This is the third of a four-part preview to the Wildflower Long Course.

Wildflower has been an iconic event for decades.  It is definitely a “must-do” triathlon.  A few years ago, as a result of the drought, Race Director Terry Davis and Tri-California were forced to move the swim venue.  This change dramatically changed the event and eventually conditions worsened until they were forced to cancel the event entirely in 2017.  Thankfully, rain returned and Wildflower is back!! Lake levels are strong and allow the “old course” to be used again.  For those of you who have never done Wildflower, this is some good information to have before you head down to Lake San Antonio.  Veterans, I welcome your thoughts on additional tips!

Today, here’s a preview of the long course bike.

Bike Course Notes:

  • Distance: 56 miles.
  • County maintained roads, generally narrow shoulders, some rough areas. Be aware of potential hazards.
  • For the most part, this is a one loop course. Once on the bike course athletes head out of the park on the only road into the park (Lake San Antonio Drive). At the end of Lake San Antonio Drive, athletes complete a 45-mile loop and then return to the park.
  • Aid Stations: Roughly every 10-15 miles.
  • Cut-off Time: dependent on the start time of the final wave.  Generally about 5:10 after the start of the final wave. 

Unique Aspects:

  • Immediately after the bike mount line, there is a little hill.  It’s usually congested, so watch out for other bikers.  It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on your feet rather than attached to the pedals.
  • The first mile or so is on a narrow part road that is windy and has some hazards (pot-holes and the like).
  • There is a significant one-mile climb at mile 2 – Beach Hill. This will definitely get you warmed up and sweating.  At the base of this climb, you make a sharp right hand turn to start the climb.  Be sure to be in a climbing gear.
  • For the next ten miles after Beach Hill, there are more hills which are shorter but still challenging. After this, there is a section of about 30 miles with a flatter terrain and one gradual climb followed by a long gradual descent.  This area can also have strong cross winds and there is generally a good amount of traffic on the road. Stay alert.
  • Nasty Grade. This climb starts around mile 41 and is 3 miles in length.  It gradually steepens and the last half mile is between 12-14% grade. You will want to make sure you take additional fuel and water in the last couple of miles before Nasty Grade.
  • About two miles after you crest the peak of Nasty Grade, there is a long and very steep descent. Proceed with extreme caution.
  • Once you are back on Lake San Antonio Drive, there is one final climb before you go through the park entrance and have a steep descent in the final mile on Lynch before T2. If you plan on dismounting with your shoes on your bike, you might want to take your feet out of your shoes before you descend Lynch.
  • Be careful at the dismount line – it comes up fast and can be dangerous with a lot of riders coming in together.
  • Throughout the course, there are a number of descents which are very steep and fast and have some technical turns on them. Stay alert and safely.
  • Pacing and fueling are critical. As hard as the bike course is, the run is more challenging.
  • Be careful training on the course. Sometimes the locals get frustrated with the large number of cyclists in the area. Always ride courteously.

Next week: Part Four, T2 and Run Course Preview

John Pottebaum is an Ironman Certified Coach, Four-time Ironman and triathlete for over 20 years.  He has been coaching triathletes out of Sacramento, California since 2000 and welcomes any questions you might have. Contact John directly here.
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