Key West Triathlon (bike leg): race report

At this race last year I was pretty horrified at the conditions for the swim.  It was my first OWS, but I still wasn't prepared to swim through a mile of strangling seaweed in a brackish bay that tasted slightly like fish poop.  This year, the race was moved to the other side of the island and I was moved forward in the mafia rotation to the bike leg.  I felt pretty prepared to race the crap out of this, making sure to get on the bike at least twice in the 8 weeks preceding the race.
We managed to get our incorrectly-sized bikes from the rental company late Friday evening and I took a short spin around the parking lot.  Race morning was an unqualified disaster.  We woke up and headed down to transition where a single volunteer (race director?) appeared to be managing the chaos.  Our chip was missing, so we were initially told to "just take another one."  Note to race directors: this is how to make your day suck really hard.  But in a magical unheard-of turn of events, after standing around for a while, someone actually turned up with our chip.  The swimmers of the group took off for the swim start and I went back upstairs to put on my ride glide and eat breakfast.
One of the best parts of the day was definitely hanging around in transition as the elite wave of men came in from the swim, naked from the waist up.  Sadly, Beth showed up pretty quickly and I had to hop on the bike and head out.  I had been eyeing the other relay-ers in transition and only one women's relay team member left T1 before I did, and I was pretty sure I could take her.
I mounted the bike and got to it.  I had absolutely zero race plan before heading out, other than "drop the hammer."  We rode down a short street and then turned right to ride on the highway that wraps around the outside of the island.  Or, directly into hell.  I should have realized by the severe gusts of wind at the start that the bike would be tough, but somehow I just assumed I'd be riding in a little bubble of calm flat road.  I would say that these were easily the most difficult conditions I have ever ridden in.  I'm used to spending most of my time racing in my drops, and I was being whipped around too hard for about the first 10 miles to even be able to consider taking my hands off the handlebars.  I was pretty glad that I had taken "average mph" off of my Garmin screen, but I was able to figure out roughly what I was doing and it was ugly.  

So I started to plan.  I would take splits at every 10K.  I would sit on my favorite interval HR for the first 10K (155) and not budge.  The second 10K I could have 1-2 more beats.  The third 10K I could have 1-2 more beats, and the last 10K I could light the fire.  This made the first 10K pretty slow - I think I averaged somewhere around 15.5mph (Garmin battery is dead and I forgot the charger, no splits for you).  The wind would shove me hard, and I'd have to sit back and spin easy until my heart calmed down.  You bet your dander that I was cussing HARD inside my head.  Every time we made a turn, I desperately hoped that I'd get some of the wind behind me, but it was just everywhere.  The course snaked us right around the airport, and planes were taking off about 30 feet away for 15-20 minutes.  And every time one of those suckers lifted off, I got pounded by the wind.   
The course itself was decent - the turns were well-marked and being manned pretty well by volunteers. I didn't see a single course official out there and, as such, there was a TON of drafting going on, but that's the case in a lot of races.  The roads were a bit rough, lots of cracks and potholes and one deep gravel trench the width of the road.  I got passed a few times by some hulks on TT bikes, but only 2 women passed me and I caught one of them a few miles later.  And the woman who was the only relay team in front of us?  I caught her at mile 6 or so, and then never saw her again.  

The 20K mark was roughly the turn around at one of the many out-and-back loops we did, and when we hit it and I saw my time, I started to get pretty mad.  Or, more mad than I was already.  Even with little training, I should have been able to hit better numbers than that (obviously I was completely ignoring the conditions of the day).  So I gave myself a few extra heartbeats and went.  I rode as hard as I could and every time the wind threw me, I just put my head down and rode harder.  The worst stretch of headwind was right before the 30K mark, and I fought and fought to the turn.  When we turned around, finally, for almost 4 minutes, it was quiet.  I wanted to use to tailwind as long as it was there, so I cranked up into my biggest gear and just went.  

As soon as we turned back onto the island road, the crosswinds were back, but I could see the home stretch by then and didn't care.  We got stopped for a few moments due to traffic, but I just tried to roll easy because I knew if I stopped, my legs would start complaining.  I hit 3 miles to go and just rode as hard as I knew how to ride.  I started picking people off and when we finally turned back onto the road that brought us back to transition, my tank was empty.  I think I averaged 22mph for the last 10K split.  Fueled by wind rage.
I have never been so happy to get off the bike and not have to go flying out of transition.  I got my chip onto Liz and wanted to collapse.
With a solid run from her on top of Beth's ridiculously fast swim, we managed to bring home the win for the second year in a row, plus an AG award for Amy.  
I spent some time being pretty cranky about my 40K time (just over 1:20ish)(no one is surprised), but then as the results started rolling in, I discovered that my bike split was faster than the fast split in my AG - and in quite a few other AGs around me.  Maybe the extreme bike taper was a good idea?
The wives of the mafia also had a pretty great day, although their chip times got all screwed up and the poet managed to set an American record for the 10K.  2 weeks after his marathon without running a step.  That's just how we roll.
The rest of our weekend goes without recap, but it was full of friends and rest and celebration (somehow) and I was extremely sad to have to get on the plane yesterday afternoon.
How was your weekend?  Did you race in tropical paradise like we did?