Cairns Ironman preview
Settling into the saddle will provide a breathtaking view for Cairns Airport Cairns Ironman competitors.
Both the half and full distance competitors will have the Captain Cook Highway to themselves from Cairns to Port Douglas on June 9, 2013.
Undulating and winding, riders will find it a brilliant course with only a few hills that never exceed eight or nine per cent.
Last year the event enjoyed outstanding weather with light breezes, but it's traditionally a south-easterly and if the wind picks up it will make the journey back from Port Douglas a difficult one.
Thor Stovell of PDBikeWorks in Port Douglas said it's a perfect time trail course.
"You can see over all the guard rails and see the water…if you have time to look at it. You can't help but take it all in," he said.
"It's so beautiful. I have raced Mooloolaba and places like that, but maybe because of home town bias, it is a really beautiful road to ride.
"It doesn't have really big hills. You can really knuckle down to a good cadence and if you have trained for that type of course you will do really well."
While last year featured light winds, if Mother Nature fires up this year it could play a major role in deciding the victor.
Thor said wheel selection could come into play, with anyone riding with a full aero wheel likely to pay the penalty into head and cross winds.
This year's swim has been moved from Yorkes Knob to the Cairns marina precinct. Swimmers in the ironman will undertake two laps (one for half ironman) in front of Sailfish Quay before heading for T1 in the Lagoon car park.
The ironman cycle course
Leaving Cairns, it is just over 70km to Port Douglas.
Things are pancake flat start to the journey toward Palm Cove as you cruise past Yorkeys Knob and Smithfield (where riders will return for T2).
With towering heavily vegetated ranges on your left it remains flat as you pass through Ellis Beach, then Red Cliff Point where there are a range of sweeping bends before reaching the hamlet of Tin Creek.
Then from Wangetti it's a signal that things are starting to get serious as the first climb begins up Rex Lookout. From this side it's a relatively easy climb and most riders will stay in the big chain-ring to get over the top, stand on their toes to stretch before enjoying a steady descent.
The road continues to undulate with ample shade from the roadside trees and swaying palms, and then there are more tight bends as you reach Yule Point.
From there things flatten out again with Port Douglas in sight. Riders take a right hand turn down Old Port Road and into the township's heartbeat, Maccrossan Street.
With restaurants and cafes filled, along with a range of parties planned for the day, riders will be cheered as they head back toward Cairns and into the breeze.
The climb back up Rex Lookout is more challenging this time around, and once south of the hill cyclists will return again to Port Douglas for a second loop.
After heading through Maccrossan Street for the second time riders can head back toward Cairns, pulling into Smithfield for transition two at Marlin Coast Recreational Centre and the run back into town.
Competitors will be able to return during the evening to pick up their bikes and associated equipment, or on Monday morning.
From Smithfield competitors will run via Yorkeys Knob before getting back onto the Captain Cook Highway and then undertaking two 8km laps of the esplanade and marina boardwalk area.
For entry information, visit the USM Events website.