At last! after attempting to Qualify back in 2010 and training for this race alone for over a year the race finally came.
I had a photo shoot the day before the race: when you are 47 years old racing in any world championships is not something I can do too often!
Since this race course is known as the toughest cycle portion in North America, and Nice France where I’m racing in June is also a mountain course, I decided to custom build a new bike. The philosophy for this bike build is for mountain time trial racing. The bike needs to be light-sub 15lbs (time trial bikes are aero, not light) and the wheels had to be sub 1000 gram for the two of the . An off-the-shelf bike like this is 10-12 kg, which is way out of my price range, so I custom-ordered a carbon frame and wheel set from a carbon factory in China. It took a bit of digging to find a contact but I did through the bike forums, where other bike racers had done the same thing, so I gave the contact my specs. I was sent options for bottom bracket threads, dimensions, and I went with tubular carbon hoops, Bitex hubs and Sapsim flat spokes. Tracy Goldon added clear coat, custom painted ‘Gilbert’ and a red maple leaf on the seat tube, and “Heaven’s Death” on the down tube.
The message through the name is that the effort to cycle up into the heavens is put to death. There is an angel on each front fork, and blue wind blowing up the forks through the mouth of a skull turning into blue flames through the top and down tube. Also the crank, seat post, handlebars, brake levers are all carbon. I found a new Campagnolo Record group set from 2008 out of Total Cycling in North Ireland, and the Deda Aerobars from Britain. Pol from Cutting Edge here in Port Alberni put it all together and the bike is awesome fast in the mountains.
There was a storm from the north that dumped a ton of rain. Race-day brought temps in the 30s f. The swim was cancelled because of too cold of temps so we had a time trial start. My hands were cold getting my bike setup.
There were 10 Canadian athletes in the 45-49 age group. We started alpha-numerically so the 45-49 Australians, Austrians, Brazilians were just ahead of the Canadians.
There were no flat sections on the bike; just 7,000 ft of riding either up or down for 120 km. I was loaded with carbs from the cancelled swim. I even put Carb0Pro in my coffee! So I changed my race management plan by adding 5 beats of heart rate to the bike portion.
The 120km cycle portion was a big ‘Y’ course with two of the forks around each side of Lake Mead. No pics of this, but the desert was big rollers where I was either ascending in lactic acidosis or descending and hanging on as there were winds depending on where you were in elevation amongst the terrain.
These two desert pics of me coming and going is on the other fork of the ‘Y’ and it’s a bike path for a few km that connects Lake Las Vegas to West Henderson where T2 was. It was a course for hill climbers. Five minutes after I passed the pic below was the infamous ‘Three sisters’ series of three climbs which were all short but 16-18% uphill grade. I passed three Canadians stretching after these climbs. No wimps allowed!
The run was 30 km of with up or down; no flat running. Here you can see the timing matts that record the chip Velcro to my left ankle. What I think about during a race: Posture upright, head facing the horizon, loose shoulders and arms, cadence and foot plant on forefoot. I’m also constantly reviewing my progress and time left in relation to my fluid status, electrolyte replacement, and glucose consumption. I consumed six gels in the run, cups and cups of Coke and Gatoraide, and salt tablets. I wore my racing flats which I thought were the hot ticket for the 15 km of uphill running but they had no support for the other 15km of downhill running! My quads were on the verge of cramping right off the start so I shortened my stride and raised my cadence to run the downhills which still was not fast enough so I put more heart rate into the uphills. There was so much stress on my legs from the downhill running in the light shoes I could barely walk after the race and took weeks off everything after to recover.
The run was a 30 km killer: four out and backs where the downhill portions cramped your quads and the uphill ones put you into lactic-acidosis. I managed the run in 2:42. About as fast as I could have possibly been that day.
And then it was over! I finished fourth out of ten Canadians and 45th out of about 80 in my age group. My year-plus adventure was over, all the mountain runs, bike rides, time spent going over race-management plans, race theory, and judging my fitness level was over. And I loved every minute of it!