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Ironman Canada Race Report - Part 4

Bike – 180kms – 6:53:48

As I left transition on my bike and rode down Main Street, I was very focused on starting my nutrition plan immediately. I had been swimming for over an hour and I was HUNGRY! My bike nutrition plan was one 16oz bottle of Gatorade, one PowerBar or ½ PowerBar and a PowerGel per hour.

Main Street was packed with spectators and people were cheering like crazy! It is awesome part of the ride and a great way to start out. It is difficult to recognize people you know here though. I didn’t see Tim, Jamieson and Brenda here but I was not sure if I just missed them or if they had moved on (turns out they had moved on to try and catch me at OK Falls).

The first 60kms of the bike are relatively flat with exception of McLean Creek Road. This is a steep incline where you need to get out of the saddle to climb. I was surprised by the traffic jam of bikes in this area. Some people seemed unaware that there was going to be a hill and were in the wrong gear.

I managed to make my way around people or tried to stay to the right as much as possible. At this point I realized that I forgot to put sunscreen on my face! I wasn’t too concerned because I had sunscreen in my tool kit. I had planned to stop and put it on in OK Falls. Once up McLean Creek it is a quick and curvy ride down into Okanagan Falls (OK Falls). It was on this descent where the guy in front of me decided to lift his butt off this bike seat and urinate most of the way down. It took me a few seconds to realize what he was doing and managed to break in order to get a little bit further behind him. I ended up laughing to myself and thinking “that was a true Ironman moment”.

At the bottom of the hill, there is a left turn through OK Falls and down to Oliver and onto Osoyoos. It was at the left turn that I saw Brenda and Tim cheering me on. Jamieson had fallen asleep in the car and had just missed me. I was about 45 minutes into my ride and was way ahead of my usual pace. Around 47mins into the ride, I hit a pretty big bump when going over the McLean Creek Bridge before Tickleberries. The bump launched my bike tools (2 tubes, 2 tire irons, 1 CO2 cartridge and a mini bottle of sunscreen) out of my back water bottle carrier and onto the road. I reached back to check if they were really gone and they were. A guy behind me said “they are gone, but don’t worry, you won’t need them” trying to be positive. At this point, I had to decide whether to stop and go back and look for it or just move on. I decided to move and hoped that I would not get a flat.

There was a great tailwind going from OK Falls to Osoyoos which helped me out. This is pretty typical of this part of the route. Heading into Osoyoos I was preparing myself for the climb up Richter Pass. After rounding the corner at the Husky station, I dropped my bike down into the granny gear and started spinning up Richter Pass. I was amazed at the number of spectators on Richter. This was so helpful in such a tough part of the course. Slow and steady up Richter I went. Once at the top, there is a huge descent where some racers will get up to 80kms/hour. For me, I topped out at 56kms which was faster than I had gone in training. There was a cross wind but it was nothing I hadn’t expected. I was really happy to have ridden the course three times before race day and knew what to expect.

After the fast descent on the back side of Richter, it was on to the seven “rollers”. The rollers are a series of 7 hills that went by pretty quickly and without any incident. Again, I knew what to expect since I had ridden the course more than a few times already. By the time I completed the rollers and was on to Cawston Flats, I was still feeling great. I was surprised to find myself passing people at this point. I kept thinking something must be wrong because I don’t pass people on the bike, they pass me. Maybe I was going too fast, was I going to be able to run after this? Many questions went though my head. Then I saw Tim, Brenda and Jamieson cheering me on. They had driven to the Out and Back section of the route. This got me out of my head and back in the race.

When all of a sudden…I got a front flat! Wow, I had no tools and a flat. My worst case scenario had just happened. OK, into survival mode. Luckily it was close to an Aid Station. I got off my bike and started to run toward the Aid Station telling a volunteer (maybe talking in an assertive voice…or maybe yelling…I am not sure) I had a flat and no tools. The volunteer said the Bike Barn was just up ahead. I kept running with my bike and yelling to racers “Anyone got a spare tube?” After a few times of yelling this, a wonderful angel of a man stopped and gave me a tube and a CO2 cartridge. I thanked him and he was on his way. I didn’t get his race number but I would love to be able to thank him for the kindness. I still had a problem though. I had everything I needed to change the flat except a tire iron. I kept running ahead to make it to the Bike Barn vehicle. As I continued to run the length of the Aid Station, I could see the Bike Barn vehicle pull away and drive down the course away from me! They would have had no idea I was behind them needing assistance. I was a good 50 feet from the vehicle. I could see how bad the volunteers and spectators felt when they saw this. All I could do was wait. Not more than 10minutes later another Bike Barn vehicle was pulling up the road behind me and volunteers and spectators were able to flag them down for me. I later heard stories of racers waiting 45minutes for bike support so this was like a miracle for them to be there in 10mins. 5 minutes later my flat was fixed and I was on my way.

I don’t know for sure how long it took but I would estimate the whole thing took about 15mins and I was on my way. I was on my way and riding again. The rest did me good and I was quickly catching up to many of the racers who passed me. I was even able to pass some of them. Again, I started to think I was going to fast and wondered how I was going to run after the bike. Coming up to the Out and Back section I knew that Tim, Brenda and Jamieson would be at the turn around along with my Special Needs bag. I was thankful I had packed extra tubes in my bag but wished that I had thought to pack a tire iron also. If I got another flat, I would be in the same position as before.

At my Special Needs bag I grabbed the extra tube and put it in my back jersey pocket, the 3 PowerGels and my previously frozen bottle of Gatorade. It was still cold but not frozen (surprising given the 35C heat). I looked at the chips but wasn’t interested in them. Tim was right beside the bags so I chucked what was left in my Special Needs bag at him and was off. I still had 60km left in the ride including Yellow Lake which is the hottest and toughest part of the ride. I don’t exactly remember when but sometime between The Bear and Yellow Lake I was addressed by a gentleman behind me saying “hey, are you erin337?” I laughed and said “I sure am!” It was I asked him when his wife was going to do her first IM (something we had tweeted about earlier in the month). It was so cool to meet him in person!

At the bottom of Yellow Lake I knew I had a tough road ahead but again, I dropped down in to granny gear and spun my way up slow and steady. I spectators and volunteers and Yellow Lake were AMAZING! I felt like a rider in the Tour de France. People lined both sides of the route yelling and cheering and SO MUCH COWBELL! At the Yellow Lake rest stop I knew I was on the home stretch. One more big hill and then down, down, down into Penticton. I was already mentally preparing for the run. How am I going to run after all this was still going through my mind. The cross wind down into Penticton was pretty strong but nothing I hadn’t felt before.

Before I knew it, I was riding down Main Street toward transition. I was taken by how many people were already out on the run course. I saw a few familiar faces and cheered them on. When I arrived at the dismount line of the bike, I could NOT believe I was finished the bike and about to start the run.


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