Review: 2012 Eads Bridge Duathlon

A stroll (twice!) on the first bridge to cross the Mississippi!

Date

Sunday, April 22, 2012, 9:00 AM

Location

Eads Bridge, Saint Louis, MO

Distance

Official: 1.5 mile run / 9.76 mile bike / 1.5 mile run
Measured (my GPS): 1.75 run / 9.5 mile bike / 1.75 mile run

Put on by

Big Shark Bicycle Company

Timing by Big River Race Management 

Volunteers included members of Great Rivers Greenway and Saint Louis Triathlon Club.

Sponsors

Cost

$45 individual, $55 team

USAT Sanctioned

Yes.

Swag

Cotton/polyester commemorative t-shirt, Drymax nylon drawstring backpack (backbag?), Pedal the Cause waterbottle (for finishers), various discount offers. After the race, free beer tasting at the Morgan Street Brewery. The post race meetup at the brewery was a lot of fun.

It’s all on the event website, dude

Race Day Weather

Raining, 50 degrees at start.

Parking

Free and convenient parking, right across from the transition area, which is under the former entry to the former President Casino,  being the former SS Admiral.

About the Race

This was a first year event. A main draw is that it is an opportunity to run on the main section of Eads Bridge, the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic during the race, as was the bike course.

The course consisted of a run across the the bridge, a two lap bike up and down North Broadway, and a repeat of the first run in the opposite direction.

Marking was a single bib (you’ll want a race belt), and bikes were unmarked.

The First Run

Map

The race begins in the middle of Eads Bridge, runs across to Illinois, then back over to Missouri side, where you essentially make a right and then down to the transition area north of the bridge. And it is a lot of down over a short period of time! My GPS watch shows a 70 foot drop over about a quarter mile, but it certainly looks like much more. At the start line, we looked over the bridge down at the transition area and someone commented, “That first run should be pretty quick. The second one, perhaps not!”. Since the bridge is peaked in the middle of the span, you begin by going downhill to the end of the bridge, back uphill when you head back to the middle, then downhill from there.

The official distance is 1.5 miles, but my GPS read 1.75 both ways.

There were not a lot of volunteers along the running course, nor were they needed since the course is straightforward. Volunteers were stationed at all the key turns and potential obstacles.

It is worth noting that the start is 3/4 of a mile from the transition area so you will need some time to get up to the start line. Twenty minutes is plenty and can be worked into your warmup.

Transition 1

As noted, the transition area is covered. Run in/out is on the south end, bike in/out is on the north end. Portable toilets are located in the transition area. When you’re an old guy, you notice things like that!

The Cycling

Map

The transition zone is located on the north end of the Landing district, so you ride straight north into the warehouse/industrial district. Starting about a block out of the transition area, there are several jogs to the west to get onto Broadway. These take you uphill going away from the Mississippi River and so amount to switchbacks (uphill west, level north). I took a drive through the bike route the day before; being that this is an industrial area, you never know what might be on the streets. I spent some time that evening practicing doing flat repair, and in addition during the race I carried two spare innertubes and two CO2 cartridges. This was probably overkill for a 10 mile ride but remember, we’re new at this. It just seemed to me that if there was going to be a time for getting a flat, this would be it. Ultimately, I had no problems. I did hear later from a volunteer that there were five or six flats. I don’t know if that’s unusual for 200 competitors over that distance, but it’s always wise to know how to fix a flat regardless. (This video is pretty quick and to the point, but notice he is using a hybrid tire. If using a race bike with the thinner tires, everything fits tighter and takes longer, and you’ll probably need to insert a second tire lever next to the first and slide it around.)

There is also one set of railroad tracks to go over, so knowing how to do so would be a good idea.

The two lap course up and down North Broadway was very straightforward. You do want to keep an eye out for manhole covers and so forth. The rain was, well, rain, made things a bit slower and more cautious (did for me, anyway), but no special challenges.

The entire course was closed to traffic and the volunteers did an outstanding job of looking out for us and making sure we knew what to do. The efforts of the volunteers were truly appreciated, especially given the not very pleasant weather!

Transition 2

Reverse of Transition 1, enter from the north and run out to the south. Plenty of distance on the approach to get slowed down and off at the dismount.

The Second Run

Map

This was simply a repeat of the first run, but in the opposite direction. After about a block, you do have a climb to contend with – but you just got off a bike, so you’re probably still rediscovering your legs, anyway!

Newbie Lessons Learned

  • Speedometers can be a challenge to read when covered with rain! If yours has a programmable display, you may want to switch over to a larger display with only the most critical info on it (i.e., cadence).
  • When you get done, don’t forget that the little bag under your seat holding your tire repair tools and whatnot is probably not waterproof. You’re going to want to pull everything out of there and let it dry out when you get home.
  • Yes, transitions are important. Some people did the transitions in 0:20, mine took well over a minute. I finished 1:30 behind my age group’s winner. The difference in our transition times? 1:30. Just sayin’.
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to set up before a race. I saw many people showing up late to a bike rack that was already about full. Sure, people are polite and will probably help squeeze you in, but that assumes you have a bunch of people standing around their bikes to ask. They are not, as they are off stretching, warming up, and chatting. And you don’t want to shove someone else’s bikes around, do you?
  • I think it’s a good idea to drive to the location of the race the day before to make certain you can find it, and that it won’t be a stress issue on race day. And while you’re there, check out the bike course.
  • In trying to figure out what to wear for the weather (50 degrees and light rain)I wound up with a tech shirt worn over my tri top. One thing I noticed is people wearing tri tops with light cycling arm warmers, that looks like a good combination, and I bought a pair of these before the next race.
  • Practice changing flats so it will be one less thing to worry about.

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