Norseman 2016 – The 180km bike ride

” The hunter „

I came out from T1, shivering from the cold.

Did not know it at the time but I was in 209th place leaving T1.

Noticed my race belt and number was on the side and not in the back, so I had to adjust it.

While doing this I ripped the paper with the number on so I had to stop and get it fixed.

Got out to the main road and thought to myself that this is it.

This is where I hopefully will do my best, this is where I become the hunter!

On my bike I have this sensor that tells me how hard I am pushing down on my left pedal.

It measures something called watt and is called a powermeter.

During training you get to know your optimal watt you can push for a certain time and by various calculators you can see how hard you should push on this distance.

For instance, I should be an average of 165watt and on hills go max up to 200watt.

But since this is a race, and I’ve never done any real testing for optimal watt, I said I’d keep 180 respective 210watt.

Anyways, that was my plan.

When coming out from T1 and going the road to the first hill, I was passed by I think 2 other athletes.

I knew that I should not try to follow them as my plan was to pass people in the hills, not on the flats.

What I knew was that I weighed less than many of the athletes. And weight in hills matter!

When hitting the 1rst hill I immediately got my warmth back and started pushing slowly.

Same pace, same watts, just grinding.

I passed my first athlete not long after I got to the first hill.

Even if I was merely doing 9-10km/h it was still a bit quicker then the rest of the athletes within range.

Sometimes the road opened up a bit and I could go a bit quicker, but it was the grinding that did it.

” I could feel the cold „

The first 1200 altitude meters up to Dyranut took me just shy of 2 hours.

That is around 40km from the start. This should give you an idea of how much hard work it is just grinding up, up and up.

Really focused on going steady I did not notice at first, but my helmet visor fogged up.

And then I noticed that I could see my breath!

By now I could feel the cold coming at me.

Johannes, my support had been held back at one of the tunnels going up so he was behind me.

But just before Dyranut he passed and I waved him to stop the car, I needed clothes.

Now it was all foggy as well, you could barely see anyone in front of you.

Luckily the Norseman management had instructed us to wear a reflective vest and also have bike lights on the whole bike leg.

So everyone was more or less hi-viz.

The first stop I got:

  • A pair of long training tights I use for running
  • My warm pair of gloves
  • Small wind jacket
  • 1 bottle with liquid energy

I thought this would do it and continued on. It was a quick pitstop for 2.5min.

What I didn’t know was that in front of me I had rain.

Cold rain.

4 celcius degrees, cold rain and winds.

” Going to die „

During the first descent I could barely push the pedals as I was going to fast.

This coupled with strong side wind (gusts!) made me freeze again.

I thought to myself, where is my support, Johannes? He must realize I need clothes!

My body became colder and colder and I started to shake as much as after the swim.

The descents were a long agony where I had to grip my handlebar and try to fixate my body like a stick.

This was the only way as I was going all over the place.

I thought I was going to die at one point.

Going down the road around 50km/h, just trying to survive, a bus came towards me.

I knew with the gusts that this was going to be rough as the bus would pass me.

Last second I managed to huddle the bike and make myself as small ass possible as the bus went past me.

I flew from side to side when the wind from the bus caught me but somehow managed to stay on the road.

After this every time I met a bigger vehicle I braked to around 30km/h.

It was better to have a chance at that black T-shirt than laying besides the road and not have anything at all.

Further away, just before Geilo Johannes caught up with me.

I was shaking badly and we explored the option to change all clothes to get warm.

But I thought we didn’t have time for this.

Johannes also had been driving behind me and he did not like what he saw.

I was all over the road due to the shaking/cold.

He asked me if I would quit and that answer was also NO.

I stocked up with:

  • Another pair of tights, slightly thicker than the ones I already had on
  • Head bandana
  • Thick bike winter jacket
  • 1 bottle with energy

As I was in such bad shape we decied that we must keep contact more closely.

Johannes went max 5km in front of me and every time I passed him I had to tell him I’m continuing.

” none should see you suffer „

After Geilo we had almost passed 90km of the bike leg and there was another ascent.

Here I got my warmth back and the wet clothes dried somewhat or at least turned warm from my body heat.

I continued to push the same watt going steady and I passed other athletes every now and then.

During these ascents and descents I had many dark moments.

The scenery around me was probably wonderful despite the fog and rain, but I did not care.

And the only smile I had on me was when meeting other athletes or their support crew.

In races basically none should see you suffer.

 

While I was following my plan to keep my watt, the fueling plan had went to pieces.

We had missed to open up all my gels etc the night before so everything was in its package.

And I could not open the packages due to my thick gloves.

Rookie mistake probably, but nothing I could change at the moment.

So the fueling of every 20th minute was not happening.

And while I still had energy in the bottles, these were so cold I hesitated to drink from them.

Some of the times when I met Johannes he ran beside me to get me an open gel so I did get some energy in me.

Not just as much energy as planned but Johannes made up for it with other stuff.

 

The race continued and another thing that annoyed me was that I did not know where I was!

Which hill, how far and what was awaiting me as I had not seen the route before hand.

I had a sticker on my speed top but that was buried under a pile of clothes 🙂

The whole race layout on left arm
The whole race layout on left arm

” 600 altitude meters straight up „

Anyways, I pedaled like never before and got to Iming Mountain.

when I did the first 1200altitude meters in the beginning I was fresh in the legs.

When reaching Iming mountain I still had to do one big ascent. On tired legs.

Best described by Erik Jungeling you can read about Iming Mountain HERE.

Iming Mountain is about 600 altitude meters straight up but now I knew that this is the last part where I can take other athletes.

So my mind went into grinding mode again and I probably took another 3 places right there.

Got to the top and actually looked forward to the descent.

At this point it was not raining anymore, but the roads were still wet.

The Norseman management had warned everyone that the roads were bad going down from Iming Mountain.

And they were awful!

At one point I flew in the air while something hit me in the stomach as well in the back.

I had to stop to check what it was and see if the bike was OK.

The thing that hit me in the stomach was a couple of gels that flew up from the little bag on my frame.

While I was worried that I had lost my GPS tracker I looked down and it was still there.

What had hit me in my back was actually a bottle containing all my inner tubes and repair kit.

This bottle was actually fastened with tape! So you can imagine how bad the road was.

On the descent I managed to pick off another 2 people as they chickened out more than I did 🙂

I kept my pace and headed for T2.

Johannes waiting for me in T2
Johannes waiting for me in T2

NOTE: My split time was 7h 17min and 46s and this actually was the 131 fastest time and resulted in me coming in to T2 at rank 152!

With this I managed to pass 57 other athletes on the bike leg.

The goals I had for the bike leg were as follow:

  1. Get to T2 below 160th place
  2. Complete the bike leg below 7h 30min
  3. Complete the bike leg below 8h

SUCCESS!

Key factors for managing my goals was that I think I did the math with my watt and stayed focus on the climbs.

All in all I think it was around 2900m going up and respective 2700m going down.

While I think all the other athletes were better than me, I managed to keep my cool (pun intended) better than everyone else.

Without a doubt, this time the extreme weather actually worked in my favor.

 

If you want to reread the swim, you can find it HERE.

My statistics for the bike ride can be found HERE if you are interested.

Stay tuned for the upcoming post about the run!