November 29, 2011

Ironman Arizona - The Bike

The Bike:
After seeing my family out of T1, I headed to the mount line, which was sooo crowded!  Because I had tears streaming down my face I actually waited a couple of minutes to mount my bike because I really didn't want to crash right off the bat!

1 loop of the 3 loop course
  Finally, I was on my bike and headed out of town for my first loop.  Right away I was thankful that I had my wind jacket on.  I was still a little chilled from the swim and when a breeze or shady part of the bike course would come around I would get a little cold.

 The first part of the course consists of several different streets before you actually get on the beeline highway.  It was a nice way to ease into the long ride ahead of me, but before I knew it, I was on the beeline.  While the beeline is not a "hill" by any means, it is a steady climb to the turn around with about 500ft. elevation gain.  For the first loop, I was still trying to get my "bike legs" and I was surprised at how hard heading out the beeline felt.  It wasn't like it was a huge climb, but I was only averaging about 14mph going up, which totally surprised me!  I just tried to keep my cadence up instead of pushing the big gears because I knew I still had 2 1/2 loops to do and I DID NOT want to burn out my legs right away.

Finally, I came to the turn around and I knew it was mostly all down hill from there and I got really excited!  I FLEW down the beeline!  I felt so fast and it was awesome!  I definitely had my "bike legs" at this point and I just cruised back to town.  At one point I looked at my Garmin and I was going 28mph!  Woohoo!

As I came back towards transition people were lining the street on both sides!  Everyone was cheering and it was just amazing!  I didn't think I would see my family at all during the bike because we had talked about how difficult it is to really know where an athlete is on the bike and when they are coming.  BUT, to my surprise, as I headed to the turn around, I saw my sisters, dad, and niece/nephews on the side of the road screaming at the top of their lungs!  I was sooo surprised to see them and so excited that I started to tear up AGAIN!  Seriously, I was a mess this entire race! Ha ha!

This is kind of  hard to see, but I'm the one on the other side of the road in my blue jacket!  That hand is actually my sister's hand..ha ha!  I waved and blew kisses to my family as I went by and I just got so excited!  Seeing them definitely gave me a burst of energy as I headed out for loop 2.

At this point, I started getting hot!  I stopped on the side of the road, took off my jacket, and stuffed it in my tri top pocket.  Then, I was off for another loop!  Once again, I got on the beeline and started cruising.  BUT, this time, heading up the beeline felt a lot easier and I found myself averaging around 17-18mph.  I chalked it up to finally having my bike legs and I got visions of having a fast loop!

Well, my visions faded pretty fast when I reached the turn around to head back down the beeline.  Right as I turned around, I was greeted by a major HEADWIND!  I immediately thought, "That's why riding up was so easy...I had a tailwind the entire way!"  Then, my next thought was, "CRAP..I'm going to have this nasty wind the entire way down!"  There goes the 20+mph miles downhill!  I was sooo bummed because I HATE the wind!  But, training in CO, where there is almost always wind, really prepared me for it.  I decided at that point that I was NOT going to let the wind ruin my day!  I knew what I had to do, so I just stayed in aero, put my head down, and just kept on going forward.

Finally, I made it to the Special Needs area (around mile 67).  I stopped and an awesome volunteer gave me my bag and helped switch out my nutrition bottles.  Honestly, I didn't even want them.  I had actually started feeling a little nauseous on my bike and wasn't sure what the problem was.  I was taking in my EFS, eating my Honey Stinger waffles and chews, and doing everything the same as I did in training.  BUT, my stomach just felt off and a little queasy.  I started wondering if maybe swallowing gallons of Tempe Town Lake water was the culprit.  I had no idea what to do, so I just kept going, hoping that it would pass.  Unfortunately, a short time later I had to make a pit stop...ugh!

Finally, I was winding back to transition and I was sooo glad to be at the end of the 2nd loop.  Again, I didn't expect to see my family, but as I got closer to the turn around, THEY WERE THERE!  WOOHOO!!  My sister actually got this shot of  me as I rode by!
 She even got a little video of my fly by too, but I can't figure out how to upload it!  Again, seeing them gave me the boost I needed to forge ahead for my last and final lap!

The good thing about doing a 3 loop course is that you know what to expect.  The bad thing about doing a 3 loop course is also that you know what to expect.  The wind, oh the wind...have I  mentioned that I hate wind?  Ha ha!  At one point, the wind was blowing right at me, then it just stopped and it was calm for about 3 seconds.  "Oh no," I thought!  Then, this huge gust came from the right just as this guy was passing and we almost crashed into each other!   I'm not going to lie, it REALLY scared me!  Seriously, the wind just kept getting worse for the rest of the 3rd loop and it just wasn't fun.  I was starting to get tired, my neck hurt, and I really wanted to be finished.  I actually stopped looking at my Garmin because what I saw was just not making me happy, and I didn't want those negative thoughts in my head.  BUT, I was on my 3rd loop, and I was getting it done!  I just kept moving forward, getting closer and closer to the finish!
This was taken by someone on  It turns out he was out there taking pictures of as many BT athletes that he could!  How cool is that!?

