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Gearing advice for Ironman Canada
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Hello all. First post alert!

I'm an early-30s San Francisco, CA based MOP triathlete. Fairly strong swimmer/runner and relatively weak rider (3.0 watts/kg weighing 70kg) with mediocre bike handling skills.

I'm looking for some gearing advice as I enter the final stages of training for IM Canada this July. This is my second IM, with previous being IM Louisville at 6.5 hour bike leg. Consensus for the old IM Canada course seems to be that a compact + 11/28 is ideal for most riders. I'm not sure if new course announced for Whistler this year changes this guidance.


My bike: Canyon Ultimate 9 SLX Pro, Campy Record 36/52 x 12-27 running Bora 50s.

So question is: What should I do with respect to gearing. Easiest fix is dropping on 12 x 29 cassette. Alternatively, I could swap to a compact and run the 12-29 (or perhaps an 11-29 to get back some of my top end), but that's obviously a bigger upgrade. I presume both options will require a new chain.

At the end of the day, cost isn't really an issue, especially since I could recoup much of the cost of a new new crank by selling my old one. I just want the best setup for least hassle that will leave my legs fresh enough to finish the marathon and be versatile enough for my shorter course races.

Thanks!
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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The climbs are long, but not that steep. They top out around 6%.

I did the old course with a 53/39 and 11-28 in about 6:45, so I'm a similar biking level. I never thought I needed another gear. You could get a 12-30 and see if you like the extra piece of mind.

Oui, mais pas de femme toute de suite (yes, but I am not ready for a woman straight away) -Stephen Roche's reply when asked whether he was okay after collapsing at the finish in the La Plagne stage of the 1987 Tour
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [Vincible] [ In reply to ]
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Very helpful thanks. So sounds like I'd be in okay shape without the compact and a 29 granny gear for insurance....

Do you (or anyone) know if the "new" (for 2018) bike course is similar with respect to steepness? It's kind of hard to tell based on course info available at IM website. I http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events ... z5CrUfNPn9

If I do opt for a 29 cassette, any thoughts on 11-29 vs 12-29? Should I be coasting on the downhills, or keep on the pedals at low power to make up some time?
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
Very helpful thanks. So sounds like I'd be in okay shape without the compact and a 29 granny gear for insurance....

Do you (or anyone) know if the "new" (for 2018) bike course is similar with respect to steepness? It's kind of hard to tell based on course info available at IM website. I http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events ... z5CrUfNPn9

If I do opt for a 29 cassette, any thoughts on 11-29 vs 12-29? Should I be coasting on the downhills, or keep on the pedals at low power to make up some time?


The steepest part of the old course was actually on the big descent to Pemberton as I recall, a little curve section that just popped up. The new course contains all of the old course except for a little 5 ish mile section on Alta Lake Road, which I only drove on. There was a steep section but I think the turnaround is before that.

All that to say that I don't recall there being anything "steep" as opposed to just a grind. I recall that the ride from the base of Callaghan back to Whistler Village sort of took me by surprise, I was prepared for two big climbs and that section seemed like a bit of an uphill roller / grind. I think that's going to be the biggest challenge, going up that 3X. On the old course I rode a 50/34 and 12-30, but I'm a bigger guy at 190 ish. Never felt any distress that i recall. Was happy to have the 30 at least for the steep part on the descent, actually not sure if I'll go 11-28 or 12-30. I don't go much faster than 35 -40 downhill so not worried much about spinning out

Shimano, I guess if I could get a 29 it'd be the compromise
Last edited by: ChrisM: Apr 16, 18 13:52
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I did it in 2014 and used a 50/34 with a 11-28. I usually spin with a higher cadence (95-100) and would have welcomed a taller gear on some of the climbs, especially after Pemberton back to Whistler. For me I was doing more mashing than I would have liked. But if my natural cadence was 80-85, I would have been perfectly content.

