January 23, 2013 on 8:50 am | In Nutrition Tips, Races | No Comments
What easy triathlon tips can you use to become a faster triathlete? What unusual triathlon tips do pro triathletes give to beginners? There are lots of lists of triathlon tips out there (eat your Wheaties, be sure to stay hydrated, take your bike helmet off for the run – don’t laugh, I’ve seen people forget that one), but most of those triathlon tips you can think of yourself, or are pretty obvious.
This is a list of triathlon tips I have assembled, focusing on actually useful tips to being a faster triathlete, but ones that I am confident you have not heard before. On each one of the triathlon tips you can click the links for more detail.
Added Bonus- There are actually 13 triathlon tips for the price of 10!
1.Carb-load properly the day before the race:
- This is one of those things that everyone thinks they know how to do but very few people get right
- The day before the race focus on eating a LOT of easy to digest (and pass through) carbohydrates!
- Eat them early in the day (pancakes and syrup?)
- Your target is 15 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight- this is a LOT. Think ~2 lb of pasta.
- Eliminate non-carb foods the day before the race so you are not overwhelmed by calories
- You can read more details on how to carb load properly for a triathlon.
Swimming: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Swim
2. Learn how to draft on the swim!
- It’s not that hard to do, its 100% legal, and it saves a ton of energy.
- One great spot to draft while swimming is right behind someone- everyone knows this one.
- The secret great spot for drafting is next to the lead swimmer, but half a body length back.
- You can see a lot more detail on this triathlon tip here: draft while swimming in a triathlon.
Biking: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Bike
3. Ride faster in a triathlon by riding on the white line when you are riding alone.
- On bad pavement it will surprise you how much faster you can bike!
4. Ride on the fast pavement whenever you can!
- Sometimes just six inches to the left or right can be worth 1mph
- You can see details on this triathlon tip in this article: how to ride faster in a triathlon on the faster pavement without causing a crash.
5. Evaluate your triathlon bike fit
- If you can’t ride for the whole bike leg (however long it takes you to ride whatever distance you are training for) in your aero-bars, you need a better triathlon bike fit.
- It’s far more important to ride in your aero position for the entire bike leg than it is to buy an aero helmet or even to pedal really hard.
- You can do an online triathlon bike fit, or go to a good local tri shop,
- You can even do a DIY triathlon bike fit yourself with a video camera
6. Learn how to pass other triathletes on the bike efficiently via slingshot passing
- You will pass a ton of people out there- if you can save 1 second per pass by doing it smartly, it’s worth doing!
- Ride right up behind the athlete you are passing, then swing around at the last minute, having gotten a good rest while catching up behind the lead rider
- You have 15 seconds to go from 3 bike lengths behind to “your wheel passing the front wheel of the other athlete” -there is no reason not to use at least 10 of those 15 seconds!
7. Conversely, you should also learn how to be passed efficiently
- This is just a reverse slingshot pass
- Remember you have to drop out of the 3 bike length draft zone in 15 seconds
- But you might as well do it while directly behind the faster rider so you can rest while dropping back
8. Use the correct triathlon race tires to have a faster bike split with no added effort.
- While all tires may look the same (round? Check. Black? Check) there are huge differences.
- Some are crazy fast. Some are slow as riding in mud.
- A lot of research has been done on tires, and the result is a complete file of rolling resistance data (get it from the link below).
- There is a bit of a tradeoff with puncture resistance and tire speed, so read this article on how to choose the right triathlon tire for the specific race you are training for.
9. Use the correct tire sealant in your race tires so you can run fast (and slightly puncture prone) race tires without getting flats.
- There are a lot of good choices for tire sealants. My personal preference is “flat attack.”
- You can read an insane amount of detail about your tri tire sealant choices.
Running: Triathlon Tips for a Faster Run
10. Do most of your training runs SLOWER
- Most people do almost all of their runs “at the edge of discomfort.”
- This is too fast for your day-to-day run training.
- The much better method is to do almost all of your runs at a very easy, comfortable speed, and finish feeling like you could do a lot more.
