CYCLING WITH IRONMEN AND IRONWOMEN
Last year, I finally managed to sneak in a frigid 40 mile ride with good friend Chris (aka Big Dog, aka Schmidty) Schmidt over Thanksgiving weekend in Marion County. Along that route, we discussed some of the different events we had each completed in 2012, with his toughest conquer being the Louisville Ironman competition, and mine being the Hincapie Gran Fondo. He stated that he would like to join me on some of my century rides this year, so when I called and invited him to the Redbud Ride in London in April, he showed up. On that ride, I told him about the Kentucky Century Cycling Challenge, and how he could get a free jersey if he completed three of the four designated events, and that I planned to do all 4. His good friend Toby Young (fellow Ironman) joined us at the second event, Horsey Hundred and now that Schmidty and I have completed the first 3 and earned our free jersey, we look forward to finishing the last with Toby so he can earn his.
Somewhere in the middle of my 114 mile ride this past Saturday, on the Louisville Ironman course, I mentioned to Schmidty that I had come a long way from that frozen 40 mile ride last November. This was my fifth century ride of the year and his last chance to review and recon the course before taking it on in the official race again in just a few weeks.
This would be my first ever bike ride in or around the great city of Louisville, KY and I took advantage of the situation by making it a weekend getaway. One part was the century ride, while the other part was a mini-vacation for my wife and I before the boys started back into school. As I rode to the start point from my downtown hotel to the yellow lot on the Ohio River, I saw numerous runners and cyclists and felt right at home. Then I spent about thirty minutes in the parking lot with friends, old and new, before rolling out around 9am. My closest friend Tim (aka the Renaissance Man) Stout was parked between Stephanie Allen (a strava friend and professional triathlete who I hope to race someday), and a couple of guys from Chicago. I also met Sam Dick (local news anchor at CBS in Lexington) and Mark Rucker (Lexington attorney) who has a heart-wrenching story of a DNF from last year’s event. Later, Courtney Greenlee (I first met on Presevation Pedal century ride and now see regularly at Bluegrass Cycling Club rides) joined the conversation as she came out of the river ready to ride 112 miles. Finally, my Columbia Century Crew (Chris and Toby) arrived for the pre-party.
I can’t say enough about how well this event was organized and supported, and it is all put on by primarily one gentleman. Excellent job “I Am Tri” guy!! Early observations from the ride included these various thoughts: the tri-bikes are wicked fast on the downhills, but slow going up; the first 9 or so miles go out along the Ohio River with beautiful and very flat scenery, and I thought to myself, I would be very glad to come back in this way later in the day; I was surprised by the number of women that were present, I would guess the male to female ratio at most cycling events I attend is about 15/1, and this event felt more like about 5/1.
I’ve learned over the years that the cycling sport is dominated by males, but it appears that there are plenty of female triathletes. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re red, black, white, green, male or female, if you ride a bike we’ve got something in common. And probably more in common than the bike. The Louisville Ironman cycling course is pretty challenging from a racing vantage point. Much of it is up and down, and several of the turns require nearly stopping to maneuver safely.
Probably the most obvious observation for me, despite the repeated arm twisting from Schmidty, Courtney, Toby, and Steph is that when I got finished riding, I sure was glad I didn’t have to go running! Good luck to all the triathletes that will be racing at Ironman Louisville in a few weeks. I have a true respect for the level of endurance and fitness it takes to complete the challenge. Who knows? Maybe I’ll join you one day …