I never felt like I ran out of gears going down with the 50-11. Plenty of times you’re barreling down at 45+ mph and would be spinning out with a 53 anyways.

For me I’d rather have the gears that let me get up the hills in fresher shape than worrying about running out of gears going downhill.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
Hello all. First post alert!

I'm an early-30s San Francisco, CA based MOP triathlete. Fairly strong swimmer/runner and relatively weak rider (3.0 watts/kg weighing 70kg) with mediocre bike handling skills.

I'm looking for some gearing advice as I enter the final stages of training for IM Canada this July. This is my second IM, with previous being IM Louisville at 6.5 hour bike leg. Consensus for the old IM Canada course seems to be that a compact + 11/28 is ideal for most riders. I'm not sure if new course announced for Whistler this year changes this guidance.


My bike: Canyon Ultimate 9 SLX Pro, Campy Record 36/52 x 12-27 running Bora 50s.

So question is: What should I do with respect to gearing. Easiest fix is dropping on 12 x 29 cassette. Alternatively, I could swap to a compact and run the 12-29 (or perhaps an 11-29 to get back some of my top end), but that's obviously a bigger upgrade. I presume both options will require a new chain.

At the end of the day, cost isn't really an issue, especially since I could recoup much of the cost of a new new crank by selling my old one. I just want the best setup for least hassle that will leave my legs fresh enough to finish the marathon and be versatile enough for my shorter course races.

Thanks!

The new course doesn't compare well to the old course, even it it overlaps between the Village and Callahan. The old course accumulated a lot of elevation gain on the climb to the top of Callahan and the climb back from Pemberton. These are gone from the 2018 course. The new course has upped the elevation gain without the long, fairly steady climbs from the prior course where you could generally drop down to the biggest cogs for long periods. With 3 loops and lots of up and down to accumulate the elevation I wouldn't just focus on a bailout gear. You are going to be shifting a lot more often than was necessary on the prior course.

I'm not very familiar with Campy's offerings, but it appears the latest Record cranks have standardized BCD across all chainring offerings. If this is the case then swapping for 50-34 along with a climbing cassette may prove most versatile for this new Whistler course.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [blueapplepaste] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks guys.

I'm with you both on prioritizing the gears to get me up the hills, rather than being able to accelerate downhill. So I guess the real question is do I swap to the compact crank for the 34x29 (tallest gear I can run on Campy Record without hacking my RD) vs chancing it with the 36x29. And if I stick with the 36/52, do I run a 11-29 or 12-29, with the difference being the 12 has a 16T which is great for flat/rolling cources, and the 11 doesn't.

For what it's worth, I did an Olympic race this weekend (pancake flat) and averaged 85 rpm, with last 10 min around 95-100 to flush legs before run. So I'm 1/2 way between a "spinner" and a "grinder." My coach has me do a low of max cadence and low (45-65 rpm) work so I'm pretty comfortable across a wide cadence range.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Not sure if this helps people, but I tried to make the route in RideWithGPS. I'm not sure if it's perfect... but my plan is to load this into my Wahoo for some training rides. Perhaps it will help some of you training for same event. Seems like you could load it into Zwift.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27255042
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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It's a generalization, but for an Ironman (especially a very hilly IM), my motto has been "better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it." But I'm an MOP completer.

I have to admit, having mapped in Strava, I've done a lot of hilly races and never really worried about cutoffs. Given my training rides to date with lots of climbing, my mph is looking a lot like an 8 hour bike split, which I can't wrap my head around. First time in a long time I've been a little freaked about beating the cutoffs.
Last edited by: ChrisM: Apr 16, 18 15:33
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I'm planning on bringing a 36x32. I determined that based on throwing my race plan into bestbikesplit and looked at the speed of my slowest interval. Based on that speed, I used a gear calculator to find my cadence in a variety of gears and the 32 was needed to keep my legs spinning at a cadence I deemed acceptable.

