After the swim I rushed to my bike, trying to lower my heart rate and relax for the tough bike ride ahead of me. I took my time with this transition First off my left ankle had been bothering me a few weeks leading up to it. So I actually put on a compression sleeve on my ankle under my sock and that took some time. Another thing was as I headed out of transition I stopped so that a volunteer would apply sunscreen on my arms and back, That I should not have done.
the course takes you out of Lake Mead and onto the highway, you go a few miles before you turn right straight into headwinds and climbing. I waited about 5 miles before I took my first GU letting my heart rate settle. I would say after you make that right you head about 17 miles to the turn around fighting winds and hills. Be prepared to fight mentally because this is only the beginning of the tough ride, do not let these miles beat you. I pedaled away passing people up the hills, I’m so glad I introduced a day of hill repeats once a week in my training. The wind is tough but doesn’t affect you as much when you’re climbing you’ll feel it more descending. As I was climbing up this first stretch I saw the Pro’s hammering in the other direction. They must have been 25-30 miles ahead of me and that motivated me.
When you get to the turn around point you might expect to be blasting down those same hills you struggled so much to climb. But I’m sorry to tell you that wont happen exactly as you had planned. The winds were really holding me back, the cross winds kept moving my front wheel and I had to slow myself down at about 40 mph. I was worried that the wind would blow me off the road and crashing was not really in my game plan. So the trick was to race smart and steady. often times because of the winds I was hesitant to decent in the aero position so that was slowing me down as well. When you get back to the main road you start to head into town and the climbing continues. The grade isn’t anything crazy but you are climbing and are hit with head winds.
I was getting frustrated because in my mind I should have been crushing the bike split. It’s my strongest leg and not being able to implement my game plan was not helping with my race mind state. I had already lost time on the swim due to not wearing a wet suite. But I advise you not to get discouraged and keep pedaling on. When the course headed into the more populated area of Henderson the speed did pick up. I found myself having a good tail wind and was hammering away at 28-30 mph but the course designers wont let you enjoy that for too long as they make you turn left back into cross winds and into a climb.
There is one more climb that is totally annoying before getting back into transition the grade isn’t huge but it hurts, as you look at your Garmin and realize that your almost done you wont care. The road leading to transition is right next to the start of the run course so you start cheering people on and get excited to join in on the fun.
This is a tough bike course but with proper hill training you can crush it. I would do it again and definitely have tons of ideas how to change my bike training for a course like this.
Nutrition on the Bike:
2 x 20oz water bottles
1 20oz Gatorade bottle
2 GU Energy Gels
1 Bonk Breaker
2 Cliff Shot Blocks