Thursday, 31 July 2014

Festival of cycling

I have been consumed for the last couple of weeks with the Tour de France. This year the bug bit particularly hard with a trip to Harewood House to watch the depart. It was Sophie's birthday and so we organised a trip up there with friends to celebrate. This all happened weeks ago but with the triathlon training, working and watching the tour I've not had much time to write this up.

The festival itself was a great experience (hampered slightly by everything closing at 17:00 or 18:00, the food not being veggie or healthy eating friendly, and no-one on  site knowing anything at all ever.) The grounds are lovely and the people were great too. Who knew a festival toilet could be useable after 48 hours on site?

Things we learned

  1. Yorkshire isn't undulating. It is hilly. Period.
  2. It is miles to the shops.
  3. It's difficult carrying cake on a bike.
  4. Sometimes you do actually have to leave a bird sanctuary because Tibetan  monks need to get in there and bless the birds.
  5. Even Half-Maltese people can burn.

Time trial
On the Saturday evening David and I signed up to do the time trial. It would be our first attempt at a race of this kind. A short 12 mile, or 5 laps of the course, race against the clock seemed like something we could fit in nicely before tea-time.

Alarm bells should have started ringing when the Brownlee's lap time was 5mins and 32 secs giving them a time of nearly 30 mins for the course. The briefing described the course as "undulating". They should have gone off a second time when the team time triallists din't finish their first lap in much under 10 minutes.

The start was a slight uphill gradient that steepened slightly  as it came up level with the house. We passed the grandstand for the great and good (by that of course we mean rich) to watch the grand depart and turned left into a fairly sharp downhill section. I had sunglasses on  and didn't see the first speed-bump on  the the downhill. I'm new to TT racing but I'm fairly sure I'd know if it was a good thing to get "Good Air" over the "Jumps"

I panicked a little and slowed my descent. More corners and downhill under an old bridge. The dappled light meaning I couldn't see the road surface... which is just as well as there was a cattle grid at the bottom. A really sharp turn led to  a short, sharp climb with another cattle grid at the top. Then down over concrete slab roads to another sharp corner leading into a climb.

This climb was presumably what the organisers meant by undulating. Hitting it at a slow speed off the last corner I ran out of momentum about a third of the way up and started pedalling in a lower gear. This climb seemed to go on for ever (This is a TT course not a road circuit. I hit my lowest gear on 3 of the 5 laps, dry heaving on  laps 4 and 5)

The last mile was narrow and dappled and frankly covered in pot holes and covered cattle grids, before turning onto the smooth tarmac of  final straight back to the start.

On lap 2 there was a bike in the ditch at the bottom of the first speed-bump covered descent. By lap 3 there was a pile of bikes and an ambulance.

I finished in 55 minutes meaning I averaged 12.5 miles and hour. I averaged over 15 miles and hour on the Dunwich Dynamo doing 10 times the distance. Very slow.

Highlights for me were making the same guy jump out of his skin (with high volume dry heaving behind him) on the climbs (laps 4 and 5) and David completing the ride 10 minutes faster because he was convinced I was right behind him.)

10kmTrail run
Things I learned trail running.
  1. Flat barefoot running shoes are no good for this type of running
  2. Sometimes you can't tell where to go even when there is a sign
  3. The man you think is lost may be just a mile or 2 ahead
  4. It's OK to be lapped by a 19 year old who had completed the 10km run and the 10km bike lap by the time she passed me.
  5. 10km takes the same amount of time to run whatever the surface if you are in a hurry
  6. Don't drink Gin between a time trial and an early morning trail run.
That is all :)

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