**UPDATE** this is the 2015 course.
They have changed the course for 2016 and it is is ridden in a different order now.
Let me first say I did NOT ride every part of the course. I did ride the most significant sections (in my opinion). Also realize I come from riding at seal level in a fairly hilly section of Southern California. My recent Ironman experience was Ironman Arizona in 2014, you can read about it here, and I also completed Ironman St. George in 2012. Also, I was riding a 53-39 up front and an 11-28 in the back. Biking is not my strength; I am a much better swimmer and decent runner. (link to my Garmin data here, link to the course map here)
Overall impression of the ride = AWESOME!
- The road conditions were nice.
- Because you change direction often you are not forced to ride into the wind for any long period of time.
- It is beautiful out there!
- The undulating course allows you keep your overall speed up.
- Even with the elevation gain you can still ride aero most of this ride.
- I barely had to get out of my saddle.
There are fours sections I will talk about.
1. Entering 36
This is the first 4.3 mile of the course when you leave the reservoir. It is roughly a gain of 330 feet. There is nothing too hard here, it is just a steady climb (and climb may be too strong a word).
2. Nelson Road
This is a slightly harder section than making your way to 36. It is 4.5 miles with about 540 feet of gain. Once again, I don’t think I ever got out of my saddle. Make sure to enjoy the scenery and don’t miss the buffaloes!
After Nelson you get back on 36 and head out to 66. You can really cruise on this section and get some good speed.
You make your way zig-zagging back to the Reservoir to do the whole loop again. I didn’t ride all the way back so my ride does not reflect all of this part. It is generally an easy section.
After you repeat the first loop you cross over the Diagonal to do a loop that should be miles 85-100 during the race. The first hill you get is on 52. It is short but steeper than anything else you have ridden so far. it is approximately 1.5 miles with 225 feet of gain.
You ride down to 287 and take a right, then another right.
4. Lookout Rd.
This one might give you some trouble if you rode hard leading up to this. It is a hill that is 2.9 miles long with about 300 feet of gain. Just when you think you are at the top, it will kick up again. It does this three times. I may have gotten out of my saddle for this but it really isn’t that bad. Just know it is coming and take it easy.
Remember the goal is
swim, bike, run
swim, OVER bike, walk
Overall I am really excited for this ride. I had a lot of concern about the bike course, mainly because it is NOT my strength. After pre-riding it I feel very confident that it will make for a great day!