Well, I attacked about a 4 mile stretch of the Ironman course today, starting with what I call the Roller Coaster, which is just outside of Mt. Horeb, maybe 25-30 miles into the bike, when the serious hills begin. To that point there are one or two serious climbs, but mostly it's just a gradual thing. Starting with the Roller Coaster, there's a significant chunk of fast descents followed by steep climbs, with increasing technical difficulty and degree of slope. This section is actually the easiest of all the "difficult" pieces. My hope and intention is, for the next several training rides I'm out here, to progressively attack each difficult chunk to get familiar and design some kind of strategy for how it'll go.
I attached my camera to my aero bars to see if I could give you some indication of what it's like to ride this beginning section; this is about 2.5 miles or so. The video doesn't do it justice (and YouTube's compression makes it pretty chunky, but whaddyagonnado); you just can't appreciate how fast the descents are or how steep the climbs are - you can hear me breathing, and that's how you know that I'm working pretty hard. But all in all the video turned out pretty well - when you see my fingers flashing in the frame and clicking, that's me shifting gears. And I'm not sure who I'm talking to the whole time, except myself...so when I say "you", I guess I mean "me".
I rode this section (plus an additional 1.5 miles of more of the same) twice, and the second time I really got it down. You'll hear me talk about going 30-some mph - that increased to 41mph later on. You'll also hear me say that the best thing is to stay in the small chain ring - I changed that up, so I stay in the small ring for much of the beginning of this, but then I go into the large chain ring until the very end. The end result was a savings the second time around of probably 2 minutes or so, just from having a smarter strategy in gearing. The whole day is a mental exercise, of course, but on the bike, in these hard climbs and descents, is when it really becomes important to know how to use the bike most effectively and how to save your legs most effectively. If I can practice these technical pieces until they're familiar and I have a strategy, I can save tens of seconds on each hill and make up several more on smart descents. If I can learn to take the many turns and curves at speed, that's even more seconds. Add that up over the course of 112 miles and there are several minutes - maybe as many as 15 or more - that are earned not as as a result of pedaling harder but of pedaling smarter. That's what I'm after. So hopefully the next few weeks - I'm back here the week of the 4th of July - will give me opportunities to really nail some of these pieces down. I'll be back to the next technical section of the course coming up here on Thursday. Maybe I'll be able to shoot some video then as well.
Other than that, went to the bike shop after my ride and bought a new bike computer/cadence monitor, since mine has been crapping out for the last few weeks and I was fist fighting with it all day today. So I should probably go get that on Ol' Blue before it gets too late.
Swimming and some more running tomorrow - I'll see if I can get some action shots of cows or - this was something new I saw today - llamas (!)