The trial run weekend!
by tiggaMay 3rd 2011
Whilst a the Friday 29th was a welcome bonus public holiday complements of the Queen's grandson getting married, we Team Feat RAAMer's were out as a complete unit to do a night test run. Minus only one crew member it was a key run for us as a team.
It had come at the end of an easy week for me. My legs needed the easy part as I was feeling just a little jaded and very heavy legged from a monster 4 day weekend the previous week. Saying that, because of my 100+miles on the Monday I still clocked up a 350mile week. I had also made my first trip to my physio guru, who to my surprise said my legs were not too bad. Although my recent lower back issues were due to tight hip flexors, so I am now supposed to diligently keep stretching... and in actual fact, even stretching for 30secs mid ride has had a huge impact on my lower back pain. Thanks again to Helen... a weekly appointment is now booked as I ramp it up in the mad month of May!!
Not wanting to miss a trick on the Friday, I met up with my RAAM riding partner Ian for an 'easy' ride Friday morning which turned out to be a steady 100km ride in 2hr55mins! A sneaky little ride with another of our Team Feat tri members, but I felt quite good and tried my best to soft tap the final 30km. That afternoon the full crew and riders met up in Ringwood. It was never going to be an epic training session for the riders, this was a run primarily for the crew. The main aim was to adhere to the rules and regulations of RAAM and that included bike setup, lights, navigation, change overs... the works. We operated in our race scenario teams as riders and crew, and were given our ride instruction by Simon our crew chief. He'd devised a route to test the navigational skills of the crew, of which 9 out of the 13 had not done this before. Luckily we had 4 with our LeJOG experience there to show the way!
5pm came and we (Ian and myself) set off as Team 1. Riding 15min efforts and roughly one hour (22mile)later we hand over to the other team (team 2). So on, and so on and so on... our route was approximately 200miles. As riders we were testing our radios which we are going to use as communication and guidance through the race, as well as our lights. The crew were tested to the max with navigation, legal change over points, driving and their communication between each other and the rider. I suspect for the new crew members it was a full on experience as the route was very techinical with as much navigation and turns in that short 200mile ride as there will be in two thirds of the RAAM itself! Personally I was so chuffed with how well things went. Obviously there were some minor hiccups and slight rule interpretation 'grey' areas but on the whole our crew were pretty switched on even at 2am in the morning! A couple of the riders had problems with hearing the radios, but I seemed ok. I think they must be deaf or something?
The ride itself was pretty uneventful. Team 2 had to deal with a downpour at 12am and we rode the final couple of hours on wet roads, but I personally felt strong. Climbing Bolderwood at 2am in the morning, giving it some welly in the big blade was awesome. We also took in the new stretch of the A354 into Weymouth... damn, that is a smooth stretch of newly tarred road, bit of a climb to get to the top but incredibly quick descending! I wasn't on my TT bike, but I felt smooth and strong hunched over my drops on every stint I rode. Apparently James was giving it full beans too. As a complete team, we have a strong team. Riders and crew alike, we have a 40 days to the off and from a riders view... I am so happy to see our team doing so well. Riders as strong, crew are switched on and ready for the challenge.
The rest of the weekend was fairly relaxed although Sunday was a very long day for us. We were woken the blasted alarm at 4am and were at the New Forest tri to lend a helping hand. I can't remember ever being so involved in a race! I started by handing out race envelopes, which soon changed to body marking the athletes before they started. I did make one or two boo-boo's, oops... I wrote 118 on one poor chaps right leg when he told me 188! No biggy:-) But when you got a new number being told to you every 30secs, it can get confusing? Or was me having a blonde moment? I was then down at the swim exit guiding the swimmers up to the transition area, then onto the bike course where the runners come into the finish 100m funnel. I saw the cyclists and the the first few athletes come running by, and after being relieved from that duty myself and Jacks were on T-Shirt handing out duty... all that and it was only 9:23am! And of course, four strong coffees along the way! I now know that coffee is the staple diet for Rich and Jo of Race New Forest! So thats how they do it! Richard then decided I was 'celebrity' enough in the multisport world by virtue of winning the Ballbuster a couple of times that he thought I should hand out prizes? That felt quite wierd as I handed out prizes to some quality athletes, two of who had won the mens and womens Ballbuster on previous occasions? To top that day off I jumped on my bike and rode for 4 hours into the beasterly of an easterly that afternoon, then ate my bodyweight in food, and slept like a baby!
The life of an athlete in training for RAAM... hmmm, I hope the race is easier? I doubt that though...