Nation's Tri blog

bike course small

Lyle Ganz, second year Brand Ambassador for Nation’s Triathlon and long time triathlete, sat down with Nick Lynch, VP of Triathlon at Competitor Group, to talk about the changes to the 2014 bike course.

Lyle:
Fellow triathletes, I am here to announce that there will be a new bike course for the 2014 Events DC Nation’s Triathlon. As triathletes we love to know everything about everything as it pertains to our race courses and hopefully this short interview will answer a few of the more common questions that are out there. I figure, the more you know, the more enjoyment you can have on race day, and the safer it will be for you and your fellow participants.

Nick:
Thanks Lyle. Hopefully this will be informative for you and all the other competitors.

Lyle:
First off and foremost, the question most of our returning athletes is going to ask is, why did the bike course change (again) for 2014?

Nick:
That is an excellent question. This past offseason we wanted to address some of the feedback we received from the 2013 course. We incorporated that feedback and applied it to the roads we have access to on race day in order to maximize the participants’ experience. Our goal is always to provide a safe, enjoyable, and scenic course incorporating as many of Washington, DC’s historic landmarks. We believe we have achieved this with the new 2014 bike course.

Lyle:
What are some of the major improvements?

Nick:
Our biggest concern to address this year was the length of the double loop course from 2013. We feel that by creating a “lollipop” course this year we can minimize congestion and keep riders moving smoothly throughout the course. The 2014 course will consist of two small loops completed primarily along Rock Creek Parkway and through parts of downtown Washington, DC. After completion of the two loops, athletes will be sent down a wide stretch of Independence Avenue SW, where they will take a right onto 14th Street SW, for an out-and-back over the Potomac River towards the Pentagon.

This new route takes participants several miles into Rock Creek Park, providing long straight stretches of roadway perfect for racing. We still take athletes past iconic DC landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, near the White House, and past the Washington Monument. The wide-open unobstructed views from this course allow athletes a unique perspective of the city you just can’t get when the streets are open to traffic.

This year, we maximized wide roads for our athletes to compete on to hopefully clear any congestion that may have happened in previous years. The width on the majority of the roads is two lanes wide and in some cases will expand to three. These wide roads should allow for great, safe, and comfortable racing through DC.

Lyle:
You mentioned that the course would again be double looped. What miles will be repeated during the looped portion of the course?

Nick:
The “loop” will begin at approximately mile 1.5 (2.5 Km) once you pass Virginia Avenue heading north along Rock Creek Parkway. After approximately 7.8 miles (12.5 Km) of racing, you arrive back at this intersection (approaching along Virginia Avenue) and make a right (onto Rock Creek Parkway) to begin your second loop. Once you arrive back at this location (mile 17.1)(27.5 Km), you will make a left heading south back towards Transition and the finishing leg of the bike course.

NT_14_CourseMap_Bike

Loop
• Start loop mile 1.5 (2.5 Km) Intersection of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Avenue (north)
• 1st loop mile 9.3 (15 Km) Intersection of Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway (west turn north)
• 2nd Loop mile 17.1 (27.5 Km) Intersection of Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway (west turn south)

Lyle:
Are there any additional issues that riders should be aware of?

Nick:
Yes, due to the direction that the course follows on quite a few roads, riders will be required to ride on the opposite side of the road (think driving in Great Britain). The roads are closed to vehicular traffic so don’t worry. Always ride right and pass left.

The areas where this “opposite” riding style will occur will be right out of Transition heading north on Rock Creek Parkway until athletes go on to Whitehurst Freeway at mile 5.6 (9 Km); then again, at mile 9.3 (15 Km) when they start the second loop back north onto Rock Creek Parkway until mile 13.1 (21 Km) (Whitehurst Freeway part 2); and then finally, from mile 17.1 (27.5 Km) through the end of the bike course (mile 24.8) (40 Km).

Lyle:
Is there anything new with the Transition area?

Nick:
Yes, with the change to the bike course, we needed to adjust the flow of athletes through transition. After swimmers exit the water and cross Ohio Drive, they will run along the outer fence of the Transition area and enter at the opposite end near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. This eastern end of Transition will serve as both the “Swim In” and “Bike In” location. The western end of Transition will serve as both the “Bike Out” and “Run Out.” This unidirectional flow prevents our athletes (swimmers, bikers, and runners) from having to crisscross paths, and is an important safety feature.

Lyle:
So, will this make the run from the swim exit to Transition longer?

Nick:
Unfortunately, yes. The run from the swim exit to the transition entrance will be about 200m longer than last year. Our hope is that the modifications to the bike course will make the course that much more enjoyable and this additional distance into T1 will be negligible to the overall race experience.

Lyle:
How will you know if all participants complete the full distance?

Nick:
On the bike there will be timing mats that athletes will have to cross. This will allow us to confirm that all participants complete the full distance.

Lyle:
What is the best way to tackle the U-turns on the course?

Nick:
Great question. Firstly, I would review the course map and familiarize myself with the course. This will allow me to know when to expect these turns to happen. Take the turn slowly. Going into a U-turn is not the time to pass a fellow athlete, but rather the time to down shift. Then, once you have completed the turn, start peddling and up shifting to regain speed. I would practice this prior to race day so you can familiarize yourself with your bike and how it handles.

Here is an article from Triathlete magazine about bike handling: 7 Skills To Controlling Your Bike With Confidence.

Lyle:
Will there be No Pass Zones again?

Nick:
Yes. For safety reasons we will have no pass zones again this year. With the new bike course we are able to minimize the number of locations and hopefully this will allow all athletes to have a fun and safe race. These zones will apply to all competitors.
I encourage all athletes to familiarize themselves with the USA Triathlon Competitive Rules.

Lyle:
Will there be: course marshals, SAG (Support And Gear), and medical along the route?

Nick:
Yes. There will be bike marshals, staff, and medical personnel stationed throughout the course. These personnel are there to assist you in the event of an emergency. If you require medical attention, please notify a volunteer and remove yourself from the course. This will allow the staff to assist you and keep the other competitors safe while you are being attended to.

Lyle:
Do you have any other safety notes to share?

Nick:
Be mindful of your surroundings. Nothing can be more beneficial to an athlete than knowing what is happening around them.
As for additional safety measures on the course: we will have a street sweeper clear the course of debris, mark potholes with orange paint and cones, and have course marshals and security stationed throughout the course to assist in directions and spectators.

Lyle:
Nick, thank you for taking the time to meet with me and discuss some of the new features of the 2014 Events DC Nation’s Triathlon course with me. I look forward to getting out there and racing this fall.