by TriHardAlanJan 26th 2013
Took part in my first Off Road Duathlon today, the Iceman. I went in to this with very limited MTB experience which consisted of one Corporate race in 2011 and a couple of practise sessions in the last week, which frankly, did not go well. Wednesday afternoon was spent going round Swinley Forest, which was hard going in the still deep snow. And fell of 3 times. Thankfully, each time whilst going slowly!
So, when I arrived what was going through my mind, what were my aims? The over riding thing was fear! I was nervous about the bike, especially crashing. The only times I have ever come of my road bike is at very slow speeds so have yet to have a major crash. Trying to put that to one side, I wasn¬'t taking it too seriously and was hoping to enjoy. This I felt would be heavily influenced by the conditions, how much ice and snow would be on the course?
As I head out for the first run, it seemed quite a bit. The first 400m or so were very icey and I was far too cautious and got of to a dreadfully slow start. Couple of k in and the hills started, and they were surprisingly brutal, with lots of people walking. But the ice and snow had thankfully cleared and started to try and make up some of the lost ground. By the end of the two gruelling laps had I? I had no idea at the time. Looking at the watch the time seemed dreadful at 54.11 for 10k. Looking at the results since, it wasn¬'t good, 56th place in a field of 168. I would normally expect top 20 at least. At that moment ignorance was undoubtedly bliss. On to the bike¬.....
After a very slow T1 edged out very nervously on to the bike course, which was 3 laps. Before hand I think the down hills were the bits I was most nervous of and the first descent terrified me but after that it was the ascents I struggled with, an area on a road bike I am normally strong on. But I was struggling for grip and got of and walked up most of the steep hills. As the laps progressed I found myself becoming a flat track bully of sorts. There was a number of us in a group constantly swapping positions and the pattern was always the same, as soon as the course levelled out I would catch them all. If course went up or down, or got technical, I would lose ground. Once on to the 3rd lap I was becoming more confident of not falling of, which of course was the prompt to do just that! It wasn¬'t even a steep descent or a technical session, just a slight downhill and the wheels went from underneath me. Very briefly winded but no injuries and tried to carry on without a dent in my fragile biking confidence. Caught most of the group I had been riding with and finished in one piece, I would have taken that at the beginning!
After another sluggish transition set of on the 2nd run, 5k this time. Started of well enough but by the time I was halfway through the hills section I was struggling. On reflection I simply run out of fuel. I hadn¬'t drunk a thing on the bike, let alone a gel, as was too scared to take a hand of the handle bars! I saw quite a few people walking, obviously having the same struggles but refused to entertain that thought. Not matter how much a 5k hurts its still only 5k right? By the time I saw the 1k to go marker I was totally spent and was relieved to eventually cross the finish line.
So, what positives did I gain from this experience. Not a lot to be honest. 94th overall and 14th in AG from 30 isn¬'t what I would normally expect. But then it was meant to be a fun even. So was it? No, unfortunately not. The things I did gain, well, I had the quickest time on the 2nd run in my AG which shows when tired I can still push and get good results.
Will I do another off road duathlon? Doubt it but then endurance athletes do tend to have very short memories!
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