Sunday's bike ride was a beautiful 100 miles on Skyline Drive in the Shenendoah Valley. I have been wanting to do this ride for awhile, and I thought it would be perfect practice for France. It had some climbs, for sure, but nothing ridiculous like last week's 120 miler Ascension ride. I got there late (big surprise) so I started about 10 minutes after everyone else. I wasn't sure what my chances were of catching up to people - I was hoping not to do the ride completely alone. The first 23 miles were basically a steady climb to 3000+ feet in elevation:
The ride went really, really well. After feeling sluggish on the first few miles (could also be because they were the steepest miles), I found a good pace, and started catching up to everyone. My bike felt fast, sometimes it almost felt like I was holding it back. It felt great on the climbs, and throughout the ride, I became more and more excited about France! I was cautious on the descents, but feeling more and more comfortable on my bike and how to handle it. After Skyline, I continued onward to complete the 82 mile Sky/Mass route - it winds through Luray, has a brutally long (and pretty steep) 2.8 mile climb to the top of Mount Massa-something, which, after the steep, technical descent, I was rewarded with rollers and flats for the rest of the ride. To tell you the truth, I was a little apprehensive about how long this ride was going to take me. I was planning on 7+ hours to do the 82 miles... BUT, it only took me 5 hours and 23 minutes. I then looped out for another 18 miles to complete my 100 mile ride. Overall, the 100.5 miles took me 6:29. 15.5 mph average. MUCH better than I had anticipated, hence my boosted excitement and confidence for France. Speaking of France, below is the elevation profile for the IM France bike course. The highest point of the course, Col de l'Ecre, is 3674 ft of elevation, about 300 feet higher than the highest point on the Skyline ride. France should be approximately that steep, points may be a bit steeper because it increases 3000 feet in 30ish miles. All in all, it will be an interesting race.
And with that, time for bed! Swim practice in the AM!