Fritton Lake Sprint Triathlon

Fritton Lake is close to the coast, near Great Yarmouth. It’s a beautiful place to race!

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There were 3 options (super-sprint, sprint and standard distance), or you could do all 3. Not being completely mad, I avoided that, and just did the sprint.

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The lake was a strong green colour. Really green. When we got in, it became apparent this was some type of algae, and visibility was very limited.

There were 150 people taking part, and we’d been split into two waves. Luckily I was in the first. We all lined up in the water, close to the boathouse, and waited for the starter to find his horn. Fortunately it wasn’t particularly cold to wait around in the water.

It was a one lap, counterclockwise swim. I’d got a position on the left to try to get the shortest route possible. I was trying to focus on technique and staying calm. In theory. And actually, I think I managed it!

After a couple of hundred metres I was somewhere near the front, and actually found someone to draft. Although, with the very limited visibility, I kept hitting his feet. By about 400m I decided it must be really irritating and I couldn’t avoid it, so gave up drafting. To my surprise I was able to overtake him (slowly!). I could see there weren’t many people ahead, although there was at least one person a long way ahead :/

The buoys were easy to spot, and I wasn’t having any problems sighting (or swimming in a straight line! Woop!) I kept to my steady, technique-focussed swimming.

Coming to the end of the swim there was a last buoy, and a tight turn to the right. I got round that, and out onto the grass. There was a run of 150 metres to transition, during which I got my wetsuit off my top half.

It turns out I’d come out of the water in 5th (8th if you include the 2nd wave). I think the swim was 800m (from looking at all the Strava results), and the run up to transition took 1 minute 5 seconds. If those assumptions are correct, the swim took 11:50, which is 1:29 pace (a new pb!). By position, that’s 5.3% – another new PB, so maybe the assumptions are right!

However, despite being the best swim I’ve ever managed, I was still 2:40 down on the fastest! Sigh…

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In transition, I faffed around putting socks on. This was because I’ve got road (as opposed to triathlon) bike shoes, which need socks. One athlete overtook me, so I was out onto the road in 6th.

The guy that had overtaken me was with another athlete just ahead, but as I tried to get my feet in my shoes, I had trouble with the boa dials. After nearly crashing into a hedge (stylishly), and fiddling around with the dials, I lost sight of them by the time I was good to go. :/

Still, I enjoy cycling, and am pretty fast for a triathlete. I soon caught them up and overtook. I didn’t have a clue what position I was actually in, but soon saw another cyclist up ahead.

I mercilessly hunted him down and whizzed past. As I realised he didn’t have number on and wasn’t racing!

The course is on small country roads for the first half. Rolling through the beautiful sunny countryside. Past a pig farm. Many many pigs. Er, concentrate!

I caught two more riders about half way round. One looked like a good runner, but I was moving quite a bit faster than them.

The course moved onto a larger, faster road, but into a slight headwind. It really was a very lovely calm day to be racing, but the wind was just enough to slow this section down, which would otherwise be really fast.

I caught sight of another rider up ahead. It seemed to take a long time to catch him, and I was only 3 km from the end by this point. I figured he’d probably shoot past me on the run.

Coming into transition, I got my feet out nice and early. The last section is a little road with speed bumps. I was pretty pleased to be able to bunny-hop these even with my feet out.

I jumped off before the dismount line and ran into transition. There were no other bikes there – I was in the lead! After a faff free transition, I was off. The second place athlete was just coming in as I left.

I’d got the second fastest time on the bike, covering the 20km in 29:46. Irritatingly somehow the ride got wiped from Wahoo somehow, so I don’t have proper statistics for this.

The run was a double loop through the forest by the lake on little tracks. Really, really pretty and fun! It’s almost flat, with a few gentle inclines.

After Newmarket triathlon I’ve been slowly increasing the distance I’ve been running in training, but have done no speed sessions. I’d decided I’d aim at 4 minutes per km for this race.

It turned out to be about right, as it was about full speed, but wasn’t causing any injuries to flare up.

