Ironman Wisconsin: Spectate the Right Way on Race Day

Ironman Wisconsin is truly a unique event. It’s known for a beautiful sunrise mass start, an incredibly hilly bike course, and thousands of enthusiastic fans. It’s always been one of my favorite venues. I won’t be racing this year as they’ve eliminated the men’s pro race (women’s will be back for 2016) but I will be out there spectating and cheering on Team PBC. I have confidence that my athletes will nail it on race day (missing a few from this pic)!

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I was recently fortunate enough to be interviewed by Discover Wisconsin and was given the opportunity to blog about spectating Ironman Wisconsin on their The Bobber. Enjoy!

IRONMAN WISCONSIN: Spectate the Right Way on Race Day

Triathlon is a rapidly growing sport in the state of Wisconsin. Google will tell you that there are nearly 30 triathlon races in Wisconsin in the month of August alone. Every year new races pop and established ones fill quicker than you can change a flat bike tire.

Ironman Wisconsin is perhaps the most well-known triathlon in the state and also the longest with a 2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. That’s a total of 140.6 miles as triathlete’s bumper stickers across the state will proudly remind you. I’ve toed the line several times on hot September mornings (it’s the 13th this year) to measure up against the competition at Ironman Wisconsin. This year I won’t be as they have eliminated the professional race in this venue. The silver lining of course is I get to enjoy the race as a spectator. I’ve raced or attended this race every year for over a decade so sharpen your pencils and get ready to take some tips from a pro.

Here are my top 5 ways to win the day as a spectator at Ironman Wisconsin.

On your way into town stop by Waterloo, Wisconsin and visit the Trek Bicycle Company. Weekly tours are led by enthusiastic employees Wednesdays at 10:00am. Guests can drool over championship bikes in the lobby and atrium and feast their eyes on those of the future in the race shop and the custom paint booth. Many triathletes will race Ironman Wisconsin on bikes hand built in the Trek Factory in Waterloo, WI.

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Photo cred: Trek Bicycle

Write these times down:

  • Colectivo Coffee on Pinckney St. opens at 6:30am on Sundays.
  • Sunrise on race day is 6:35am.
  • The race begins at 7:00am.

Here’s your plan: Get yourself a fresh brew from Colectivo Coffee, a trendy little café located in an historic building in downtown Madison and loved by local cyclists. Then follow the pedestrian traffic to the rooftop of the Monona Terrace where you can watch the sunrise dance across Lake Monona in front of a crowd of excited racers and spectators. The nearly 3,000 Ironman Wisconsin athletes start en masse as the gun goes off and it’s a beautiful sight to see.

  • OLD SAUK PASS AND TIMBER LANE, SOMEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY BETWEEN CROSS PLAINS AND MADISON

So 112 mile is a long way to bike. If you look at a map you’ll see athletes leave the Monona Terrace and weave their way out of the city towards the fair town of Verona, do a loop, then do it again before heading back to transition. I’m often asked about where the best place to watch the bike portion of the race is and my answer is always Old Sauk Pass and Timber Lane. This stretch of road is the longest hill on the course and athletes get to do it twice. Watching from this location is nice for spectators because you’ll see your athlete two times and they will be going a bit slower than average so they’ll likely see (and hear) you. Having fans in this location is great for athletes because you’re likely in the pain cave and a familiar face might be all you need to get through it.

  • STATE STREET, MADISON WI

One of the best places to watch the run is on State Street. Athletes do a half marathon loop twice and go up and down State Street both times so if you stand still, you’ll see your athlete run past 4 times. The street is closed off to vehicle traffic and lined with spectators sipping frosty beverages and snacking on unique Wisconsin treats such as cheese curds and popcorn. The race finishes between the State Capitol and the Monona Terrace so from the top of State Street it’s a short walk to the finish line.

On the other end of State Street you’ll find the Memorial Union. This gem of a hangout is another local favorite. On any given summer evening you’ll be hard pressed to find a seat but the scavenger hunt that ensues to find one is worth the pay off. On race day athletes will run right past the Memorial Union as they exit State Street and trudge up the only real hill on the run course. After you’ve cheered your athlete on grab a pitcher of tap beer and enjoy people watching and a glorious view of Lake Mendota. If you stick around past sunset you’ll likely hear some live music. Make sure you don’t leave without a scoop of the Orange Custard Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Sounds weird. Tastes amazing.

