|Water to Wheels|
My swim to bike transition was pretty smooth. As I was heading out to meet Bella, I was secretly praying that the air had not gone out of her tire and that I would have to use one of my spares to start the bike section. I also thought, hell, if that is what is meant to be then so be it. Those 5 minutes wont be the difference between finishing or not. I had a big smile on my face as people were shouting directions to me in Portuguese going through the TA. I hadn't a clue what they were saying it was just a riot to be in the midst of it all.
|Heading away from the shoreline and into the city|
The first stretch of riding was along the beach and shoreline which was quite beautiful but also very windy. You can see from the palm trees in the pictures that there was a steady wind. Unfortunately for most of the ride it was a head wind. I heard that the winds were at 15 to 25 mph at a pretty constant clip all day. As the taxi driver shared with me the winds are strong and constant all day. I was prepared for it. I know that the constant beating of a head wind can take its toll on a rider and slowly but surely suck the energy out of you. Stick to the game plan. Use your power meter and ride and don't let the bastard get you down. Those were my thoughts for riding along with proper hydration and nutrition. I got crushed on the bike in IM Cozumel for not taking care of my electrolytes in the hot and humidity. Fortaleza was not as humid as there were no tropical storms to contend with but the temperature was hovering around 103 most of the day. The winds, the heat, the humidity and not being in top shape were all in my mind but also things I know I had no control over at this moment in time and I was going to continue playing the hand I was dealt and continue to smile and enjoy this opportunity I was given along the way. Then it happened...
For some reason about 15 minutes into the ride, my chain just popped off. I don't even think I was changing gears. I hadn't realized and continued to try and peddle and the chain was now stuck pretty deeply between the crank and bike frame. I tried to rescue and continue to back peddle to loosen it up but that was not going to work. I had to stop. I got off my bike and really had to use some muscle to loosen the chain out from its wedged place. It finally came out with a big "POP". It was free again. I put the chain back on and began to peddle away. I looked at my power meter to get set back in the rhythm of riding but now no numbers were being displayed. After all I went through the last 2 days to get my power meter to work, don't tell me it is out again?!?!? I looked down at my crank an realized the magnet was gone from the crank. When I snapped my chain out I think I dislodged the power meter magnet. I couldn't believe it. Only about 5 miles into the bike section and now I have no power readings. I never ride without looking at my power. How will I know if I am pushing it too hard or taking it too easy. I have about another 105 miles to go. This will be like riding blind to me.
OK, wait...although I don't train by it, I can go off of my heart rate monitor. I'll try to just keep that a constant as can be. If I cant ride by power, I will ride by heart rate exertion. Not a bad back up plan. I check my watch and continue to ride. As I am looking at my watch I notice the numbers are very erratic. They would jump all over the place and disappear then be high and low and disappear again. This will not do. I am back to riding blind. Shit.....this is going to be a long potentially painful day. OK what to do??? what to do?? Ride I thought. Just ride. What did the cavemen do? They didn't have heart rate monitors and power meters. They just rode. Although I hadn't practiced riding for 100+ miles in 103 heat with 20 mph head winds, I was just going to ride. Ride by feel and being aware and trying to stay honest with myself on perceive exertion. And away I continued to peddle.
|No power meters or heart rate monitors here!|
The bike ride was pretty mundane. The scenery was bare and barren. Riding on a single lane of a highway with nothing separating you from all the traffic but a single lane of cones just outside a city of about 3 million people. Supposedly, we didn't ride in a less dense or scenic area because the winds near the water, along the shore were much worse. So we ride inland. It was a two loop course out on the long stretch of rolling highway.
|Triathlon = Wind + Heat + Hills|
I was very conscious of my nutrition to make sure I was taking in enough calories. In fact, I was taking in to many calories. I realized something was up as I started to project nutrition out my mouth. Why was this happening? I reviewed my game plan and then I realized that my fuel bottle, filled with 8 hours of highly concentrated fuel was half empty and I was less than 3 hours into my ride. Instead of in taking fuel every hour, I was ingesting every 30 minutes. That immediately stopped and I skipped my next intake and slowly increased my amounts as planned. I was back on track with no GI track troubles! Yay!! My fluids were working great. The race did a nice job of having water stations every 10K. This was much greater than I had seen before usually it is about every 10 miles not 6. So I was happy for that. At each water station, I grabbed 3 bottles of water. One more than I did at Boulder. I refilled my water between the aero bars and dumped the rest on my head, arms or legs. I would refill my areo water with the second and as I approached the next aide station I would dump the remainder of the 3rd over my head, arms and legs to attempt to keep cool.
|All is thumbs up!|
In keeping with tradition, I made as many goofy faces/poses at the cameramen as possible.
|Which way to the gun show? (NOT)|
Fortunately or Unfortunately for the next 4+ hours of riding I had Miss Megah Trainor stuck in my head. Out in the middle of nowhere there was this van parked along the side of the highway with HUGE speakers and a few Brazilian ladies dancing around. As I was approaching I could hear
"Yeah, it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places
|Thanks to Meghan Trainor I had about 4 hours of music in my head.|
That was it. My ears and mind was tainted. I could think of no other. I had lost Robert Nesta Marley. Mr Jack Johnson and Mr Dave Matthews no longer went along with me on this bike ride. And the worst part was at the time all I knew was the chorus. So those 8 words were sung over and over and over again for 360 some odd minutes. At least I was very happy with my electrolyte replacement strategy this race. As I had failed in this arena in the passed. I had plenty of endurolyte pills and Hammer Fizz tablets to keep a proper pH balance for this race. In a particularly windy section of the course I had come up on another racer. I could tell he was struggling. Side by side I attempted to make idle chit chat with him. Felipe was from Mexico and my Spanish was far better than his English. He was asking when the next water station would be as he was struggling. I learned that he was cramping big time in his legs. I took out a few endurolyte tablets and showed them to him. He didn't know what they were and was skeptical about taking "medicine" or these pills. I assured him they were safe. Explained my training and routine with them. 2 every hour. More if needed. I gave him 8 tablets as I didn't want to be short for myself but I knew it would help him get out of the deficit and on his way. We were a little more than 1/2 way through the bike and thought that might carry him through to the next transition. I patted Felipe on the back and peddled off wishing him well.
