The Ironman Mont Tremblant Bike course…. is no joke. For reference I typically ride 6 hours in Placid, and 5:3X at Ironman Florida. On this entire course I am likely in the 11 hour range. I think if you are looking for a fast time on paper, go to Ironman Florida. Please note: I did not say Ironman Flroida was easier… but If you do find a 140.6 mile course that is easy please sign me up.
In my opinion this course is one of the most fair courses out there. There is a lot of room, I don’t think with the wave start you will see much drafting…. with the climbing here however it’s likely to separate the field if there were to be drafting.
The road conditions
By far the best I have ever been on, and I have been on a lot of bike courses all over the world. The road is smooth, there is more than enough room. Bike lanes are the norm here. As a bonus the entire course is permanently marked.
This is a hilly course. Don’t try to fool yourself. One who is strong on the hills and patient will likely be just fine here. Most people are asking me how this compares to Ironman Lake Placid. Let’s look at the courses.
Ironman Lake Placid (click image to enlarge).
Ironman Mont Tremblant (click image to enlarge) Of course they made this profile different, which makes it a little tougher to compare. This is one loop.
Here are the big differences of the two courses in my opinion: (please read again this is my OPINION.)
- Lake Placid’s climbing is back-loaded, it all happens at the end and there is no break. In Placid you have a 10K descent in the beginning of each loop, and the climbing is towards the end of the loop. Mont Tremblant’s climbing is spread throughout and in my opinion…. many of the climbs you can utilize the descent for the next ascent with the exception of the Cheminn Duplessis, which is at the end of the loop. That section reminded me a LOT of the old out and back in Lake Placid.
- The roads in Mont Tremblant are PRISTINE. Glass. On the sections that have traffic, it won’t even matter because there is so much room. For me this makes a difference. On the Lake Placid course I am often dodging potholes on the 10K descent and on the last 11. You won’t have that in Mont Tremblant. This makes a big difference for me in terms of focus.
- Click on the charts above and see the elevation gains. To me it doesn’t matter how much climbing there is…. I am interested in how it is spaced out.
On race day I will take this course in three sections (sorry as I don’t have a better map). Section I is the higlighted yellow. From the start down and back on 117.
In my opinion while there are some solid climbs on this section I feel they are rolling and they are fair. On the way back towards the Montee Ryan there are also some flatter sections where you can open it up a bit. I think this is a good section to really warm up, get in some good nutrition and take in some really amazing views.
The second section will bring you on an out and back through the residential section of Mont Tremblant, and then back to transition. Highlighted in yellow.
One of the reason I think Mont Tremblant works so well logistically for an Ironman race is the layout. In Lake Placid the resort is the town. It’s where people live. When we come there we are riding on the roads they go to their neighbor’s house on. We clog up their traffic. In Mont Tremblant the residential part and the resort part are separate. The hotels are all “in the village”. You park your car under your hotel and everything is within walking distance, unless you need to go into the residential part for something. So in Tremblant we are separated. If we do travel on the roads they utilize to drive to work it’s a two lane expressway with a bike lane.
This section brings you into that residential… more like a main street…. section of Mont Tremblant. I imagine this is where many of the locals will be out to cheer. One guy said to me…. “Thanks for coming to Mont Tremblant.” and I nearly fainted.
This section is the flattest on the course. A good time to see people, get in nutrition and get ready. Once you make the right onto 117 and head back to transition you climb the rollers that brought you out of town. Nothing significant.
The third section is the Chemin Duplessis. Highlighted in yellow. My favorite section of the course.
This is where some good climbing happens. A few bigger ones…. but nothing that I personally needed to get out of the saddle for. I found that again, I had descents to work and help me. The descents on this course are straight, and no side streets come into play here. Nothing winds around corners and that helps me at least. I am not the greatest descender and I felt really strong on the descents here. You ride out to the turnaround, and then simply come back. You enjoy a few more descents but all in all, it’s smooth and fun. It reminds me of the old out and back at Ironman Lake Placid, a little jacked up and a whole heck of a lot safer.
I found this really good video from a guy who mounted a camera on his bike. I think the course has changed from 2012-2013 but this gives an idea of the last section of the bike. Click here.
Here is another good video (shorter) which gives some nice views. Click here.
I think this is a very fair course. I think if you live in Upstate New York with me, you will be great on this course. Out here we are used to long climbs, all kinds of climbs for that matter. I think this course will reward the athlete who is process focused rather than outcome focused. What do I mean by that? More often than not I see athletes come to an Ironman bike course stating “I am going to ride a 5:45”. Which is fine, but they get so locked onto that 5:45 that they unfortunately run a 5:45 as well. Instead…. focus on the process. Your pacing.
Pace this bike course well regardless of the time and you will be able to have a strong marathon. Ironman is not a bike race but for many…. it becomes that and then a 26.2 mile walk.
Bottom line: come prepared to climb and you will do well here. Stick to pacing and let go of that silly “Ironman time” and focus on the process and you will have a good race here.
I love this course. A lot. I can’t wait to race on it not only this summer, but next when I do the 70.3 here.
Questions? Leave a comment here or on facebook. Stay tuned for our summary of the run course!