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY I came to the fork on the bike course where you could either head to the finish, or continue on for another lap.  I was sooo happy to make that right turn into the finish shoot!  The volunteers were motioning me towards the dismount line and I pulled up, swung my leg over, and clipped out.  The volunteer said, "There you go, that's how to dismount!"  I passed my bike to another volunteer who would rack it for me, and headed to the run gear bags.  I was surprised at how good my legs felt!  I thought they would feel like mush, but they didn't!  A volunteer already had my bag out and ready to hand to was awesome!
All the run gear bags in nice little rows!
I ran to the change tent, found a seat right up front, and a volunteer came up and asked if I needed help.  As I sat there, amazed that I had just finished the second part of my adventure, I told her that I just needed a minute.  She asked me if this was my first IM, and I said yes.  It turns out her son and daughter both did their first IM in Austria and it was such an amazing experience for her that she decided to volunteer at IMAZ.  How cool is that??

After taking several deep breaths, I took off my helmet, gloves, and bike shoes and started to put on my running stuff.  I got my compression socks on easily, slipped on my shoes, put on my visor and race belt and thanked the volunteer over and over again for her help.  I took one last long breath, then headed out of the change tent for the last leg of my awesome adventure!


Betsy said...

You're making me a crying mess now. I love race reports. And I hate wind!

Go TriBella!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

THose Arizona winds are brutal because there is no tree line to block it, I was wondering what direction the wind would be that day, it was the same as last years race.

Congrats on the stellar ride!!!

Cant wait for the next post

Teamarcia said...

Ugh I hate the winds as well. But it sounds like all smooth sailing so far! Yay!

Deb said...

I loved reading this! I was waiting for the next chapter. :)

Winds are rough. I live in a windy area as well, and it makes riding difficult. You did great though!

Julie Arts said...

ok, fine. I couldn't wait to move on to part 2! Woooooweeeeeee!!!!! You are killing it so far!

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Great job! I believe that's why they changed the race from April to November because the wind use to be even worse then. Can't wait for the final reports!

Jon said...

OMG that wind! Its that scratching sound in the ears that drives me bonkers, kind of like a mosquito buzzing around you.

Way to stick it out! Glad that you anticipated that gust. SCARY!

Can't wait to read all about the run!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Great ride! Three loops would be freaking hard!

TriMOEngr said...

Was getting anxious to read about the bike and now anxious to read about the run. Thanks for sharing and making us feel like we road right with you. Love this!

Molly said...

Love it!!! Those AZ winds are hard some days but you had the exactly right idea, just stick to your plan and get through them!

Heather @ Just a Colorado Gal said...

Riding in the wind is awful!! Loving your recaps!

Colleen said...

I'm smiling so big reading this. I just love your thoughts on the day Aimee... tears, smiles and everything!!!

Great job on that bike. The wind can be so tough, but you did awesome.

PS... I LOVE the pink helmet!!! :)

Ed said...

Your post makes me want to start training for a tri!

Beth said...

I have chills! I can't wait to read about your run. So fun to read about your Ironman when I am just starting my journey!

Missy said...

The beeline always blows and is slow going one way or the other. I volunteered at the aide station at the beeline turn around, it was crazy windy there and I felt so bad for all you guys making that turn into the wind. Way to stick it out.

Michael said...

I hate the wind so much, biking 112 miles in it....ugh!! But wow, what an accomplishment once you made it through it! You are an amazing woman!!

trifitmom said...

sounds like you had an awesome bike !!!

Julie said...

Aimee I love how you are taking it all in! How great to get to see your family so many times when you didn't expect it!

Bring on the run! :)

DRog said...

great ride! lol the good thing and the bad thing about 3loops you know what to expect

great photo by BT

Jill said...

Well, you certainly had plenty of wind training here in Colorado, that wind had nothing on you - nothing!! Love reading the bike part, so much emotion in every word! Looking forward to the run!!

Mark said...

Haha... I love it. The best and worst thing about the bike course is that you know what to expect. I can not tell you how many times I have been racing or training when I thought "I HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN??!!"


In April 08 we had tail wind on return leg for every trip out the Beeline..
I loved those 25+ mph return legs

misszippy said...

That wind sounds brutal! But look how you handled it--awesome. So great that you got to see your family out there. You rock!

Mary IronMatron said...

The run! The Run! Can't wait to read about the run! :)

Caratunk Girl said...

HOLY CRAP that wind sounds brutal!! BUT you handled it like a pro!! GREAT JOB!

Jason said...

Very solid ride. Way to handle the bike during that gust and not getting into a dust up. Winds can be brutal but when you are an Ironman you can handle that stuff right?

Anne-Marie said...

You do such a great job writing about the race and conveying your thoughts and emotions -- I feel like I was there too! (Which is really good since I'll be at IM AZ next year)!

Can't wait for the rest of the race report!

Alisa said...

This made me tear up a little. I can totally understand "needing a minute." I'm sure I'd need several.

Way to push through that crazy headwind and finish the bike strong.