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Bristol Harbourside Triathlon - draft legal wave

TeamBadTriby TeamBadTriSep 7th 2010
I┬'ve never done a draft- legal tri before....and it was fantastic.

We had a starting list of 15 which included BAD Tri race team members Paul Horsfall, Matt Newman, Matt Bisco and myself. The field was very high quality with several competitors who have raced as pros or at an elite level. The one exception to this level of experience was BAD Tri member Martin Palmer ┬- a very talented runner, but in his first triathlon!
The 750m swim split us up quite nicely ┬- or it did me anyway, pretty much straight to the back as I expected. It was a good course and easy to navigate, the high sides of Cumberland Basin meant there was always something in your peripheral vision to make sighting easier. The exit involved a little bit of clambering, and then there was great support before T1 - BAD Tri marshalls and supporters continuing their reputation for being the best in the business.
I was pleased to see I wasn┬'t the last bike out of T1 ┬- would have made for a very lonely day! ┬- so I set off hoping to catch a glimpse of those riders in front of me and assess whether I could go after them on my own. After about a kilometre I saw a group up ahead and guessed they had a 2 minute lead, which was way too much for me to make up without significant help┬.... I was pretty sure Kit Stokes was behind me, so I slowed a bit to see where he was - Kit has raced pro at Ironman level including an 8.50 finish at Ironman Switzerland, so is a mean cyclist. We paired up and set about nailing ourselves to see if we could catch the faster swimmers. We slowly reeled in a few riders who had been spat out, and held our gap on the leaders which was good to see as there were more of them to share the work.
If you┬'ve not raced where drafting is allowed (in this type of triathlon, or in bike racing), it┬'s a totally different type of cycling to standard tri events. In a normal non-drafting tri, most people aim for a sustainable effort for the whole bike section ┬- it can still be a pretty hard effort, but it tends not to change. When drafting, it┬'s a mix of maximum (or near maximum) efforts on the front, followed by less hard (I hesitate to use the word ┬'easier┬'!) periods sat on the back where you try to recover, ready for the next one. The more people in a group ┬- as long as they decide to work together - the more the work is shared and the more time you get to recover. With only two of us though, it was pretty full-on for the entire time. There is also the consideration of the skills or strength of the riders you are with ┬- some are faster through technical sections, others have the power to get up short hills. So knowing the rider/s you┬'re with - or getting to know them pretty quickly! ┬- is important in getting maximum advantage out of the draft-legal element.
In the end I think we passed 3 or 4 riders who had dropped off the leading group ┬- they had pushed hard to try and stay with that group, so were tired when we came passed and couldn┬'t join in to help. At the end of the bike we were cycling with Matt Bisco for the final half mile or so, as he sensibly slowed slightly to work with us in the final section.
The run of 5k is not something I┬'ve really trained for this year so I had to just give it some beans and see what happened. The first kilometre was great with all the support and the knowledge I might not actually come last, then I really felt the heat and my efforts on the bike for a while, and it was a struggle. At the start of the second lap I felt my legs were better adjusted to the run and the last 5 or 6 minutes were a little more comfortable, though it still felt like max effort all the way and I was pretty much collapsing for the final 2 or 300 hundred metres.

Overall it was a really fantastic experience to be part of a drafting race, it adds a whole new tactical element to the race. It was definitely a competitive race, no-one was holding anything back, but it was also very friendly and supportive before and after. Martin Palmer┬'s first ever tri seems to have gone well┬...3rd overall against that field is fantastic and he can surely only go faster.
Matt E
BAD Tri has sponsored teams for both triathlon and cycling. The aim of these teams is to provide support for athletes within the club at high-performance age-group level and above. As a club we are grateful to those who represent us at this level and understand that it takes a great deal of time, money and dedication. In return for this support, triathletes are expected to represent the team and perform well at the races throughout the summer. Cyclists will be expected to race regularly and place well at local road races and/or support others in the team to do so.
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