- Then once a week, do a really hard speed workout.
- This will actually make you a lot faster for races, and GREATLY reduce your recovery time and risk of injury.
11. Aid station water is NOT for DRINKING
- Gatorade (or whatever with carbs and salt that they are handing out) is for drinking
- Water is for pouring on your head and keeping your hat, hair and clothes wet
- Water is not for drinking and is not for getting into your shoes (harder)
- Ice makes a huge difference, but its hard to figure out where to put it when running
- Wear one surgical/latex glove (yes you look kind of silly) and fill it with ice at the aid stations
13. Develop an efficient aid station routine
- There are 12 running aid stations in a half ironman.
- Save a few seconds at each one and it’s 4 minutes off your race time!
- Keep moving! If you stop moving you lose time and your legs get cramps. At least walk, or jog through it
- Develop a routine and stick to it- this way as you get dumb towards the end you don’t forget something
- The key thing to keep in mind is to do as little as possible in the aid station itself and to move on and do as much as you can while running.
- Here are suggestions on a routine that works,
About the author: Coach Noah is the head coach at T1 Triathlon LLC, a coaching company dedicated to meeting the needs of all triathletes, specifically including beginner triathletes, and often working with athletes training for their first Ironman. We had 3 first-time Ironman athletes this year, and one athlete race at Kona 18 months after starting triathlon. You can read about our success stories, and the services we offer.
- If you want to ask the coach a question, send him an email!
- This “Top 10 Tips” list was developed from our popular “Triathlon Tips of The Day” service
- You should also like us on facebook!
This blog entry was brought to you by coachfitter.com, a great service that helps athletes connect with the coaches they fit with in many different sports.
December 18, 2012 on 4:32 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Training, Uncategorized | No Comments
By: (guest blogger) Joanna Chodorowska via our friends at CoachFitter.com
No extra pounds around my middle, hips and thighs, or guilt from stuffing myself more than the turkey! Here are some tips on how to get your holiday treats while keeping it all in perspective And keeping you closer to race weight:
Eat your greens and vegetables. The phyto-nutrients in green veggies combat stress and free radicals caused by stress. The antioxidants in vegetables and fruits help counteract those free radicals. Dark green vegetables help with stress relief naturally because of the high calcium and magnesium content. Calcium and magnesium help muscles relax, so get your greens every day! They will also help keep the calories down.
Get your sleep during the holiday season. Every additional hour of sleep you lose each night will make you crave more sweets, treats and simple carbohydrates during the course of the following day. The blood sugar spikes cause more stress! Studies show you gain 4% more weight just with 1 less hour of sleep per night, so get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. You’ll feel lighter and less bloated and you won’t feel like those bike shorts or Speedo shrunk.
Make time for exercise! You may not be able to get your 3 hour ride in, or a 2 hour swim or run, but getting 30-60 minutes of high intensity interval training will help keep your stress levels down and your fitness intact. It will also help burn some of those calories you did or will consume. You can also consider hiring a coach who can help you manage fitting a training routine into your busy schedule. For more information on the right coach for you, check out CoachFitter.com.
Double-fist it for the holidays!! Drink one alcoholic beverage, then one glass of water (mineral or seltzer with lime works great!). You will keep yourself hydrated and you can wake up refreshed rather than tired, nauseous and irritable from that hangover. Have several parties? Choose to drink at only one of them. Training sucks when you are hung-over!
Do not skip meals to save up for the big feast! Skipping meals will just make you overeat at that next meal. Eat smaller and lighter meals throughout the day by limiting the starches and increase the vegetables. Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Do you try them all? Um, yes! Take only a bite size portion of each dessert onto your plate so you can try each one. Don’t worry, they won’t all go to your waist and hang over the bike shorts – promise!