You may want to try a similar exercise.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [bearlyfinish] [ In reply to ]
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bearlyfinish wrote:
I'm planning on bringing a 36x32. I determined that based on throwing my race plan into bestbikesplit and looked at the speed of my slowest interval. Based on that speed, I used a gear calculator to find my cadence in a variety of gears and the 32 was needed to keep my legs spinning at a cadence I deemed acceptable.

You may want to try a similar exercise.

How exactly does one do this? Sounds VERY illuminating.

To run a 32 in the rear, I'd have to swap to a longer cage RD and run a lower end 11/32 Potenza cassette -- all the bigger gears and extra chain links would have a weight penalty and result in bigger shift jumps making it harder to find that perfect cadence, so I don't want to over gear on a whim.

I'd definitely appreciate pointers on how to do the analysis you did. Seems like the best way to answer this question for myself, with data in hand.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Go to bestbikesplit.com, make an account and put in your weight, bike weight, FTP, yadda yadda yadda. For CDA, you can leave the default for now if you don't have data. Create a race and the IM Canada course is in there. You can specify at what speed you'll be on the bullhorns vs aero's and you can specify a max descent speed and power caps for your race.

Then it'll spit out 100+ power segments with estimated speeds. You can then use something like bikecalc or Sheldon Brown's website to calculate speeds in different gear ratios with varying cadence.

As for your drag coefficient in bbs, you can get something close by plugging in old races you've done with power numbers and seeing how close the time is to your actual race time.

For what it's worth- there was only one 3 minute segment that showed I needed the 32 and I probably could grind up that hill using a 30 or 28. But I feel like on lap 3, I'm going to want a tall gear to spin a little more. Also, a 34/30 is really close to a 36/32.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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You live where it is hilly. In fact, you have many climbs that are much steeper than what you will encounter at IM CAN. You have plenty of time to test your current setup to see how it feels. Find a 6% hill and climb it at the end of a hard ride. If it's a struggle, you know you need some more gear. If the climb is easy, ride faster (to paraphrase Greg LeMond).

Oui, mais pas de femme toute de suite (yes, but I am not ready for a woman straight away) -Stephen Roche's reply when asked whether he was okay after collapsing at the finish in the La Plagne stage of the 1987 Tour
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [Vincible] [ In reply to ]
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I came to Whistler because I had some downtime from work. I rode the bike course. I think one of the loops is close to 2800 feet of elevation.

Here is my breakdown of the bike course. It's 3 parts.

Part 1: Alta Road - 9 Miles round trip. Going up, it isn't that bad. 2 big climbs but nothing that you can't handle. A lot of the climbs you can get some momentum to get up it. Going down takes you about half the time if you're willing to go for it. There are some curves when going downhill and there are some parts of the road that will need some work. There are 3 speed bumps which you will feel if you are going fast on the downhill descents.

Part 2: Sea to Sky Highway. It is 22 miles road trip to and from Alpine Road. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to Callaghan Road. Takes me about 40 minutes to come up from Callaghan Road to Alpine Road. When the highway is closed off for the Ironman, I believe that going from Alpine Road to Callaghan will be at least a minute to 2 minutes quicker. There are 3 climbs that I can remember (Alpine to Callaghan). Some climbs you can get some momentum with from the downhill. Not as bad as going from Callaghan to Alpine Road. This is where I think most of the elevation comes from. There are at least 3 LONG CLIMBS where you are just grinding it out.

Part 3: Callaghan Road. 6 miles round trip. It's long to go up. It takes half the amount of time to come down. I can see it being a little dangerous in parts coming down as the decline is very steep and people are going to want to push it.

