Ironman St. George — The Bike

Time: 6:35:51

Pace: 17.0 mph

M 35-39: 100/297

Overall: 518/1,634

This may be my favorite result of the entire race. You will notice I started the bike in 880th place overall and ended up in 518th place overall. That made me smile. Real. Big. I rode hard this winter and monitored my progress closely to make sure I was at my peak fitness. I lost weight to make sure I wasn’t carrying unnecessary weight up the hills. According to a book I read, my ideal race weight is at 172 lbs. at 10.5% body fat. All the sacrifices I made in diet and the time spent working out were worth it on race day.

Why my bike is faster than yours…powered by John Deere.

I broke the ride up into three sections – the lead out 22 miles, the first loop, and finally the second loop. I wanted to ride the bike measuring everything by power and not by speed or heart rate. I knew this was the most accurate way to pace. I wanted to spin but keep the watts low at about 160 for that section. There are a couple of climbs that needed to be respected, and the downhills I didn’t want to go too hard on. I was running a 12-28 on my rear cassette to help me spin on the hills.

The first loop of the canyon I knew would be the time I could fry my legs because of enthusiasm. There is about 3,000 ft. of climbing during the loop, which really means you need to pace yourself carefully. I wanted to keep my heart rate lower, so I planned to really take it easy on the flats and downhills but work hard on the steep climbs. There are some real serious downhills too, and I wanted to put in a hard effort to keep my times down. I wanted to average about 160 watts on this loop.

The second loop I wanted to take it easy and keep my legs solid for the run. I wanted to slow down and drop my power to about 150 watts because I was going to take it easy on the downhills going back into town. I knew it would cost me some time, but resting the legs for about 30 minutes while I cruised down was the plan. I wanted to have somewhat of fresh legs for the run.

I started out of the state park by the lake and just started to spin. As I entered the highway I saw my buddy Bruce at the corner. It was a great lift to see him there and enjoying his day. I kept an eye on my PowerMeter and started on my nutrition bottles. I had three 250 calorie bottles of Infinit on my bike along with some Enduralytes. I started passing people at the very beginning. It is really tough to not draft on the bike on an Ironman bike course. There was more drafting that I see in other races, but under the circumstances I think everyone made a real solid effort to not draft. There was drafting, but not on purpose. I think everyone I saw wanted to be compliant, but with the course it was harder than normal. I didn’t participate in some of the groups that I would see.

For this section I averaged 154 watts and 142 bpm, a little lower than I wanted to be. The normative power was at 195 watts. My average speed for this section was 17.29 mph. I thought I would be a little faster as I am easily a 21.0 mph guy on most of my rides. There was a 2,500 ft. climb and 2,700 ft. drop on this section, so it was a net elevation loss. The climbs did drop my average speed a little. It took me 1:16 and I felt great. It was at the end of this section that I saw my family and friends at the elementary school.

The first loop was actually fun. I put in a solid effort in on this portion of the ride. I wanted to average 160 watts and I ended up at 161 watts, with my normative power at 196 watts. My heart rate was at 145 bpm for this loop. The climbs that they talk about on this loop are everything people talk about and more. There is 5,750 ft. of climbing on the loop according to my Garmin. Of course you have the same amount of descending, so it evens out. But you still have to climb the mountains. My average speed ended up at about 17.60 mph on this loop. The total time on this loop was 2:30:01.

I continued to drink my Infinit right on schedule and never felt tired on this loop. I was worked on some of the climbs, but I never bonked. The climb up the spillway at Gunlock Reservoir is short and steep. Then there is the nice steep climb at the Eagle Mountain Ranch. You are coming off some real uphills when you then hit what the locals call The Wall, which is long and really steep. I have trained on the course lots, so I knew what to expect and was mentally prepared for the challenge. The first two climbs were tough but manageable. The Wall was a good challenge and I passed a lot of people on the way up. One guy called me a “showoff” on the last third of the climb, and I apologized profusely to him. I don’t want anyone to feel bad during a race, and this wasn’t my attention. He laughed it off as a joke, but I still felt bad.

A couple of miles after some manageable rollers, we hit the volcano outside of Veyo. It was not tough, just a solid sustained effort. Then I pounded the downhills down the canyon. I tried to keep my speed up and cruise while staying within my power ranges. I felt worked when I came to the bottom of the canyon. Looking back at the numbers, I did hit a max speed of 48.7 mph which was really fun. I had stopped at bike special needs and picked up two more bottles of Infinit and a couple of bottles of water too. I felt strong and solid. Right at the end of the loop I saw my family and friends again and they got some fantastic photos of me on the bike. It was such a lift to see them there.

The second loop was planned to be at a much easier effort. The ride up the canyon was supposed to be at about the same effort and it was. The hills were rougher on the second time around. I was all alone on a lot of this ride except on the hills where it seemed that people would bunch up. I wanted to average 150 watts on this section and fell a little short of that goal. I ended up at 143 watts with normative power dropping to 178 watts. My heart rate was at 146 bpm, which was a little higher than the first loop with lower power. I am sure my body was starting to feel the toll of the day.

I did not pedal so much on the downhills for the second loop and it shows. My total time on this loop was 2:49:34 with an average of 16.29 mph. This was a difference of 19:23, which is more than likely due more to slowing on the uphills than on the lack of pedaling on the downhills. I did let my effort slide as I climbed the last hill about two miles out of T2. I downshifted and spun for the last couple of miles. I felt pretty good, but like I had just ridden 112 miles. I was ready to run, but not because I wanted to get off of the bike. My nutrition had gone according to plan and I felt well hydrated. I was excited rolling into T2.

Trying to look cool for the camera is hard. Real hard…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...