We’re on the second half of the year already and we’ve had our fair share of races in Subic Bay. Being dubbed as tri country, Subic is known for the various courses organizers can stage in within its borders. This July 1, aside from partaking in an unorthodox distance, we will explore a different side of Subic and test our limits in the process. Let’s get ready for Bike King Tri 2!
The swim is pretty straightforward. It’s a 2-loop clockwise course that takes place in ACEA beach (formerly Dungaree beach). There’s very little drama here except for the sudden darkness you’d encounter after swimming a hundred meters or so out. Luckily, there’s no cause for panic as the waves/current are weak/negligible and there are plenty of support boats around the area.
The bike course goes out of Subic Bay into SCTEX. As you drive to Subic on Friday/Saturday, observe the undulating terrain. Expect a couple of long solid climbs going up to Tipo and mentally prepare for the fast descent that follows after. During this segment, be extra cautious as the roads are not closed to traffic (albeit controlled). Make sure you stay in your rightmost lane and avoid swerving. I prefer not to ride my aerobars for most of the descent.
Once you reach SCTEX itself, expect a few undulating hills. Luckily, we’ll only reach Dinalupihan which means that we won’t ride the hillier portions of the expressway. Road conditions have also greatly improved from before but still expect a few bumps and rough patches.
Wind strength and direction is hit or miss here. There were times when we’d have to fight strong crosswinds, and there were other times when a tailwind would conveniently help us out. A full aero setup (e.g. deep dish wheels and/or a disc) is only recommended if you’re confident with handling and if you can really push the watts!
The best piece of advice I could give in riding this course is to pace yourself properly by maintaining a steady effort, using the right cassette (gearing), and staying aero as much as possible.
This is the “fun” part. The organizers were kind enough to give us a different take on the run course. Instead racing on the flat stretch towards All Hands Beach, we’ll have to run towards the direction of Edgewater/Triboa Bay. At the intersection, take the second left up towards Zambales road. This hill is very difficult. It consists of a 1.5km climb with gradients between 6-10%. I’d recommend saving your legs and walking up most of this road. Soon after, you’ll be treated to a few rolling hills as you make your way towards Cubi. Luckily, most of this course is shaded but dehydration can still pose a huge problem. The second series of hills happens once you reach the 3.5km mark. This is the point where you reach Aparri road. Instead of turning left towards treetop adventure, you’ll have to go straight to a part of Subic Bay most have never been to. This area feels like a jungle with the dense foliage; there were even times when I’d have to ask myself if I made a wrong turn somewhere. Rest assured, that it’s all part of the plan. Truthfully, managing the steep, relentless hills, in this part of the course needs to be top of mind. There were some moments when I was cramping up already because I was so unfamiliar with the terrain. Luckily, if you don’t pace yourself well during the first loop, you’ll be able to do it again a second time! Make sure you hydrate and fuel as much as possible since glycogen stores are usually depleted by this time. As you make your way back, take note that you’ll still have to run down Zambales road. This isn’t as fun as it seems since dead legs, cramps, and fatigue will prevent you from sprinting down the hill. Make sure you reduce any impact on your muscles and joints by pacing yourself appropriately.
The final stretch towards the finish line will be all worth it! This is where you’ll see family and friends cheer you on as you soldier on towards the finish arch. If this is your A race, celebrate and recover well. On the other hand, if this is a tune up race for Ironman 70.3 Cebu, it’s all about carrying the momentum towards race day. Congratulations in advance, see you in Subic!