I'm back on the planet. I removed the poll asking whether I ought to be at the Tour de France—turns out I am not going. Ah well. I will be at that time (about a month from now) taking some vacation to going to Switzerland to visit my wife, though, and will instead cover the Roth Challenge in Germany. That's a better trip in my opinion—I've seen my wife for about four weeks in the last four months. Plus I'll bring my bike and try to tag onto the back of Donna and her TeamTBB teammates on their easy days before hopping on the rail to Roth.
Right now I'm getting my camera gear ready, batteries charged, etc., for tomorrow's inaugural Revolution3 Triathlon here in Middlebury, Conn. I love being at debuts, and this looks to be a real kick-ass kick-off.
My trip here has been sweet. Heather and Todd Gollnick, as well as the man making it all happen, Charlie Patten, are putting on a wicked, wicked race that will force all the rest of their competitors to step up their game. A pro section with plastic-laminated posters of the athletes at their racks? (See Alex McDonald racking his bike... easy to find your spot, eh Alex?) A lit-up finishline arch, a'la Vegas? a $100,000 pro purse? The investment in this race is significant, all the big names are here, and considering this race is growing into a series next year, I think this will be a legitimate contender to the WTC, who have been fairly content to deliver a consistent product, but that's about it. Let's see how they step up—for the race entry-paying age groupers, and for the now-race-entry-paying pros.
The coup de grace is a real course. Not a flat draftfest, no. This is what the sport is about—challenging yourself. And as Luke Bell and I found out, it will be just that.
Luke invited me to hop in his rental and co-pilot a drive over the bike and run course. Race literature says the race is challenging. Thank God for Google maps on my iPhone; the roads are so rural and twisting, we nearly got lost, and had to stop and ask a local for directions. That look on Luke's face below? It was a familiar one. He searching signs, me plotting our progress on my iPhone. We got done and he came up with this one: "I think this is gonna be harder than Wildflower." Read: this has the makings of a classic. Maybe even an ESPN-esque Instant Classic.
The entire bike and run course is rolling, without a single parcel of flat. It's net climbing on the outbound loop, and net descending on the way back on the bike. But it's nonstop rolling and thus work all day. There will be no two-hour pro mens bike times. I'd be impressed if anyone breaks 2:15—and the Wildflower bike coures record is 2:14. There will be some good speed on the return, but that's not why it will not be fast.
No, it because the run is stupid hard as well. So everyone will need to save something for the run. Same story on the run; opening miles will be fast, as it's a gradual descent. But there's a few pitches up, then a steep pitch down, leading to a gnarly dirt road section that is banked in the turns, has it's ruts and bars, and undulating as hell.
Tomorrow at 6:55 the pros kick off, age groupers going off 10 minutes later. You can watch the simulcast broadcast being put together by Rev3 at Triathlete magazine's site, at http://triathlon.competitor.com/rev3 I'm psyched to see how it all goes down. Because simple speed ain't an ally here; a combo of speed and strength on the hills will win this race. And whoever does should be fetted, for winning a tough race against a tough field.