Ironman Wisconsin is an amazingly well-run race and is known in the triathlon community as one of the best when it comes to rowdy and supportive fans. As your friends and neighbors get ready to toe the line Sunday, September 13 make sure you’re putting in the recon work to make this your best day of spectating. See you out there!

Everything you need to know about the race can be found here.

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

The Benefit of Group Sessions

Triathlon is an interesting sport in that we compete alone as individuals yet train as a team. I can’t say enough about the benefits of training as a group. Every week this summer I’ve held on average 2 group sessions, whether it be open water swimming, biking, or running. Additionally we have had a few Ironman Wisconsin specific prep sessions on weekend days. I love group trainings because athletes are able to gather and exchange stories, training data, discuss race plans, and encourage each other to get through tough workouts. Everyone is someone’s pace and everyone can be challenged to be better by those around them.

Join us this week Thursday, 6pm, Vilas Zoo lot. I’ll be hosting a run session for Team PBC, but this week open to the public with free drop-in. 

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Hope to see you there,

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

Team PBC: Season Update

It’s somehow nearly mid-July and if we take a moment to breath between backyard barbeques, bag toss, and s’mores, we realize that the triathlon season here in Wisconsin is a third over. Team PBC has had a busy little streak of success in 2015. It’s safe to say all athletes on the team have training days that test the will, which make the training days that don’t as sweet as apple pie. We’ve all had break-through moments mentally and physically. We’ve learned new things about the sport and ourselves along the way. Some of us have big goals looming in the latter half of the season such as Ironman Wisconsin or earning a professional license in the sport. Here are some mid-season highlights from Team PBC:

We have had a number of age group wins, podium finishes, and a handful of overall wins. Notably, Team PBC pro triathlete Molly Woodford took the overall wins at Lake Mills Sprint Triathlon and the Elkhart Lake Elite Olympic Triathlon. Keep your eyes peeled for her at Racine 70.3 in 2 weeks. Andrew Keily also took his first OA win in the Olympic Distance Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon. Earlier this season he finished Austin 70.3 with a time of 4:10:27, which was good for 5th OA age grouper. At that race he missed his pro card by just 19 seconds, but that just makes the journey even more worth it. Look for him at Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee this August.

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Also racing at AGN will be Jen Anderson, who qualified for the race by dominating at Door County last season. Jen’s season is just getting started after a much needed early season break. We can’t wait to see how she measures up against the competition nationally.

Andrew Porn has had a competitive season so far, taking a few top 10 finishes and overall age group wins. He will also be competing at Age Group Nationals this August. The improvements keep coming as we approach his A race of the year.

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Our troop of Ironman Wisconsin athletes includes Luke Gulbrand, Annie Hughes, Dan Perkins, Austin Kazda, Walter Langkau, and Jason Milesko. They have been putting in the miles and staying focused as race day approaches. They’re slaying minutes off previous PR’s in all 3 disciplines. We are nearly 2 months out and I cannot wait to see these athletes shine on race day. Come out and watch September 13th! Annie and Dan will be racing the Door County 70.3, and Jason will be racing the Racine 70.3.

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Dana Kalina and Melanie Ott were new to Team PBC this season and we have loved having them as a part of group training sessions and out there competing at races. Both have had some amazing results including some AG podiums and top 10 OA’s. Dana has really started to turn heads with his cycling strength and now turns his focus to Door County 70.3 in just 2 weeks. Melanie is continuing to make gains across the board, and is 3 weeks away from Tri’ing for Children’s Triathlon.

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Brandon Nguyen is just getting started with his race season, as he gears up for Pigman 70.3 and continues to progress toward Ironman Louisville. He will also be in Pewaukee for the sprint this weekend.

Dan Bradtke is in his first season of triathlon, he’s coming off of an Achilles rupture, and has still had some impressive results. Look for him next at Tri-ing for Children’s Triathlon later this month.

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Our remote athletes are giving the Boulder community a run for their money. They’ve podiumed at a number of races and have more trophies looming in their future. Luke Gulbrand continues his impressive streak of great races as he prepares for his debut at Ironman in Wisconsin. Brandon Holm has become a very strong swim-biker, and as his run progresses will become very competitive at the front of the race.

