Tips for crushing the bike leg of Race the State from Terry Halpin, bike course record holder at 1 hr 10 min 33 sec!
What do you think of the course?
The bike course is good; it has quite a bit of terrain to it – 900ft of elevation, I think. The hardest part about it is not to go too hard on the first hill. Once you cross Post Road (aka Route 1), it’s pretty much “game on” all the way to the finish.
It’s a beautifully scenic, rural course…going by the lake is especially nice. It’s a rolling hills course, which, for me, is pretty good. Maybe some people don’t enjoy that as much as I do. You have to maintain a pretty steady power output, and keep going along.
The roads are in good condition mostly, [it’s] a little rough going over Chase Hill Road so you need to be mindful of that because you’re going quite quick going down the hill. But all in all it’s a very nice, scenic race.
Anything on the course competitors should be aware of?
If you do a reconnaissance mission on the course, some of the hard turns become part of your memory and you’re able to anticipate them instead of being surprised. Generally speaking, the traffic was quite light, and I didn’t have any problems with that.
How do you prepare for the race?
The two years I’ve done it, I managed to recon the course a couple of times each year. I feel like its very important to know where the turns are and where you can accelerate and make the most of your available energy before you try to accelerate too quickly in an area where you’re going to have to slow down or turn. I can’t say enough how important it is to recon.
The ride is only 29 miles, so for my recon I went out and back from the URI Bay Campus. It’s pretty critical, [the recon] will show you the steepness of the first hill, and force you to figure out how to manage your time going up that—it’s not where you’re going to win the race, but you can certainly lose it there.
How many miles are you riding a week?
150-180 miles a week, mostly by myself. 2-3 days I’ll ride with a group, but mostly by myself.
Any advice for first timers?
The best thing you can do is try to find an aerodynamic position on the bike that you’re comfortable in. I rode a standard road bike, but made adjustments to the position and added a set of aero bars for a bit of aerodynamic performance and it seemed to work well for me.
Anything you do to keep yourself motivated during long rides?
Dream of what might have been… No, just kidding.
For the race, it’s important to prepare for conditions of the day, as not being prepared will affect your motivation. If it’s dry and hot, bring enough water. I’d probably something to eat, maybe, 2/3 a way during the leg. I don’t, personally, have issues staying motivated for 30 miles, that’s less than a standard day on the bike, for me!
Any suggestions for someone who doesn’t have enough time to do many long rides during a week?
Anything that gets you time in the saddle. If you can increase your endurance, that is probably the best method of training. One is interval training, high intensity for short bursts, both increasing the intensity and lengths of the bursts over the course of a long period of time so your body because more in tune to running at threshold. Try and ride the mileage. If you can ride 2 hours on a stationary bike, if the weather’s not good, or you don’t have enough time to get outside when it’s light, that should get you through.
And last but not least, enjoy it, have fun!