Let’s be honest the bike course is hilly! To be totally honest it is really hilly! Finally to be brutally honest if you are smart, ride with a plan and stick to it! The hills can be conquered, here are my thoughts on how.
First having a plan in mind is the best approach; however, executing that ride plan doesn’t happen for everyone. Because I feel my preview ride went so well, I will officially say that the following plan is now my race day game plan. Let’s remember that I am racing the olympic distance triathlon on Saturday. The idea is survive Saturday, enjoy the course, the people, the fans, the teammates. Cheer everyone on, from the leaders who disappear over the horizon before I even get in the water, to the last of the racers who dig deeper than they ever anticipated and find a way to reach the finish. That’s my approach, feed off the energy of everyone around me, and don’t over do it on Saturday.
That still leaves Sunday. The ride statistics, I reached 46 mph on the big downhills. I climbed 4,200 feet over the 56 miles and stayed within effort levels. We stopped twice, once for waters because my riding partner underestimated the fluids necessary for the ride, I used all 3 water bottles I had filled for the ride consumed 1 PowerBar Bar and 4 gels.
I expect to need a little more on race day due to the prior day and the swimming 1.2 before the ride. The preview ride was harder than we expected fighting strong winds. The winds changed directions constantly as did the course so it felt like if you weren’t fighting a head wind then you were fighting a nasty cross wind. I tried to make the best of it and stayed in aero the entire time, well two of the descents I had to come out because I knew there intersections at the bottom and stopping was mandatory.
Tips and take aways; if you are racing the half rev3 triathlon and haven’t gone up to ride the course I would study the map as much as possible and really understand where the hills are. The opening section, turtle or tuttle road through middle road are filled with small rolling hills and present some false flats. On Race Day, make sure to eat here but don’t drop the hammer here and speed past everyone. If you can hold back and get your legs warm and underneath you then you have set yourself up for the middle section of the ride, route 254. When you hang the left onto rout 254 get some nutrition in your system, the beginning of the climb here is long and slow so eating before you reach the bigger hills is key to staying fueled for the remainder of the ride. I really like the PowerBar gels but I might try to take in a full bar here.
Miles 23 through 30 honestly make up the toughest part of the course. I look at it as 7 miles of climbing. The below elevation chart presents the hill work. This is a key section and for me, as staying in aero the entire time is going to be my method to finishing strong. You can be king of the hills back here but you will be in a world of hurt come miles 45 through 56.
Miles 30 through 45 are smaller changes in elevation but still you are climbing. With every passing hill you should expect to be working hard. If you find your heart rate skyrocketing you should really settle down on the aero bars and spin, seriously drop out of the bigger gears and just spin because you will need your legs for the final miles and you have to keep something in the tank for the run.
Miles 45 to 50 are enjoyable, soft farm land and some excellent descents await you here. Before you reach the big drops make sure to take in the heavier nutrition. This is also a great chance to pee if you can on the bike. I did during the preview. It isn’t the prettiest part of triathlon but it is part of being on the bike for three hours. Personally after my crash (photo below) I have a hard time getting out of my own head on big drops, sometimes I am fine if I can sit in the smooth section of the road and just effortlessly glide down the hill.
If there is traffic and I have to hang on the shoulder I usually sit up and ride the breaks. Do what keeps you comfortable, there is no reason your heart should spike here because mentally you panic. Finally miles 50 through 56, the home stretch returning on middle town road and turtle or tuttle road. Other people will already be out running, the key here is not to get absorbed in their race. Cheer them on like you want to be cheered but don’t suddenly undo all the good you did by saving yourself. A novice will ride too hard here and bonk during the run. Don’t fight the false flats here, once again if you have liquids and nutrition left get it in your body for the run. Hang the left onto Sherman Road and start spinning out those legs. There is one final little hill just because the course wouldn’t be complete without it and then you are back at Quassy Amusement Park.
Dismount (I say do it slowly so you don’t crash into the person in front of you. There is always some triathlete who thinks they are going to save themselves the key 10 seconds during the dismount by attempting the jump off in one clean move and that person usually bites it).
I know I covered a lot here and probably opened more questions than closed them. Feel free to ask, I’ve done the course both Oly and Half a handful of times as training rides and races. Drop me a comment below and let me know your thoughts on my race day game plan, your strategy or what you would do or have done to conquer Quassy and the REV3 Triathlon.
~ Daniel Schiemel