Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wisconsin Dells part 1: REV3 Recon!!

This weekend our friend Steve joined Dan and I for a weekend at the Wisconsin Dells!  "Camping"-style of course!

We checked into our campsite Edge-O-Dells on Friday afternoon.  It's for adults 21 and over, and it comes complete with a bar, pool, and an itinerary of activities including live music, tequila volleyball, happy hours, etc... ha!  More on that in part 2 :)

After getting settled, we headed out on our bicycles with intentions to preview the 56 mile REV3 bike course!  However, since we got a late start, we weren't able to actually ride the entire course- we took a shortcut (which only saved us maybe 6 miles!) order to get back before dark (we did... barely).  I will give you my impressions... however, check out my friend Mike's blog- he has detailed accounts of both the bike and run courses!  We did DRIVE the rest of the course on Sunday, so I can give you a fair review.

Roads:  for the most part they are in great condition!  There are couple rough sections, but they are pretty short-lived.  That is  great for us coming from chip-seal country!! :)

Weather:  We didn't have to deal with much wind, but it was hot!  Make sure you have a nutrition plan and PRACTICE it beforehand!!  I used Powerbar Perform and Green apple gels... yum!  There weren't many places to stop for water on the course- if you plan on previewing it prior to race-day, my suggestion would be to bring a camelback, carry 4+ bottles of water with you, or go a tiny bit out of the way to stop in Baraboo (15mi) or Caledonia (35mi)- check out course map here

Also, Powerbar has a great article specifically addressing racing in heat and humidity.. it talks about the physiological changes your body goes through, and gives specific recommendations and tips throughout the article, specifically at the end.. check it out!

Course: Rev3 course maps are very thorough- even though this course had a lot of turns, we were easily able to follow the map.  It even marked the significant climbs and technical descents.

Terrain:  hills.  Hills.  HILLS!  Bring your climbing gears.  I agree with Mike in his assessment that this course is more challenging than IM Wisconsin, but not as bad as Horribly Hilly Hundreds (or Dairyland Dare, etc.)  I rode my tri bike with a compact crank and an 11-28 cassette, and I was glad to have the extra climbing gears!  Even if you can get by with a 12-25 or 23 mashing up the rollers and standing on the steeper hills, your legs are going to be TRASHED for the run (which will also be hot and hilly!).  I would highly recommend getting a climbing cassette with at least 27 or 28 cogs! :)

Most of the hills are rollers, and the course is pretty "fair" - you'll be rewarded with a downhill!  For the first 30 miles of the course I rode, I was able to stay seated for all of the hills- including Bluff Rd. (near Devil's Head-mile 18ish), which was one of the two NASTY climbs on the course.  It starts off pretty steep... but the grade becomes a little more forgiving as the climb progresses.  When we rode it, there was a lot of fresh, loose gravel on this hill.  It didn't bother me climbing it (since I was going ohhhh 4-5 mph??).  I'm sure the the gravel will be smoothed out by race day :)
Bluff Road!
On the back half of the course, watch out for BEICH Rd. (mile 33ish)!  From the base of the climb, it is about 800m to the top.  From the stop sign at WI 78, it is 1 mile to the top.  That doesn't seem so bad (and tell yourself that during the race!)... but that hill is a beast.  It is twisty and turny and you can't see the top... and it seems to get steeper.  We drove it, so I can't give it a fair assessment...but Mike told me that Bluff Rd. was harder, so I'll go with that since I DID ride that one :)
The guys reaching Tower Rd., the top of the Bluff Rd. climb!
The descents are FAST.  Whether you are an experienced rider not, be predictable, hold your line, and play it smart.  I am no descending expert, but I am confident that I can descend safely.  If you are uncomfortable with descending and need to brake (like I do!)- "feather" your brakes, DON'T slam on them or hold them too long.  Alternate the rear and front brakes, quickly and lightly.  Have confidence, be "one" with your bike!  When descending into a turn, put your weight on the outside leg, which should be straight.  If anyone else has tips, please leave them below!
I LOVE my Pearl Izumi tri kit!
This probably won't be a PR course... but it sure is going to be FUN! The views of the "dells" and the countryside are gorgeous.  I hope to see you all out there!!  If you haven't already, register for this race, held in August, here!


Kiersten said...

Awesome post, Laura...and great pictures!

Mark said...

Wow, this is a great preview. Although, I never knew there existed so many hills in Wisconsin! He would've thunk it?!

Looking forward to seeing you there with the family in tow.

Anonymous said...

I feel a little more relaxed after reading your post. I'm worried about those crazy Never ending Hills. So now I'll be prepared for suffering:-)

Pearly said...

I feel a little more relaxed after reading your post. I'm worried about those crazy Never ending Hills. So now I'll be prepared for suffering:-)