The big surprise happened on Sunday. I discovered that the Great Floridian (GF) 112-mile bike course has been changed!!
And NOT for the better, IMO. In the past, it's been a hilly first third with a fairly FLAT second third and some gentle rollers the last third. Here is what the elevation map looks like for this year's race (created using Bike Route Toaster):
So now the second half is quite hilly too with the last 12 miles being the worst. WTF???
And, of course, I did NOT know this when I signed up for the race last year or when I signed up for Beach to Battleship (B2B), another full iron tri, two weeks later. Looking at the race forum discussions, it appears that the race director began a thread talking about a bike course change just last July. Crap ...
Well, yesterday Dave and I did an organized bike ride called the Assault on Sugarloaf, which is the GF bike course, and found out the hard way. We didn't have time to study the course map or turn-by-turn instructions they gave us that morning so we just followed the orange arrows, like everyone else. But at ~mile 40, I knew something was up when we rolled past the turn-off for the flat section of the previous GF bike course and started heading back to the start. Then I realized that sign we saw earlier painted on the road (something about a 2nd lap) meant we'd be hitting the hills again. YIKES!
But the course is nice and flat for a bit early on. We resisted temptations to latch onto pace lines.
An aid station at ~mile 50. Thus far, we've ridden on hills, through rain and now the sun is coming out to bake us. What a welcome sight in the middle of nowhere.
Never let someone take a picture of you eating a banana.
At the halfway point, Dave is done. It began raining again as I headed out for the rest.
It was a lonely ride but I did see a few folks later at the aid stations. I'd be surprised if 50 people did the whole 112 miles.
But I was one of them. 112.4 miles in 6:54, a 16.3mph avg. Not a bad ride for me considering my Garmin said the course had ~5200 ft climbing (nearly double what I had anticipated!), we had rainy/wet conditions at times and there was no traffic control (so we had to obey all traffic laws). After I got done, Dave also discovered that my rear tire was not fully inflated (must have rolled over something and had a slow leak). Possibly it wasn't just the hills that turned me into a slug late in the ride?
Still, my legs were beat. Here are my thoughts about the new course:
Mi 1-60 - What I expected from the orig GF course so all is good.
Mi 60-100 - More hills than I'd like but manageable.
Mi 100-112 - Brutal, esp. in 90+ deg heat. I think I'm going to be sick.
So with that, I am rethinking my game plan knowing that this new GF bike course is going to wreak havoc on my race goals and the quick recovery I need to do B2B two weeks later. I need some input from you guys. What would you do or suggest?
A) Bail on GF and make B2B my "A" race.
B) Change to do the GF olympic distance race offered the same day and make B2B my "A" race.
C) Change to do the GF aquabike event (2.4 swim, 112 bike) offered the same day and make B2B my "A" race.
D) Do GF as planned but with modified race goals and hope to recover fast enough for a better finish at B2B.
(There is no bailing on B2B as my step-daughter and son-in-law are coming to cheer for me at that race, plus it's my birthday weekend)
OK, so please let me hear your thoughts. Hope none of your races have major course changes that would make them much harder either.
PS - Still way behind in my blog reading but trying to catch up before my Google Reader explodes!