Warning: for those of you who have been following my blog for the past year+ this is going to sound like a broken record. I know I’m guilty of raving about REV3 races, and yes, I freely admit to being a member of the REV3 Racing Team. However, I wasn’t on the team last year and I still raved about their events, even way back then over a whole year ago! And with good reason. It’s not just because REV3 puts up a good prize purse and takes extremely good care of the professional athletes who come to their races (although of course that helps). They take care of ALL their athletes, pro and amateur, first place and last place and everyone in between, as well as choosing venues that offer fun diversions for the friends and families who come out to cheer. The same friendly REV3 staff is at all the events and they really take the time to talk to you and listen to your feedback—and then respond to it by making improvements the next time around. They are professional, well-organized, and extremely approachable (even towards someone like me who is really shy at heart). And of course, there are the courses themselves…which is what I really want to focus on right now in my reflections on REV3 Portland 2012.

The buzz going into the race was all about the bike course. Last year, due to a last-minute course change beyond the race director’s control, the bike was a completely flat out-and-back (and out-and-back again) ride along Marine Drive between the Portland Airport and the Columbia River. It was certainly scenic and challenging in its own relentless pedal-to-the-metal way but was a far cry from the standard of hills hills plus more hills that REV3 has established in its perennial favorites Quassy and Knoxville. This year the REV3 crew was able to assemble a bike course that completely blew the doors off the barn. It was STUNNING, both in beauty and in difficulty. I had watched the course preview video prior to arriving in Portland, but the video honestly does not capture the epic quality of this course. My thoughts when driving it a few days before the race mostly consisted of “Holy crap!” and “Wow”. Flats, climbs, descents, switchbacks, cliffs, rivers, bridges, you name it—it was all in there, in glorious green Pacific Northwest fashion. The course intimidated me enough that I felt compelled to study it a little more closely and actually ride the most technical sections before the race to get a handle on it. The funny thing was that it was actually much less scary on a bike than in a car! I’m really glad I previewed it on my own two wheels though, from a mental aspect if for nothing else. I went into race day feeling well prepared and excited to get onto that bike!

Overall, I have mixed feelings about how my day went—solid swim, strong and fun-as-all-get-out bike, disappointing run but held on for 6th place—but I can honestly say that the bike ride stands alone as my absolute favorite of any triathlon I have ever done, and I’ve been doing them for thirteen years now. If you’re going for a PR this isn’t the course to do it on, but if you like an honest bike ride through gorgeous scenery with challenging climbs and technical descents, then this is hands-down the course for you. I would encourage each and every one of you triathletes out there to seriously consider giving REV3 a try!

Thanks first and foremost to REV3 for producing yet another stellar event; to Albert for making the long drive from Ogden to pick me up at the Portland Airport; to Valentina and Edward for their support, hospitality, and cheers; to Kira, John, Val, Gemma, Rachel, Nathan, Marie, Daniel, Sue, Zody, and everyone else who rooted for me on the day; and to my sponsors REV3, Powerbar, Recovery Pump, Pearl Izumi, Rudy Project, Blue Seventy, Fezzari, The Bicycle Shoppe, and Maxxis for their part in getting me to the starting line fine-tuned and ready to go.

It’s been quite a string of races for me the past month or so, and I’m ready to take a step back and focus on simply training for a bit. Time to hunker down for the next month, get the work done, and be raring to go for REV3 Wisconsin Dells!

To follow Malaika and her progress, visit: http://malaikahomo.blogspot.com/