Sunday, May 17, 2009

Calgary 70.3 bike course preview

I don't get a cool title like Shannon can have, given his adventure with a CO2 cartridge during the ride. No, he didn't get a flat. But I'll give him the opportunity to tell the story himself.

Leaha and Shannon joined me to ride the Calgary 70.3 bike course today. Or I joined them. However you want to look at it. Here we are just about ready to ride.

It turned out to be a perfect day for a ride, sunny and warm, so we slathered on lots of sunscreen. We had an interesting time assembling the new bike carrier Leaha bought. It's one that mounts on the back bumper and rear door of her truck. It worked well, once we had it figured out. What do you expect from 2.5 IT geeks? As you might imagine, we were all extra careful double checking everything. All three of our bikes cuddled together for mutual reassurance during the ride, but all went well.

This is a super course! Don't be spooked by the elevation profile. There's a small hill coming out of transition, but generally it's downhill, nice pavement, and a wide bike lane all the way to the turn for the Grand Valley road. You can't miss the sign. This is a long gradual uphill with one steeper bit. The pavement is nothing to write home about. You will want to make sure the various bits attached to you and your bike are FIRMLY attached. There are some good potholes along the way; pay attention. The scenery is incredible. For a while we had some hawks hovering above us. I nearly rode into the ditch once because I was paying more attention to them than the road.

Up to the turn onto Township road 280 goes quick. Across to Horse Creek Road goes even quicker since we were totally with the wind. Horse Creek road is a mix of more crappy pavement, and some really nice pavement. This is all generally down hill, with a bit of up, and should go fast. I hit 70 Kph at one point along here.

Going through Cochrane isn't much fun when you don't have course marshals looking out for you, and police stopping traffic. The hill on 22 isn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I'd pictured myself in the granniest of gears, dying all the way, but no. The cop with the radar gun said I was doing 22 Kph, which was faster than what the bike computer said. However, from the top of the till to the turn off for township road 250 was brutal. It's a gradual uphill, and there was a very stiff cross wind the entire time, with small gusts. I had to pay attention to my bike handling, and was very careful about digging out nutrition.

From there to the airport there is a bit of an uphill, then mostly downhill, with the wind. We flew. Pavement is a mix of ok, so so, and crappy. Just past the airport you turn right, and contrary to the little dogleg shown on the map, you just turn right, and go over the main highway. Pavement is good, but there was still lots of road gravel to watch out for.

I goofed here, and take full responsibility. I turned left onto Springbank road, rather than going all the way down to Lower Springbank road. So I think we got an extra big hill in there. That's the only time we were really hot on the entire trip. Mostly the breeze kept us cool. Eventually I found 85th, and took it down to Lower Springbank. I figure this added about 8-10 K to our trip, which wasn't a problem. About here we clocked up 90 K in about 3:35. Considering that we weren't trying for anything special with time, and had stopped several times to regroup, we were all pretty pleased. I can't say what the pavement is like along Lower Springbank.

From there we got out 69th. Beware, there are a couple choke points along here from those concrete traffic dividers, but by this point, the pack should be spread out. Along Glenmore to Sarcee is good, mostly with a nice lane to ride in. Today was with the wind. From where Sarcee turns into Glenmore is up a little hill, but there is no shoulder to speak of. I hope they close a traffic lane for us.

Down 37 St, which is a very bumpy road from cracks in the pavement to where T2 will be. We rode down through Weasel head to our place on the 37 st path at a nice easy pace. I've run and biked through here lots, and it's going to be a nice run for the race. We took about a 9 minute transition to get ourselves a drink, visit the bathroom, and other T2 issues, then went out for an easy 2 K run, in about 14:40, chatting all the way. Here we are after the run. And yes Kelly, while it's not a wineglass, it is a drink in my hand.

I actually rode 107 K. My stopwatch says 4:19, but the bike time is only 4:02.
Bike average speed from the computer was 26.5 average, which I'm quite pleased about. If I use stopwatch time, the average speed comes out to be 24.8 K. I felt quite strong after the ride, and could have gone on for quite a bit longer. I was moving around on the bike a bit at the 3 hr mark, but settled down again. I didn't wear my heart rate monitor, but most of the ride was thoroughly aerobic, I'm guessing top of T2. There were a few times I was chasing Shannon to try to draft, but I think with the wind, aero position shows it's huge advantage. His bulging thigh and calf muscles have nothing to do with it, I'm sure. (hahaha) If you believe that one.... That and some of the hills where I was trying to stay strong up and over the top pushed up my heart rate.

I think the course designers have picked a winner of a course. You couldn't ask for better scenery; the mountains are visible from lots of the course. There's enough hills to challenge most riders at least a bit. Most of the pavement is at least ok, though 37 th St and the very north part of the course are the worst. Today was windy, and it's a good assumption that race day will be windy as well. We didn't really look around the areas where T1 and T2 will be, but there's lots of room. I'll be surprised to see a big long run out of the water to T1, and the same for T2.

The three of us had a super time today. This is what getting out on a bike with buddies is all about. Pity that the weather is calling for snow tomorrow.

Weekly Summary
Swim 3.25 hrs
Bike 7.5 hrs
Run 2.86 hrs
Total 13.6 hrs


  1. Nice ride Keith! Thanks for the preview of the course. There are some parts of Horse Creek I'd like to see paved since I think they would be nasty on race day. Apparently they fixed the worst of it last year though? I say all this and I'm not actually racing Calgary, but it would be nice to see it fixed up for training ride purposes!

    Sounds like you got caught in some similar crosswinds coming out of Cochrane. Brutal, eh?

  2. Great riding Keith! It was so awesome chatting with you last night -- I'm like a little kid talking away into the night waaaaayyyy past my bed time! Hee-hee!!

  3. what a great ride!! glad you had an awesome time. i'm not happy about reading there is snow....perhaps i'll turn around and go back to vancouver??

  4. Thanks for such a great ride, Keith. I am up for that again anytime!

  5. Great ride AND pictures! Sounds like you guys had a ball!


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