Today I rode the majority of the HyVee Triathlon bike route with Matty J, Abra, and Braxton. We started and ended at Waterworks park, skipping the Fleur/MLK portions of the ride since I feel comfortable with that area. I mostly wanted a feel for the hills on 63rd and Army Post. I insisted we do this ride on a Sunday afternoon when traffic would be at a minimum since I’m not confident riding alongside cars. It wasn’t that bad. There was a strip (about a foot wide?) of road past the line next to the shoulder we could ride on most of the way. Most cars got over or gave a wide space. Some surprised me though and seemed to deliberately breeze very close. There were 4 of us in bright colors and on the busy roads we rode in a single line close together on the very edge of the right lane so I’m sure they saw us. We saw a few other people out doing the course too.
When we pulled up to wait at a red light on 63rd on our way back a car pulled up next to us, rolled down the window, and shouted “There’s a trail over there!” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t trying to be helpful, but was being an ass (Matty J disagrees, but as I think women are more skilled at noticing things like “passive aggression.”) This is all new to me, I’ve heard avid cyclists complain about scary drivers and as a driver, I’ve been annoyed by cyclists who don’t always follow the rules or make safe choices when on the road. Mostly the drivers were fine and it was much less crowded than I’d expected, there were a few though that made me nervous.
For anyone curious about the hills and difficulty, I can describe my skill level as beginner. I almost died (well, not literally, but in a very dramatic sense) during the hilly portion (oh wait, it was ALL HILLS) of the Holiday Lake Tri in Brooklyn in June. My speed averaged about 12 mph (SO SLOW!). At Copper Creek Tri this summer, which had some tough-for-me hills (it is in Pleasant Hill, IA, after all!) I managed to average 14.5 mph on the 12 mile route. Both of those races I had platform pedals and almost no hill training. I found the worst hill on this year’s HyVee route less bad than the worst hill on the Copper Creek route. It was mostly longer, but less of an incline. It could have been my perception, now that I have clipless pedals and a bit more training under my belt. We weren’t going our hardest and it was fairly windy during half of the ride. I averaged about 14.5 mph.
The best part was that after the turnaround at Fleur/Army Post (which is beyond the halfway point! WAHOO!) there is a very long stretch of downhill where you can coast. An uphill on the way back is preceded by a pretty big downhill. It felt amazing and seems like the absolute perfect time in the triathlon to give your legs a bit of a break. I’ll rest easier at night now after having experienced the hills myself to know what I’m in for!
Have you tried the course yet? Thoughts?