Ironman Wisconsin: The Bike +

After setting a new PR on the swim, I was off on the bike.  Did I mention that the weather was almost perfect for race day?!?!?  The low temperature was 50F, the high was 78F, full sun and the max wind speeds were at 5 mph.  The only way the weather could have been more perfect would have been cloudy skies while cycling, but we honestly couldn’t complain about the weather.

Bike:

After mounting Mojo and riding down the helix, I was super excited to be on my bike.  It’s a good thing I love to ride my bicycle…112 miles is a long way to go if you don’t love to ride your bike.  I LOVE to ride my bicycle…It makes me smile!!  🙂

Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

The Ironman Wisconsin bike course consists of a 16 mile “stem” and a 40 mile “loop”…each is done twice.  As I left Monona Terrace, I knew the first 4 miles had many VERY sharp turns and narrow passages, some of which were on bike paths, so I decided to take it easy.  Good thing I did…there were MANY people going too fast and hitting the pavement…HARD.  About one mile into the bike, there was a man that was strapped to a body board and was being loaded into the ambulance.  There was a lot of road carnage in the first 10 miles of the ride.

About 3 miles farther down the road, there was a woman sitting in the center of the road with blood running down her head and blood on the pavement.  SLOW DOWN PEOPLE!!  Be safe these first few miles so we can all finish.  You can pick up the pace when it becomes safer to do so.

Many people passed me in the first 16 miles on the stem, I was tempted to pick up the pace and hold on to some of them, but I just stuck to the plan…take it easy the first 40 miles and then if I feel good, I can pick up the pace.  There are some good hill climbs (and descents) on the stem riding toward Verona, but nothing like what was to come when we got to the loop.  Conserve, conserve, conserve…

Riding into Verona allowed us to start the loop for the first time.  The spectators were lining the streets in Verona cheering us on and all I could think about was how crazy this had to be appear to most of these people…who swims 2.4 miles and then gets on their bike to ride 112 miles before running a full marathon (26.2 miles)…but they cheered us on as though they knew us.  It was great energy!!

After passing Fireman’s Park, we turned left and flew past a lot of volunteers ready for us to come through on our second loop and give us our special needs bags.  They all cheered and hollered as we cruised down the last flat stretch of road that we would see for quite a while.  A right hand turn and the hills on the loop began.

The Ironman Wisconsin bike course is very technical and there really isn’t more than 5 minutes of down time before the course forces you to shift, turn, climb, or descend…keeping you mentally aware the whole ride.  I felt good, I felt strong and I was having fun 🙂

The Ironman Wisconsin bike course is very technical and there really isn’t more than 5 minutes of down time before the course forces you to shift, turn, climb, or descend…keeping you mentally aware the whole ride.  I felt good, I felt strong and I was having fun 🙂

I was staying on top of my hydration and nutrition.  I was continuously sipping on water and drinking Osmo Active Hydration every 30 minutes and I ate a fruit squeeze pouch just outside of Verona and then a Bonk Breaker about 90 minutes into the ride.  I was about 5 miles away from Mt. Horab when my stomach started to feel a little crampy and unhappy.  I knew if I slowed my pace a bit and drank water it would help, so that is exactly what I did.  The longest climb of the bike ride goes into Mt. Horab and it was a challenge, but after riding it many times before, I knew it would be challenging so I just forged ahead.  There were many spectators lining the hill and cheering to keep us going straight to the top.  There was an aid station by the school at the top of the hill where I refilled my water bottle and dropped some trash before continuing my way out of town.

When you leave Mt. Horab, you feel like you are on top of the world (and you pretty much are after that big climb into town)…it is a beautiful sight!!  Turning left on Witte Road is one of my favorite parts of the bike course.  It is just like a roller coaster and we call it ribbon road…lots of fast descents and steep climbs to make for a fun couple of miles.  At this point my slightly cramped gut turned into a full fledged cramp.  I wanted to get off my bike, curl up in a field and die…BUT I didn’t…I just kept going.

