Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rev3 Wisconsin Dells preview

It's almost time for Rev3 Wisconsin Dells!!!  Less than 2 weeks now, my how time flies...

The Dells is pretty special to me-- it was my first Rev3 race, the one that got me hooked!  I did the Olympic Rev as part of the collegiate category last year, and will be doing so again this year to help out my Badgers-- just in a Rev3 kit this time :)  Anyway, as the Team Rev3 member closest to this race, I feel a sense of responsibility for it-- like I'm inviting all of my friends over to play triathlon.  So now that work has settled down a bit (I just submitted a paper!!!) I finally have enough time to finish this blog post.  Hopefully it will help those of you who are racing feel as prepared as possible, and help anyone who's still on the fence make their decision (*cough* come race *cough*)

This year's Athlete Guide was just posted over at the Rev3 website.  There's a lot of great info in there, so check it out!  I'm not going to regurgitate the guide here- instead, I'll hit some highlights that you might have skimmed over, and provide some perspective and additional info where I deem helpful.  If you have any other questions, feel free to put them in the comments and I'll track down the answer from someone in the know if I can't help you myself.  Now on to the goods!

Help! What should I do if I'm racing AG Nats?!

Unfortunately, this year a lack of communication resulted in the USAT Age Group Nationals race being held in Milwaukee on the same weekend as Rev3 Wisconsin Dells.  Fortunately, the marquee race at AG Nats (Olympic distance) is the day before Rev3 and the venues are about a 1.5-2 hour drive apart. Yes, Rev3 has mandatory packet pick-up and bike check in on Saturday (until 6 and 6:30, respectively).  BUT the great thing about Rev3 is that the staff is so caring and so understanding of personal situations.  So, if you're racing in Milwaukee want to race at the Dells too, but really concerned that you can't make it up there in time, it's worth contacting the Rev3 staff to see if you can make an alternate arrangement. Warning: do this before race week!!!  Once the team is on the road, they have limited email access.

If you're on the road from Milwaukee, I've also heard it recommended to get cream puffs from the Wisconsin State Fair.  You can make your own judgement call on that one. :)

Another great option is to come volunteer!  You'll have a great view of all the action, including a fast and furious pro race.  If you are part of a group or team, you can even earn $20 per shift worked as a donation to your group!  Sign up here.

Tell me about the swag.

Things vary a little bit from race to race, but here's what you can count on:
  • Long sleeve cotton race t-shirt.  I don't know about you, but over the past few years of racing I have collected far more short sleeve dri-fit shirts than I could ever possibly use.  The Rev3 race shirts are nice enough to actually wear around town!  You'll get yours at the finish line.  
the shirt from Knoxville this year
  • Swim cap (woo!) 
  • Rev3 visor
  • A sweet finishers' medal.  If you place in your age group, you'll get an additional cool medal that fits in with it, as well as other great stuff.  In the past I've earned things like PowerBar products and a gift certificate to the Rev3 Store that can be used on site, or later. 
  • medals from Knoxville

Tell me about the courses!

The swim takes place in Lake Delton, and stages inside the stadium for Tommy Bartlett's Ski Show down a hill from transition.  This means there are some cool pre-race amenities for athletes and spectators alike, such as access to nice bathrooms in addition to the porta potties closer to transition, tons of stadium seating to watch and wait, and race morning concessions for spectators (or adventurous racers).

Wisconsin Tri Team members pre-race 2012
The start is organized into "waves," but is in practice essentially a time trial start from the dock in the stadium.  Athletes self-seed within their waves.  The swim course is a simple counter-clockwise rectangle, with the Half Rev athletes heading farther out into the lake before the first turn.

Transition 1

Almost immediately after coming out of the water you climb up the big hill to transition, so be prepared!  The path is wide and asphalt.  Last year there was an aid station with water just before the transition area entrance.  The TA is on grass.
pro and collegiate bike row in 2012

Olympic Rev: This is full of typical Wisconsin rolling hills.  The biggest climbs on this course are the hill on Highway A that you hit in the first few miles on the way out and again in the last few miles on the way in.  Other than that, nothing too difficult or dangerous to note.  It's a pretty ride. View the route details at MapMyRide here.

