Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Ironman Mt. Tremblant Race Report - The Bike

After leaving the changing tent inferno, I picked up my bike from transition and off I went. For having driven up and down Montee Ryan pretty much every day before the event, I knew every inch of pavement, and it didn't scare me from the elevation standpoint. It's actually a great introduction to the landscape, but with a lot less space around to navigate. There were parts of the road that were downright dangerous if you were flying downhill passing someone. No place to go if something or someone jumped in front of your wheel, so I tried to be careful and not do anything too crazy that would get me in trouble. Before you know it, 10km done, boom!

But once I arrived on the Hwy 117, I had to start working harder right away. There are some long climbs and a few fast descents, but overall I'd say it's a rather boring stretch of the course, that goes out for another 23km before you get to turn around. You can see what I'm talking about in the gorgeous graph below. Hwy 117 is from km 10 to 33 and back, before you go into the little tail at the bottom.
Given the winds that you may encounter on this highway, the first big descent after 6k of non stop climbing is the most exciting part as it gives you the first good adrenaline shot of the day. After that all you should really care about is to stay legal and not to ride on the shoulder like everyone else does. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful course from km 1 to 90, but in the context of a race, it becomes work, and very hard work at times, so you have less time to admire the surroundings. There aren't many people to cheer you on either, so for the most part you are with your thoughts and for a few seconds at a time, with those who pass by you, or you pass back later on. "Hey, dude, didn't I see you earlier? And then... "Alright, feel free to pass me again, no hard feelings..." (I'll catch you later... or not).

I started eating as soon as I got on the highway and I continued to eat solids at 35-45 min intervals, trying to go from one kind of food to another on a rotation, with a sip of liquid to make it go down faster. I cannot stand boredom, especially that of the palate. I had 5 salty balls, 3 gels (1 Espresso, 1 Mint Chocolate, 1 Salty Caramel), 1 Kind bar, 3 bottles of Endura and 3 bottles of water (I stopped to fill up twice). I also had 1 half of a banana (maybe 2?) at one of the water stations, and a few pretzels that another athlete shared with me because I told him that they looked tasty.

And just like that, with the wind at your back, after it sucked your soul on the way out, you find yourself leaving the highway and turning into downtown St. Jovite, which is a sort of cheerful interlude with a side of false-flat that laughs at you in the face: "A-ha, gotcha!". I laughed back at it and promised to bring confetti and a party hat the second time around.

Then Montee Ryan (should have been Descente Ryan this time) brings you back into Mt. Tremblant, where the masses go wild. I found this part quite exhilarating and my heart was ready to explode with joy while riding through the crowds, but I also knew that the worst was yet to come... so I contained my excitement, yet my face still got a cramp from smiling so much. I remember seeing the photographers there and told myself that was the best spot for taking pictures, just before everyone starts crying. The last 10km before the last turn around are pure torture and they do put an end to everyone's enthusiasm for sure. Mission: stay upright, don't break your chain, don't stop (or you'll never be able to start again) and if you can, keep your butt on the saddle and the heart rate under control. Translation: slow and steady. This is no place for heroics, because you'll have to do it all again in a few hours.

I did my best not to burn all my matches on this climb, and followed to a T my own pieces of advice. The turn around could not come soon enough, but once it did, it was like fireworks! I swear I wanted to get off my bike and do a happy dance. I celebrated with another fast descent, and double the adrenaline shots thanks to all the turns and reduced visibility.

And shortly afterwards, I could finally say LOOP ONE DONE!! (pretty sure I yelled even louder inside)
Loop two started just like the first one, but with a stop at special needs about 1km in. I exchanged one of my Endura bottles and I was on my way. Things got a bit more interesting on this loop if I can say... For one, there were more bottles scattered on the road to avoid, like the big Aerodrink that I encountered during one of those fast downhills that I was telling you about on Montee Ryan. It's a miracle that I did not hit it. I may have even closed my eyes for a fraction of second thinking that I was about to go down. Phew, one avoided, three dozens to go?

Back on Hwy 117, and the hills had not moved. Still there, yup. Plus, the wind came back to keep them company. So both decided to spoil my party, but I was not going to give them satisfaction so easily. I probably slowed down a little, or rather I started telling myself that I needed to save my legs for the run since they were burning a bit more than the first time. The same 10 people that I had been playing tag since the beginning were still there too, but this time I wasn't so eager to pass them back. I kept repeating in my head: "This is just a long training day, be patient. There is still a marathon away. Don't get greedy!". Over and over again. I would say that staying put and trying to judge how tired my legs were was the biggest challenge of the day.

For those who like data porn, here are some nice charts and squiggly graphs thanks to Velo Viewer.

Ok, so where was I? Still on the highway, that's right. Well, there isn't much to say about the rest of the ride... St. Jovite, Montee Ryan, Mt. Tremblant... same old, same old, but with a lot less people around. Most spectators must have been gathering around the finish line as the pros were already on the run. However, I did see my little family just when I was about to start the last set of hills and that gave me a great mental boost. The last climbs felt even easier this time, go figure. I also found myself descending faster too, but I had to tap the brakes a little because I didn't want to crash so close to the finish.

And to make it even more exhilarating, with 5km to go, we got hit with a DOWNPOUR. I don't think that I could have gotten more wet than in those last 10 minutes. Thanks for the shower, Mother Nature! You must have known that I had pee-pee'd in my bike shorts 3 times.
I'm so happy, I'm gonna burst!
Oh, and the crampy smile? Still there!!

Bike: 7:01:24

Back in T2, I found a chair to sit on right away, then repeated the struggle with my clothes, only that this time I didn't have another towel to dry myself off before putting on my tri kit. I had to ask for help from a volunteer to untangle the back of my tri top, then put sunscreen on my back. Thankfully there was nobody around to yell against it. It still took me a while until I completed the wardrobe change, but again, comfort was a priority rather than speed. Dry clothes never felt so good!! Grabbed my fuel belt with 2 little bottles of Endura and 1 bottle of pickle juice, more salty balls and gels, my puffer and off I went again.

T2: 11:23 (1 minute faster than the first time, yay!)

For the run, go here.


  1. I'm loving your recaps! I don't even do triathlons but the three-part recap is keeping me in suspense!

  2. LOVE the recap so far! Those veloviewer graphs are pretty, even if I have not the foggiest idea what most of that means. You finished the bike in a great time so I assume good :D

    Damn it, you are making an Iron Man sound like an almost good idea...

  3. Seeing you out there on the run was a thrill lol

  4. YEAH! I really really want to go to Mt. Tremblant now. I keep hearing about how beautiful it is. I don't have the desire to do the Ironman but the 70.3 is definitely on my radar!!

    1. It's a must, Phaedra. Only that you have to be quick, it sells out like hot buns.

  5. You're a freaking rock star! Can't wait to hear about the run!

  6. Thank you so much everyone!! Although I personally don't like 3-part recaps, that's the best I can do for now with the little time that I have to write. I hope to be able to write part 3... soon-ish. :-)

  7. Look at that bike love! You look so happy! Congrats on a fantastic ride, lady! Can't wait to read about the run (I'm REALLY behind on blogs!) :)