You can’t avoid the Holidays, but you can learn to keep the weight gain to a minimum while still enjoying your family, treats and parties. For this and more sports nutrition tips you can live with, go to www.n-im.net or everydaynutritioninmotion.wordpress.com as well as CoachFitter.com
About the author: Joanna Chodorowska, Nutrition in Motion, LLC is triathlete and sports nutrition coach working with elite and endurance athletes improving their performance using real food principles and meal plans you can live with and do everyday.
You can also find Joanna Chodorowska listed in CoachFitter.com
December 7, 2012 on 2:01 pm | In Nutrition Tips, Uncategorized | No Comments
It’s time to start thinking about resolutions for next year. If yours have anything to do with nutrition or losing weight, you’ll appreciate this blog from Rick Cohen, M.D. of Core 4 Nutrition. Our friends at Coachfitter sent it our way. If your resolutions include finding a coach and improving your performance, you should definitely check them out!
One of the most powerful things you can do to maximize your long-term health and athletic performance gains is to become a metabolic fat burner.
When fat-adapted, your body’s metabolic engine begins to work more like a fire burning logs instead of twigs or paper. Fueled by fat, your energy system will run longer, stronger and cleaner; every system in your body will benefit from having a more consistent, reliable source of energy that is generated with a minimal amount of metabolic waste (similar to the ash created by burning paper). Less metabolic waste means lower levels of internal inflammation (the underlying cause of almost every modern, chronic disease), less recovery time, and an improved capacity for both physical and mental fitness.
How you can you tell if you’re a fat-burner?
Based on the metabolic analysis of hundreds of competitive athletes—the majority of whom were physically but not necessarily physiologically fit—we have created a brief questionnaire that should provide some insight into your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.
1. Can I go four to five hours without eating, or does skipping a meal cause me to suffer from ravenous hunger, anxiety, headaches, brain fog or other common symptoms of low blood sugar?
2. Do I enjoy steady, even energy throughout the day, or do I experience peaks and valleys that leave me longing for a nap?
3. Can I exercise in a fasted state (in the morning prior to eating), or exercise for an hour or more without relying on the use of carbohydrate-based foods or drinks?
4. Am I relatively unconcerned about my body fat content, or do I need to maintain high and constant levels of exercise in order to stay lean?
5. Are my blood sugar, blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels within an optimal range, without the use of any medication?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, congratulations, your body is being fueled by fat! If you answered “no” to most of them, don’t despair. Your inner engine can become optimally fuel efficient by implementing some simple, dietary changes and taking a more strategic approach to nutritional supplementation. Having a solid training program is also essential for optimal metabolic health, if you have thought about looking for a coach and don’t know where to begin, check out Coachfitter.com.
Want to dig deeper?
Consider doing an at-home, metabolic assessment profile that will allow you to quantify your body’s metabolic proficiency. It can be repeated at regular intervals to scientifically monitor how your dietary and supplemental routines are contributing to your metabolic efficiency. All that’s required is a painless finger stick and a few drops of blood. From this small, serum sample, the four physiological factors contributing most significantly to your fat burning status can be accurately evaluated. These four factors include:
This marker is typically used to evaluate your risk of heart disease. It compares the levels of HDL (a protective lipoprotein) to those of triglycerides (a transitional fat made from excess sugars ear-marked for long-term storage) found in your blood.
The goal is to establish and maintain an HDL level higher than that of your triglycerides. Most fat burners have at least a 1:1 ratio of HDL to Triclycerides. Some fat burners have achieved an impressive 2:1 ratio, while that of the typical American is an unhealthy 1:3.
Insulin is an important hormone that regulates how efficiently your cells utilize glucose (sugar) for energy. A fat burner with healthy cells rich in vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids will be very sensitive to insulin and, therefore, require very little of it. Higher levels of insulin are, of course, toxic to the body. They also promote the production and storage of excess body fat.
As a fat burner, your insulin level marker should be no greater than 3.0. Those with excellent fat burning engines often measure in at less than 2.0. The typical American, on the other hand, is frequently more than 5.0.
This is a marker of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. As a fat burner, your goal is to score no higher than 5.3. Those who are completely fat adapted will be under 5.0 while the typical American is often over 5.7. Those with an average glycohemoglobin level of 6.0 are considered diabetic.