I was waiting for the guy behind me to fly past, but it didn’t happen. He was slowly getting closer, but not very quickly! By about 1km in, the course came back on itself and I could see the start of the run, and the guy in 3rd. He really looked like he was moving pretty fast…

The athlete behind caught me up by about 2km in. He paused behind on a narrow bit of the path, then came flying past. I knew what he was doing – he was trying to psych me out! He wasn’t that much faster!

Sure enough, he got about 5 metres ahead, then stopped increasing the distance. I bet that hurt! I was beginning to loosen up and felt like I could possibly speed up. Except that I was beginning to get stitch! Gah. I’d had dodgy stomach before the race, but I don’t know if that was related.

Regardless, I couldn’t do much more that hold onto the pace I was going. Which was irritating as this could have been a really fun (er, painful) race for the line. Still, maybe it was for the best as really trying to force the pace might put more stress on my recovering injuries than they could handle!

Coming into the end I was about 20 seconds down. 3rd was 20 seconds behind me. I did 20:10 for the 5.1km run. I’d come joint 7th in the run – 5% down the field, another PB. And nothing hurt!

Run on Strava

Of course there was the 2nd wave to come, which I’d conveniently forgotten about, but the fastest in that was exactly the same time as 3rd, so there were 2 people squashed on the same step of the podium.

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I was happy to not be racing twice more, but there were plenty of nutcases, er talented athletes who did! Joking aside, the format of 3 races sounds like a lot of fun if you’re fit enough to do it.

All in all a great day out! I had a lovely time with good friends ๐Ÿ˜€

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Results

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Grafman Aquabike

Grafman is a 70.3 triathlon (1.9km swim, 91.5km bike, 21km run) held at Grafham water, which is close to where I live. This has an option to race an Aquabike (Swim, bike).

The organisers had allowed for camping on site; my parents had come in their camper van, and the kids stayed with them overnight, which they loved! The area is really pretty and there were good play areas. This photo really doesn’t do it justice!

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The evening before, the weather looked perfect, and the lake very inviting!

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Unfortunately, on race morning, a dense concealing fog had descended!

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Photo credit: NiceTri events.

After some standing around (in wetsuits!), the organisers made the decision they had to – the swim was cancelled, but the rest of the race was going to go on. I was pretty gutted as this was the first chance I had this year to race an open water swim, particularly as it was going to be a rolling start; I haven’t done one of those before, but it sounds like a great way to start a triathlon!

So, the problem became how to start off 600 people on a non-drafting cycle ride?! It turns out the solution was to get everyone to stand by their bikes in transition, then get them to leave transition in groups of (roughly) 10. Your time started as you go over the timing mat at the end of transition.

Given that all the aquabikers (about 50 of us) were racked next to each other, it would mean I’d have some hope of seeing how I was doing.

I was worried about being stuck behind lots of slower cyclists (which is difficult when there is a car stuck behind a cyclist and you’re stuck behind that), but was lucky enough to get out with only 100 people ahead (including all of the aquabikers).

Leaving transition, after the timing mat there was a run of 20 meters with the bike before the mount line. Oddly some people didn’t seem that bothered and were walking at this point, so I had to run past (doing my best not to irritate any of the walkers).

Leaping onto my bike, I didn’t squish anything delicate (win!) and got my feet in without any problems this time. I was planning on riding to power, aiming at 260 watts. So I set off at 330… I’d just been telling my triathlon-mad buddy Clinton not to overdo it at the start! That’d be stupid with 90 odd kms to go!

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But… without the swim, I thought I could go a bit higher. And it felt too easy. And I was excited! I settled down to about 300, then 280ish over the first 20km.

I had it in my head that I wanted to get as close to the front as possible. Maybe the front. Given that the first people out probably had a headstart of around 5 minutes, this was not particularly likely, but that wasn’t going to stop me trying!

The route had 4 turnaround points, where you can see where you are. At the first one, which is only 4km into the race, there were, um, a lot of people ahead.

