sábado, 21 de fevereiro de 2015

2nd day - Bike

I didn´t sleep well at night. I was anxious and all the preocupation didn´t let me sleep well. I still kept myself in bed and relaxed, I didn´t look the watch to see what time it was, but it was still too early to get up. I only got up when the alarm went off.

We left the hotel a little before 6 am, it was freezin' cold! We had breakfast inside the van, on the way to the starting line. The start was in the same place where we finished on the day before.

We got there half an hour before the start and there were only 5 teams already there, We did the check-in, re-assembled the bike wheels outside the van and went back inside, where the temperature was much better than the outside, that was around 6 C (40 F).

Little by little the other teams arrived as the day was getting clearer, it took so long for the sunrise that it seemed the sun was as lazy as we were to get out of the van.

With 15 minutes left I started to dress the racing clothes, I used exactly the same clothes I had the day before (they were washed right after I got to the hotel the day before, some case you are wondering). With 10 minutes before the race start I was out of the car and rode a little in the parking lot to check everything. The rear view mirror (mandatory item) wasn´t staying in the right place. The Crew Captain fixed it, with all his ability, a Mechanical Engineer degree and some duct tape.

Mechanical Engineer and Crew Captain fixing the mirror. 
We lined up in the same order we arrived the day before. Renato Valler, a brazilian from Piracicaba was still the 1st place. The atmosphere wasn´t so tense as the day before but we knew it was going to be a tough day to get through. 275 km (171 mi) is a long way to bike! Trung passed checking all the athletes and bikes and he cleared us to go.

Minutes before the start.
Laughing a little before the start of the coldest 275 km ever ridden by me!
Renato Valler in the pole position with the Brazilian colors
and a helmet inspired by Ayrton Senna´s helmet

There were people shouting and a lot of noise before the start. The crews, race directors and volunteers really put a lot of energy cheering for us and keeping our spirits high during the entire race, even when we were in trouble.

There was a countdown, 10, 9,...2,1,GOOOOO! We got on the FL520 highway slowly. Billy Edwards had the best bike split on the day before and took off soon. Nobody went behind or tried to catch him. All the other riders formed a big peloton. There were clear instructions about drafting, it would be tolerated during the first 10 miles because it was a mass start. Trying to be very careful I stayed among the first 4 on the peloton even taking the lead for some time. Triathletes are beings that lack the ability to ride in a peloton, this is made much worse when we talk about ultra-distance-triathletes.

Leaving the starting line.
The peloton on FL-520.
After leaving the highway we´d ride through secondary roads, with much less traffic. Most of the crews were waiting on the right hand curve, just after leaving the FL520. Some volunteers were there giving instructions to break the peloton and spread out!

Even though the race directors were pretty clear about drafting it seemed that some people didn´t understand (or pretended not to understand) the rules. I was riding close to Renato at aproximately the same pace but we kept more than the "legal" distance between us. After a few miles I told some of the competitors that were drafting on my wheel or Renato´s that the "drafting tolerated zone" was over. I was totally ignored and they were even closer to us. I really didn´t expect this kind of behaviour from someone that qualified for Ultraman. In other races (such as Ironman Brazil) maybe people haven´t figured out that triathlon´s all about overcoming your own limits and dificulties, by the rules, that kind of attitude is unaceptable! (my "old school" point of view) No matter what, I wasn´t going to spend time preaching and playing the race official´s role. It was so clear that they were drafting that the exact moment the first race official passed us  they were told do give more distance from me and Renato. The result was that the athletes that were drafting arrived more than one hour after us.

A few miles after leaving FL520

About 40 km into the race we crossed with Toni Marsal, one of the Spanish athletes, going the wrong way. The Crew in the Rock´n´Roll van  stopped Toni and corrected his direction. Guilherme called his team and they were in trouble, they had their car stuck in the mud. A little time later one of the race officials came on a scooter to tell Toni about his team while me, Renato and him were waiting for a green light. Immediately after the race official confirmed that our crews could give Toni a hand  we told him to ask our crews whatever he needed.

The Ultraman uses three Hawaiian words as it´s motto: Aloha (love), Ohana (family) and Kokua (help). Due to the misfortune of Toni´s team the Rock´n´Roll was able to apply this motto for real. The Spanish athlete was "adopted" by our team for the next few hours, untill his team was 100% operational again.

We went  through some very beautifil places close to Lake Monroe. The trees with the airplants formed a tunnel. It was a very different environment from the plains or moutains I had been training.

The air plant tunnels close to Lake Monroe.
The  Rock´n´Roll Van on the back of the photo with the world´s best crew!

By the time we went by km 90 the temperature was much better, it warmed up to 10 C (50 F) and I could feel my fingertips again. My feet would still be frozen and I didn´t feel anything below my ankle till the end of the day.

With 100 km into the race we formed a small group, distant only a few hundred feet from each other, John Kilburn, myself, Renato, Toni and Bernardo. We were able to see each other´s  vans while they were leapfroging. Each time one of the vans would pass us they´d cheer us, Sometimes I´d catch whoever was in front of me or I´d be caught by somebody that was behind me on the red lights. Well in the "Aloha, Ohana and Kokua" spirit everytime we stopped close to another we´d exchange some encouragement words.

Ther pace that I had set was very steady and tranquil, my heart beat was kept a little under 130 bpm and the net average speed was a little over 31 km/h (19,3 mph). The support Crew was amazingly precise and fast on refueling and supporting me. Whatever I needed, whenever I needed their response was almost instantaneous, that was a major factor for getting to the finish line fast.

With 140 km into the race I stopped to relieve my bladder. Another good sign that all the vital functions were working well and I was well hidrated. Just as I got back on my bike the left shoe escaped from the clipless pedal. That was weird since made no lateral movement to release my foot from the pedal.

