Friday, December 4, 2009

IMCZ Race Report Part 4--The Bike

The Bike
I crossed the timing mat and jumped on my bike and rode through the throng of cheering spectators that lined both sides of the street ringing cowbells, waving flags, and shouting out "Venga! Venga!! Venga!!!" We made a right turn onto the main road the travels all the way around the island and I got down to the business of starting to eat. I looked at my speed and I was rolling along at 20.7 mph. Wow, this may be a good bike ride for me. My heart rate was below my self imposed ceiling of 140 bpm and I was feeling good. I had decided to keep my gearing nice and easy. I was in the small chain ring and using the 15 tooth cog on the cassette and my cadence was up in the 90's and it felt light and easy. As I was chowing down on my Peanut Butter Mojo Bar I saw a few packs of drafters blow by me. Here were my observations on the draft packs:

  1. They were 50% women in each pack
  2. They were chatting and talking and really not working
  3. They were seriously blocking the road and rolling up and around and swallowing up other riders who were trying to legally pass other participants.
  4. There was never a woman leading those packs. Those gals were just sitting on some man's back wheel.
Damn wheel suck hos! Anyway, those were the only draft packs I saw the entire race and by 5 miles into the bike course, things were starting to spread out and every one was lining up and getting in place. Contrary to what you may have heard from other people who did this race, I did see race officials on the bike course. They were out there.

I thought that we were coming up on the first aid station, but instead we were coming up on the spectators from the resorts that had come up to the main road to cheer us on. That was fun. Each beach entrance and resort entrance was crowded with taxi drivers, resort employees, and resort guests all having a great time on the side of the road. When we did reach the first aid station I rolled on through but saw water, Gatorade, gels, Power Bars, and bananas being handed out. A virtual smorgasbord of offerings! The sun was out and shining and I was still holding between 19.8 and 20.5 and I was feeling good with a Mojo Bar and fresh water in my tummy.
I noticed that at the 28K marker along the side of the road that the wind was picking up and that meant that we were probably getting close to the coast. I rolled past another aid station and then we had a short little up-hill that made many people get out of their saddles because they were coming out of the aid station. As we crested the hill, the coast came into view. It was beautiful! Beautiful and WINDY!!!

This photo is one that I did not take, but this is the east side of the island. Just make the waves about 3 feet higher and add a few more clouds and you will have what I saw. It was time to hunker down and put in some real work now. Weather data tells me now that the wind was out of the North-northeast at 19 mph with gusts up to 31 mph and the temps got up to 84 degrees with the humidity at 89% so that made it feel like it was in the mid to upper 90's. The wind was starting to claim some victims. And if it was not the wind, it was the chip-seal surface of the road. There is a lot of chip-seal in Texas so I felt like I was right at home. I am sure others around me were getting their teeth rattled out of their head and a bad case of saddle rash and numb nuts. I was a little concerned about my bike because it started making weird noises. As I pedaled, it sounded like something was rubbing or fatiguing either on the front wheel or around the bottom bracket. It was very pronounced when I pushed through the front of the pedal stroke with my right foot. I checked that my brakes were not rubbing and wondered if I needed to pull over. I decided that the bike would have to shatter apart and ditch me onto the pavement or limestone rocks before I was getting off this bike. It was a little embarrassing riding by people with a freaking noisy bike. Some of those women who passed me in those draft packs, remember them? I saw them again and this time I was passing them up. YES!!! That's what you get for cheating. I took in the beauty of the coast line and the crashing waves and looked for more kilometer markers and took in the landmarks. I really like visual land marks and it gives me a sense of direction and orientation on long rides and runs. I guess other people don't look for landmarks. I ask Johnny Tri about several landmarks I saw on the east side of the island such as a beach hut, a horse back riding ranch, a statue of a skeleton on a bicycle and a statue of a huge iguana on its hind legs and he said he never saw them. Hello!!! We passed those things 3 times!!! He did say he smelled that someone was smoking refer on the side of the road. I really don't know what that smells like but if smelled like a combination of salty ocean surf, a mild fishy scent, and rotting sea weed then I guess I smelled it.

