May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ironman World Championship Nice 2023: Part 3

My ticket to the World Championship. Now I had to figure out how to find 10 extra minutes. (Credit: David Roher)

Now that I had accepted the spot at Ironman World Championships Nice, I had to overcome three obstacles.

The first one was a 13 mile climb on the bike course.

(How bad is that?)

If you have ever driven from Teaneck to Fort Lee, up Fort Lee Road, that’s 9%…for only ¾ of a mile!

(And you were talking about riding that for 13 miles.)

Kinda. Most of the climb was 4%, but there was a 9% section and I could not determine just how long that section was.

(Why does it matter?)

I had never ridden more than 4.5 miles up hill…

The computations I kept changing until I made the numbers give me 10 extra minutes. (Credit: David Roher)

(And this was not a hill. This was a mountain.)

I sat down and graphed out the sections of the 112 miles of biking. I had to reach the top of the mountain by 1 p.m. or I was done.

(How far into the course was that?)

Mile 40 of 112.

(You had four hours, half the allotted time to go a third of the distance?)

Yup. Even if I made it to the top by 1 p.m., I had 4.5 hours to travel 72 miles.

(That averages out to 16.25 miles per hour. What is your best bike finish at an Ironman?)

15.25 mph back in 2014. I was in trouble.

(Think Dave, you have a brain.)

I do?

(You do. Do what you always do.)

What do I always do?

(Make a list. Chart out the segment of the racecourse and see if you can find a few extra minutes of time.)

I sat up all night working the numbers and then reworking the numbers.

It really was like a scene out of the movie Apollo 13, where the only way for the astronauts to get back home was to find more energy than the crew was carrying in their damaged spacecraft.

(But you were looking for time.)

It’s the idea here, people. I needed to find 10 minutes that did not exist.

The only way this was going to work was if I reached the top of the 13 mile climb by 12 noon.

With Shlomo Rosenzweig, at Brighton Beach, before one of many swims. (Credit: David Roher)

(But the cut off is 1 p.m.)

I had to get across those mountains and begin my descent by 4:30 p.m.

(But you have until 4:50 p.m.)

If I start that decent at 4:50 I will only have 40 minutes to travel 32 miles,

(I can’t do the whole “If one train leaves at 1 p.m., going at…” thing in my head)

You mean in my head.

(Your head, my head, potato, potah-toe.)

I graphed out the stages of the race and I compared them to the two previous Ironman bike courses I had completed.

(Hey, where did the coffee stain come from?)

Don’t ask, just know that I still have two children, even though one of them caused me to come up a half-cup short on my morning Joe.

(Wait, why is coffee called “Joe”? )

Because in 1913, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels prohibited alcohol aboard naval vessels which led to an increase in coffee consumption and Daniels being ridiculed by Naval personnel.

Now where was I?

(Graphing out the bike course to compare it to your previous Ironman races.)

Yes. If Ironman UK took me eight hours, 48 minutes to bike 9,822 feet then it shouldn’t take me more than eight hours to bike the 7,874 feet of Ironman World Championships Nice.

(Wait!)

What?

(You are basing those elevation numbers on websites?)

Yes.

(The same websites that told you Ironman UK was 9,822 feet, when your bike computer recorded it at 12,097?)

Oh man, I am in trouble. I needed to find 10 more minutes. I had to find a way to finish the bike course in under eight hours, 48 minutes or I would be disqualified for missing the time cut off of 5:30 p.m.

(This sounds like an engineering issue.)

Right. Time to go see Shlomo Rosenzweig.

(Who?)

My friend the engineer, who also happens to be an avid cyclist and an Ironman.

(Is he doing Ironman World Championships Nice?)

No, he is an engineer; he is much too smart to do a bad idea like this.

I have been meeting Shlomo at Brighton Beach, on Fridays, during the summer since 2012 to swim-train in the ocean.

(And that is where you explained your dilemma?)

It was 5:45 a.m. and we were the only people standing in the parking lot at Brighton 4th Street. The sun had not emerged from behind the buildings in the east when I asked:

“If I get to the top of the mountain by 12 noon and I start the descent by 4:30 p.m., could I make it off the bike course before the 5:30 p.m. cutoff?”

I held my breath as Shlomo looked at the elevation graph on my phone.

“It ‘could’ work … in theory.”


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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