April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman UK: Part 4

Thirty five days until Ironman UK.

Two days after I ran 23 miles to my parent’s house, I drove to my parents’ home with my bike in the trunk of their car. My plan was to bike back to my house after a detour.

(What type of detour?)

A 40-mile detour to the top of Bear Mountain.

The 4.5 mile climb up Bear Mountain.
(Credit: David Roher)

From my parent’s house in White Plains, I rode west to the Mario Cuomo Bridge.

(The Tappan Zee Bridge for us old timers.)

Once I was on the Rockland side, I had two steep climbs to ride to reach the entrance to Bear Mountain State Park. The sun was shining, but it was still early enough that the air was cool and the climbs felt manageable. From the entrance to the top of Bear Mountain is a 4.5-mile ride, up winding roads. The entire ride is inclined. I do this ride every year before Ironman and it is usually a slog. I “grind out” a slow pace to the summit. The incline averages 5.9%. That in itself is challenging for a 4.5-mile ride, but there are sections of this climb where the percentages almost doubled. I feared stopping. I was worried that the road was so steep that I would have to ride all the way back down again to be able to move forward. I was worried that on an incline that steep there would be no way I could mount my bike without falling over. This year the ride to the top felt manageable. I could say that it was the gears on my bike, I have an 11/34, but I’ve had this setup since 2018.

(Wait.)

Yes?

(What is 11/34???)

The circle of teeth on my back wheel is a series of cogs. There are 11 of them, ranging from 11 to 34.

(Is that standard?)

Most road bikes come with a 25 in the back and riders will upgrade to a 28 to help them climb better.

(But you have 34???)

100 miles on a faulty seat. (Credit: David Roher)

Joe LoPorto at Fitwerx built my bike. Joe knows that I need every advantage when it comes to climbing. The more teeth the back cog has, the easier it is for the rider to climb up a mountain. More on this when we get to Ironman UK…

(OK, OK. So, you reached the top of Bear Mountain…)

I was breathing heavily when I reached the top, but I felt invigorated.

(Instead of needing a nap?)

From the entrance to Bear Mountain State Park to the top of the mountain was a 4.5-mile ride straight up winding roads.

(How can winding roads be straight???)

The ride to the top felt manageable, so when I got to the bottom I rode back up again. The second time I rode up I noticed that something didn’t feel right. I was feeling pain in my tush.

(The ride was a pain in the butt?)

Yes, literally, but it shouldn’t have been. I didn’t have any injuries. It made no sense. I should have bought water and Gatorade from the vending machine at the summit. The ride home was hot, my glute medius, AKA tush muscle, was screaming at me, but I pedaled on. At mile 75 I had to stop to refill my water bottles. Fortunately, there is a drug store at the corner of 9W and 59. I could see the Mario Cuomo Bridge from the hot asphalt parking lot.

(Did anyone stare at you?)

Everyone was staring at me as I walked in, pushing my racing bike, dressed in cycling gear.

(Did you pause your Garmin?)

My Garmin bike computer has an auto stop feature.

(Where do you keep your wallet when you ride?)

I keep it at home.

(So, how did you pay for your drinks?)

My cell phone.

(what about your ID?)

Also on my phone.

I made it back to my house, 100 miles in total for the ride. I compartmentalized the problem and went for “a pizza.”

(You mean a slice.)

No, I meant a whole pizza.

(How do you eat a whole pie in one sitting?)

One slice at a time.

We were in the last week of May, 35 days until the race and I had a problem.

(Did you call a doctor?)

I called the bike shop.

“I had a pain in my butt while riding up Bear Mountain. I had this same pain a week before on a four hour indoor ride … can a bike seat fail?”

“Sure, they can.” Fitwerx owner and bike fitter Joe LoPorto was my bike doctor. “They only last about four years. When did we build you that bike?”

“Five years ago.”

“Come in and we will order you an updated version of the model seat you ride on.”

It was great that we might have solved the issue; not so great that it was five weeks to go.

(You can do a lot in five weeks.)

If the race was in five weeks, I only had three more weeks of heavy training. After that, I had 14 days to rest up. If we were wrong about the bike seat, my race was over. I was about to roll the dice on a bike seat…


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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