Cozumel Ironman - The Bike
It took about 10m to get back down to my target heart rate of 135-140. I ate my Kind bars quickly, since they're nuts and chocolate which will be sticky mess when it's hot later on. I likely burned about 1000 calories the swim too, so I need to fuel up.
I was surprised to be averaging about 33km/h with little effort. Hmm...guess that's tailwind. Aide stations are every 10k: water, Gatorade, bananas, gels. All thrust at you by eager volunteers. I blast past the first couple since the bike is well stocked.
An easy cruise to the Rasta bar at the south end of be island. A quick left and the scenery changes radically from low, dense jungle to wide open beaches, rolling surf and oh...HEADWIND!
East Coast Fun
Holy Crap a thats a lot of wind.. and it's only 9:15!
And it always builds during the day.
Arwynn and I had worked out the game plan on a practice ride: low gears, easy spin, tight aero tuck, focus on the target heart rate, stick to the extreme right near the vegetation. Ignore your speed. Ignor other riders.
Those Other Riders, with huge quads, roared by in huge gears. "You guys are gonna pay." I told myself...hopefully.
I stuck to the plan. 10k later I was slowly reeling them in, and passing them as they blew up. Nice!
Cozumel is flat, with a few 5-10 m rises. But with that headwind, any rise is tough. 25 unrelenting km of this is a challenge.
Halfway through this stretch the first first Pro lapped me. This guy's pace was incredible! 40kmh plus!
There are few sports were us commoners can compete In the same race as the world's best. Triathlon is one of them. It's inspirational to see athletes of such caliber. And intimidating to know the huge gap between you and them.
These are super humans.
And, here comes the Heat!
Finally a left turn, out of the wind and back to town on the "Tranversal" highway. It's a respite from the wind, but WOW it's hot!
I was told this the "downhill" portion of the race. Over 8km, it drops 2cm! Grrrrreat….
In town the party had started. Every local had pulled chairs out to the road, brought the kids, noise makers and were cheering hard. The spectator support was truly incredible. A few zig zags through town were really fun. Barriers on the sides, crowds cheering, some corners, a chance to get out of the saddle, sprint and pretend I was real road racer. Seriously fun.
Lap 2....a repeat of Lap 1
Except that I'd now been in the aerobars for 3 hrs straight, with maybe 5 min of break. And my back was explaining to me, in infinite detail, just how #*%+ing much it loved me. The course is dead flat, so be prepared to spend 5-7 hrs in the bars. There's absolutely no break.
My only comfort was that other were showing the same problems. Lots of riders standing, stretching etc.
One American rider pulled and asked if we were only ones to get the No Drafting memo. Seems it wasn't printed in Spanish. The Mexican tri-guys were full on road racing and wheel sucking. In the words of Jack Sparrow: “they're not really rules per se….more like guidelines…”
Yeah the wind sucks. But it's an individual Time Trial! Them’s the rules guys! Hope they got DQ’d.
And back into the wind
The east side wind was now stronger. Although beautiful, I was getting to hate this stretch. At 90km I stopped for a few minutes at Coconuts bar for my special needs bag, a stretch, food, drinks, stock up and go again.
This time the Transversal was even hotter. I'm not at all heat tolerant, so I started hitting every aid station, drinking tons of water, using salt tabs and dumping any extra water over my helmet. It helped...somewhat.
Towards town there was a huge black cloud of smoke, a major fire, right beside the road. Another rider came beside me saying: "hope it doesn't affect us”. well...the building on the windward side of the road was on fire, flames spewing out the top, smoke billowing across the road. In true Mexican style a fireman with respirator stood on the road directing us to the other side and on through. We accelerated held our breath and coasted through the smoke, barely seeing ahead.
Hey. Its Mexico! Ok. The race was back on. In Toronto they would have stopped the race. Shut down the area etc.
Not here. I kinda like it.
Later we heard that this was the warehouse holding all the floats for the Christmas parade. All were lost for this year. Really sad.
I stopped at the last aide station before the east coast hurricane: stretched, fuelled and headed out again. Of course with the even stronger winds, my gears acted up and I couldn't get down into my 53/21 gear. Peddling along with left leg and kicking the rear derailleur with right heel. No good. So I dropped into my small chainring for the first time. My gyrations did get a few laughs from other riders.
But we were all suffering together now. Hot, windy, unrelenting and tiring. My back was now officially on strike. The Pro we had dinner with a few nights earlier finally passed me. He wasn't having a good day either. he should have passed me hours ago.
Just too bloody hot!
The Transversal road was now brutally hot. No shade, no breaks, not a single cloud all day.
I had a hard time staying in the aerobars, huffing like crazy and couldn't get my heart rate above 120. WTF was wrong? heat exhaustion is tricky: it sneaks up on you. Crank 2, coast 1. Repeat. The corners in town, that I'd previously enjoyed, were now dangerous. By the time I got to T2, I was in trouble.