Yes, I did a duathlon. I've done one before. In fact I have done two before, one was supposed to be a triathlon but they cancelled the swim cos the water was reported to be moving a bit. Despite my piss-taking I actually enjoyed the multi-sport events that I have done. The trick is not to talk to the others that do them.
I'm joking of course. I know a lot of triathletes and like them a lot. There is a nice mocking rivalry but mutual respect between the Ironmen and Ultra-runners. Both like to do extreme things and just express it in different ways. It would make for very interesting conversation in the pub, if only triathletes ever went to the pub :)
Stop it James.
The BallBuster Duathlon is quite a competitive event on Box Hill in Surrey. Box Hill/Dorking area is home to some really lovely runs that I enjoy throughout the year and it seemed just right to try and smash it on a bike every once in a while. The format was quite simple, 5 laps on road, the first and last on foot, the middle three on wheels.
Woke up at 6. Had a shit at 6.20. Left hotel at 6.45.
Cyclists sure are early birds. The race started at 8 but many would get there hours early to let their porridge digest while cleaning their bikes and removing microscoping particles of dust that could cost them valuable nano-seconds on the bike stage. I got a few funny looks as I queued up with my hybrid commuter bike with panier rack on while the others paraded their carbon fibre penis-extentions. I really should stop taking the piss out of triathletes, but it is just too easy. I waited in line to be given my chip and looked around and just wished some someone to crack a smile. Triathletes are like goths really, relying on safety in numbers so they can all dress up the same and look like idiots.
Ian and Lucy arrived and they both look about as serious about cycling as I do, with old bikes with bells and racks on (I took mine off cos someone said that a slower cyclist might grab onto it and get me to pull them up hills. In retrospect I should have realised that there was no such thing as a slower cyclist than me).
A few years ago when I was starting to think that there was more to life than just running a few marathons here and there I dabbled into triathlon. It seems a logical next step from Marathons, as are ultras. Which way does one go? It's a tough choice and I am not sure what factors decide which way you might swing. I suspect it has something to do with what you like spending your money on. I can't imagine life without going to the pub lots and eating pies. Money spent on this means I am unable to afford a bike which weighs about as much as a bag of pork scratchings. I'd rather eat the pork scratchings and get pissed. When I bought a bike the costs just seem to rack up, all of which were eating in to my pub budget. I didn't like that at all. Ultra-running is relatively cheap. The events are cheap (the unbranded ones anyway). Yes you get through a few more pairs of trainers and I seem to buy a 5kg box of washing powder every fortnight but I still get pissed just as much as I used to. In fact more cos the running makes me less tolerant. That has to be a good thing.
I usually end up forgetting something at the start of a race but today I excelled myself. I forgot a bike pump, tyre levers and a pair of pants. The latter is unusual for me and it meant that this could quite litterally become a ball buster. I racked my bike and recalled one of the defining moments that turned me off of this sport. I know every sport from running, triathlon, snooker, football, knitting, chess and golf has it's fair share of arseholes. It just seems that whenever I get near a multi-sport I seem to attract one of them. Perhaps I am an arse magnet in these parts?
Anyhoo, 3 years ago when I did this race I was racking my bike up next to some other guy who clearly had a better bike than me. I had a bikes2work scheme racing bike made out of steel that created an awful crashing noise as I stood it onthe rack similar to the noise rag and bone men would make as they came crashing through your street and stealing any unsecured metal. His looked like it had to be weighed down to stop it floating off like a balloon. Now, just to make conversation (I can be rude like that sometimes) I said to him "Careful we don't get our bikes mixed up in transition". He was not amused. In fact I didn't realise that I'd broken some rule about not engaging in conversation with a competitor who has a better bike that you. It's like chickens and their pecking orders. He looked at me with a disdain that said "what are you doing, you are merely a bitch chicken and I am a big cock". Indeed.
That has NEVER happened to me in 4 years of ultra-running. And I've met some of the worlds best.
Anyhoo, the race. Yes I remember. It was another gorgeous blue sky day, quite cool, the winter is starting to kick in here. We all set off on the first lap of the run, 8 miles, 6 of nice undulation and more down then up and then the 2 mile "zig-zag" uphill. Most of the people I knew just ran off ahead and I took it easy as I had a marathon to run the next day.
