We had done quite a bit of research on Bariloche before traveling there, but nothing prepared us for how truly spectacular the views were. The mountains and lakes were out of a fairy tale. The race venue was spread out; it was a logistically difficult since T1 and T2 were 26k apart. The only negative part of our trip was that it was not very safe to ride on the roads. We had a few close calls with cars- luckily we had brought our Feedback Omnium bike trainer, which got a lot of use on this trip!
Many of the professionals were staying at the same hotel; we travelled by van to the race start. The weather turned a few days before the race so it was quite cool on race morning. They delayed the start by 1 hour, starting us at a very luxurious 10am. It was wet and cool at the race venue. Many of the athletes were discussing what they would put on for the bike. I decided to wear a base layer, some Mylar blanket down the front of my suit and toe covers. This kept me warm other than a few downhills at the beginning.
The race started promptly at 10am. The pro women started at 10:10am. There were a couple good swimmers in our small field and a bunch of us found ourselves chasing Pam Oliveria. The pace relaxed quite a bit once I was on her feet. I think the cooler temps made it hard to really push the pace. We exited the water in a pack of 4; I lead out of T1 because I did not put on an extra layers.
I was extremely careful through the first 18k. The roads were soaked and it was still raining. There were some technical descents and I played it very safe. Once I was on the looped section of the course I had a difficult time finding my rhythm. After I completed the first u-turn on the out and back section and saw that Dede and Pam had caught up. I had pushed good power until that point so I knew they had worked hard to catch me. At the next u-turn I could see a small gap had opened up to Pam. Dede surged to the front and by the next u- turn, maybe 20min later we had gapped Pam. Dede and I worked hard- riding legally, taking turns at the front. The head wind was tough! I did everything I could to make myself small and slice through the wind the best I could. When we arrived back at the roundabout (the18k mark), we could enjoy a tail wind back to T2 but now we had to negotiate the 1000+ age group athletes now on the course. This was not easy and at points pretty dangerous. Jarrod had warned me that when he raced in Chile last fall on a looped course that he felt the age group athletes rode wherever they liked, rather than ride on the right and pass on the left. This was completely accurate- sometimes the entire road would be blocked by 3 or 4 athletes riding side by side. Many times I would have to pass on the right because someone would simply be riding on the left. This can be dangerous because sometimes we are moving at much faster speeds. I lost Dede because of age group athlete congestion on the final out and back section but she caught back up to me as we enjoyed 2k to T2 with no other athletes.
I dismounted my bike and there was a rocky driveway that descending down a ramp to a parking lot. We handed off our bikes there then grabbed our T2 bags. I felt like everything was moving in slow motion in T2 and it felt like I was in the change tent for days, but I started the run in first with Dede 15 seconds behind. The head wind was absolutely insane downtown. It was much more open than where we had been biking and there was no protection from the gusting winds; the tail wind was fabulous though! I got to about 6k and I could already feel my energy becoming low; I had not consumed enough calories on the bike. I focused on eating and getting calories in but the wind seemed to be pushing me backwards. I turned around for the tail wind section again and I felt marginally better, finally for the second head wind section I felt a little better and really started pushing. I knew Pam was moving better than I was. I gave it everything I had and crossed the line in 1st with just under a minute to spare.
I was completely spent at the finish line. I nearly collapsed; they took me to medical to make sure everything was okay. It was a long difficult race in very difficult conditions and once I sat for a bit and got some food in me I started to feel better.
It feels great to start the season with a win, but as an athlete who always wants to improve there are a couple things I could have done better. I didn’t account for how slow this bike course, was and simply didn’t eat enough. I had the calories with me but I didn’t time them well, I needed to have consumed the majority of them before the second bike loop with the age groupers. By the time I started to try and get more in it was too late. I am super pleased with my swim and bike performance but I know I’m capable of much more on the run, I just need to get to the run with enough calories in my system. So as always, there is work to do.
I’ve had to edit my early race season a bit. I will race St. Anthony’s and St. George next and skip Escape Series Huntington Beach. We are now headed off to NYC to meet our new nephew and then a few days with my Dad before race season gets busy.
Thanks for reading!