Ironman St. George is 26 days away. That means it's time to get the equipment choices all sorted out so I can have a few weeks of exploring my bike set-up. For years I was the pro showing up with things to sort out the day before a race. That kind of lassitude is just not acceptable any more. St. George is going to be a challenging race. Have a look at this post sent along by the ever enthusiastic Neal Oseland, and you'll see that equipment concerns must be out of your mind come race day. I heard, anecdotally, that the water temp at the moment is not out of the 40s. Couple that with 5-6000 feet of climbing on the bike and a challenging marathon and...well...being prepared will be important.
Bike: I've gone back and forth on the TT bike/Road bike thing for a while. Gordo says road bike, and I'd provisionally decided to do that. Cliff and Mike Lovato, though, think TT bike, and since Mike and I are built somewhat similarly (he's definitely a bit slimmer and fitter, though) and ride somewhat similarly, I've decided on using the P3. From an aerodynamic point of view, the S3 would have been fine, and it certainly would have climbed all those hills with alacrity. The problem is that there are a lot of 2—3% grades on the St. George course, climbs in which you should still be in your aerobars (Chris Ramsay has passed on some study evidence that found you get a benefit starting around 11-12 mph in the aerobars). Toss in 16-20 miles of steep, non-technical descending and the TT bike starts to look a bit better. Yes, it's heavier, and there's a lot of hill to carry that weight over. As usual, though, aerodynamics trump weight concerns (it's true—I know you don't believe it, but it's true).
Hydration: The jury is still a bit out on this one. I'm thinking about using a CamelBak, the least PRO thing one can do ("Hey," you're thinking. "George Hincapie used one, once!"). I used one during one of my race rehearsals, and it kept me well hydrated the whole time. Carrying all one's water at once will make the bike heavier, and it's something to struggle into in T1, and all those straps everywhere must have some kind of drag. I don't have one set up right now, so I'm hesitant to try and find one at the moment. I think the system will be 2 20 oz bottles behind the seat with 2 tablets of nuun in each one, and one aero bottle on the frame with another 2 tablets of nuun. If my race rehearsals are right, I need to get through about 140-150 oz of fluid with 14-15 tablets of nuun to feel "right" at T2. I may carry an empty bottle between the handlebars with a nuun tablet bouncing around inside and fill it up at one of the aid stations. I really don't like mixing sugars during a race (read: Gatorade+Powerbar products), so I'll be hesitant to take anything but water from the aid stations. The CamelBak is starting to sound more sane...
On the run I know I need to consume more fluid and fuel than I did in Canada. During brick runs I've discovered myself getting really thirsty in the first half hour off the bike, consuming more than 20 oz of liquid. That was a good note to get in more hydration than in the past.
Fuel: This seems pretty dialed at the moment. I'm consuming one PowerBar and one PowerGel per hour to hit my 320 calories per hour number. The problem is carrying all that fuel. I'll use a Bento Box (I know, I know...They're worse than CamelBaks) with 4 of each in them, and then take on the other fuel (plus my 120k treat, a king size PayDay) at the special needs stop.
Wheels: Right now it's looking like Hed Stinger Disc rear and 404 front, although I'll bring the rear 404 if it's really windy. Another post on this later since it's going to be a divisive topic, perhaps.
Helmet: Gordo says traditional vented helmet. I think an aero helmet is always better. Going with the aero helmet, but I'll bring the normal one if it looks hot.
Compression: Yes, socks. The sleeves absolutely wrecked my calves in Austin.
Shoes: Newton Distancia Racers.
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