head back into Madison, essentially going back exactly the way we came.

Some overall thoughts:

The hilliness of the course is hard to judge in the car - what doesn't seem like a difficult climb in a car can be tough on the bike. Still, it's that 5 mile section from Witte to the end of Garfoot Part 1 that presents the most serious climbs on the course.

That said, the whole course is hilly, but there are some long stretches of relief. As my Grandpa said - "there are lots of descending hills on the course. Too bad you have to climb to get to 'em!"

The course is as winding as it is hilly, maybe more. There are spots where navigating the curves is going to slow a person down as much as climbing hills might. The rider who practices curvy descents and keeping speed through turns will have advantages.

It's going to be a really, really beautiful ride. Have to remember to lift my head up and take it in to enjoy it!


Michael Anderson said...

Wow, what a blog. As usual, full of detail.

I think I'll station myself on North Birth Trail to watch you, that sounds interesting.

I wonder if we'll have time to tour the Romeo and Juliet sites in fair Verona.

Over all I've enjoyed that your posts deal with so many aspects with your training. The workouts, the gadgets, the psychology, the environment, the community - and more. And each of these in such great detail. You've truly approached this with all the breadth and depth you can. Amazing. And you have a life too? Career and family? God bless you for living a full life. ~Mike

Todd said...


xt4 said...

Aye; the way I figure, this is my one shot (I cannot grow old in Salem's Lot, feet fail me not, this may be the only opportunity that I got) to do this. Because it is, as you can see and know and are experiencing, all consuming. Nevermind the incidentals like limiting my late nights, or how often I go out to eat, or even what we're eating around here for dinner. The sacrifices on myself and the people close to me are pretty huge with this lifestyle, and it's not sensible for me to think, or want, that I should do it more than this once. I imagine and hope I'll always do triathlon and stay in this lifestyle, but to this extent - it's only so practical. Even if I get to do another Ironman someday, it won't be like this. So this is my one shot to have as complete an experience as possible. Might as well do it right - Esse Quam Videri!

Paula said...

Thank you so much for the information on the ride... I think :)I am doing WI also and have heard the rumors of the unbelievable hills. I am trying to not focus on that part of the race, until I actually start. One event at a time. Like you, I am going to take it in and enjoy it as much as you can enjoy biking 112 miles and then having to do a marathon!