Question abouit aerobar bottles and bottle-handups
I've got my first Half-Iron distance race in October (The Longhorn Triathlon)
So I just recently got one of those fancy-shmancy Profile Design AeroDrink bottles, and I just wanted to sanity check myself about it's proper use during a longer race.
I was planning on starting with the Aerodrink bottle, and two regular bottles in cages. When the Aerodrink is empty, refill it on the fly from one of the other bottles, which leads to my first question:
What's the best way to do that? I could either (A) unscrew the top and dump the water in (I've seen this done, but it didn't look like a very good idea), or (B) Leave the top alone and give it 3-4 good squeezes out the bottle nozzle.
(A) would be faster, but probably a good way to lose the top and half of my water.
(B) is slower, but less likely to result in disaster.
So with my odds of placing in my age group at virtually nil, I'm planning on (B). Should I practice refilling and eventually aspire to mastering technique (A), or is that just stupid?
Now, Austin in October can still have temps in the mid 90's, so 3 bottles worth ain't going to cut it. This race has bottle handups, and I've been wondering how those work. The webpage says athletes start with 2 bottles, and there are handups every 10 miles. From the wording, it sounds like the handups are provided by the race and not by me. This is the first time this race has been held, but it's being put on by the same folks who do Timberman so I would expect it to be similarly run.
I'm guessing there are pit-stop like places where I exchange 2 empties for 2 full bottles. I assume the pit-stop entry and exits will be well marked, and are governed by slightly different rules (drafting restrictions waived? Max top speed?). With the race providing the bottles, I'm guessing I just yell out "water" or "Gaterade Endurance Formula EDGE Bottle (tm)" (ok, maybe I'll just yell "gatorade") and someone will hand me the right thing.
Beyond that.... Are you required to stop to refill? It is like a water stop on the run where you snag a bottle out of someone's hand on the go, with a bucket to toss your empties into? Do you mark your bottles with your race number and try to collect your originals at the end? Or just start with 2, finish with 2, and call it even? Any good tips to avoid first-time mistakes and/or avoiding accidents with someone who's just a little too serious about shaving off every possible second?
B is the best as far as filling your aerodrink bottle. Probably a good idea to practice a few times just to make sure it works good enough for your satisfaction.
I have not done a race with aid stations on the bike yet but from my understanding it is like a run. They hand up bottles and you keep riding. Fill up your aerodrink and then throw the empty to the side. It is usually recommended that you throw bottles off within a few 100 yards of the bottle station. Easier to pick up. The race director may specify the rules clearer for this particular race.
You may consider not carrying so much of your own water. Aerodrink bottle alone is what some guys do and refill from the pitstops when needed. Saves the weight of carrying your own water/drink. Also if the race is providing the station it is likely their water/bottles like it is on run aid-stations.
Hope this answered a few things. You can always email the race director to make sure he is handling it the same way as you're expecting. I'd hate to get to a race and realize I was going to be screwed on drinks or something.
Keep the empties with you until you hit the designated empty bottle dump area (usually in the ditch a hundred yards or so before each aid station) then toss them as you ride by. You won't get your originals back (unless you go back for them before they pick them all up).
You normally don't need to stop. Simply grab a bottle that is being held out for you from the side of the road. Probably slow a bit if it's a high speed section of the course but often bottle hand-ups are on slight uphills so everyone is already going just a bit slower.
If you need to pick up two bottles at each aid station, you may need to slow way down to give yourself time to get the first one in the cage before you pass completely by the aid station. Some races also have a "last chance" pick-up about 50 yards further down the road for those who missed their bottle. I've done only one race where I needed two at each station but that was because the stations were spaced ~20 miles apart. That race had a small aid station area but I was able to get two per lap by making sure I got a bottle from the very first volunteer, and slowing a bit to get a bottle from the last volunteer.