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At least in 2017, the loop was open to traffic. It was a mess and potentially dangerous with lots of cars and overcrowding with people still on their first loop. Not enjoyable. Overall, the bike course is great outside of that complaint.
I have never had any problems on race day as the locals are very familiar with Ironman race day and stay out off the course for the most part. In the more populated city areas, local law enforcement has the traffic coned off to separate bikes and cars.
However, I would agree not to ride the course outside of race day. This is horse country and there are many big trucks and trailers with little to no shoulder made even smaller by rumble strips which don't play will with road bikes. If you have to ride the course, start at day break on Sunday morning. Ride one loop(80 miles) and be off the course by the time locals start going to church.
I really liked the bike course. I raced Wisconsin 3 times and decided to race Louisville last year. The roads in Wisconsin are pretty crappy so it was nice to ride on smoother roads. Despite the awful weather last year I managed to finish 15 minutes faster than when I raced Wisconsin the year before on a near perfect day.
Course is hilly but I train on hills in Wisconsin so I didn't think they were too bad. The hills are more rolling and not very technical. I was basically able to use momentum to carry me from one hill to the next and I never had to get out of aero.
I'm racing Louisville again this year so hopefully the weather will be a little nicer :-)!!
I would say itâ€™s not worse than most other courses, but you definitely need to pay attention.
Started triathlons to get girls, and continued to be better than people.
So many groups riding 2,3 and 4 abreast made it more dangerous than a vehicle passing every now and then.
Don't get me wrong it's a great bike course, it just gets a little heavy on that second loop.
I have to admit it's the first time I have raced an IM brand race in the US.
Around these parts few races have traffic, so I was a little unnerved when I found myself behind, beside and in front of impatient traffic including a bus at one point on a single lane and for a few miles a truck with a muffler he was extremely proud of, that required constant and strenuous use None of the roads had a bike lane and the lane had no runoff or verge. There was also some road works (not a lot). The two loops were quite uneventful, although both loops had sections with busy traffic.
But as I mentioned, around my way there's usually little traffic, so I might be a wuss.
As for the course itself, there were only one or two hills of any real consequence, strong bikers will have no problem with a 11-26 less strong 11-28 (what I had) or even 11-32, depending on your chainring size. (53-39 on mine). I would recommend you have an 11, there are some sensibly long downhills. I don't remember using the brakes after T1 and before T2
As the weather was wet and cold, if the forecast is that way, believe them. I would recommend you go prepared with some waterproof gear and it gets a little cooler the higher you go (the loops are in the hills).There were people with garbage bags on, so aero wasn't a concern.
best of luck.
Ever Grateful, Ever True.
My training partner who probably wasn't too far behind me, wasn't affected by the traffic at all.