I could tell that the temperature was going up and I kept up my hydration. I passed a guy named Kevin who was drinking up in a rare sheltered spot on the course and he shouted out "Go Team in Training!" Yahoo!!! That's what I'm talking about, baby! I have yet to do a race where TNT does not get any love. We came over a rise and back into the wind and now I had to really get to work passing people who were blocking the course. I kept on shouting out "En su izquerda!" to get people to move over but they never moved. I was constantly moving over the dashed line of the road into the next lane and hoped that I was not blocking someone else who wanted to pass me.

This race had closed down the only road around the island all day and passing Senor Frog's and Coconuts Bar all closed up and quiet was a little sad. I saw the sign that said Mesqualito was ahead and I knew it was about time to get some wind in our favor on the way back into town. I had watched my heart rate get a little too high around the 150 mark in that tough stretch and my goal was going to be to get the heart rate back down, eat some more and get the aero bottle filled without being blown off the bike.

I saw Kevin again as he passed me while I was eating another Mojo Bar and waved to him. The aid station was not far and I was able to grab a bottle of water but hardly anything was coming out of the top. Later in the day I would see hundreds of bottle lids and the stoppers on the lids littering the road as people tried to dismantle the bottle to get the fluids out. About 3 kilometers into the 12 mile stretch back to town I started seeing families and groups of children on the side of the road cheering and waving to us. The closer we got to town, the more people we encountered. They were shaking empty water bottle that had been filled with rocks, banging on buckets and pots, and they had these huge wooden noise makers that they were swinging around in the air. And of course, they had Cowbells! Soon they were on either sided of the street and waving flags. If there was another racer who was outfitted in a tri suit that said MEXICO or was red/white/green, the crowds got even louder and chanted "Vi-va Me-xi-co! Vi-va Me-xi-co!"
When we hit town it was like a carnival atmosphere. I sucked in all of that energy and was going to use it on the next loop. Racing through town was the best part of the loop. Once over the timing mats, I started heading back to Chankaanab Park to see what my time would be for one loop. People were spilling out of the dive shops cheering for us and lining the street all the way to the cruise ship terminal. It was a good thing only one ship was docking that day since those poor people were not going to get anywhere on the island because we had shut it down with the race. When I hit Chankaanab Park I looked at my watch and saw that it took me 2 hours and 10 minutes. WOW!!! That is just under 19 mph for the first loop! My confidence was high for the second loop. The sun was still shining so it was time for more water and to have a Clif Kids Twisted Fruit Rope.
I knew that the wind picked up around the 28K marker on the first loop but now we were working hard into the wind at the 22K marker. Ok, it was time to start picking people off one by one. I was still in a gear that I felt comfortable in and all I had to do was drop my cadence and power on through. On the rise out of the first aid station on the coastal side of the island I saw Tri Beaner who was here with other members of Greyt Times support team of "Drew's Crew" She hooped and hollered for me and it was great to get some love before descending into the maelstrom. The winds were even more intense on the second loop and off in the distance, clouds could be seen making their way towards the island. I saw sea water shoot up from one of the limestone blowholes and I got another sickly sweet smell of the sea. Taking names and kicking ass? I was doing it! I rode from landmark to landmark which were about 5K apart and was yelling at people to move over because I was coming through. I was holding between 16mph and 17.6 mph and just keeping my eye out for Coconuts bar and grill and the 50K marker after that in Mezqualito. My bike was still making those sick groaning noises but I was still maintaining good speed so I tried to put that out of my head. I skipped the Special Needs bag because it looked like a Cluster F--k and I really did not need that little bag of Ruffles potato chips. I could get it the next time around. I only had 3 people pass me on this stretch. They were all men. Two of them were pro's. One of them was race winer Rutger Beke. Of course Rutger passed me like I was standing still.

