There is never a good time for a puncture... certainly not at the Ballbuster!!
by tiggaNov 11th 2013
I've had four punctures in the last 2weeks, one broken spoke and my TT bike needed some TLC when the outer cable to both gear mechanism exploded... luckily not in a race, but equally the day before two of my three races this year was spent buckled over my bike sorting out internal cabling of the TT bike is not ideal race preparation. All year I've been 'lucky' with punctures with not one so far this year and I've ridden more miles this year just about any other year including Tour of Wessex and Dragon ride. So when you puncture in a race that is just 38km of biking... I was gutted, disappointed, annoyed but at the same time having raced for the past 18 years I was quick to accept there is jacksh!t I can do about it... and let's be honest it's not the end of the world!
Yes, I could have taken a spare tub along, but I was there to race not finish minutes behind where I should be and on top of which biking is my strength so giving everyone free time when I should be blitzing the course I would have struggled for motivation once back up and running. As it happened race day was cold and my fingers were numb, I would have struggled to get the tub off/on and because it was wet, I would probably not have had the confidence that my tub would have stayed on... So there, a whole paragraph on my reasons not to take a spare. The only reason to take a spare... how the hell does one get back to transition? Damn it was cold and by the time I was picked up by Georgie from Humanrace (the race organisors) I was frozen to the core and my typically useless cold hands were playing their usual spastic game of 'The fingers are there, but I can't make them do anything!!'
So here goes:
Up at 4am, coffee in hand we drove up to Boxhill. Jacks came along to cheer as loud as she could along with a few of my buddies from London way - thanks for making the effort guys... sorry it was 'for nothing'. A few words with some familiar faces from RGactive... John and Marsha, as well Jasmine Flatters from Humanrace who has been involved in triathlon in many guises over the years and still is the smiliest and most energetic person you can meet at any race! It was colder than it had been for a while, the roads were wet, but cleaner than last weekend's recce when I rode 5 a decent paced laps and ran solid off that ... so I was confident of fast bike and a lead of some sort going into the second run. Andy Greenleaf is defending race champ from last year, a quite unbelievable runner and with another year of biking under the belt I knew he would be hard to beat. After all most duathlons are about 3:1 bike to run ratio and Ballbuster is 3:2. Running fast gives you a distinct advantage.
Running fast is something, it seems, my old body has forgot how to do. First run was OK, but nothing spectacular (44:37), in fact just how hard it felt was a little disconcerting. I kept Hugh Mackenzie in my sights, also a previous winner and great duathlete. I was prepared to bury myself on the bike in the final 2 laps when things get tricky as you pass the many slower lapped competitors. Fourth onto the bike, 2nd at the end of lap one on the bike and the cycling legs were starting to pump. I'd only just got away from Alan Murchison half way up Boxhill so when I punctured 5km later I was surprised I had put so much time into Hugh and Alan. My race was done and could only console myself with the fact I probably would have got off the bike first... but Andy was in a different league on that second run. There was no way I would have won given the way I felt on the first run and he ran his second run faster than my first one!
OK so the amount of running in this race doesn't suit me anymore, but this race is a fantastic event, challenging in so many different ways... hills, technical bike, wet (normally), cold and climbing the infamous Boxhill at the end of every lap is tough! That second run last 2.5km up the hill is one of the hardest finishing to any race if you do race and give it your all. Unless of course your name is Andy Greenleaf... then it's obviously a mere bump! Well done that man for making the course look easy and a classy win by 5 mins over Hugh Mackenzie who was in turn 5mins ahead of Alan Murchison.
Yesterday I spent the morning riding 'easy' with Jacks in near perfect Autumnal weather and then let out some frustration with an axe... Lumberjack Wayne spent the afternoon chopping tree trunks into firewood the cold winter months ahead! In fact, chopped enough wood for a couple of winters, and the whole body aches sat at work the day after!!
Is that a sign I'm a true country pumpkin? Yes, I had my wellies on and our chickens were roaming the garden in the lovely sunshine...
Time for a short break, re-focus and despite a very disappointing end to the year, training for the Ballbuster did get me focused and running properly again. Just 14 weeks ago I could barely run 10km in 40mins without my knee killing me and being well out of puff... now I'm in 34min 10km shape and I have a decent platform to spring from as I take aim at world age group champs in Spain next year. A few things need to change in my training to shed a bit of this cycling muscle mass I have gained from 3 years of riding the bike silly distances and neglecting the running... but anyone who knows me, knows once I put my head down and do what it takes to get where I want to be!