This is a marker of inflammation that is high for those who eat a carbohydrate-based diet and are low in vitamin D3 and omega3 fatty acids. Most fat burners have a C-reactive protein level of no more than 1.0. Those who have become completely fat adapted will be under 0.5. The typical American, over 5.0.
What are YOUR numbers?
Get this metabolic profile and find out! Order before December 31st and you’ll receive a $25.00 holiday discount. Just enter FatBurner25 during checkout.
Use your results to establish a metabolic baseline, then make a game-changing plan. With some dietary guidance and targeted, nutritional support from Core 4 Nutrition, you can become a lean, mean, fat-burning machine! You’ll enjoy more consistent energy, fewer swings in both mood and motivation, and a heightened sense of overall health and well-being. In the long run, you’ll become leaner (without dieting or counting calories), stronger, and look years younger than your age!
Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 28, 2012 on 9:25 am | In Athlete Profile, Giving Back, Sponsorship | No Comments
We recently partnered with a new charity, Team Ariana, and I was curious about the amazing girl spearheading the foundation. I was able to send her some questions so we could get a better feel for the organization and the girl behind it. To learn more or to give to a great cause, visit the website or Facebook page.
How did you get started in triathlon?
When I was younger (Age 7 in Second Grade), I had tried sports like soccer, basketball and softball. I just could not find the right fit for me. Then, two of my friends’ (boys) dads told my dad about these kid triathlons they were participating in. My dad asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I did and the rest is history. I was hooked! My earlier years were spent learning about all three sports, nutrition, gear and competing in many local and national championship races. Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to start racing in adult triathlons, but only if my dad would do it with me. Now we do them all together! This year I competed in approximately 15 duathlons and triathlons, including two Olympic distance races.
What made you decide to start racing for charity?
As I progressed into the adult triathlons, a lot of attention was being placed on me. I was usually one of the only kids racing and I was beating most of the adults. I decided that I wanted to shift this attention away from me and onto a cause that was more worthwhile. I created Team Ariana last year and kicked it off at the beginning of the 2012 racing season. I united my sponsors and created a web site, a full Team Ariana race wear line with my awesome sponsor Champion System, and provided a way to raise more awareness and badly needed funds for the Vogel Alcove. The story on the Vogel Alcove also goes way back as my younger sister, Gabrielle, deserves all the credit for introducing it to our family. The Vogel Alcove is a special place which gives young homeless children and their parents a start at a second chance in life. They provide schooling and healthcare for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and case management for the parents, which helps them prepare and find work, and ultimately a real place to call home. Twenty one different local homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities, etc. feed into the Vogel Alcove.
We started helping Vogel by donating all our birthday presents to them, creating donation drives and visiting the children to bake cookies, do art projects and play. But that just did not seem like enough. I wanted to do more. Once my sister and I realized that these sweet children don’t even have a bed to call their own, not even their own pillow, I knew I could make a difference. Team Ariana was the answer. When I am racing and pushing as hard as I can, I find a way to push harder knowing I am doing it for these children. I have so much and they have so little. I can endure a few hours of pain for them. This year alone, Team Ariana has raised over $37,000 and we are not slowing down one bit!
Do you participate in other sports outside of swim/bike/run?
Yes, I participate in volleyball at my school!
Have you inspired any friends or family to participate in triathlon?
Definitely! My dad was my number one equipment manager before I started doing adult triathlons. Now, he does all my races with me and even completed his first Ironman this summer! More importantly, I think I have opened up other kid’s eyes to the reality that they, too, can make a difference. I have heard and seen other kids finding a way to give back to their communities by finding something they believe in and going after it. Some do it through triathlons, and others through sports they love. The main thing I want to get across to other kids is that I am proof that one kid CAN make a difference.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
Well, I typically have 3-4 hours of homework every night so a typical training week during the school year is a little different than a training week during the summer. Also, my training changed when I began focusing in Olympic distance tris versus sprints. First off, my coach is awesome. Coach Steen Rose has always made sure that my training is balanced with my other obligations. More importantly, he makes sure I am always having fun. After all, I am still a kid! During the school year, each week I will typically balance 2 runs, 2 swims, 2 bikes, resistance training and yoga. My coach changes up my schedule, but the weekends usually involve longer bricks and more endurance work. We also use Training Peaks which really helps me in my weekly and monthly planning.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? ,
Looking at your results, it’s easy to see that you’re a fierce competitor. Do you have any dreams of racing as a professional some day?
