There are rules to the bike course, you are to maintain five (yes FIVE) bike lengths between you and the bike in front of you. You must pass within 20 seconds and if you get passed, you must slow down to allow for the 5 bike length rule. This is to prevent drafting. But if you struggle to follow these rules, fear not, so does everyone else!! While the rules may seem good on paper, in reality it’s a total free-for-all! At a few points, bikes were 5 across into the oncoming lane. There were large groups of people drafting. On multiple occasions I was passing someone while being passed by someone else. I had long conversation with people while we rode side by side, it was insane and unbelievably fun! The only time it became a real issue for me was going into the corners. People would fly past you at ridiculous speeds and you just prayed they could hold their line through the turn. Or there was the opposite end of the spectrum, people who seconds ago had been flying were now crawling through the turns.
I had one slightly negative experience while on the bike, while the course was flat overall, there were a couple of hills. Going in to one hill I was passed by young man who looked to be in his twenties and in very good shape, as he passed me, he looked back at me over his shoulder and laughed. A lady who was riding near me was more upset than I was about it. Shortly there after we had a slight downhill followed by a nice long climb. Perhaps because of my size I was able to close the distance on the young man and once we started the climb, I decided to have a little fun. I passed the guy at 22mph going uphill with minimal effort. While I did not laugh at him, I did look back and the look on his face was priceless. I guess I should thank him, his disrespect gave me the energy to climb the hill like it wasn’t even there. I’m sure he passed me again later, but I didn’t notice.
There is a basic rule to triathlons, never ever do anything new on race day. For the most part, I followed that rule with the exception of dealing with aid stations. In general you do not stop at aid stations. This means you have a large number of people moving at high rates of speed interacting with people on the side of the road standing still. What could possibly go wrong?! I skipped the first aid station, but by the second one I was in need of a water refill. I wasn’t nervous about my ability to pull this off, I was more concerned with the other people around me. I saw a guy holding a water bottle, I pointed to him, said “you’re my guy” and he moved to meet me. I was able to snag the bottle out of his hand and even managed to thank him. I refilled my bottle and chucked the empty toward the dumpster at the end of the aid station, I missed it by a mile!!
The return trip was a little more difficult, there were some inclines (I can’t call them hills) and the tailwind we had going out was now a slight headwind, but I was still making great time. I had done well with taking in some salt and some GUs every 5 miles and I felt I did ok with my hydration, but looking back I was a little lacking on my calorie intake. I would realize this until later.
As we came back into the park things got a little dicey, there is a boardwalk, which is a bit bumpy on a road bike, but my biggest issue was the guy who slowed down to a crawl so he could slip his feet out of his shoes. I know pros do this to save time going into transition, but they do it quickly and don’t hold up a dozen other bikes. The crowds in this area are huge and the energy is contagious. I wasn’t sure if I’d see “my people” or not. As it turned out I only saw one and it wasn’t one I was expecting, MK was standing there in street clothes screaming for me…she should have been ahead of me, somewhere on the run course. My only thought was that something had happened to her bike, the brake repairs hadn’t worked. I had a brief concern that she make have gotten hurt, but she looked to be fine. I came to a stop and fought my way off my bike, pedaling nonstop for hours on end tends to make you walk like a new born giraffe! I had averaged 17.19mph and completed my bike leg in 3:15:30! I had a blast on the bike, while in my aerobars it was easy to see my brother’s number on my forearm, each time I’d see it, I’d smile and realize just how much fun I was having.