Small towns rock. Well, they rock some times. Now is one of them. This town is so small, and in the middle of nowheresville New York, that not only is getting around very easy and extremely quick, but when you venture out of town, such as to drive a bike course for a race, you can do it while traveling 75 mph. Which comes in handy when the bike course is a loop of 56 miles that, on race day, you will do twice… on your bike.
So much has happened since we last spoke. Most of it is routine, but since I’m trying to lay low, off my feet, and kill time in the middle of the day instead of yapping my brain off, here I find myself back at my hotel room, and hey, might as well pass time with an update.
After my last post (above), I put the bike in the car, gathered cycling gear, and promptly scooted. My plan was to drive the bike course (again) and, half way through, park and ride a section of the course, just to get a feel for the hills, get an easy warm up in the legs, and help me get focused for the key to this Ironman race (the bike course).
The bike course starts out leaving Lake Placid, headed toward Keene, and rolls with some steeper pace-killing rollers that, well, are more like shorter hills, but not the type we see in the north of Boston area. Those are ant hills, no exaggeration. These are hills. But they are just teasers.
6-8 miles out begins a steady climb with a few downs as you climb out of the Lake Placid area. Once you hit a crest, at maybe 12 miles out, the screaming down hill starts, and it runs for a good 5K into Keene. This section sees many athletes training on… but just the down… because, as niemsco points out above, this is a section where the brave can gain a lot of time. Because you can seriously get to well over 50 mph. Me, I’m a weenie and might only get to 45 to 50. If I had more time, I’d be training that down hill too. But I don’t.
From Keene, through Jay and all the way to Upper Jay is a fairly flat stretch. It can get tough, as you’re totally exposed to the elements, including wind if there is any, but this is the only stretch on the course where you can get into a good rhythm. It runs for about 10 miles before taking a hard left up a fairly steep hill.
Upper Jay to the 7 mile one way out and back on Hasleton Road is a mix of gradual down, gradual up, and everything in between except nice and flat. Most of the gradual ups are too long to maintain momentum from the downs. But it can be a decent stretch.
Then the infamous 15 mile climb back into Lake Placid, where you go by Whiteface. This is where I parked the car for my little ride. My goal was to go up for 5 miles (I went 6.2) and back, which I figured would take nearly an hour. I was wrong. But in a good way.
I hopped on my bike and right away was going over a few gentle rolling hills, each of which were too long to power over, with a major net incline. Although I knew this was a serious net up hill, my bike computer confirmed it when, 6.2 miles later, it read 15.8 mph. My effort was what I hope to do raceday: easy. And these weren’t even the big hills. This was just the beginning of the climbing. Just the beginning. I stayed away from the longer grinds, as I was just looking to stretch the legs.
Then the fun began. I turned around and flew back down, at times doing over 40 mph on roads with “false” down hills. Really. There must’ve been 4 straight miles where I was spinning out with great ease my highest gear. Which made powering over the next rise way easy. In the middle of that long flying stretch, I was just about to over come and pass another rider, when suddenly something flashed from the side of the road. It was what looked to be a coyote. Or maybe a wolf. I wasn’t surprised because, to that point, either on the ride or in the car, I saw wildlife left and right, most deer, but some other critters and creatures, oh my. Seconds later, or so it felt, I was back at the car with an average of 20.1 mph on my computer.
Next I drove back up where I had just ridden to cover the last part of the bike course.
Small towns are great. Because it was time for lunch. When I was out here last I stumbled upon a little hole in the wall sandwhich shop, and that’s where I went, where everything is fresh, and where everybody knew every body else’s name… except for me. I’m pretty sure the guy charged me double what he charged Bill, a local and regular and, by the way, the handiman about town, and the plumber, and the milkman. Oh, and maybe the mailman too. Either way, I now know why Bill and other locals go there. Nothing extraordinary. Just super fresh.
After lunch I went back to the Ironman Event site for a little shopping. And yes, this time I did indeed purchase a $25 tech t-shirt. Although I have a ton of those, I don’t have one with the IMLP logo, and as I mentioned above, I get one of those at all big events I do, because I wear them as if a regular shirt — not for running or other.
Just as I was coming out of the store, the sky, which had been dark and swirling and certainly holding much moisture, finally opened up yet again, probably the 5th time on the day. And this time, hail the size of Gobstoppers fell to the ground. I got pelted beside the head as I darted from car to hotel. It hurt. Now, an hour later, the sun is trying to struggle through.