Absolutely! I would like to (1) complete my first Ironman before I finish high school and (2) become a professional triathlete sometime in my career.
Who is your favorite triathlete (both male and female)?
Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins. I got to race with them both in the Toyota US Open Championships!
What is the toughest subject in school?
What is your favorite subject?
English, Spanish, Math, and Science
How do you decide what your goal is for how much money you want to raise for Vogel Alcove, and does that goal change from year to year?
This is my first year of raising money for the Vogel Alcove. When I started earlier this year, my goal was $10,000. We hit that so quickly that I raised it to $20,000. Once we passed that I raised it to $50,000! It has been so great to see so many people and companies help support me, Team Ariana, and the Vogel Alcove. This really is an awesome sport with a phenomenal support group.
How do you spend your down time (what’s your favorite non-athletic thing to do)?
Playing with my friends (sleepovers, movies, fun sports) and doing fun activities with my family (traveling, cooking, etc.).
What’s the hardest part about triathlon training?
The hardest part about triathlon training is usually not the training itself, but finding a way to structure my schedule so I can fit it in. I have found that taking breaks from my homework to train really allows me to recharge and focus more on my studying.
Are your friends into triathlon as well, or do they think you’re crazy?
I met my best friend (who lives an hour away) through triathlon racing. She is my BFF and I wish I could see her more. My other friends don’t race, but are supportive. Some have come to see races, but many don’t like getting up that early and they generally think I am crazy!
October 16, 2012 on 1:29 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, From the shop, Races, Sponsorship, Uncategorized | No Comments
No longer an underdog after her 3rd place finish in Hawaii last year, Leanda Cave is one of those athletes you root for because of her work ethic, and because she’s just plain nice. If you live in Tucson you can see her out on the roads and trails, putting in the hard work day after day, like Rocky Balboa. It’s not always the best man or woman who wins; sometimes it’s the ones who are willing to play dirty or sometimes it’s that annoying team with all the money. Leanda, however is not only one of the hardest working professional triathletes, but also one of the nicest professional triathletes I’ve had the honor of meeting.
I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to her in the TriSports retail store, shortly after I moved to Tucson and started working here. It was my first time meeting a pro outside of a race setting. When I was introduced to her, the person introducing us mentioned that I was training for a marathon. I noticed that she seemed to be friends with everyone in the building, but figured that it was just because they had been there for so long. However, the very next time she came in, not only did she greet me by name, but she asked how my marathon training was going. Getting to know her on a few training rides and on a few social outings solidified my belief that she is a kind, down-to-earth woman.
Because of the wonderful person she is, the entire TriSports triathlon community was behind her on race day. I was, quite literally, on the edge of my seat as I watched the final miles of the marathon unfold. To be honest, I was a little worried at one point; I had never seen Mirinda Carfrae catch another athlete and not pass her. When Leanda held strong and then began pulling away, everyone in the room went wild. She made us believe, as she must have all along, that she could catch Caroline Steffen and win the race.
Sitting in the TriSports Tempe retail store is Leanda’s trophy from Ironman Arizona. At the beginning of the year our staff, along with some of our best customers and sponsored athletes, wrote resolutions for the New Year. Below is a picture of that trophy and Leanda’s resolution; that’s how the mind of a champion works, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the title Ironman World Champion. It was such a thrill watching our friend and sponsored athlete win the most important and exciting race of the year, becoming the first woman to win both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship races in the same year. Leanda, you continue to amaze and inspire us, and we thank you for another great year. Congratulations, champ! Your win was hard earned and well deserved.
