I've never done this ride and it just happens that I have a 4-hour ride on my schedule for that weekend.
Question: how crowded does it get? I would hate to end up doing a leisurely ride instead of a training ride because of congestion.
I have done it twice. Thought that it was too crowded with too many different speeds and skill levels on a tight course. I would not do it again. Plus the event is poorly supported with limited (or no) aid stations for fluids. However, others seemed to enjoy it more...
I did it last year and I enjoyed it....so much that I am signed up for it again this year. It was a nice change from the norm. It is crowded at the beginning (I would not recommend being in the front pack as there were a few accidents) but it does end up spreading out and you have as much space as you want/need. I look forward to comparing my efforts from one year to another. Hope this helps!
I've done AFACC 2 or 3 times. I trust Kevin's opinion most of the time when it comes to races and endurance events but I have to disagree on this one.
I really, really liked this ride last year. They've tweaked the course over the past few years to reduce the number and sharp turns involved. If it's the same course, there are only 2 or 3 now.
I think it's more appealing to roadies in that 75% of the field rides in pelotons that naturally form. But you can pick and choose when and where to ride in a group.
Given that, if you plan to group ride, use your road bike. If plan to aero ride with trusting friends or solo, tri bike is ok.
The ride is more enjoyable on you road bike as you get to go pretty fast on an uninterrupted course that you become more familiar with on each lap.
The first 5 or so miles will be kinda slow as it's crowded and takes a little while to thin out. Position towards the front if you feel confident, don't want to get held up and for safety.
Last years data.
Thanks all. I think I'm going to register.
Kevin, I'll let you know how it goes so you can say 'told you so'.
Did the Air Force Cycling Classic a few years back and agree with some of Adam's points and some of Kevin's. Sounds like the course has changed a bit since I did it. I agree with Kevin in that it is initially a crowded course with varying skill levels and types of bikes (there was even a guy riding a unicycle the year I did it), but it makes it fun. Do bring your own fluids and nutrition, as per usual.
On Adam's points: It's a good course and you can really go fast on some parts. It's also scenic, in that the hill climbs look out over Washington, DC (from VA). I think the course is what you make of it---you can go fast and get in a good ride, or position toward the back of the pack and have a more leisurely workout.
I am doing this ride for the first time as well and trying to decide if I should ride my Tri bike or Road bike? I would prefer my Tri bike because that is what I have been training on all year and I know technically there is no rule that says you can't ride a tri bike, but I also know pure cyclist who do these things tend to frown on it, especially when we are riding in the aero position. So my question for people who've done it, is it better to do the Road Bike or will I be ok sticking with the tri bike?
I've done this ride two or three times. It's fun, if you're not expecting a steady-state four-hr time trial. The ride is what you would expect when you put a pack of Cat1 roadies among retirees with hybrids with streamers on their handlebars (in a non-ironic way). The course has some 180s and lots of 90s that people try to take too fast, or without regard for others behind them going faster. It's crowded and the first lap is unsafe, as people are sorting themselves out. There's usually a wreck around the Roslyn turnaround. After that, picture a four-hour ride on the W&OD -- some places you can really stretch out, others, it's a mess trying to negotiate through people as the road merges from two lanes to one. There may or may not be water, but don't expect food. It gets hot and windy in the last hour.
I've ridden my tri bike and road bike different years. You won't be frowned upon for riding a tri-bike (though a disc may be a different matter), but don't expect to use your aero bars in many sections. If you ride your tri bike, you will get wheel suckers behind you, so expect that and don't get upset.
I used my tri bike last year and I didn't have any problems. In fact, my goal last year was to go and see how I could do for the 4 hours without any drafting or assistance of others riders. After the first loop, I was able to do this without issue. I used my aero bars off and on, like most races. I didn't feel inferior for riding my tri bike. So I think its totally doable as long as you are only using your aero bars when its safe and appropriate (ie no aero riding for the first lap, packing riding, etc).
Like any event, it is what you make of it. I thought it was a great change of pace from the normal weekend long ride. I challenged myself within my limits and the limitations of urban event. But its for a good cause...so just go and enjoy the experience!
Very thoughtful for you to ask. I'd imagine the same etiquette rules apply if you're going to ride a tri bike in a 'road cycling' event, don't ride in aero when in a pack or when drafting. Have fun.
I'd say if you are solo and riding away from groups, you'll be just fine on your tri bike. However, other reasons I don't ride my tri bike on group rides/shop rides - I don't trust other riders most of the time, especially other triathletes (let's face it, triathletes are pretty terrible group riders, and only exponentially worse group riding on tri bikes). If I was riding this event, I'd be on my road bike to ensure I have better steering while there are so many people around me. I also don't believe that riding my road bike every so often, even in the middle of IM training while I'd usually be purely on my tri bike, will affect anything. If you ride your road bike (vice your TT, you'll be okay, it's only one ride).
Don't worry about who may or may not frown on you being on a tri bike, ride whatever you are going to feel comfortable on. As the course has gotten less technical, you shouldn't have a problem being on a tri bike. Just keep some distance from packs (for your safety and theirs).
Most importantly, have fun.