|The infamous "You da man" pose|
I pulled up to the next aide station calling out in my Portuenglish from 25 feet or so out...água água água. So this way I could get my bottles of water and be gone. But not this time. I got "não mais água" in return "Gatorade??". Não, obrigado and I continued to peddled off. That sucked but I still had 1/2 my aero bottle filled and a full though warm bottle of water in my back with the sun continuing to beat on it. Surely I can conserve and make it 6 miles to the next stop. Approaching the next aide station I had just about 1/2 an aero bottle of hot water left. I had not dumped or cooled myself in water for the last 12 miles. água!! água!! água!! .I began to call to only get the same response in return as from the previous station não mais água, Gatorade??? Shit!!!!!! What am I going to do. I was boiling up and didn't want to drink the Gatorade because of the sugars. But I had to do something. I grabbed a Gatorade and stuck in down the back of my shirt and rode with it for a few miles and then cut the Gatorade with the water I had in my aero bars. 6 more miles I can make it to the next water station. Surely they can't be completely out of water on the bike course of an Ironman race?!?!?!?!. There are lots of riders behind me and I still have about 30 miles to go. For the last hour plus I rode without any cooling agent in the heat of the high sun. Approaching the next station I go into my " água!! água!! água!! call. Sinto muito, não há mais água. Are you kidding me??!??!?!? I stop, get off my bike and look in the tubs of dirty ice water that they used to cool down the water bottles and Gatorade. Can I fill my water bottle with this?? Crap!!!!! I think about possible stomach ailments that could lie ahead with 20+ mile to go on the bike and then the marathon and a week of beach and relaxation. I could not risk getting a bug or parasite ingesting this dirty water. In my pantomime and portuglish I explain to the volunteer that I want him to dump the ice water on my head. água em sua cabeça? he questions half thinking I'm crazy. SIM!!! I reply and get a bucket of ice water dumped over me to the thrill and deep chill of it all. I grab a few cubes from the trough and dump them down my back and under the elastic of my shorts and off I go. As I pull away I can see other people getting off their bikes and ask the volunteers for the same thing. I chuckle to myself......It's all about the bass, no treble. WM (Warrior Mode) I then catch up to Stephanie from Ohio. This was the first American that I noticed out on the course. We chat a little and I share my water over the head story with her and she is relieved as she was wondering what she was going to do. We approached the next aide station together and I begin my call for water, half expecting to know the reply.....água!! água!! água!!........não mais água......água em minha cabeça. Their eyes light up and they grab buckets. Happy to dump ice cold water on the gringos. By the time Stephanie and I stop two ice cold buckets of dirty water are dumped over our heads. I grab a Gatorade and some bagged iced. I fill the aerobars with the clean ice and pour the Gatorade in it to continue to cut the Gatorade. I put more ice down my shirt, in my wings, and in my shorts. And so it goes, I separate from Stephanie and begin my new routine for the next 4 aide stations until I reach the Transition area. It was ugly but I made it through the exposure. Along that final stretch, I began to see an increasing number of bicycles along the side of the rode with riders just sitting on the curb dejected and waiting for help under trees under over passes in any shade they could find. Back towards the city I rode.
I am not quite sure how the next section happened. I mean I recall exactly what happened but still till today I cannot phantom how I came away unscathed. A few blocks from the transition area there was a slight downhill with a hard left turn. The city was jammed with traffic. A single lane of cones separated us racers from the cars an tons of motorcycles and mopeds. All through the race, cars were jumping the cones to come into the bike lanes. Fortaleza DOES NOT have a culture of bicycles and sharing the road. Countless times I saw near misses and people riding in the "coned bikers lane" to beat the traffic or make a turn across the bike lane to get where they needed to. Downtown was madness. I felt safer all those years riding my bike in Manhattan sharing lanes with NYC taxi drivers than I did with a supposed designated bike lane in Fortaleza. As I was approaching the bottom of the hill about to make that hard left I saw a motorcycle cut the cones and come into my lane. In that instant I had 2 choices, lay the bike down and take the road rash and all else that may come with it or make the turn and lean into the motorcycle and see what happens. I took that later option. Side by side we collided. He had no clue I was coming. He had a female passenger on the back. I leaned in with my shoulder to get ready to absorb the shock, hoping I could still cut the turn and remain clean. I hit the handle bars of his motorcycle, his side view mirror snapping off from the impact with my shoulder. It bounced me back upright from my lean as he went down. I continued to peddle during the entire ordeal and rode away. I could hear the gasps of the people in traffic. The yell of surprise from the rider and his passenger. For an instant, I wondered if I should stop, go back and see if everyone was ok. Then I thought, he was totally in the wrong. I could see me going back and a band of Brazilians beating the shit out of me. Better keep moving. They obviously know where to find me as there was a race going on. Then a smile and those words came to mind.......It's all about the bass, no treble. Warrior Mode. Away to the TA I rode.
|Just a quick ride through the city and back to the beach to begin the run.|
|A Tough but satisfying day out on the bike. ~ WM|