OK, report number two from Challenge Roth. Right now I’m sitting in the Nike EHQ Café, waiting to get on a bus to ride back to France, watching it rain, hard, outside in Holland. It appears that the Beaverton/Portland weather travels with Nike Headquarters, but it’s pretty nice, I have to say, to see some rain. It’s been a hot few weeks, here and everywhere, and even though it’s summer it is nice to see some precipitation in the world.
Welcome back to Challenge Roth Race Report Number Two! Today I’ll talk about the bike leg, and do a little power analysis along the way. As I mentioned yesterday, I swam well and came out of the water in 16th or 17th place, around four minutes back from the leaders, which put me in a good spot. My coach and I had planned for me to be aggressive—but not stupid—in addressing the bike at Roth. We knew that the big names (Frommhold, Bracht, and Starykovicz) would be attacking the bike, and trying to keep them within reach would be foolhardy. The plan was to ride a little bit above my abilities, but not much, and then aim to run 2:53-2:55, knowing that that kind of run would put me in a place for a really good result, and maybe even the podium if the über-bikers went too hard and blew up.
So how hard was too hard, and how easy too easy? We knew that 270-280 watts, average, would probably be possible given my training, so that’s what we targeted. Given favorable winds and conditions, that would put me in the high 4:20s to low 4:3os for the ride. Starting the bike, I tried to ride easy for the first five minutes or so, to simply get the legs loosened up after close to an hour of passive floating (if you kick very much while wearing a wetsuit, you’re kicking too much). As always, my external rotators (your butt-cheek muscles) felt tight and tired, but I knew that sensation would fade quickly. Within ten minutes I had caught two riders ahead of me and was feeling very good. My heart rate was higher than planned, but that’s normal after the swim. I just tried to settle down and ride steadily. Still, I rode too hard. If you look at the workout file here, you can see that my first lap averaged 283w, which of course felt easy at that point in the ride—the first part of the ride always feels easy! I would regret this error later in the day. I broke the course into 45k laps, and the first lap takes you down to the south of Roth, through rolling terrain, and then takes you to the town of Greding, where you climb the only real extended ascent of the course, a 4.25 mile ramp at 2.2% (although the first mile is at 5.1%). The second 45k lap takes you back to the start in Hipolstein, where you dogleg to the east and then climb the Solarer Berg, a very short ascent lined ten-deep (on each side) with specatators. It is, needless to say, a very special experience.
I still felt very good finishing the second lap and beginning the third, and you can see that my power numbers were holdig: 278w for the second 45k and 271w for the 3rd, which took me back through Greding and up and over the climb for the second time. Somewhere in there, Herbert Krabel of Slowtwitch.com helped me out with some information, telling me I was in around 10th place, 30 minutes back from the leaders, but that it was a small group and I had several riders coming back towards me. “Just keep riding steady!” he admonished. I did my best, but was starting to fade. I had stuck to my nutrition plan, but perhaps that first 45k was just a bit too much. My heart rate started to drop a bit, and my final 45k averaged 245w—a huge drop. I had simply burned a bit too much energy early. I did my best, maximizing descents and pushing climbs, but I was definitely looking forward to getting off the bike.
Here’s what I ate over the course of the ride:
1 bottle water
9 bottles on course sports drink (something called 32gi…a little low in salt and a little lower in carbohydrate than Powerbar Perform)
1 bottle Powerbar Perform that I grabbed from Amy around 95k (you can get hand-ups at Roth, which is totally awesome)
7-8 salt tabs to make up for the lack of salt in the sports drink
4 caffeinated PowerGels (50mg of caffeine and 300mg of sodium in each one)
1 200mg caffeine pill