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Ironman Maastricht-Limburg, part 2, the bike

...The bike. I wasn't scared about cycling those hills. I have been here once before and cycled the whole Netherlands side of the course. Hills, yes, hurting hills, yes, undo-able hills - no. The streets are somewhat narrow, vinyard and rural service streetlets. But all asphalt and when I rode it, I didn't see problems. 

The bike course is so that at first one has a quite hilly part and afterwards it goes into Belgium, with rollers. And a lot of zig zag.

Generally: almost the first 10k are flat-ish, from 10 to 45 hilly to super hilly, but now comes the part I did not know.. So Off I went, in 6-7 minutes through T1, struggled a bit with my cool wings on wet body, put on everything, grabbed the Bee Bike and off. And then the first 50km were just as tried out, just as expected. And then:

Belgium.

The country known for it's street non-quality for bicycling races (or so I was told afterwards. I was completely unaware)

Belgium. 

I felt like James Bond's Vodka Martini. Shaken, not stirred.  Anyway, pedaling on.

Eating on the bike was no problem, neither during the first half of the loop, nor on the second. There were plenty of slight uphills, where I anyway didn't go into aero. Plentiful aid stations. Definitely. I think like five on the course - multiply by two for two iterations. The helpers were friendly, I think they must have been hoarse Sunday evening. And splashed all over with banana goo, High Five isotonic, Cola (yues, they had Cola, which is quite rate at Ironman Bike courses) and, of course, water. 

Dutch for water is water. I knew and even got the pronounciation halfways right. But they more or less all speak English. In a small county like the Netherlands, not every cinema movie etc is translated. One learns by nature.

First 50km - check, and I knew the last of those major hills would hurt the second time. Big mistake. While in the first round DO NOT think about the second round. Ironman works step after step, but not as a big picture. At least not for me. Well, Yes it did, but it mentally drains to worry about stuff to come.

I was dreading the second round but then - I had not come not to finish. I had come to finish. Full stop. And dreading is as bad as worrying. 

With some fiery entrance they had built something like a fire gate into Belgium. I think some of the hilly parts also still belonged there, but then the streetlets started. Right, left, zig, zag, etc. Not like Heilbronn where there is a steep climb after every zig and a zag after every fast downhill. But still slowing down, even more so for it had started to rain.  And rain some more. And rain until my odometer decided it was too wet to show me my speed. Pedaling on, anyway, because stopping would make me lose time and I had a cut-off to beat. I refused to check my watch, so I just made sure to go with decent speed, spinning up every hill, taking downhills as fast as I could (I  had definitely practiced that) and keep on stomping my legs floorwards. Another thing. On the bike, think you stamp the floor. Don't thing about round motion. Just kick the floor, then your muscle counterparts won't try to interact. Or that's what some physio therapist once told me. 

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I had had a lot of physios recently. Lower back and pelvis, all messed up, but now they held on. For Germany was blessed with lots of lots of rain this Spring, though, I had been training more on B2 (my self built cross bike) than on the Bee Bike. My upper back now said thank you - oh, cross that out - said ouch for it. And still does. 

But it all was in a range I could deal with.

Wait. I'm still on first round in Belgium. Guess what I learned: magnetic closures are not ideal Bento Box mechanisms. I learned that the hard way by riding over a bump, and losing half the content of the box, including my beloved cliff bar and my salt. Gratefully there at least was more salt, but this didn't help.

Lost of those bumps, gratefully only one such loss, as opposed to others who lost liquids. Km 70 and suddenly a sharp turn which I really expected someone would take too wide and end up in the river Maas. Then a nice straight, well blackcoated path along the river, followed by a tiny hill, followed by decend streets and pathways off into cobblestone covered Maastricht downtown. 

Shaken.

Second round. Anyway. 

Odometer had recovered by now, it had dried off a bit and showed me the distance again. 

More hills. And yes, the second round hurt some more. 

People were still out, cheering, a bit fewer but still there. Parties at the side of the street.

That one hurting hill wasn't so bad, I thought. Never worry...They hurt but I didn't get off the bike, I even passed a few athletes, I dealt with the rain and the - again - dysfunctional odometer. 

The gate into Belgium and the shaky roads. Actually I forgot that one bridge. They made a street overpass just for the race. So it was short steep up, a few meters flat and same steep sown. Metal plates but despite of the wet floor no problem. 

Shaking. Speeding up as much as I could. There still was that cutoff to beat. 

Totally hurting neck, but everything else ok and looking forwards to the dlat part along the Maas and back into town, even if that meant a second cobblestone shake. Actually fourth, there was a tiny stretch somewhere else on the course. 

I could hear them. Loud and clear, the announcer calling out for athletes finishing on the bike. I racked my bike (no such service as volunteers doing that, as well as there were no helpers in the T-tents or wet suit strippers - wait - peelers. 

6 or so minutes T2, switching shoes, hitting the restroom, and straightening up. Some walking, for I really had to straighten up my body., I was feeling tired - but for some reason I had been tired all through the first bike loop.  But I was ready to tackle the third leg, 42.2k of moving per pedes.

To be continued