The Holcombe Duathlon and the end of the final block…

I’ve not run a single step since May this year, so there was no way I was going to take part in a duathlon. I don’t care how laid-back or grass-roots the event is, I wasn’t going to put my legs through that sort of nonsense right now. Nope, instead, me and Deb would take part as a relay team. Deb’s a pretty handy runner nowadays so I thought we’d do ok.

It was more exciting than I thought it was going to be….

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The race started with only three relay teams and only two of those were mixed. So it was us or them. I waited patiently in the transition area, bike positioned ready, helmet on, caffeine gel down the neck. The runner in the other pair reached transition, she tagged her team mate and he rode off up the hill.

I waited.

I waited a bit more and started to worry – something must have happened to Deb.

Seven minutes after our rivals had handed over, Debbie returned. “I’ve been over on my ankle 3 times” she gasped.

I rode as fast as I could up the first climb in pursuit, not going if I’d be able to make up a seven minute gap over a hilly 16 mile route.

9 miles later, I caught the guy I was chasing and rode past. I’ve ridden this loop dozens of times, but never have I ridden it as fast as this.

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By the time I reached transition again (where Deb was complaining that I’d gone ‘too quickly’), I’d created a 5 minute gap. It would have been a bit more if I hadn’t stupidly incurred a 20 second time penalty for not dismounting the bike in the right place. Always pay attention at the race briefing, kids….

Both runners were away. Deb had a 5 minute head start but had a dodgy ankle.

I chewed my nails a bit. There was a bottle of beer up for grabs for the relay winners.

In the end we finished second, but what a nail-biter! Everyone had given it their all, including the Holcombe Harriers who organised the whole thing. Well done to them!

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So that’s pretty much it. All my training for the World 24 Hour race is done. I’m happy that I couldn’t have done any more, not without losing my job/marriage/sanity anyway. This means that the race can just happen now, whatever the outcome I know I’ll have given 100% in preparation for it and as long as I don’t catch a cold or crash on the first lap or some other surprise event, I should do ok. All I need to do now is pack my stuff, get on a plane on Thursday and show up at the start line. I’ll be back at work the Wednesday after….

 

 

 

Ruthin MTB Marathon and then some

According to the all-powerful Training Plan, this ride was about a week late. It didn’t matter really, I’ve not exactly been short of long rides recently but I ‘owed’ the All-Powerful Training Plan a 9 hour ride, so I dutifully packed up the Passat and took a bike and a pile of food to Ruthin for the MTB Marathon.

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Even the longest route today was ‘only’ 75K, so that would tick off four hours. I made sure it was a hard four hours  – I rode with Matt for a bit, rode with Dave for a bit and due to not being able to drop down into the small chainring, I utterly killed myself on the very first climb in order to stay with some friendly faces. The small chainring would see some action later in the ride but confusingly (to me), I was only able to change gear properly once the bike was well and truly covered in mud and poo.

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It was properly covered in mud and poo once I’d failed to unclip and fell sideways into a bog, covering one side of my entire body with mud. You’d pay good money for that at a health spa.

Anyway, the Genius was doing its thing – climbing like a billy goat and descending at speeds that I don’t normally do on mountain bikes while I was concentrating on being efficient, eating properly and generally looking dead cool. It was going well I thought – I knew I was approaching proper racing weight (not easy when you’re 40-odd and you work in an office with a load of serial cake shoppers) and I also knew I’d been putting in the effort for the past few weeks.

Anyway, a very steep and hilly 4 hours and a couple of feed station stops later I finished, ages behind Nick Craig but 14th overall which wasn’t too bad. A quick coffee, a change of jersey and a bit of route advice from a local and I was on my way along the road to Llandegla. I left the car in Ruthin and I reckoned I could ride to ‘Degla, get a couple of laps in and then ride back.

The ride there was a grind up the Nant Y Garth pass into a headwind but it took less than an hour. Café was still open, but cos I’m a focussed individual at the moment I rode past it and straight up the first climb to start a lap of the black route.

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I love Llandegla. It gets crowded at weekends and there seems to be a lot that go there that can’t help dropping litter all over the place but the trails are ace and it’s just down the road. Sort of.

After the black I just had time to go round the blue trail, which is waaay more awesome than it sounds. Saw John and Tom in the Exposure Lights van just as I was leaving –  we had a quick chat then I enjoyed a quicker ride back to Ruthin to the car.

Total ride time – 8 hours 10 minutes. Doh!

24 Hour Worlds countdown….

It’s only four weeks until the 24 Hour World champs. That’s flown by, partly because I’ve been super-busy for weeks. Not just at work but outside work too. All good stuff, but knackering if you don’t stay on top of things.

Somehow I managed to stay motivated to train hard after twentyfour12, I only left a week of recovery which at 43 years old takes some doing, so I’m told. Perhaps it’s sometimes best to save your cash for the greengrocers rather than charging headlong into the protein shakes.

I’d planned to push hard in that race, but not so hard that I was looking at a 3 or 4 week recovery and the plan seemed to work. I walked (and didn’t hobble) away with the win anyway.

Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed this sort of motivation for training for years – I remember as recently as this time last year I was thinking about jacking in 24 hour racing and I think that was reflected in my performances in the couple of races that followed – I think deep down, I just couldn’t be arsed.

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I can be arsed now though. I’ve been doing as much preparation as possible, sticking to the plan as best I can (sometimes the plan is thrown into chaos and I end up doing hill reps at 3 or 4 in the morning or even training three times in one day but it’s mostly gone ok) and I’ve been thinking about the practical side of getting bikes, people and kit in the right place at the right time. Luckily I seem to be surrounded by amazing people and organisations that want to help with the race, getting me to the race or saving me having to take tons of kit with me on a transatlantic flight.

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Whatever happens in Weaverville, California at the beginning of October, I’ll be content that I’ve prepared as best I could. I honestly couldn’t have done any more. I’m not going be relaxed, but I’ll probably enjoy the whole thing a lot more.

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If you can stand at the start of any race and truthfully say to yourself “I’ve done everything I could have done”, then you’ll be a much better place than if you’re continually repeating “I wish I’d got off my backside and prepared better”. There’s no panic training this time around.

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The last few months would have been even more tricky if it wasn’t for crowd of people looking after me – Stevie at 2 Pure for keeping me stocked up with Honey Stinger nutrition, Dickon at Jungle for sticking me on some serious Santa Cruz machinery, Team JMC for helping me get to the start line and for the all-important Sense Of Belonging, all at Craft UK for dressing me in cycling clothing that has been perfect for the 2015 UK ‘Summer’ (it’s been cold and damp, mostly), Tom and John at Exposure Lights for providing the lighting for those 3am/10pm training rides, Ant at Mount Zoom for providing the super-light bars, bottlecages and other shiny gubbins and finally, Deb and the kids for putting up with me leaving the house all the time to ride my bike (and then falling asleep when I’m in the house).

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