September 26, 2012 on 4:51 pm | In Announcements | No Comments
Over the last several weeks we have been awarded some very unique awards from a couple of our manufacturers. Here is a look at a couple of them!
Thank you to all of our customer for putting us in a position to earn these awards.
August 23, 2012 on 11:00 am | In Announcements, Athlete Profile, Sponsorship | No Comments
The Ironman 70.3 World Championship is just 2 short weeks away, and we are thrilled to have 8 Team TriSports athletes racing this year. Amongst the professional women you will see Leanda “Super bird” Cave, Angela “no longer the bridesmaid” Naeth, and Missy “check out my quads” Kuck representing Team TriSports.
Could the women of TriSports sweep the podium? We’d put money on it!
August 6, 2012 on 10:29 am | In Announcements, Races | No Comments
The TriSports.com big rig hit the road today for a two-week trek across the country! We are so excited to making the trek to meet some of our online east coast customers. Members of the marketing, warehouse, customer service, and retail teams are excited to put a face to the names we love shipping packages to. We will have all the race day essentials and gadgets you love for our friends in Ohio and Vermont.
Our first stop is West Chester, Ohio for the USAT Youth and Junior National Championship. We will be at the Voice of America Park Friday, August 10th from 9am to 5 pm, and Saturday, August 11th from 6:30am to 1:30 pm.
Next we will be headed to the USAT Olympic and Sprint National Championship in Burlington, Vermont. We will be setting up shop at the Burlington Sheraton on Friday, August 17 10am to 6pm, and Saturday August 18 from 8 am to 6:30 pm.
We look forward to seeing you out there and make sure you honk and wave to Shari and Pam K in the truck!
July 24, 2012 on 2:56 pm | In Employee Adventures | 2 Comments
Just about a year ago I set off to accomplish a bucket list ride and when I finished I didn’t say a whole lot about it outside of my circle of friends. After a year of reflection I have come to the realization that I should probably write about it – not for bragging rights, not for chest pounding, but merely to document my experience for historical purposes. To the best of my knowledge I am the only person to do this exact ride. Who knows, maybe my kids or grandkids will read this one day.
If you are a serious cyclist in this country you know about at least one of the great mountain top hill climbs – Mt. Washington, NH; Haleakala, HI; etc. In southern Arizona, we happen to be home to three of the best hill climbs in the U.S. – Mt. Lemmon, Mt. Graham, and Kitt Peak. Two of these – Mt. Lemmon and Kitt Peak – are visible from Tucson, and when you are climbing either one you can look far across the desert and see the other staring back at you. Well, over a decade ago I was coming back from a trip full of debauchery down in Mexico with some friends and we were driving by Kitt Peak on our way back to Tucson. Needless to say, this is when the question was planted in my head, “what would it be like to ride both Kitt Peak and Mt. Lemmon in the same day?”
The top of Kitt Peak – photo from http://www.noao.edu/kpno/
Fast forward to the spring of 2011. I had two big races I was prepping for – Leadville Trail 100 MTB and Ironman Arizona. I was putting in some monster 300-350+ mile weeks on the bike w/tons of climbing leading into late June, and it magically dawned on me that the moons had lined up and I was going to be in good enough shape to take on this monumental ride. The catch with this particular ride is that I made one rule for myself – it had to be completed in daylight. In order to make that happen, the ride would have to be as close to the summer equinox as possible so there is enough daylight. The obvious downside is that I live in the desert and it is quite hot in the summer. Of course, because the ride window opened up so suddenly (back to my fitness and training cycle), the ride fell into the first part of July (July 9th to be exact), smack at the start of the monsoon season. The monsoons open up a whole other potential issue because they tend to explode in the mid to late afternoon and can wreak havoc due to wind, hail, rain, flooding and lightning. I figured I would just duck and cover if this became an issue.