Overview: Its going to be a long bike day. I road the other day from Whistler Village to Pemberton, and yes, that was a tough ride going and coming back. But at least you had the 28 mile flat ride in the Meadows to kind of make up time and relax before you began your trip back to the Village. The Sea to Sky Highway, I know in previous versions of IM Canada you had to do that, but it really takes its toll on you. I really think overall it's going to be closer to 8000 ft of climbing. The main issue that I have is that there isn't really a lot of downtime on the course where you can rest a little bit. Even on the descents there is a turn or slight curve that you have to be able to handle. It is very up and down and like a previous poster posted, you will have to be good at changing your gears because there will be a lot of that going on this bike ride. Wind will be a factor in several places, especially the Sea to Sky highway. I have had it both going out and coming back on it. Crosswind, headwind, you can feel it. Even the most experienced and strong bike rider will feel the 3 loops.

Will head back up and ride the entire course soon. Will give you the exact details when I get it.
Last edited by: Golfangelz: May 14, 18 20:29
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [Golfangelz] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for this break down, and keep us posted on when you do go ride the full route.

It's on my list to do, I'm in the Okanagan, so a bit of a trip, but worth it IMO
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [Golfangelz] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you for the update.

Did you do the ride on a road bike or tri bike? Are the descents technical enough where you'd need to be on the bullhorns for any portion of it? Do you think people would benefit from the shifter location on a road bike?
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [bearlyfinish] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks Golfangelz. Super helpful.

How difficukt was riding the route while open to traffic. I was thinking about making a trip up in early June to ride route for myself (and report finding to this group) and am not familiar with Whistler area. Big chunks of the route look to be on highway so just trying to gauge viability of riding this route solo.

I’m planning to do race on a road bike.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [Golfangelz] [ In reply to ]
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Golfangelz wrote:
I came to Whistler because I had some downtime from work. I rode the bike course. I think one of the loops is close to 2800 feet of elevation.

Here is my breakdown of the bike course. It's 3 parts.

Part 1: Alta Road - 9 Miles round trip. Going up, it isn't that bad. 2 big climbs but nothing that you can't handle. A lot of the climbs you can get some momentum to get up it. Going down takes you about half the time if you're willing to go for it. There are some curves when going downhill and there are some parts of the road that will need some work. There are 3 speed bumps which you will feel if you are going fast on the downhill descents.

Part 2: Sea to Sky Highway. It is 22 miles road trip to and from Alpine Road. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to Callaghan Road. Takes me about 40 minutes to come up from Callaghan Road to Alpine Road. When the highway is closed off for the Ironman, I believe that going from Alpine Road to Callaghan will be at least a minute to 2 minutes quicker. There are 3 climbs that I can remember (Alpine to Callaghan). Some climbs you can get some momentum with from the downhill. Not as bad as going from Callaghan to Alpine Road. This is where I think most of the elevation comes from. There are at least 3 LONG CLIMBS where you are just grinding it out.

Part 3: Callaghan Road. 6 miles round trip. It's long to go up. It takes half the amount of time to come down. I can see it being a little dangerous in parts coming down as the decline is very steep and people are going to want to push it.

Overview: Its going to be a long bike day. I road the other day from Whistler Village to Pemberton, and yes, that was a tough ride going and coming back. But at least you had the 28 mile flat ride in the Meadows to kind of make up time and relax before you began your trip back to the Village. The Sea to Sky Highway, I know in previous versions of IM Canada you had to do that, but it really takes its toll on you. I really think overall it's going to be closer to 8000 ft of climbing. The main issue that I have is that there isn't really a lot of downtime on the course where you can rest a little bit. Even on the descents there is a turn or slight curve that you have to be able to handle. It is very up and down and like a previous poster posted, you will have to be good at changing your gears because there will be a lot of that going on this bike ride. Wind will be a factor in several places, especially the Sea to Sky highway. I have had it both going out and coming back on it. Crosswind, headwind, you can feel it. Even the most experienced and strong bike rider will feel the 3 loops.

Will head back up and ride the entire course soon. Will give you the exact details when I get it.



How were the roads (in regards to snow)? IM says they cannot produce the final maps that show aid stations and where turn-around spots are because of "weather"...

