And strange to say, I feel like the bike ride was a huge accomplishment, though I must state right up front that I only rode 2 loops of the four!
I signed up for this race because the thought of completing a 112-mile ride earlier in the year before my September IM race was so utterly alluring (would have been a huge confidence-builder), and I think I can say now that though I almost certainly could (on current fitness) have completed a flattish or even modestly rolling ride of that distance today, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself in for. I don't have a really good link, so you will have to take it on faith!
(Earlier in the week I was thinking with starry eyes about possibility of doing the long-course duathlon there next year - 5 miles trail run, 84 miles bike [3 loops of this same course], 15 mile trail run - but now that I have actually ridden the course, I note that even the "short' course will require epic amounts of work, and will be much better suited to my speed/time on course! That is 5 miles run, 28 miles bike, 5 miles run, but the nature of the bike course means that it is MUCH crazier than it sounds!)
This is the course, and it is probably the most beautiful bike ride I have ever had in my life. Just gorgeous. The weather was amazing, and the scenery is spectacular - I really, really enjoyed it. I also had the benefit of company going to the race - I got a ride from a truly lovely triathlete in the Columbia Triathlon Club, and we had delightful triathlon obsessives' conversations both ways!
My correspondence with the race organizer earlier in the week had made me realize that I should not hesitate to scale back to three loops rather than 4 if it seemed more appropriate, but honestly, my first loop made it clear that even doing 2 would be a challenge, and I am quite certain I was right to stop then. (I rode about 8 more miles on flatter ground, just to get the training total up to the mid-60s, but didn't want to get lost or stranded, and turned around to head back to the finish area once I found myself in traffic. Could have ridden quite a bit longer so long as it did not involve MOUNTAINS!)
Brent had optimistically suggested that he did not see why I shouldn't let HR rise to zone 2 for the second half of the ride, but in fact aforementioned MOUNTAINS mean that zone 2 is NOT AN OPTION unless you want your bike to tip over because you are literally not moving!!!!
(I really did enjoy myself - did not enjoy the final climb, and that was what made me realize I did have to stop, but once I realized I would only do 2 loops the second loop was really pretty good.)
There are 2 mountains that you climb on each loop - the first one is a really good climb, very long but never so steep that you really freak out - but the second one, right near the end of the loop, is pretty much the worst thing I ever tried to ride up! I had a big asthmaey fit of wheezing the first time round, and paused for more inhaler puffs - but it hit again the second time, and there I would have to say I think it was less asthma and more just outright panic - once you're working so strenuously and are so much pointed upwards and are moving so slowly, it is easy to lose one's nerve! I walked my bike up the last little bit of hill, and I was not ashamed!
The numbers will only really mean anything to the serious self-monitoring cyclists, but consider this:
2522 feet of climbing on each lap
Totals for 2 laps: 56.57mi., 4:42:48, avg speed 12.0mph (INSANELY SLOW!), max speed 37.1mph (SCARILY FAST!), avg HR 146 (that is solidly in zone THREE).
So I climbed 6735 feet total - that is almost as much as the climb over the whole ride at IMWI (c. 7000ft.), so I can at least in that sense guess that I got a preliminary stab at getting a feel for the job at hand. The clarity with which it appeared to me that I had to stop riding up mountains will become clear, at least to Brent, when I say that of my whole ride, including the easier bit after I took off my number, more than half of it was spent in zones 3 and 4, with 10 minutes in zone 5!
We all rode 2 miles beforehand from parking lot to start line, and I rode about 8 afterwards just to make it a longer training ride than any I had yet had, so I will log it at 65 and consider it a highly successful day. I wouldn't want to tip over into being one of those people who is always letting myself off the hook for this/that/the other and not challenging myself, but this was a truly challenging ride, even just doing half the distance (one woman stopped after 1 lap, and a LOT of people dropped out after 2 or 3). A very good day's training ride, and a beautiful landscape that I will definitely be going back to - I gotta do more bike training on MOUNTAINS if I want to ride successfully on MOUNTAINS!