LUKE AND BRANDON

We have a few athletes who have taken the 2015 season to focus on one sport specifically. Tyler Renk has seen his fastest ever 10k and quarter marathon times ever this year and our cyclists Dan van der Weide and Revere Greist have both had overwhelming success. Dan completed the Liege-Bastongne-Liege Sportive and is now rebuilding fitness after an injury from a crash. Look for him this weekend at Blue Mounds Classic Road Race and the Wisconsin State Championship Road Race. Revere’s highlights of the season so far were podium finishes in both the Time Trial and the Road Race at the Tour of Galena. He will be taking on the Blue Mounds Classic Road Race and is continuing to build his fitness for Cat 1 Masters Nationals in September.

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Lastly, we have some promising new recruits coming on board for the end of the 2015 season and for 2016. We can’t wait to add their names to our roster and see them at team practices and races.

Best of luck to all of you out there as you Velcro up your cycling shoes and tighten your easy laces on race day… see you soon.

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

2015… Ready, GO!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about what’s going on here at PBC. Now that we made it through the holidays it’s time to put our noses to the grindstone and focus on the 2015 season. Here are some updates:

  • We have a solid roster for the coming season, with many athletes starting training this January.
  • Cycling classes at Pat’s Gym have been well attended by athletes who are putting in the work now in order to make their 2015 season a success.

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  • Good news for anyone who works at Trek Bicycle: I will be teaching 1 hour cycling classes Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00am for the months of January and February. These classes are part of the Trek Wellness Program and will be free to all Trek employees.
  • T-shirt and hat orders are in. If you haven’t picked yours up already, contact me to set it up.
  • Kits have been ordered. You’ve seen the 2 piece triathlon kit and the road kit. Here is what the 1 piece tri suit ended up looking like (but with pockets). We are hoping to have them in hand sometime in February.

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Looking forward to a great 2015! See you out there.

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WII

Trek Precision Fit

Last week I had the pleasure of having a bike fit with Matt Gehling of Trek Precision Fit out at Trek HQ in Waterloo, WI. TPF is science and number based yet takes comfort into consideration. Using a stationary bike fitting tool, we made a few changes to my fit.

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The first was we switched to a new saddle. Matt used pressure mapping to show that I was putting a lot of pressure on the nose of my previous saddle. I am now switching over to the Bontrager Hilo XXX and you can see from the before and after pictures below that the Hilo distributes my weight a lot more evenly.

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We also moved my knee over pedal spindle back to take some weight off my arms and open up the chest yet maintain the aero position more comfortably.

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The deliverable was a detailed report with an analysis on my new fit and why we made the changes we did along with photos to show changes in angles.

If you haven’t had a chance to get fit I highly recommend it. My fit with Matt will result in a more aero and more comfortable position for 2015. For those who live in the Madison area, TPF is available at the Madison Trek Stores. I have had a number of athletes see the specialists at the Madison Stores and have had great results. For those living elsewhere, start here: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/retailers/precision_fit/

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

The Gear is Here

We now have PBC t-shirts (standard American Apparel 50/50 blend) and hats available for order.

I will have samples available for viewing and ordering at the seminar next Wednesday, October 29 7pm at Trek Bicycle Store Madison East.

Don’t forget to pick up a sticker while you’re there.

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Coach PB
Cycling and USAT Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI

Mark your Calendars

The leaves are changing. We are riding in vests and booties and running with gloves. It’s the off season. Time to take a deep breath and recharge for next year.

Successful business owners will tell you that the off season is the busiest time of year. They are working on budgets, marketing calendars, inventory plans, evaluating what worked and what didn’t, planning for next year. If you spend time and money on your race season, treat it like a business and start planning now. Don’t miss my free seminar next Wednesday, October 29 7pm at Trek Bicycle Store Madison East.

PBC WIN NOW SEMINAR

In addition to all the topics mentioned here I will have t-shirt and baseball cap samples on hand for trying on, admiring, and ordering.

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Lastly, at the seminar I will be revealing the PBC kit for 2015. I’m hoping to have a sample size kit for trying on and I will be taking orders.

In the meantime…. here is a teaser:

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Hope to see you next Wednesday!

Coach PB
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI