The Bike King kicks off its triathlon season for 2018 in one of the most iconic venues in the Philippines: Subic Bay! This place has had its fair share of races but each one is very unique. The sheer size of the place allows race organizers to customize the course based on their desires. For Bike King TRI 1, expect a mix of flats, hills, and of course, very memorable race experience. To make sure you have a pleasant race, we present to you the first edition of Sante Barley's PREP (Practical Race Execution Preview) for 2018!
For the swim, you’ll have to do two loops in the counter-clockwise direction. This means, left side breathers will have an easier time. Luckily, even if you’re not comfortable breathing on your left side, it’s still pretty easy to follow the course through proper sighting. Remember to avoid holding on the buoy line and never use it for forward movement lest you want to risk disqualification.
Unless the weather changes drastically over the next few days, expect water conditions to be colder than usual. To help counteract this, make sure you do a quick 10-15min warm up before the start of your wave. Since there will be wave starts, being properly warmed up will help prevent panic during the dreaded washing machine. Make sure you’re aware of when your wave is (see schedule below) and never start in a different wave.
The swim course is actually one of my favorite courses because of the calm water conditions. There’s very minimal current if ever and the waves are usually non-existent. However, some first timers or newbies often panic after swimming 250-300m out because of the sudden change in “scenery.” For the first few hundred meters, you can still see the bottom of the ocean, all of a sudden, there’s a huge drop off and the surroundings turn to black. Don’t panic when you see this and just swim as you normally would. Focus on what’s ahead of you and not below. You’ll be fine.
Pace yourself for the first loop and try and pick up the pace for the second one. It’s better to do a negative split than to gas out too early. After completing both loops, you’ll have to run several hundred meters to transition (thereby making your T1 times exceptionally long). Just focus on finding your balance, catching your breath, and getting some hydration/nutrition in. Don’t rush T1 and make sure you’ve got everything you need, it’s still a long morning ahead.
This by no means is meant to scare, but expect the bike leg to be difficult. It involves a lot of hills with gradients ranging from 4-8% (peaking at 10-12%). It’s easy to get overzealous and hammer it but trust me, patience and restraint here will go a very long way later on.
The first part consists of a series of long and steep climbs. The hills add up to roughly 9km of climbing (in total) with a maximum elevation of 160m. The first hill starts out at 5% near Triboa Bay (grade is quite similar to the hill going up Miriam in Nuvali). This is followed by a long descent into the police checkpoint/gate. A few hundred meters after is where the fun begins.
The long 1.5km climb has varying degrees of incline. It starts off with a very steep 8% grade (similar to the steeper segments up Antipolo) then evens out at roughly 4%. Before you reach the turnaround, you will need to tuck into your aero position as you ride a very fast downhill segment. After the U turn, the pain reacquaints itself with your legs. Climbing back up is 2x more difficult this time around because of the heat, fatigue, and possible dehydration. It’s important to pay close attention to nutrition and hydration to avoid cramping. 14km into the course, you will encounter a very fast and technical descent back to where we came. Pay very close attention to the terrain and avoid any rocks, potholes, or obstacles. Brake before you enter each turn and make it through the bend in a calm, collected, and precise way. Don’t slam your brakes nor make any abrupt changes. Be polite and courteous to other riders. Ride on the right side of the road and let others pass on the left. No drafting!
The second part of the course consists of a flat and fast stretch of road with some significant crosswinds coming from the east-northeast (25-30kph). Avoid using super deep rims as they might even be a disadvantage for this course. After the punishing hills earlier in the race, this is where a lot of triathletes like to let loose. Be wary as you hammer the course. Remember, the race doesn’t end in T2. No one gets extra points (for this race anyway) for the fastest bike split. It’s all about managing one’s efforts to nail the fastest overall time possible. Pushing it too hard here (i.e. going above your lactate threshold) will prevent you from running fast off the bike.
The final leg consists of 4 loops. This means it’s very easy to pace but it also means it can get mentally challenging. Luckily, the course is almost pancake flat with a very minimal grade of 1%. Everyone is tired, dehydrated, hungry, or cramping during the run thereby making it arguably the most challenging part of the race. Most people say this feels like the longest 10k of their life! Despite the tough conditions, the cool breeze from the sea helps douse the scorching heat from the sun. Current weather forecasts tell us weather is expected to be rather cool but still expect the worse. Be sure to wear sunglasses, headgear, and keep an eye on your hydration. Aid stations are scattered along the run course so make sure you have easy access to water and electrolyte drinks. As you take your cup, make sure to move out of the way immediately to allow other racers to grab their share. Start off relatively easy then build speed as you go along. Remember that it’s safer to have a little left in the tank than to gas out with several kilometers left. Make sure you smile and strike a pose as you cross the finish line, after 51.5 kilometers of racing, you deserve the limelight!
After the race, make sure to cool down properly (even for just a few minutes), do some light stretches or even get a massage. Post-race nutrition is also very important as we want to not only replenish the calories lost, we also want to give your body the nutrients it needs to rebuild itself.