About 10 days out I started getting the word out to some other crazies I know that I was going to do this ride. I was able to get three “volunteers” – one of our sponsored athletes (Chrissy Parks) and two employees (Billy Brenden and Steve Acuna) to accompany me through the 120 mile Kitt Peak leg. I was also able to get another warrior to join me for the entire ride – Chris Chesher. Chrissy is the real deal on a road/tri bike, Billy and I had trained for IMLP together in 2009 and Steve is an up and comer in the sport who was there for the beating. Chris is a BAMF, one of the strongest guys on the bike in Tucson – he will punish you. If you ever come to do the shootout here in Tucson, Chris is probably the guy in the front making you suffer.
I didn’t bother mapping the ride because I have ridden both Kitt Peak and Mt. Lemmon many times, but I was guessing about 200-210 miles. Chris met me near the base of Mt. Lemmon and we took off west at about 4:45AM (just as the sun was coming up behind us). We picked up Chrissy, Billy and Steve by the University of Arizona at about 5:15, and we were off. To make sure this was a real suffer fest and that people couldn’t come back and say, “but you went the easy way,” we headed over Gates Pass and around McCain Loop and headed out Sandario to hook up to Ajo (Hwy 86). With the exception of me getting a flat and not having an inflator with me, it was a pretty uneventful ride to Kitt Peak. Chesher was really pushing the pace as we circled our pace line – he was probably putting out 300W – it was the train of pain and we hadn’t even done a climb yet. I didn’t mind only because I knew my fitness and knew the longer this went, the better I would feel. We arrived at the base where Debbie, my wife, brought the kids for a “fun day watching daddy ride his bike up a mountain.” She played sag support for us on the mountain. We all rode Kitt Peak at our own pace (leaving the car at different times) and Chris and I rode together at a sustainable 230W.
Kitt Peak (6,880 ft) is a National Observatory that houses 24 telescopes and sits alone in the Sonoran Desert. The climb is about 14 miles long and is unique because it only gets steeper as you climb – there is absolutely no relief on this climb. A friend of mine who has done Alpe d’Huez several times said that Kitt Peak is equally, if not more, difficult. At the top is the 4-meter Mayall Telescope that can be seen from both Tucson and Mt. Lemmon. This particular telescope taunts you all the way from Tucson and all the way to when you “think” you are done with the climb.
We fueled up at the top and headed back to Tucson where Chrissy, Billy and Steve detached from the mother ship and headed in for the day (a “mere” 120 mile ride – one that not many people ever do). By this time the temperature was pushing 102F and the humidity was about 60% with no cloud cover. To make sure, once again, that no one questioned my ability to suffer, I dragged Chris over the back side of Gates Pass (it’s a climb over the Tucson Mountains that pitches to about 16%) before we descended into the Tucson valley and made the voyage across town to do Mt. Lemmon. I was dreading this part of the ride, dealing with the cars and the lights, but it was actually fun! The crazy thing was that I felt fantastic – yes, 140 miles into the ride and I was feeling fresh as a daisy. Along the way across town my Garmin 705 was giving me the Low Battery warning so I had Debbie bring me the charged Garmin 310xt I had at home – there was no way I was doing this ride without proof! Chris and I made it back close to the base of Mt. Lemmon and swapped out our TT bikes for road bikes for a change of pace, and because I wanted the better climbing position, then headed toward the 26+ mile climb.
