The Wisconsin bike course is fairly challenging. Comparing the elevation profile to Lake Placid lulled me into a false sense of confidence. I handled Placid without problem and figured Wisconsin would be easier.
It started down the “helix”, the spiral down from the top level of the parking deck, and headed out on John Nolen Rd. The spiral was kinda dizzying, especially since I had been in the water so long, but eventually I settled in and life was good. Once I hit the 20 minute mark, I started taking in calories (water only for the 1st 20 minutes) and I was feeling great.
Miles 43/88 mark the beginning of “the hills” on the course, just past the section I photographed shown here. It was a Tour de France type setting with spectators lining the climb and cheering you the way up. The next few miles were somewhat challenging, but then I hit Verona, the crowds, and the start of the second loop.
Then it hit me. I was getting a migraine. I’ve gotten migraines after hard days of training and racing, but NEVER DURING. Damn. I pressed on, enjoying the day, the sun and the course. To add insult to injury, I started cramping up during the 2nd loop. I was taking in plenty of fluids, but my hamstrings and quads started cramping up, especially when I went through the hills the 2nd time at mile 88. Eventually I made my way out and back to transition.
So what made the bike course tough? Some say it’s that every 5 minutes you’re doing something different. Others say it’s the hills. I fall in the 2nd camp, but not for the same reasons. The roads with hills were not long, or high, but steep. There’s the rub – a climb with a steep grade. Additionally, there were places on the course where you would turn and immediately be climbing. Turns take speed away – and there are plenty of turns on this course, compared to Lake Placid where you only have 12 turns over the whole course. Turning into a climb knocks you down even more.
So in short, my bike ride was dominated by a migraine, cramps, a lot of turning, and some steep grades. I’m happy with it overall and would not change anything I did. It is what it is.
Next up – how the heck am I going to get through the marathon? Stay tuned!