The half-Ironman ride course at Mont Tremblant is described as hilly: 837 metres of elevation over 90 kilometres. Knowing that this was where I was going to be spending most of my time on race day, I made sure that I was ready for it. Since January, I have ridden 4500 km., with most of my spring and summer riding focused on being prepared for this course.
In the days before the race, I had intended to ride the hilly Chemin Duplessis, the last 20 kilometres of the course, but Mother Nature brought buckets and buckets of rain on Friday and Saturday, making this both dangerous and difficult. (During the few breaks that we had, I opted to swim and run instead as I did ride the hills in June and knew what to expect.) After dropping off my bike at transition on Saturday afternoon, Dave and I drove along the highway portion of the course so that I had a better idea of what those rolling hills and forgiving roads entailed. This calmed my nerves; I knew I was ready for the 90km ride the next day.
After my swim, i was shaking so much with chills (a typical reaction for me after any swim), that it took about 10 kilometres of cycling to dry my clothes and warm me up. I stopped at an Aid Station around 15K for a quick bio-break and I didn’t need to stop again. My ride was steady, my legs were strong and I felt great every time I caught up to someone and passed them.
Oddly enough, my weakest part of the ride was not on the Duplessis Hills but along the last part of the highway, which was a deceptively long and gradual uphill and, as luck would have it, into the wind. I didn’t realize how hard that section was until I reviewed my data, and I was significantly slower here compared to everywhere else.
After this, we rode towards The Village via Mont Ryan, which was a highlight for me as our hotel was on this road. As I approached the hotel, I could see Dave looking towards the opposite direction and I sensed that he was wondering where I was. I yelled his name, he turned and his face lit up. My heart swelled.
The last 20 kilometres of the bike course was along Chemin Duplessis, the road with the most intimidating climbs but the part that I was looking forward to the most. Due to its reputation for being a beast ( and likely because this was an easier spot for spectators to access), the spectator support here was fantastic. I was cheered up the hills, energized by blasting party music and even offered a beer. I embraced each incline and was grateful for each plateau. There wasn’t ever a spot where I felt that I couldn’t do it, but I was a bit more guarded of my own positioning after watching a faster cyclist who passed me on one of the climbs fall over on his bike. Still climbing, he was less than 10 metres ahead of me when he fell, and i still don’t know how i avoided him without falling myself. I asked if he was okay as I rode by (I was prepared to stop if he indicated that he needed help) and carried on. The descent to the finish: absolutely amazing!
While i was still much slower than the others, and that has to be expected given my age, gender and rookie year at this distance, i am thrilled with how I did. I felt great, my overall pace was exactly where I expected it to be and I moved up 42 spots in the women’s field after the ride. When I got back to transition, I still felt strong and couldn’t wait to tacle the 21.1 km run.