This brings me to the part of the story where things get interesting. As we are climbing the first miles of the mountain I tell Chris “yep, over 150 done and about 50 to go, just this small mountain in our way.” Chris looks over in all seriousness and says “wait, I thought this was a 170 mile ride……I guess it doesn’t matter.” By about mile 5 the realization of what we had already put our bodies through started to sink in. I think my lungs were literally burnt from inhaling the hot air and I was having a very difficult time breathing – from here to the top it would be short, shallow breaths. Chris didn’t have enough nutrition so I was donating mine because I knew I needed the company (and a witness). Both Mt. Lemmon and Kitt Peak are known as Sky Islands because they emerge from the desert floor and host their own ecosystem – pine trees, ferns, bears, mountain lions, skunks, deer – it’s a forest in the middle of the desert. Another unique thing about these mountains is that they create their own weather, especially during monsoon season. As we climbed, it was becoming quite evident that a monsoon was pounding the top of the mountain and our destination lay in the middle of the beast. Luckily, the storm was dissipating about as fast as we were climbing and we didn’t get hit by rain or hail. As we climbed toward Ski Valley, however, the roads were wet, steam coming off of them, and the temperature had plummeted to about 50F (it felt like 35 after being in the heat all day). The road was lined with about an inch of hail. My big reward for the day waited for me at the vending machine at the bottom of the ski lift – a Coke. When I arrived there, thirsting for an ice cold caffeine-laden drink, it was out of stock! In fact, everything with caffeine was out, all they had was Sprite. What a letdown. After waiting for Chris (he was about 20min back at this point), he finally arrived and he was destroyed. He had a white rag wrapped around his head and when I gave him the Sprite he dumped it on the rag. “So, um Chris, are you going to go with me to the top?” Chris replied with a confused and startled look, “we are at the top!” I replied, “no, the real top – up the telescope access road.” Chris looks at me and says, “you are f’ing crazy, I will head down to where it is warmer and I will wait for you. See you at Palisades.” Palisades was about 8 miles back down the mountain at around 7,800 feet and out of the hail-entrenched monsoon war zone.
So this was it, just me. There was no one on the mountain but me. I started the final 1000 foot, approximately 1.5 mile climb with a little reluctance. The monsoon had absolutely destroyed the road. There was 2-3 inches of hail on huge sections of the road and the sections that didn’t have hail were full of rocks and mud. This would be a challenge on my mountain bike, let alone on my road bike with wet tires. The real problem wasn’t going up…it was coming down. This was a very real threat because I knew I would be freezing and, worse, I questioned if I would be able to actually make the bike stop in these conditions. I made my way through the debris without ever unclipping and made it to the gate to the observatory. I hiked through the hail and rode my way to the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center, the home to several telescopes, the same telescopes you can see from certain parts of Tucson and that stare back at you when you are on Kitt Peak. I took my self-portrait and gingerly headed down the mountain. Shivering almost uncontrollably down the descent, I willed my hands to stay on the brakes as I weaved around and through the debris. I managed to make it back to Ski Valley with the rubber side down!
After climbing to the very top of Mt. Lemmon (9,157 ft), you would think you could just coast all the way down, which you can except for one ~750 ft climb about five miles from Ski Valley. A very miserable sight to see for anybody who does Mt. Lemmon. I made my way over the climb and down to Palisades to find Chris resting. We joined up and headed back to the desert floor below (about 2300 ft). We finished the ride as the last little sliver of sunlight was left in the sky behind a couple of picture perfect monsoons that were hanging over Kitt Peak far off in the distance.
To put icing on the cake for this ride, I got up the next morning and rode with Debbie back to Mt. Lemmon (this time only to mile 5). As I made the turn at mile two, I looked over my shoulder out to the west and could see Kitt Peak staring at me. Probably one of the best feelings I have ever had – I now knew, I knew the answer.
Distance: 209 miles
Elevation Gain: 13,637
Food Consumed: About 2500 calories, but a ton of water!
June 11, 2012 on 10:56 am | In Announcements, Races, Sponsorship | No Comments
Congratulations to Team TriSports athlete Leanda Cave on her 4th overall win at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon! Leanda has previously won this race in 2010, 2008, and 2007. Other notable multi-time Escape from Alcatraz Champions include: Andy Potts (5x), Simon Lessing(3x), Michellie Jones (8x), Chris McCormack (4x), Mike Pigg (3x), and Paula Newby Frasier (3x). Escape is touted as one of the legendary races in the triathlon community due to its long, cold and rough water swim, hilly and technical bike (many pro’s opted for road bikes) , and sandy run. In typical Leanda Cave fashion she exited the water with the front pack of women and put together race best bike and run splits to take the win by over 3 minutes.
Pictures from Triathlete.com