Race Report: My Bike’s Possessed!
We’ll get to exactly why my bike’s possessed later . . .
Today was the Hebburn / Tyne & Wear Fire Service Triathlon. It’s my local club’s race, and in the spirit of giving as well as taking from club membership, I kinda had to turn up early to help with getting the event set up. So Tall Friend and I were up at 5 a.m., and heading off after breakfast to arrive at the race by about quarter to six.
The sun was already up and shining, and most of the setting up had in fact already been done by people who’re obviously used to working night shifts But there was still stuff we could help with - setting up the banners in and out of transition, putting the number labels onto the bike racks (which are The Stands (hey! we’re getting a bit of a Stephen King theme going here, but more about that later . . . ) for bikes in the transition area). Stuff like that.
It’s amazing how time flies, because before any time at all had passed, the area was filling up with triathletes, and Tall Friend was stripped to his race suit jostling for position at the 07:15 race briefing. He had to be changed for this, as he was the day’s 5th starter on a 30 second staggered start. And I was the 12th to go, which meant a sudden rushed change of clothes!
For the swim, I actually ended up in the lane next to Tall Friend, and tried to persuade his lane marshall to have him swim an extra couple of lengths to even up the field, but she was having none of it. Before long, it was my turn to go. And go I did (but Tall Friend claims that nerves do that to him too . . . ), as I’d completed 8 lengths before Tall Friend got out of the water, which put me on track for a SEVEN minute swim.
WTF . . . ? I do not do 400m in seven minutes.
Before I knew it, my lane marshall was tapping me on the head with a swim float to let me know I’d completed 14 lengths and only two more to go . . . and then I was out of the water, with my stopwatch showing 08m:07s.
Getting out of the pool area was a little slow - the space at the ‘exit’ end of the pool was rather cramped with marshalls and competitors waiting to get in, but I got to the bike OK enough . . . gulp of fluids . . . shades . . . helmet . . . socks . . . shoes . . . gloves and lets go!
By half way through the first lap of the bike circuit, I’d caught up to within just under a mile of Tall Friend - we passed in opposite directions on the entrance to the course’s short loop. I remembered to take my drink at the three mile mark, and at the end of the first lap.
And then one mile into the second lap, the devil in my road bike, Gina, came back to get me. There was a loud ‘Crack!”, followed by some alarming rattling from somewhere around the aerobars. I sat up & tried to figure out if there was anything as seriously wrong as it sounded . . . and sure enough, yes there was. The bolt attaching the aerobars on the left hand side had sheared!
I knew this meant that I was going to have to ride on the main bars for the rest of the race . . . . but with the extra vibration, the right hand bolt also sheared a mile further down the road. So now I had a loose set of aerobars attached to the bike by the cyclecomputer’s cable. Not good, not good at all. If it hadn’t been for the cable, I’d have handed the broken bars to a marshall, and gone back to collect them after the race. But as it was, I had only two real choices - bail out of the race all together, or grip the aerobars with my right thumb, while riding on the brake hoods.
Of course, I went for the second option. But this meant that I couldn’t take my planned drinks, only managing a quick gulp from the bottle now grabbed with my left hand. It also meant that the transition I’d been practicing wasn’t going to happen, as having to hang on to the loose aerobars with my right hand, I couldn’t take off my shoes while still on the bike.
But I got to the end of the bike route in the end, and despite the problems, my time was less than 38 minutes. The bike got more or less thrown back onto the rack in what was a rather messy transition, but I still did everything in the right order, remembering not to bother taking my gloves off until I was actually out on the run course.
The run itself was tough though. Trying to keep the speed up on the bike while sitting up, I’d put a lot of effort in, and my legs weren’t up to their usual standards - it’s usually only the first few paces that feel like jelly, but this time it was almost 400 yards before things seemed to be working . . . at which point I got a stinging stitch at the top of my right ribs. And this lasted for almost two miles - until some other rather faster runners started to pass me. It’s amazing how much of a spur it is to be overtaken!
So the finish line came up soon enough, and there was Tall Friend waiting for me. We compared times, and his Pulsar showed his race at 1H:7Mins, while my cheep Casio also recorded seconds for me - 1H:7Mins:45Secs. I assumed that Tall Friend’s watch was rounding to the nearest minute, which mean that he’d beaten me (yet again), by at least 16 seconds.
So I got some water, a banana, and some chocolate down my neck, and headed off to get showered, feeling a little dejected. We got our bikes out of transition, and back to Tall Friend’s car, where I realised that we couldn’t just put mine on the roof with it’s dangling aerobars. I needed to cut the cable ties on the cyclecomputer’s cables, so I headed back in to the swimming pool building to see if I could borrow some scissors from the first aid station.
As I got to the building, the first official results were being posted . . . so I crowded in to see the bad news in black & white . . . and there it was . . . I’d finished with a time of 1:07:45 . . . and Tall Friend with a time of 1:07:55 . . . ten whole seconds behind me!
And all this despite my bike, Gina’s best efforts to get in the way. I’m starting to think she’s really a Friday 13th kind of bike. Possibly even completely jinxed. For that reason, she’s getting renamed. From now on, I’ll be calling her CHRISTINE.
- Type: Cycle
- Date: 08/05/2007
- Total Time: 00:38:00.00
- Distance: 12.4 miles
- Average Speed: 19.58 mph