Day 2 of camp – Friday – was the biggest and most important day of camp. We would be riding up to 190 km over the Ironman Canada course. We were meeting and riding from East Skaha Beach again, cutting off the section of the bike course out from transition and through town. There is so much stop and go from lights and traffic on the road that there isn’t a lot of value in riding this part of the course at the moment. In order to bump up the mileage we had the option of doing two loops along McLean Creek Road to Okanagan Falls instead.
There would be two groups going out on the ride – those expected to take more than 6 hours to ride 160 km would leave at 6:15, those expecting to take less than 6 hours would leave at 6:45. I knew I wouldn’t be in the faster group of riders so I planned to leave early.
We were lucky enough to have two support vehicles so we were able to give them a lot of our nutrition so we would have less to carry. I made up 6 bottles of Infinit, two peanut butter and jam wraps and I put pretzels in a baggie. I also had a bottle of Coke waiting for me, post-ride, in a cooler. It was a beautiful day, but it was already fairly warm as we set out on Lakeshore Road. Groups of different paces immediately formed. I was behind my teammate Nola and I pedalled behind her, keeping in my mind that I needed to start out easy as the day would definitely get tougher. When we got to the turn off for McLean Creek Road there were no police cars today, we were able to ride on through. As we pedalled up McLean Creek the firefighters were assembling, getting ready to resume fighting the fire. We wished them well as we rode past them, and luckily they were able to contain the fire.
The road up McLean Creek has a short, steep winding section. The first time up the hill it felt tough, but the way down was a lot of fun! On our way back out to McLean Creek Road for loop number two we saw a deer run across the road in front of us. As we pulled over and stopped a fawn leaped across the road behind the adult, followed shortly by another fawn! There was another adult waiting to cross the road and as we watched they went for it too. Such an amazing sight!As we took our second loop up McLean Creek Road we caught up with the group of faster riders. Somehow the hill felt easier the second time around?
The ride from Okanagan Falls to Osoyoos was beautiful! This section of the course is reasonably flat and there are orchards and vineyards on either side of you for much of the way. Keep in mind that from T1 to Osoyoos is only 1/3 of the course. It is still early in the day here and you need to be careful not to go too hard on this section or you will pay for it later. I really watched my heart rate along this stretch, making sure I kept it low. Along this stretch of road Nola and I just naturally stayed together, riding along and chatting. Our abilities were well matched and I was happy to have company. Around this stretch I ate part of my peanut butter and jam wrap, trying to get the calories and protein in while my heart rate was low and I could digest solid food. Just before we arrived in Osoyoos we rode through some construction on Highway 97. There was a big puddle of mud that we had to ride through, and as we passed through it I could feel the mud spraying up on my back and it covered my bike and shoes. It even hit my helmet! Yuck! Not much we could do about it though, but my bike definitely looks like it has been off roading.
As soon as we turned on to Highway 3 at Osoyoos we were smacked with wind, right in our faces. It added an extra challenge on our climb up Richter Pass. There was a bit of a downhill reprieve on the climb up Richter’s, but because of the wind I had to pedal hard or else I wouldn’t have been moving forward at all. I made it to the top of Richter all smiles though – my day was going great so far! Angie was at the top with one of the support trucks, ready with smiles, hugs, pretzels, nutrition and sun block.
Nola and I descended Richter and boy, Nola likes to attack those downhills! I opened it up a little more than the last time I rode the route in May and just tried to enjoy it. Then it was time to tackle the seven rollers. Here the wind was definitely a factor. It made the climbs up the rollers seem that much harder and the downhills seem like less of reprieve. It felt like I was going nowhere. I didn’t want to attack the wind though as I still had a lot of riding to do. Slowly, slowly through the rollers where I could have sworn I counted ten instead of seven. On to Keremeos and the out and back. At this point in time things were starting to feel more uncomfortable. I had forgotten my bike gloves in my hotel room and my hands were hurting. Between the pressure of them on the handlebars and the rickety-ness of the road they were in definite pain and my fingers were tingling. I felt chaffing around my lady bits. My left foot was getting hot (a common problem as your feet swell in hot weather and nerves get pinched). And what was up with this wind? I looked at my Garmin, knew how much of the course we had left to ride and immediately started to get down on myself. This was going to be an 8 hour ride.
8 hours….really?? Last week I rode 160K (on an admittedly less difficult route) and I did that in less than 6 hours. What on earth had I gotten myself into??
Nola and I climbed Yellow Lake…up, and up and up. If you ride Yellow Lake on its own it isn’t that difficult, but coming this late on the course that climb is hard. A little tip though, as you ride up you notice numbers spray painted on the shoulder. Those numbers are 0.1 km markings. The top of Yellow Lake is at the 17.0 km marking (because it is 17 km from Keremeos). My heart rate was going through the roof at the top of the climb and I was so happy to see Hope and Joanne in the support van at the top. I wanted to bawl to Joanne….how come it was so slow going??? (Umm, it was the wind…) She gave me a pep talk and told me I was doing great and I so appreciated her words. As we were chatting another cyclist was riding past and I heard them call my name to say hi. Julie, was that you?
From here on out it was mostly downhill back to Penticton. The wind was ridiculous as we descended Yellow Lake and the shoulder was terrible so I didn’t feel like I could open it up and enjoy the downhill. Finally we were back at at the Skaha Beach parking lot, 182 km and 8 hours later. I quickly racked my bike on my car, put my running shoes on and set out on my brick run. Everyone else was done cycling and was loading up to go home. As I ran off I started crying, pissed off at myself for being at the back of the pack and that everyone else was done. Crying quickly turns to hyperventilating when you are running and my heart rate sky rocketed. Nola caught up and asked if I wanted her to run with me. Why was I so focused on this number of 8 when I had no time goal? I rode well within my ability so I could ride strong on the course. The wind and heat made it a tough day. I’d had company the entire way with Nola. Sigh, chalk it up to Ironman emotions I suppose. As we ran my heart rate stayed in the 170s and whenever we would stop I’d feel lightheaded. We kept slowing down and finally 25 min in we just walked the rest of the way back to the car. Talking with Nola helped a lot and I really appreciated having her with me that day.
Once we made it back to the parking lot I had to hustle back to the hotel room to shower and make it to yoga. Yoga was a bit of a gong show as I was so tight I couldn’t do any of the poses. I also hadn’t eaten anything after the ride so I kept getting lightheaded. Luckily Angie had some grapes and chocolate milk in her car so I could down some nutrition halfway through class. It was a tough day out there, but one that was full of learning.
Day 2 Volume:
Bike – 182.2 km, 8 hours 4 min
Brick Run – 25 min
Yoga – 30 min of holding some poses and some random stretching when I couldn’t get into other poses