Half Rev:  I recently rode the course with my coach, who raced the Half Rev last year.  In the process we noticed that there have been a few small changes on the back half of the loop that result in less time on the highway and more time on a nice, quiet county road- excellent!  View the route at MapMyRide here.

There are 3 significant climbs on the Half Rev course: Devil's Lake (DL), Devil's Head (DH), and Caledonia (C) (marked above).  For comparison, note that the "big hill" on the Olympic Rev course as the little rise near the beginning and end of this course.  For more detail about the difficulty of the course, and the climbs in particular, you are welcome to view my power file from the test ride here.

The Devil's Lake climb is first and pretty straightforward.  It's steepest near the top of the climb.  The descent is fast (40+ mph) but not very technical (there are a couple of turns, but they are pretty open).

The view turning onto Bluff Rd. from Co. DL.  Yep, you're going up and over this.
The Devil's Head climb is next and about twice as long in duration as the other two.  The bottom section is very steep, then the climb shallows for a bit before leveling out. However, before long you will turn right onto Tower Rd. and are immediately met with another steep section (but not as bad as the beginning of the hill).  Because of this hill, I would recommend having at least a 25 tooth cog on your cassette for just about everyone, unless you are ok with being in a lot of pain on the first part of the climb, or are a ProTour level rider (ha).  If you consider yourself a weak climber, you might want to consider having a 28 available.  For reference, at one point near the bottom of the climb I was working hard in my 39/25 gear going 5 mph.  Yeah.  The descent of this hill is also the most technical of the three.  There is a left turn at the bottom of the steep drop-off on Tower, then a somewhat sweeping (but fast) right turn, then a fast 90* left turn.  Be careful!

Where does the road go?  Down...
The third climb at Caledonia on Beich Rd. currently has fresh pea gravel to make it even more challenging.  This should be a lot better by race day, but there still might be a few loose patches.  The gravel sections are from the turn at 78 to halfway up the hill, and on the whole descent.  The climb is steepest in the bottom to middle section.  The descent is much slower and less technical than the other two (only one turn), but with gravel that sweeping left turn might still require a little bit of caution.

There's a video of the 2012 bike course (again, mostly the same) here.

Transition 2

Pretty simple.  Same location.  Athletes cross through the whole transition area.


Both distances have new courses this year!  Athletes will be headed around Lake Delton.  The final sections of each race have stretches on Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, which should be exciting!  I haven't had the chance to check the full courses out in person, but I mapped them out for you:

Olympic Rev at MapMyRun here. The distance here is slightly off, probably due to my estimating the off-road portions at the beginning and end, and guessing the location of the turn-around.

Half Rev at MapMyRun here.  Again I estimated the turn-around location, etc.

 More perspectives

Want to hear what someone else has to say about #Rev3Dells?  Enjoy these 2012 race reports:

*Team Rev3 member

Lauren Bogenberger*:    part 1      the race
Pam McGowan*
Andy Rosebrook*

Anthony Beeson*:   the Dells experience       the race
Coach Bill Martin

Looking for photos?  Slowtwitch gallery

What else is there to do during the weekend?

Some classic Rev3 Saturday activities:
  • Worst wetsuit contest: you have a chance to win a new one from BlueSeventy!
  • Practice Swim: including members of Team Rev3 out there to make your swim more comfortable with Foggies and Trislide!
  • Pro Q&A:  Cam Dye. Starky. Kelly Williamson. Lauren Goss. Kyle Leto.  This should be good!

Afterward:  It's the Dells!!! That means waterparks! You might want to check out:

Noah's Ark (right next to the finish!)
Mt. Olympus

Other things to do in Wisconsin Dells: ...there are a lot.  You're better off checking them out here.

Outdoorsy fun nearby:
Mirror Lake : Camping, hiking, swimming, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and more. *Motorized boats ok.*
Devil's Lake: Camping, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and more. *No motorized boats*

There are some pretty nice views from the trails at Devil's Lake!

Anything else you want to know?  Ask below!

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