Once on the bike, I started into my fueling right away. My mouth was salty. The first few miles of the course, getting out of town, was so congested. Combine that with some really interesting characters and I found myself constantly fighting to stay legal and to keep the gas on. It was a cluster! So many of the men simply refused to move right after passing. Drafting was happening, but the blocking was the main problem. Even on the narrow sections you could fit three bikes across but these guys would sit left and not let anyone past. Then a drafting pack would form because nobody could pass the douchebag, and that's when it got psycho. The draft marshals were there, but I didn’t see any penalties happening. And granted it’s a narrow section, so I don't know how they would have fairly enforced anything, other than citing the dude for blocking. So I just had to calm down and let it (them) all pass. This one guy in a teal speedo was really bustin’ my chops though. He was so aggressive and rude and blocking. And he was in a speedo, which is all fine and good, but it was teal. Okay, not judging, but it was teal AND he was ignoring the rules. If you are going to block everyone behind you and force us all to stare at your behind, at least wear some tri shorts. Actually his butt was pretty nice, but I digress....sorry, back on task...
30 minutes into my ride I took a peek at the time of day. I don’t wear a watch in the swim and the clock on my Garmin said 8:35am. I was shocked and I got a big smile on my face. That meant that I was on bike bike and riding 1:05 into the day, which meant swim+T1 was 1:05-ish. I didn’t know if they started the race on time, but I was jazzed. Especially after thinking I swam 1:20. Something inside me clicked then and I knew I was going to fight for every bit of time today. All systems were GO!
The hills were no issue, not hard, very basic. I got passed by like 50 people on each one. I was watching my wattage and heart rate and I wasn’t going to ride up those things at 100 watts higher than I was going to average for the day, but apparently everyone else felt okay with that tactic. Literally 50 people passed me in 4 minutes. Got back some of them on the descent though. It was actually good because the pack that had developed behind teal speedo motored up the hill at like 1000 watts and they were now out of my sight. After the hills I just settled in. People thinned out and we were at the tunnels near the turn around before I knew it.
One crazy thing out there that you DO NOT SEE in North American races is that closing the roads for the race brings out all the Brazilian roadies. I saw so many people riding the course who weren't in the race. They were in full cycling kits, usually groups of two, no packs or anything. You know those little fish that hang onto other fish....parasite fish...yea, we had parasite cyclists out there.
When I started seeing the women coming back the other way I started paying attention to them and all the sudden a drafting marshal was yelling at me. I think I had gotten too close to the guy ahead of me, but he seemed to still be 3+ bike lengths ahead so I was a bit confused. So I just started yelling back. I have no idea why this was my reaction, but it's just what came out. He was yelling in Portuguese and I was yelling in English. I backed off a bit more and the dude drove away. Who knows?
There was one girl that I was sorta going back and forth with. It was strange. I went by her the first time demandingly. Then like 10 miles later she comes by me and is kinda on a guys wheel. Not right on it, but pretty close. I sit back and watch. She’s riding pretty legal. But going pretty slow. So I repass several minutes later. I look back a few minutes later and she’s way way back there.
I hit town feeling really great and really in control. Then the girl comes by me again. She misses a bottle handoff, screams at the volunteers all angry like, and then this guy brings her his bottle. What? I mean she was Brazilian and pretty hot and all, but where was my personal bottle retriever? I would have thought that perk was reserved for those wearing a teal speedo??!!
I went around the turn around in town at 2:29 and was like “Holy shit, that’s sub 5 hour bike pace.” but that was all the thought I really gave it. I was riding my plan, and sticking to it regardless of what it yielded. After the turn around in town it's time to ride back into the narrow section and this is when CRAZINESS happens. Like the worst part of my day craziness! The congestion is bad and there are some packs and I just want the heck out of it all. So I start riding harder. I ride my way up to the girl (the one with the bottle hander guy) and she’s sitting in the left of the lane. I yell “Left.” She doesn’t budge. I yell "left" two more times. Now I’m on her ass. There is an official with us. I yell “passing, left”. I yell that five times. She starts yelling at me....in Portuguese. I yell at her to move over (there is space) in English (duh). I’m on her ass, screaming and pointing to the HUGE space on her right that she can move into.
I start screaming at the official “She’s blocking.” She starts screaming at the official. I scream and she screams and the official just looks at us. I back off her ass and get over to the right. Now I have just failed to make a legal pass and that worries me. We are both screaming at the official. I’m screaming “Give her a penalty, she is blocking” She’s screaming at him too, I don’t know what she’s saying. I can't even imagine what she can say when she is clearly blocking.
I'm yelling at the official and then I look forward (from looking at the official) and right as I look forward I see that I’m headed straight for a traffic cone. Yea, a big one too, just like this:
I have no choice, there are people, officials, everyone around. I hit the cone dead on, and it's a BIG ASS CONE. The only thought that goes through my head is “There goes your Flipping race” (except I didn't think "flipping" I thought the other word). I hit the cone, I employ some Herculean efforts to remain on top of my bike and by some stroke of luck I do not crash. Then I look at the official with my best “See what you just did?” look. And his eyes are wide open.
Meanwhile the lady is still in the left lane blocking. I look at the official very calm like and I say “Do you understand?” and he shakes his head “no”. I say Azule (because she is wearing blue) and I point to her. And I say “BLOCKING PENALTY”. Then the dude makes this hand gesture to me......
And he rides away. I look down and my heart rate is 172. Oh my lanta! I stay right and have a SERIOUS conversation with myself to calm down, and to take deep breaths. In between the breaths I’m saying to myself “Holy crap I hit a cone.” I watch Azule continue to stay as left as she possibly can for the next 20 minutes and then we hit an aid station, she goes for fluid (not sure where her personal bottle retriever has gone), I make the pass and then I ride much harder than my Ironman race pace for 20 minutes so that I never ever ever ever ever EVER have to see this woman again. And I didn’t...until the Kona roll down where I gave her my best “You're a disgrace” stinkeye as she claimed her slot for winning her AG. She will need to learn what blocking means before Hawaii.
Back through the hills and suddenly there are a lot less heros out there. Through the tunnel and I’m by myself with plenty of space between competitors. I’m in my element now. Head down and just snuggle into the the bean bag chair in my pain cave. I don’t see any AG women left ahead of me. We turn around and I notice that the wind has become a factor. I enjoyed the nice headwind back to town and played the “try to guess my bike split” game. I was thinking 5:10 and that got me pretty excited. The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. The last 10 miles I happened upon a very tired looking man in a teal speedo. That felt good as I passed him with a little eyebrow raise.
Into T2 there were a handful of bags in the hallway. I didn’t count but grabbed a seat and again dealt with my business and got out of there. As I ran out of there I looked at the finish line because I knew the race clock would have the race time. I think it said 6:17. I was jazzed. Mental math said under a 3:43 marathon would get me under 10. Let’s do this.
Bike Split: 5:08:57
Bike Placing: off the bike: 1st in my AG, 14th woman (including PROS), and 175th in the race.