It was a wonderful weekend. WIBA 2007 is in the bank, and I got a lot out of it. First and foremost was the opportunity to meet up with so many members of the Tri Blog Community. All day Saturday was a lesson in putting faces to blog identities and blog identities to real names. In all, we had nearly 75 people participate in various aspects of WIBA.
And there were many lessons learned during Saturday's training.
The day started early, as I had to drive to Madison. I was up at 3:30 and on the road by 4 a.m. The goal was to be at the swim start by about 6 a.m. getting ready for the day. My timing was pretty good, and by 6:15 I had all my swim gear at the lake, and I had already met Gavin Nunn and a few others. Prior to the swim, I also saw Taconite Boy, Coach Mike, Iron Wil, Bolder, Robby B, Rural Girl, and Stu.
As we got into wetsuits, a local ski team showed up for a bit of practice on the ski jump. This was a bit problematic as our swim course went right through that ski area. Iron Wil had spent many hours on the phone ensuring we would have clear swim lanes, and speedboats barreling through the water didn't really match her vision of "clear." With the boat crews express promise to avoid running over any swimmers, we started swimming. Our plan was 30 minutes out, and 30 minutes back. (This was shortened by 30 minutes in order to get on the bikes a bit early due to projected temps in the 90s).
The swim was fairly uneventful, though there was one lesson learned. That lesson is that regardless of the size of the lake, someone WILL punch you in the face during the swim. After spending 45 minutes being concerned that I would run into another swimmer, I saw an arm heading right at me. Someone caught me right in the head, knocking my goggles off my eyes. Call it good practice for Louisville. Still, there couldn't have been more than one other swimmer within 100 yards, and that swimmer hits me!?
Another lesson? Consider Body Glide on the neck. The red ring from wetsuit love isn't all that appealing.
After the swim, everyone started getting bikes out for the ride. We had three options ranging from 70 to 112 miles. Well, 112.6 miles if you make a couple wrong turns. Two groups left from Monona Terrace. One group would make the leg from the bike start to the loop start and complete one loop. The other would complete the full IMWI bike course. (A third group completed two loops without the out and back legs from the bike start/finish).
We started out as a large group, mostly a function of being unfamiliar with the course. Many thanks to Stu who did everything he could to clue people in on various details of the route. Many miles down the road, I would find myself wishing he had been with me at that specific moment. More on that, later.
Early in the bike, I learned yet another of the day's lessons. If high temps are expected and your bike will be somewhere particularly warm, say the back of a vehicle, electrical tape might not be the best bet for keeping gels on a bike's top tube. Taconite Boy found it quite humorous that I had to keep pulling gels off the bike and throw them in my back pocket. As warm as it was, the glue turned to mush and the gels were just sliding around.
Once we hit Mount Horeb, the group split up. Many in the group stopped at the BMC sag wagon, and others stopped at one of several gas stations on the route. Some of us didn't realize where these stops were located and continued down the road. It took only a short time for me to realize I was completely alone. That baffled me as I hardly considered myself the workhorse of the group. Still, triathlon is an individual sport, so I kept on biking.
Things went smoothly until a little country road called Garfoot. Don't ask me about the name, as I have no clue. But if you plan on racing IM MOO and haven't seen the course, ask me about why Garfoot is a good street name to remember. On that I have a clue. No, a warning. No, a bit of potentially lifesaving trivia.
Garfoot is truly a minor country road. And after a long period of climbing, Garfoot offers the first really nice drop, and I easily reached 35 mph without pedaling. Of course, it immediately heads back up, but it was a great stretch. Now, for the PAY ATTENTION part. Garfoot makes a left onto some road. Its name isn't really important, because about 100 feet down that road, the course makes a right turn back onto Garfoot.
Which then goes into another downhill stretch. A much steeper downhill where I hit about 45 mph. And then saw the "à" sign. And then realized that "à" meant, "This road turns 90 degrees to the right. It would be a corner, except it's just a turn. Prepare to die."
I was already on the brakes, and realized that SLOWING was neither an option nor sufficient. Stopping? That seemed like a better idea, but was also not going to be happening.
Wheels melting? Yeah, that was happening. Bike starting to twist and shake underneath me as the wheels started to skip on the pavement? Yep. Me trying to figure out how long it might take for someone to find and scrape my carcass off the road. Definitely.
Somehow (and for anyone who questions the existence of God, this is good proof), I managed to keep the bike upright, though I left the road. Fortunately, I got off the grass and onto a driveway that just happened to be where I needed it. I was doing about 30 mph when I hit that. I'm sure the horses in the barn didn't mind my sudden appearance. They probably just thought, "Look, another triathletes missed the turn."
Once I cleaned my shorts out, I got back on the road.
The rest of the bike was long, hilly, and, at times, painful. Taconite Boy commented that someone's bike computer indicated the temperature on the road was 98F. The hills on the back half of the loops are challenging, and completing them helps me believe I can face whatever Louisville throws my way. With four stops for water/fuel, it took 7 hours 30 minutes to complete the ride.
Notable is that it has been nearly two decades since my last century ride. And this trip was more than 30 miles over more recent long rides. Challenging as it was, it was a great training day that will pay huge dividends on August 26th.
After the bike and an opportunity to wash up, we all met for dinner. We had about 40 people there, got lots of swag from various sponsors, and shared our day's experiences. Shortly after dinner, I headed out for the drive home.
And, there is one final lesson for those who made it this far. Swim goggles work best when worn right side up. When upside down, they are prone to leaking and falling off. I didn't learn that at WIBA. That was this morning, but it seems fitting for this post.
Stop by later for information about some contest opportunities. A certain WIBA participant informed me he has lots of swag he'd love to give away in contests, but he has too little traffic through his blog.