Once around the corner at Mezqualito all I had to do was follow the sunshine back into town. I had another Twisted Fruit Rope and finished a bottle of Gatorade so I could grab another at the next aid station. The landmarks were coming fast and furious. Tequila Tour? Passed it. San Gervasio Mayan Ruins? Passed it. Potable water plant? Passed it. Chafing on the inside of my upper right leg from the dried salt water on my tri shorts? Got it. On the second pass through town the crowds were even larger and more excited. It made you feel like a rock star! I drew so much energy from them that is was easy to be rolling through the streets at 23 mph. The smells of cooking pork and beef on one corner was so delicious that my mouth was watering. It really was a huge party for the community of Cozumel. I saw my friend Norma as I was nearing the last turn headed towards T2. The thought occurred to me that the next time I passed this way I would be getting ready to run. One more loop to go!

I passed Chankannab Park one last time and found some Margarita Shot Bloks to stuff in my mouth. I did some stretching on the bike and saw my second loop took me another 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete. The field had spread out more from the conditions on the course. People were getting mentally tired and not following the rules of rolling back as I attempted to pass. "COME ON!!! GIVE IT UP!!! JUST LET ME PASS!!!" Stupid men, don't like being "chicked" do ya? I had been playing leap frog with this guy named Hans. I would pass him as he slowed for an aid station then he would pass me down the road. I would pass him as he stretched. He would pass me a few minutes later. I was rolling up on him as he was taking a drink and passed him again. I did not hear him stop pedaling to drop back a few bike lengths and almost immediately after that a Race Official rolled up on his scooter and pointed and called out to him. BUSTED!!! Its the Penalty Tent for you Hans! Hans passed me again and I saw him pull over at the next aid station (Penalty Tents at each aid station) to serve his 4 minute jail time and I never saw him again.

One last time up the coast and into the wind. It could have been my imagination but I felt like the wind had let up. Then it dawned on me that the head wind had changed to a cross wind. Clouds now covered up the sun and it was a welcome break from the solar radiation that I know I had been soaking up on my back. I could see rain off shore dropping out of the clouds and I hoped I would be off the bike before the skies opened up. I took things 5K at a time. I was a little slower this time through but I was still seeing 15 mph to 16.8 mph. My heart rate was 140 bpm so I was happy with it. Each person I passed on this stretch was one more person who got “Chicked”. Strangely, I had Crosby, Seals, and Nash singing “We May Never Pass This Way Again” in my head. As I neared Coconuts and Mezqualito for the last time it dawned on me that I was right around the 100 mile mark. Had it really been 100 miles? It really didn’t feel like 100 miles, well yeah it did, but in some ways it did not. I only had 12, make that 13 miles (the course was long) to go. My speed was back up to 21 mph and I had a couple of strong looking Mexican men trying to get ahead of me. Yeah, you were just as slow as me today Hombre!

I was able to get back ahead of them around the last corner headed to T2 so that I could get off the bike easily without them creating a huge road block. I normally pull my feet out of my shoes but I did not know how far I was going to have to run and there was no way I was running into that change tent barefoot. Volunteers were flagging us to slow down and get off before the timing mats. I swung my leg over my bike and handed it off to a volunteer and ran across the timing mat. “BEEP BEE BEE BEE BEE BEE BEE BEEP!!!” Bike Time: 6 hours, 20 minutes with an average speed of 17.65 mph. Whoo Hoo!!!

Tomorrow, Part 5--T2 and the Run,



greyhound said...

DAYUHM, woman. I don't know how anyone rode that fast on that course. You obviously had the hard training in your legs.

BreeWee said...

ha ha, I kept looking at Coconuts too and the next day we went to take a foto of it cause I was so curious about that place and all those coconut signs....

loved all your reports, ha ha, your day sounds like fun, and congrats on tha new PR! I am happy to have met you!
Hope all is well :)

Speed Racer said...

Wow. What did I do wrong. It's like you were on a whole different bike course than me, you make it sound so easy! As usual, there's so much I can learn from you. I'll have to try that landmark thing. I noticed all the things you talked about, but just as a blip between all the waves and rocks and suffering. Maybe if I'd ridden landmark to landmark I would have felt strong like you.

Glad your bike didn't buckle under you!

Christi said...

Again, great job! I can't wait for the run report!

Mike Russell said...

The details you give on your bike leg are fantastic. Positive attitude and mental fortitude obviously have their benefits. I can't wait for the T2 and run report!

Kim said...

liz, we practically swam and biked the entire thing together! we have almost identical times - how did i not see you on the course?!