I live in the PNW and I am not sure what "weather" that would prevent anyone from being on the course to determine this....
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Figure out the worst grades at the race and then find similar grades near your house. Try your current gearing on that. If it's not enough, change it. Don't guess. Try it for real and know.


----------------------------------------------------------
Zen and the Art of Triathlon
Interviews with Jordan Rapp, Helle Frederikson, Angela Naeth, and many more.
http://www.zentriathlon.com
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [ZenTriBrett] [ In reply to ]
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ZenTriBrett wrote:
Figure out the worst grades at the race and then find similar grades near your house. Try your current gearing on that. If it's not enough, change it. Don't guess. Try it for real and know.

Yes, this is why I'm leaning to simply spending a weekend in Whister to ride the course and really KNOW. There are certainly no shortage of steep climbs here in San Francisco Bay area (where I feel like my 36 x 29 gearing is lacking on longer/steeper routes), but even after mapping the IM Canada course on RideWithGPS, it's hard to tell how the elevation chart will feel real world.

I'm leaning toward switching to the compact for insurance. I think I'd rather have extra gears going up than down.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
ZenTriBrett wrote:
Figure out the worst grades at the race and then find similar grades near your house. Try your current gearing on that. If it's not enough, change it. Don't guess. Try it for real and know.


Yes, this is why I'm leaning to simply spending a weekend in Whister to ride the course and really KNOW. There are certainly no shortage of steep climbs here in San Francisco Bay area (where I feel like my 36 x 29 gearing is lacking on longer/steeper routes), but even after mapping the IM Canada course on RideWithGPS, it's hard to tell how the elevation chart will feel real world.

I'm leaning toward switching to the compact for insurance. I think I'd rather have extra gears going up than down.

I too am debating gearing. I have been "riding" the course on Rouvy with my PowerBeam, but very hard to gauge what it is like compared to real life. Will likely error for more gear on race day....
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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FWIW, I went 6:05 on the old course with a compact and 12-30. At the time I thought maybe I'd have done better with an 11-28 as I only dropped to the 34/30 on one portion that's no longer on the course.

I have been riding 11-28 with all my climbing recently, and decided to switch back to the 12-30. Used that for Wildflower long two weeks ago and was very happy. I think WF has steeper portions, but as the Canada day wears on and power will likely drop a bit, I think I'll be glad to have that little extra as an option should I want it.
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
ZenTriBrett wrote:
Figure out the worst grades at the race and then find similar grades near your house. Try your current gearing on that. If it's not enough, change it. Don't guess. Try it for real and know.


Yes, this is why I'm leaning to simply spending a weekend in Whister to ride the course and really KNOW. There are certainly no shortage of steep climbs here in San Francisco Bay area (where I feel like my 36 x 29 gearing is lacking on longer/steeper routes), but even after mapping the IM Canada course on RideWithGPS, it's hard to tell how the elevation chart will feel real world.

I'm leaning toward switching to the compact for insurance. I think I'd rather have extra gears going up than down.

And don't forget that what works when you're nice and fresh on a shorter ride may not be enough for when you've swam for an hour and then are on hour 3+ of that hilly bike ride. I'd take what you think works fine and then add one more cog.


----------------------------------------------------------
Zen and the Art of Triathlon
Interviews with Jordan Rapp, Helle Frederikson, Angela Naeth, and many more.
http://www.zentriathlon.com
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [SwizBeats] [ In reply to ]
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The weather is fine and the aid station locations are selected. I should be able to publish the updated maps showing aid stations, turns and special needs next week.

christinecogger.com
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Re: Gearing advice for Ironman Canada [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Is it just me? I don't think 3 watts per kg is a weak rider. I also think that 3 watts per kg should be faster than 6.5 hours on Ironman Louisville course. Maybe I am just getting old

Life is full of froth and trouble, two things stand in stone
Kindness in another's troubles, courage in one's own
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