I haven't gotten around to doing any swims (just not ready to start waking up at 5am again!) and some easy runs just started up again recently. My 2012 Race Plan will be sussed over with Coach Mary later this week after she is back from kicking butt at Kona. I did sign up for another half-ironman - Syracuse 70.3 - which will be in June and is a "tune-up" event for some of my friends who will be racing IM Tremblant later in the summer.
Among all 3 disciplines, I absolutely love riding my bike the best, and have been trying some new rides during my "downtime". On Sept 24th, Mary and I joined a large group of area cyclists for the "Tour de Essex" (TDE). The Tour is a circular loop of the outer rim of the county I live in. It goes along two of the Great Lakes (St.Clair and Erie) and the Detroit River. Total ride distance is about 180km, which would be by far, the most I had ever ridden. We were a little nervous about riding so far and so fast (predicted speed was 32-35 kph), but knew that riding in a pack has the benefits of drafting, and figured we would just see how it goes. The ride was supported by a SAG wagon so if worse came to worse, we could just hop in for a drive!
The first half of the Tour took us to Leamington, where we stopped for lunch at approximately the 85km mark. We worked our butts off to stay with the 50 or so people pack on the way there. At times, it was extraordinarily fun, and at times it was really hard. The biggest challenge for us is that we tended to stay towards the very back of the pack. Being the type of riders that mainly go out on our own or in small groups on TT bikes, group riding on a road bike is a very different thing. I am comfortable in a group to an extent, but just found myself preferring the back. The problem was that whenever we stopped at an intersection or slowed down for a turn, there is a yo-yo effect at the very back... which caused us to have to hustle to stay on with the group after each stop. The end result is a lot of sprinting/hard efforts followed by coasting..... tough when you are used to steady, even riding! Here is a shot that gives you an idea of the size of the group.
Here is a pic of Mary and I during the one point where we really did get dropped after an intersection, but our good friend Dave, a very strong rider, pulled us back on to the group. (It looks worse than it was because the overpass is blocking our view of others!)
We made it to the lunch break in about 2 hours 45 minutes, averaging just over 31kph. During lunch, Mary and I decided that we would head back with two friends on a short-cut route as the day was getting long and we were a bit concerned with the amount of legs we had left to ride that hard for 100 more km! Turns out we made the right call, as we learned later that the 2nd half of the Tour turned out to be even faster! The four of us who took a different route home ended up doing 140.5km (yes, that 0.5km is important!) at an average speed juuuust under 30kph. Despite the short-cut, this did still turn out to be the longest ride I have ever done. Yay! Andy is a champ as he spent the whole Saturday entertaining the girls while I was gallivanting around the county - thanks Andy!
Oh and here is another shot as we approached the lunch break... there was some gorgeous scenery along the lake and I really have learned to appreciate Essex County now that I can explore it on my bike!
All pix are courtesy of Chris Hilbert, who followed the ride all day in a SAG wagon. Very nice of him!
I have also been getting out once a week on "Greenway" rides. The Greenway is a hard-packed, fine gravel/dirt trail that runs directly south from my neighbourhood to Leamington. On Tuesday nights, I have been hitting the trail with a group of guys (and sometimes girls) who are much faster than me. This has been an excellent work-out! We typically go to Harrow and back, which is about 50km, and it takes just under 2 hours. It is amazing the difference in speed riding the trail makes versus road. I have been riding a bike borrowed from a friend that is more suitable for trails... wider and tread-ier tires, a bit sturdier. The best part of the rides is that a good chunk takes place in the dark! Everyone has headlamps/handlebar lights, so you can see a few feet in front of you, but the nighttime trail element is pretty cool. Very different from what I am used to and I really, really enjoy it. One night we headed out shortly after it had stopped raining, and the mud was flying... that might be the most fun I've had yet :-) Here is a not-so-great shot of me when I came home covered in mud splatter. Wish the camera could've captured the pieces stuff on my face, it was pretty hilarious :-)
Happy riding everyone!