The course is mostly flat, with a lots of short, steep (10 degrees, so steep for me!) hills scattered through it. These do sap the speed, but there aren’t many in the first third of the course, so my average speed was good (around 41kmph I think).

The fog was making my visor hard to see through, so I flipped it up on top of the helmet. Apparently that costs about 5 watts, but at least I could see! However, being able to see was handy, as this time I spotted my dad and he saw me. Last year he missed me completely ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

By the second turn around, I counted 33 people ahead of me. There was one guy a long way out in front, then another with a gap behind him, and then a steady stream of cyclists. I started counting down as I overtook people after that.

We started to hit more of the steep hills, and a few rolling sections. I went through the first of the aid stations without stopping. I had a 750ml energy drink, and 6 gels (which I was eating one every 20 minutes) so didn’t need anything extra at this point.

The 3rd turn around point was at the bottom of a hill near Bedford. I’d overtake enough people that I thought I was something like 17th by that point. But counting cyclists coming the other way, I got to 35. Oh. I thought I must have got something wrong. But…

Once I had gone round the turnaround, I realised I was overtaking cyclists without numbers on! It turns out there was another cycling event going on whose route overlapped with ours! OK, I had no idea where I was any more!

Coming into the second (and last) aid station at 66km, I wanted to swap out my drink. I slowed, and lobbed my bottle into the bottle “bin”, and grabbed an energy drink with my left hand from a volunteer.

I did write a rant about the bottle here, but it’s too boring to publish…

By this point in the race a few things weren’t going perfectly. I was finding it hard to hold the power (OK, no surprise there then after the over enthusiastic start!) and my, er, undercarriage was getting sore. My tri suit is definitely aimed at short course races, with the padding not being a high quality comfortable gel fill pad, but rather a piece of fabric.

My back was also starting to ache a bit. However, this was less than I was worried it might be, and didn’t stop me from staying in the aero tuck at any point. I have had a brilliant bike fit, so I think it’s probably due to a lack of long distance tri-bike practise (I’ve not done anything over 40kms this year at high intensity!)

Still, the fog had gone, and it was a lovely day, and I was still overtaking! At the final turnaround, the leader was even further ahead, as was 2nd from the rest. I think I was up to 10th and had a big gap behind me. The last turn is pretty tight, so I was quite pleased not to go into that too fast and crash.

In the last 10km, I knew there were 2 of the sharp hills left. Just coming into the first of these I overtook 2 competitors right at the foot of the hill. They overtook me about 10 seconds later as soon as it got steep!

Getting to the top, when it got flat, I overtook them back and started to pull away, but then we hit the second, slightly longer hill. The first overtook me again, but I managed to stay ahead of the second. At the top I overtook him again.

Knowing I wasn’t running, I could push on hard towards the end. With this extra effort I was able to get to the end with an average power of… 260 watts. I have a feeling I could have made life easier by sticking to the plan!

I saw my mother (yay!), and then, Ccomming over the line, I slowed to a gentle walk (which confused lots of people as they weren’t used to Aquabikers!). There was one bike already in the Aquabike area.

Damnit, I thought I’d won that! But then again, it didn’t look like a fast bike… At that point the announcer mentioned my name and said I’d won! I guess they hadn’t raced! Whoop!

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Looking at the results, it turned out there had been a late entry into the Aquabike that was racked elsewhere that had come pretty close to winning, but fortunately I was just faster ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a nice break, and then jogged round the second lap of the run with Clinton. Having had time to stretch, eat, relax, play with the kids by this point I really enjoyed this – thanks Clinton!

Strava link

Full results

Thanks to NiceTri events for another wonderfully run event!

Newmarket Spring Triathlon 2019

It’s triathlon season! Finally! Still, it’s not come too soon.

It turned out the stomach pains I’d experienced in the European Championships Duathlon in Ibiza last October was something called osteitis pubis. This is been slow to work through with a lot of physiotherapy, but it seems to be going away. Slowly. Still, I’ve just about got to the point where I’m allowed to race, as long as I don’t try to run too hard. What that means, was obviously up for interpretation…

The Swim

300m, in a swimming pool, moving from one lane to the next. Not far, but nice to actually have a swim involved!. We were started off 30 seconds apart, with the slower swimmers off first (based on estimated times we’d provided upon entry).