Within an hour I think I finished the run and did my fastest T1 ever, probably because I wasn't cheating by using those special shoes that make your feet stick to the pedals. Nor was I using those bars that poke outwards that you get low and hold onto, meaning people get to see more of your arse. My bike did have some pointy bits on the handle bars but I just assumed that was to hang shopping from.
My bike was quite easy to find though not as easy as it was in the London TrI I did a few years back. When I got out of the water it was the only bike still there. I pushed my bike through the mud (ha ha ha all those people cleaning their bikes in the morning) and onto the road and saw a guy in front of me with really baggy shorts on. I said it was good to see someone else who was not dressed as a triathlete and passed him. He was the only person I passed in the whole thing.
I was looking forward to going NEEEEEEOOOOOOWWWWWWW as I went past a few people but it never happened. It all seemed to be downhill and I am a big pussy and kept holding onto the brakes as people just whizzed past. It took some getting used to and just as I was getting the hang of not leaning back, braking and crying for mummy I got a puncture. Shit. I stopped and fumbled in the small amount of kit that I remembered to bring, or rather what has been attached to my bike for a year without me really noticing. There were some tyre levers in there afterall, and a tube. Great. All I had to do was take the tyre off (it took ages) then put the new tube in (again, ages) and then pump it up with this fancy gas canister that I can't remember every buying. Then I realised that I had already used this one. Bollocks.
Luckily a chap who was just cycling around for the day came along and helped me out with a pump as cyclist after cyclist in the race slowed at the corner and gawped at me. Yes I look like a dick. But at least I'm not wearing lycra. And no one knows I'm wearing no pants.
I finally got on my way and wondered whether I would make the cut-offs as I had been there faffing for ages, about 20 minutes in total. I was very near the back and realised that I had to smash it to get back into a comfortable time. I had to ask a marshal what the time was as I was not wearing a watch. I forgot that too though I really would have liked to have worn my heart rate monitor as I don't think cycling reports should be done without a graph of work rate.It was 9.45. I had 1.15 to do teh remaining 2 miles of this lap and then the last 2.
So I climbed the hill, feeling quite fresh as I had just had a 20 minute rest and cycling doesn't really count as exercise anyway. 1 lapdone and I was looking forward to smahing it on the last 2 laps, I had no choice.
Pretty much as I started the second lap I slowed down again and looked down and found that the tyre had gone again. When I spent ages replacing it 10 minutes before I had done something wrong as the tyre was expanding over the rim of the wheel. Someone later told me that it was possibly because I twisted the tube and it caused a pressure build up that forced it's way through the tyre. Someone else told me it's because I am a dick.
So with tail between my legs (rather than a bike) I turned around and walked back to the transition and gave up my chip and then back over to Gemma and friends as they laughed that I can finish a Spartathlon but not a bike ride. It was a shame as I really liked this event but at least I had already got all the goodies before the start. As I came in I saw the two leaders heading out for the run, they were 2 bike laps ahead of me. Looked like it was going to be a close finish.
I stood about for a while and watched the race. It was quite fun. I did not see as many pointy helmets as I had done last week at the Jekyl and Hyde Duathlon that I marshalled at. My job there was to stop people and their little dogs from walking into the very fast very expensive bikes. Apparently removing poodle spleen from tubbs is a nightmare. I think there should be a special award for the last person on the bike course who as a pointy helmet. Maybe a pointy losers hat? Or disqualification from Tri for life? Or shooting?
Anyway, who am I to take the piss? I just DNF'ed a bike ride. I blame my tools.
So what did I learn. Well my 10 point plan for next time would be
1 - Wear pants (general advice for life rather than just for multi-sport)
2 - Take only full gas canisters
3 - Take a bike pump
4 - Stop being such a pussy on the downhills
5 - Wear a HRM (It would have been nice to have a graph to jerk off over)
6 - Stop looking at arses as they are likely to be men's
7 - Get quick enough at cycling so I at least get to overtake someone and go "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
8 - Park further away so I don't have to wait for everyone to clean their bikes near their cars and blocking everyone in
9 - I'm bored of this now. I'm off to the pub.
At least tomorrow is just running. What could go wrong? Assuming I remember to stop and buy some pants on the way up to Rutland.