Monday, April 23, 2012

Rev3 Dells 70.3 Bike Course Preview

Lana and I were able to "get away" for the weekend and did an impromptu course ride of the Rev3 Dells 70.3 race.  After seeing the course online, it looked pretty legit, so I was really curious to see what it had in store.

I'll recap the weekend in another post, and keep this to "just the facts" on the course.

Overall Impression
Pretty hard.  Probably a 7/10 on difficulty.  Somewhere between IMOO and Dairlyand Dare.  The hills are harder than IMOO, but the overall course is only half the distance.  The course lacked the steepness (and length) of Dairyland Dare, but had climbs that were longer overall.

For the most part the asphalt is in great shape.  There are some roads where that isn't the case (bluff rd, tower rd).

The climbs on the course are no joke, especially for us flat landers and heavier cyclists/non climbers (I'm a member of both of those clubs).   I went around 2:45 in Steelhead two years ago I think on 78% FTP.  I'm estimating my bike split on this course would be between 3:00 and 3:15 at 80% FTP (which may be too big of a chunk) even after having improved my FTP by 52W over those two years.

One other note on no attention to mine below.  I was in scouting mode, drafting 90% of the time, climbing stupid hard the other 10%.  Don't use me as a pacing example please, or if you're in my age group, do this exactly.  :)

Gear Selection
I'm putting this section in to help people choose how they setup their bikes for the course:

Lana rides a 650 with a standard crank, typically paired with an 11x25 and is a strong cyclist.  For this course I switched her 11x25 to an 11x28, and she was appropriately geared, only having to exceed FTP a few times on the big climbs to continue to make forward progress.

I ride a big person bike (700) with a compact, typically paired with an 11x25, and I'm also a strong cyclist.  I was lazy and kept my 11x25.  I was under geared, and had to ride the big climbs at 120% in places to make forward progress, which would have hurt my run.  I'd ride a bigger climbing gear at the race.


0-15.7 - Lots of rollers as you leave the dells and head towards Baraboo.  Like IMOO, this is a course where you need to play chess with the hills and shift appropriately to maintain momentum.

15.7-16.8 - This is the first real climb, into Devil's Lake State Park.   It's just under a mile, and the grade varies between 5% and 8% with occasional spikes into the 10% range.  The descent is clear, straight, and nontechnical.

16.8-23.0  For the most part we're back to rollers here.  County Road DL is a treat after the first climb.

23.0-25.0  The course turns from DL to Bluff road and there's a golf course on your right.  This signals the start to the hardest of the three major climbs.  There are a few brief reprieves, but for the most part this is a 2 mile climb.  The course goes from 880ish feet to 1500ish feet, and most of the time you're at between 8 and 12%.  It's very long and somewhat steep.

25.0-28.5  For most of this section you're descending, but the descents are technical and include lots of blind corners.  A roadie might do well on this section, but this triathlete is going to take this area slow and avoid being dead.  I forget the name now, but there is a hill on the IMOO course where there are lots of hay bails stacked.  It's like that, but worse.  It's mentally tough too, because you know you're losing momentum being careful.  I expect some carnage here on race day.

28.5 to 33.0 Rollers. 

33.0 Beich road marks the start to the last of three big climbs.   It's short by comparison to the other two, at only a mile long.  It's also the steepest by just a tad.  There is a section where we were grinding at 12% for quite a while.

The descent on this climb is also somewhat technical, or perhaps we were just mentally fried at this point.  Not knowing the topography of this route, my spirits were a little low at this point.  I was thinking "good lord, this is going to take forever on race day!"

35.0  After  the descent you quickly find yourself on County W and then Highway 33 (36.5ish).  This is, in my opinion, the flattest spot in all of Wisconsin!   Honestly, flat isn't even correct because it's slightly downhill until mile 43.  We were able to spin fast, put our heads down, and make up some time here while recovering our legs from the big climbs.

43.0  and 53.0 mark some steep short climbs, but for the most part you're home free.


  1. THANKS MIKE!!! Great write-up, now I want to go preview it to!! I enjoyed your other post, sounds like you and Lana had a great weekend up in the Dells!!

  2. A bit late to the party on this one, but thanks for posting. This is a huge help as i was planning on a test ride this weekend, but it just fell through. So your report and Laura's will have to do. Much appreciated. Ted.