Don’t worry folks; Maverick does not endeavor to join the Dead Moose Society. Smart bike that he is, my handsome Cannondale is content with the squirrel sticker on his lapel. This weekend he did, however, lock eyes with the Mooseman course. The net-net: Mav’s a wee bit intimidated. Good thing we’ve got six days to work through that not-so-irrational fear.
Yesterday Mav and I and a minivan-full of tri gear headed 2.5 hours north to Newfound Lake, home of the Mooseman Half Ironman which takes place (gulp) next weekend and will be my (double gulp) very first 70.3 race. My training plan called for three hours of saddle time, so I decided to preview next weekend’s course whilst getting in the day’s ride–kill two birds with one stone if you will. (Only figuratively; for the record, no life form higher than the lowly insect met its Maker on account of me and Mav yesterday.)
Here’s the day, regurgitated:
* Playing with the big boys. The wicked-fast athletes dominate any course the weekend prior, so yesterday Mav and I got to ogle Orbeas and their SPIUK-clad sprinters. “Damn, you’re good!” I breathlessly told one as he blazed up a hill going at least 18 mph and I struggled up at an anemic 5.7 mph. “Hang in there!” he effortlessly chirped.
* Meanies! I eventually got over my giddy groupiness, stopped ogling and got down to business. When Mooseman was sold to WTC two years ago, the 70.3 bike course was completely retooled. It has always been a two-loop course, but there was lots of parking-lot moaning that the present-day loop was so much harder than the old (which still serves as the Oly course). So I decided to ride one loop of each for comparision’s sake. In short: the parking-lot moaning was not just hot air; WTC folks are clearly sado-masochistic. No 56-mile ride is a walk in the park, but the old course with its rolling hills pales in comparision to the treacherous climbs–and crazy descents–that the present-day course inflicts. For those who are fluent (or at least proficient) in Garmin-ese, here is my file from yesterday’s Tour de Newfound Lake:
The outer ring is the present-day course–we’ll do that twice next week. The inner ring that hugs the lake–that’s the old course. Click “View Details” on the lower righthand corner of the map and look at the elevation chart; up to 25 miles, that’s the profile of the new loop; after 25 miles–that’s the profile of the old loop. Pretty significant difference, huh?!? On the second tme around, I am told, “mailboxing” (that’s zig-zagging across the street, as if delivering mail to both sides in one pass) is de rigeur for riders who fall into the “mere mortals” category.
* At least they’ve a sense of humor. Dunno if it was intentional or not, but the worst climb ends at, kid you not, the intersection of Blood Road. Blood Road, I say! Lord knows mine was drained at that point–which is only at Mile 9 of the course. I am intrigued to see how it will feel on race day when I hit it for the second time, around Mile 34.
* “Make mine a double!” As I reached Blood Road, it occurred to me that the organizers should offer race-day transfusions here, perhaps with a shot of the EPO Hincapie allegedly supplied to Lance. Sorry–my sense of humor is an acquired taste 🙂
* Bugs and speed don’t mix. It hurts like hell when a bug hits your face as you descend at 37.8 miles per hour.
* Open mouth, insert…bug. It’s even worse if your mouth is opened on aforementioned descent; the bug plays a painful pinball with your uvula.
* My tight-lipped plan. Note to self: keep mouth closed on descents.
* Cute doesn’t cut it. My biggest disappointment du jour: the wicked cute Pearl iZumi gloves I just bought specifically to make me feel pretty whilst rocking the bike course turned out to be as uncomfortable as they are cute. So it’s back to last season’s comfy but snot-covered Body Geometrys. (Sorry–was that TMI?)
* LeAnne was right. My Ironwoman friend LeAnne told me I would need no more tush cushioning on a half IM’s 56-mile ride than I need on an Oly or sprint; she said I should wear my tri suit with its barely-there padding and not full bike shorts for “anything less than a full IM”. (God love her, she assumes I will step up to the full monty within a year or two). I definitely doubted that my tush was ready to absorb 56 miles of bumps with just a tri suit between it and the saddle but of course, LeAnne was right. Tush survived. I will doubt you no more, LeAnne! 🙂
* Speaking of blood… Remember that 70s song Spinning Wheel by Blood Sweat & Tears? Thought about that alot yesterday, yes I did; as the song’s opening line says, “what goes up must come down”…and for me descents are harder than climbs. I am a-OK about a four-mile-long-uphill-sufferfest, but show me one of those “CAUTION–STEEP GRADE” signs on the descent and I kinda-sorta freak out. It’s a well-founded fear; ask my fam to tell you the “CJ & sled meet undercarriage of car” story (vintage 1976) or the “CJ gets first three-speed bike and we forget to tell her the brakes are no longer engaged via backwards pedalling” story (circa 1979). Bottom line: bad things have happened to me on descents. Fortunately, Maverick feels the need for speed–just like his namesake. So I’ll let him lead come Sunday.
Well, bigdeepbreaths, from here on out it’s all downhill to race day. Keep your mouths closed as you descend and remember the brakes are not engaged via backward pedalling.
May the SPUIKs be with you,