The 223K/111.5K bike course will be exactly what the name of this series alludes to… epic. This is the locals’ weekly base ride which, when ridden from town, involves 6,000 feet of climbing and some great scenery and empty roads. For the event we will be starting up at Cultus, which is helpful considering we end at T2 at 3,300 feet. It involves two laps of our mountain loop. The route wraps clockwise around the magnificent Mount Bachelor while twisting through tall pines and rolling by crystal-clear mountain streams. Each lap will involve a climb that cruises by Elk Lake and Sparks Lake, and rolls up the steepest part on the course, known as Sparks Grade. This climb is quite steep at the last third, and can be quite difficult. It will require some out-of-the-saddle climbing for most, and even a “paperboy” for the lucky few. The killer part of this course? The second time up Sparks Grade comes at its steepest section—about 112 miles in, which is usually when we are hitting the run in most long-distance triathlons. Besides its beauty, the redeeming quality of this course is the fact that what goes up, must come down: There are two descents of more than 15 miles, one of which basically takes you into transition.
Course Tips: Ride your bike in training! It’s almost 140 miles with some big climbs. Must. Ride. Lots. I would pay attention to gearing selection as there are steep climbs but some fast descents too. The smart athlete lasts with proper clothing selection and a solid nutrition plan.
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