Before the start of Ironman Wisconsin, I knew that I would encounter pain at some point in the day…I just didn’t know when it would show up.  Well…here it was, punching me in the gut making me want to cry.  So, what does one do when faced with pain?  Smile, push one foot in front of the other and develop a plan.  I knew there was a gas station in Cross Plains (not on the race course), which was at about mile 40…I was at about mile 32.  I knew that I had money in my jersey pocket as a “just in case” and I knew that orange juice had enough acid in it to cut through the mess that was in my stomach.  Cross Plains…HERE I COME!!!

At about mile 37, the Iron Hippie cycled up beside me and asked me if I wanted a Cheerio bar.  I told him no thanks, that I had a cramped gut and that I had a plan before he rode off.  I knew my pace had slowed, but I also knew that if I could get rid of the mess in my gut I would be set to pick up the pace.  I also knew that I had PLENTY of time banked from my PR in the water, so I was not in any jeopardy of not making the bike cuts.

Still smiling despite a cramped stomach...photo courtesy of Finisherpix
Still smiling despite a cramped stomach…photo courtesy of Finisherpix

BONUS MILES:

As I entered Cross Plains, I asked a few spectators for directions to the gas station.  They told me the aid station was about a mile down the road.  I repeated that I wanted a gas station.  They gave me directions and I went about 1.5 miles (round trip) out of my way to the gas station.  I leaned my bike against the building by the door, ran inside, grabbed a small tube of Tums and a small bottle of orange juice before heading to the counter.  OH NO…there were 5 people in line.  “I’m racing.  May I please cut in front of all of you?”  They all said sure and the gentleman at the front of the line said, “Just put it up on the counter and I’ll pay for it.”  I responded with, “Thanks, but I have money.”  I threw a $5 on the counter and left leaving a few extra dollars for the people in line behind me.  I popped about 1/2 the roll of Tums in my mouth, downed 1/2 the bottle of orange juice and stuck the rest in my jersey.  I rode back to the bike course and continued to push forward.

BACK ON THE COURSE:

Leaving Cross Plains I knew the “3 bitches” were coming up…Old Sauk Pass Road, Timber Lane and Midtown Road…3 consecutive hill climbs that aren’t bad individually, but with all of the rolling hill climbs before them, they collectively make for burning legs and lungs.  The orange juice hadn’t kicked in just yet, so I was going to have to climb these three hills with a cramped gut…no big deal…just keep smiling!!

I had a VERY pleasant surprise on Old Sauk Pass Road…Cynthia was there to cheer me on and it was so AWESOME to see a face from home!!  Thank you so much Cynthia!!  I pushed to the top and went on to Timber Lane…this is the steepest of the three, but also the shortest.  Got to the top and forged on to #3…Midtown Road.  This is where my next pleasant surprise came…our support team drove out to cheer us on.  It was so AMAZING to see Allen, Lora, Sue and Michele and chat with them briefly while they ran beside me up the hill 🙂  Thanks Allen, Lora, Sue and Michele!!

Allen running up Midtown Road with me.  Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Allen running up Midtown Road with me. Photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

If you haven’t experienced the “3 bitches” either as a spectator or athlete, think Le Tour de France…

Spectators on Midtown...photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Spectators on Midtown…photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Spectators on Midtown...photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
Spectators on Midtown…photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

After conquering the 3 bitches, it was time to zoom into Verona and start the loop again.  I still had stomach cramps, but they were starting to subside.  I finished my orange juice and continued to sip on water, but I was not taking in any other calories.  I didn’t feel hungry, but I knew that if I got to the point where I was hungry, it was probably too late.  How long would I be able to go without more calories????  Don’t worry about that right now…just focus on getting the stomach cramps to subside and smile.

As we exited Verona, it was time to stop at the bike special needs.  I apologized to the volunteer in advance for the Hoo Ha chamois cream I was about to squeeze into my shorts.  He said I wasn’t the first and he doubted I’d be the last.  The volunteers at Ironman Wisconsin are top notch and will do almost anything for you, but I wasn’t going to ask some strange man to squirt chamois cream into my shorts 😉  I grabbed my Chex mix (I had put into a small Pringles can…best idea ever…it fit very well in my jersey pocket and without the lid, I could eat from it whenever I wanted) and continued on my way.

It was time to start climbing again.  By the time I got to Mt. Horab, my stomach cramps had subsided and I actually had to pee, so I stopped at the aid station by the school, used the kybo, refilled my water bottles, drank some Osmo and squirted a fruit squeeze down the hatch.  Let’s see how this sits in my stomach…

After ribbon road (Witte Road), I started to munch on the Chex mix because my stomach finally felt decent…even with food in it.  The Chex mix tasted really good, which is a true sign that it was what my body needed. 🙂  This is also where I also noticed that my bike speed started to pick back up to where I was hoping it would have been for most of the ride.  Yay…time to try to make up for lost time.

As I pulled into Cross Plains, I heard two women scream and cheer from the top of their lungs.  It was the same two women who had given me directions to the gas station on the first loop, “We are so happy you made it!!  We were worried about you!!”  I never had any doubt that I wouldn’t make it, but they didn’t know that.  Positive thoughts and smiles go a long way for keeping you focused on moving forward.  🙂

Still Smiling...photo courtesy of Finisherpix
Still Smiling…photo courtesy of Finisherpix

It was now time for the 3 bitches again, but this time I had about 80 miles of hills in my legs before reaching Old Sauk Pass Road.  Good thing the spectators were still out and more of their shenanigans registered with me this time around.  There was a man dressed in only a speedo with a sign that read, “Free Lubricant.”  I about died when he told me “it would only take a minute”…disgusting, but funny. 🙂  At the top of Timber Lane, I received a shout out from back home as Christian and his posse were still out cheering us on.  There was also a sign at the top of Timber Lane next to some very voluptuous women that read, “Will Show Boobs 4 Gu.”  As I climbed Midtown Road for the last time, I started to hear Jason Aldean in my head…”Full throttle, wide open.  You get tired and you don’t show it.  Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more.  That’s the only way I know.”  Dig deeper is just what I did 🙂

Pulling into Verona was bitter sweet…it was time to leave the loop and head back to the Capitol on the stem.  I was having so much fun, that I wanted to keep riding, but I was excited to see where my legs would take me on the run.  There is one last big hill climb at mile 102 and then I knew I could coast back into Monona Terrace.  I squirted one more fruit squeeze down the hatch before the last big climb.  Guess who was out cheering us on at mile 102?!?!?!?!?  You guessed it…Allen, Lora, Sue and Michele 🙂  You all are the BEST!!

So happy to see our cheer squad...photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum
So happy to see our cheer squad…photo courtesy of Lora Bierbaum

There was a lot of road carnage in the last 10 miles, but this time it was people just giving up, laying in the ditches with their bikes and waiting for the sag wagon to come and pick them up.  I ignored the negative energy they exuded and continued to smile as I rode back to Monona Terrace and up the helix into T2.

**Thank you Coeur Sports for the AMAZING seamless chamois shorts that kept my girlie parts happy for the whole 112+ miles 🙂

T2:

A super nice volunteer took Mojo back to her parking spot as I ran into T2, grabbed my change bag and went back into the women’s change room.  It was GREAT to see Roehr in T2 and briefly catch up while I did a full change into dry clothes before heading out on the run 🙂

Bike Split:  8:15:12…this was only 18 minutes slower than in 2011, about 1.5 miles farther than in 2011 (thanks to my detour) and I had stomach cramps for about 3 hours this year, so I was pleased with my bike split. 🙂

T2: 9:05

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22 thoughts on “Ironman Wisconsin: The Bike +

  1. Love the pics & great recap – was on the edge of my seat reading it! Kudos to you for pushing through the cramps for a solid ride. And three cheers for the Hoo Ha Ride Glide…thanks to you, I’m a total believer!

  2. Great ride!! I can’t imagine pushing through those cramps. What a champ! Being positive is really huge! It is all a mental game!! I knew you would never give up either. That just doesn’t seem like your style! After training for so long it just isn’t in the cards!! Congrats again!!

  3. Wow! Way to stay strong… plus going off course to get what you need in order to feel better!! Lots of other people would have thrown in the towel. Awesome that you powered through (with a smile)!! Great seeing you ☺️. You rocked it ⚡️⚡️

    1. Thanks Kathy!! It is true that many people would have thrown in the towel, but I was determined to do what I could to get rid of the cramps and enjoy the rest of my day. Thanks so much for coming out and cheering me (and many others) on!! It was awesome to see you 🙂

  4. Great race report! Congrats on an amazing job and pushing thru the pain! Just curious if the side trip was technically legal… 😉 Glad no race officials were at the gas station!

    1. Since I was paying for my needs, I was not receiving any “outside assistance.” There is no rule that you can’t leave the race course. It does say “The sole responsibility of knowing and following the prescribed cycling course rests with each athlete. No adjustments in times or results shall be made for athletes who fail to follow the proper course for any reason whatsoever” in the athlete guide. Even if there were race officials at the gas station, the only way I could have been penalized is if I let the guy behind me pay for my Tums and juice 😉

      1. To be clear, I have no issue with the detour as long as you didn’t cut the course (which you certainly did not do). In fact, I remember reading a story about the very first Ironman race in Hawaii (I think it was in Oahu that year). One of the competitors stopped at McDonald’s for a Big Mac. Personally, I don’t think my tummy would have appreciated that on race day… 🙂

      2. I did not cut the course…I actually had to back track to get to the turn to take me to the gas station since the road was under construction in Cross Plains…hence the 1.5 miles of added distance 🙂 I don’t think my stomach would have appreciated a Big Mac either, although pizza sure sounded good to me 😉

    1. It is much easier the second time around to think about what you really need and make sure you can get it. The first race I wasn’t able to think that clearly and ended up in a really bad state. I knew that this time around I needed to have multiple plans in place so it wouldn’t happen again 😉

  5. Wow! So impressed that you had a plan of attack to deal with your issues. You were super creative and determined to get past your cramps. Had you purposely scoped out the gas station in advance or did you just remember seeing it? Still, way to make decisions (which appear to have been good…will read the run report next) and stay strong! I love that the ladies who had given you directions to the station were looking out for you to pass by again because they were worried! How supportive!!

    1. I have had stomach cramps before, so I’ve had experience on how to get rid of them. I was just hoping I wouldn’t need to use my knowledge on race day. I have ridden this course probably close to a dozen times over the last 4 years, so I knew that there was a gas station in Cross Plains, I just didn’t know how to get to it since most of the roads were under construction. It was super fun to hear those same ladies screaming for me as I came back through on loop #2 🙂

  6. I like bike courses that have a lot of variety and keep you mentally in check with what you are doing. I’m sorry to hear about your crampy stomach. I have never been crampy or had an upset stomach while on the bike, but have definitely experienced it while running. That is so funny that you went off course to a gas station for tums. I’m sure the people who let you cut in line were quite impressed. Way to keep your mental composure and stay positive!!

    1. Thanks Kristen!! Fortunately (I guess), this has happened to me before and I knew that acidic foods would help relieve the stomach cramps (if felt like a jagged rock was bouncing around in my gut). I just had to figure out how to get to the acidic foods and all of the roads to the gas station were under construction. Keeping calm and moving forward is definitely key on race day 😉

  7. That sucks about your stomach cramps, but it’s awesome you knew how to deal with them and get it done! Crazy you rode to a gas station, but smart 🙂
    The bike can be such a beast- I’m glad you were able to stay positive! Congrats on leg 2 of the race- can’t wait to read about 3!!

    1. Staying calm and collected when faced with challenges can sometimes be a challenge in itself, but that is usually when I thrive. As a science teacher, I am always trying to solve problems and that is how I approach most of the challenges I encounter when racing and training 🙂

  8. Ah, man… so sorry about your stomach cramps, Kecia! But, way to stay positive and calm and develop a plan of attack to get rid of them! GREAT biking and congrats! The IMWI bike course is definitely my favorite and reading your recap makes me so excited to race there again 🙂

    1. Thanks Erin!! My bike split was definitely slower than I had hoped for, but I was pleased with how the whole day ended up despite my slower than expected bike. I’m super excited to go cheer you on!! IMWI is definitely my favorite course 🙂

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