At km 150 I asked for a sandwich with bread, jelly and cheese, it tasted delicious but... 10 km later I felt it flowback and started to feel a little weak. It seemed that the sandwich stopped the energy absoption and something was going wrong. At the next red light I stopped beside the van and told them that we´d need to go to "plan B" and get me a coke bottle!

At the red light I also checked the sole of my left shoe shoe. There was a crack in the cleat and that´s why my feet unclipped from the pedals a few km before. After the green light I tested the cleat and confirmed that if I pulled the pedal too strong the cleat wouldn´t stay clipped in the pedal. With the left cleat in that condition I´d have to take it easier on the uphills that would come.

20 minutes after drinking coke I was feeling better already and my energy levels were back to normal.

On Dewey Robins Rd we started the only "out-and-back" portion on that day, that´s where the hills started to appear. The race directors were cruel enough to put the hilly portion of the race on the final 100 km (60 mi). I was able to see Chris Isakson (2nd) and John Kilburn (3rd), Billy Edwards (1st) was way way ahead! At the turnaround there was "UltraMom" Jane Bockus, simply the nicest lady, taking notes of our numbers and cheering us up!

After the turnaround I stopped to take the windbreaker off, the temperature was above 15 C (60F). While Carol was helping me, André refueled the fuel cell with coke and GU Brew. It seemed like I was doing a pit stop in a Formula 1 race. Even though we were having so much fun they took their job very seriously..

After getting on the bike again we crossed with Toni. His team was back,  supporting him.

Dewey Robins Rd. the beginning of the hills.

From km 200 on we had uphills, downhills and it was such a relief to get through Sugarloaf Mountain Rd. That uphill is the biggest in the bike course and I really had to do some grinding to get to the end of it with a Triathlon Bike and still look good for the pictures. The last 100 km were a little harder to ride with a Triathlon Bike but the terrain before that it is pretty flat and I thought it was worth to ride a TT because of all the comfort and the extra-speed we get from it.

Grinding through Sugarloaf  Mountain Rd...
And still looking good!

Sugarloaf Rd. was definately the hardest uphill but after that some others would come. Some shorter but even steeper. A special one that made me suffer a lot was "The Wall", I climbed it doing zigs and zags so steep it was. By then I wasn´t going to attack the hills, I had spent too much energy that day and I was trying to relax a little and save some of the energy left for the double marathon on the next day. Luckly all the care I had with the cleats made my shoes stay clipped all the time on the pedal.

At km 232 the GPS screen went blank, that was too bad I had to restart it. I wasn´t able to keep that ride in only one file. On the first and second day I uploaded the race course on the Garmin 910XT and I had absolutely no problem with the navigation. 

From Sugarloaf (km 220) until km 250 the pavement was really rough and it wasn´t very comfortable to stay in the aerobars due to all the vibration. The front tire (700x20) had 155 psi and was bouncing a lot. The downhills were short and very steep, I´d easily get over 60 km/h (40 mph), the best thing to do was to hold the handlebars firmly and pay a lot of attention on the road. A little lack of attention could seriously compromise the next day.

After eating that sandwich at km 160 I stopped eating the powerbars, the only solid food was 3 or 4 bread slices with jelly (1 at a time). I drank a little more than what was planned of coke and GU Brew and had more Roctane gels. That way I could take my 300+ calories from carbohidrates without a lot of solid in my stomach,

On the las 20 km we were riding on streets and roads that we´d be running on the next day. It was a hilly terrain and a good prelude of what was  waiting for us. The Crew was keeping me updated with the results of the other riders. When I was in km 240 nobody had crossed the finish line yet. A little later Billy Edwards crossed the finish line, took the overall lead by almost 50 minutes. That was impressive!

With 10 km left I stopped for a little while, took the second cycling jersey off. The team left to the finish line. I rode those last kilometers cooling down and spinning the pedals in an easy gear. I was just enjoying the nice view of those neighborhoods and recovering my legs for the next day.

With the "Long Distance" jersey to finish the day looking good!

With only 2 curves left I could hear "The voice of Ultraman", Mr. Steve King, the race announcer that appeared a couple of times to cheer us up during that day.

My mom was waiting at the last curve and everyone else  was at the finish line. It was conforting to see all of them again, the Rock´n´Roll Crew, my parents, Patty and Dave Baylor and a surprise, Eric and Tina traveled from Naples to meet us there.

Crossing the finish line on the second day.
I was very happy and relieved to have finish the second day with the fourth best time and climbed one position, seventh overall. I was even more satisfied because I finished without any muscle cramps or major pain. That was a good sign that the effort I made was strong but not too strong.

The only pain I had was on my left big toe, as if the cycling shoe became smaller... go figure it out! A few days later that toenail turned black.

Sway, Carol, me, Guilherme, André and Trung after 277 km

In a few minutes I was already on the massage table with Ben, the same therapist from the day before. The massage was just like the last day. While I was in the massage table the Captain from Toni´s crew came to say "thank you" for the support we gave to Toni. It was a pleasure to help. That´s what "Kokua" is all about!

Recover massage for the double marathon on the next day.
Bernardo and Renato came a little after Toni and I could hear all that mess in Portuguese! I congratulated them and thanked their crews for cheering for me all the way.

We said goodbye, got into the van and headed to the hotel. I had one more of Endurox R4 and a Muscle Milk to start replenishing all that was spent during the day.

We arrived at the hotel and the Crew started cleaning the van. They removed all that cycling gear and left the van much lighter for the next day.

After a shower I had a big steak, loaded potato and a garden salad.

At 9 pm we turned off the light, we had to rest enough to face the double marathon on the following day.

Overall classification after the second day.

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