My swim speed has been increasing over the winter, so I was hoping for around 4 minutes 30 seconds, which I’d done repeatedly a few days before.

Off the start it felt good. A fast relaxed rhythm, tumble turns, with the plan of gliding under the ropes between lanes. I wasn’t dropping back from the swimmer in front – good! The first lane swap went reasonably well, although I was a bit close to the rope on surfacing.

In the second lane I could see the competitor behind me, was gaining a bit. This time the tumble and glide (sounds like a dance move…) didn’t go so well. I tried to go a bit more across, and my feet slipped. I barely made it into the next lane.

By the third lane I was trying to make sure I made it, and push off at even more of an angle. This worked even less well – I just about made it to the next lane, but lost all momentum. The competitor behind was gaining rapidly now!

I didn’t want to get in the way, so did my best to go fast. Never a good move for me swimming, as I just splash more water around in all directions, and don’t actually go any faster!

I just got to the end of the final lap before he caught me. Clambering out, I nearly slipped, then huffed my way out of the poolside area and over the timing mat in 4:48 (of which I recon 4:40 was swimming).

Transition 1

I’ve got new shoes (ohhhhhh), but they’re cycling rather than triathlon specific shoes. So I didn’t fancy trying to race without socks. So I sat down, pulled on socks over my wet feet, then got going. Number belt, helmet, bike, and off!

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Bike (22km)

Over the mount line I jumped, flying ninja squirrel style onto it. I then cycled off before attempting to get my feet in my shoes.

They’ve got dials on them, which is nice for getting them adjusted just right, but in this case, on both shoes the wire (that the dial tightens) had got looped around the dial. I took a short while to get this sorted, then started chasing the competitors I could see disappearing into the distance…

There’s a short hilly section through Newmarket before getting out of town, where I caught up with the competitor ahead. Then off onto the faster, flatter roads. Mild rolling hills through the countryside on a lovely sunny day. Woop!

I was impressing myself (easily done…) with my speed and overtaking prowess, when after about a 3rd of the course I spotted #144 ahead of me – I was #143, so he should have been behind me. Odd, he must have started out of place, I thought cheerily to myself. He was moving fast, but I was slowly moving past him.

Hold on. No! Nag damnit! He must have been the competitor behind me in the pool, and gone past me in transition when I was faffing with my socks. Oh, that means he’s actually 30 seconds ahead of me… Son of a biscuit eater!

I carried on, but with renewed vigour. Given where I’d caught him, and trying to allow for my faffing, I thought I’d be ahead by about 30 seconds (1 minute including my head-start) by the time we finished the bike course.

Coming to the end, there’s a little hill. I got to the top of that, then got my feet out of the bike shoes. No drama here (I had actually practised this!), and jumped off the bike and ran into transition in 32:31. I was actually in the lead by 40 seconds at this point (with #144 in second).

Strava link – KOM, KOM, KOM, KOM!

Run

Transition 2 went by without a hitch and I was out on the run.

The run course was meant to be 4km in 2 loops, but due to some locked gates, it had a few extra detours, so was actually 4.4km.

Remembering that I was not meant to be running too fast, I jogged at a reasonable but steady pace. My stomach (where you feel the osteitis pubis) felt fine, as did my calve muscles (which I’m a bit wary about as well).

I was trying to run at a high cadence without really lengthening my stride. This seemed to work well in terms of not putting much stress on my body, but really isn’t an efficient way to run. I was also not pushing too hard.

I ran past a friend (Cracknell – no, not that one) who put his hand out for me to high five, but it took me quite a long time to get to that hand!

I was hoping #144 wasn’t a good runner, but a glance across a field soon put paid to that day dream! He looked like he was flying! Sure enough, he came past me a short while before the end of the first lap. He made a nice comment about my bike speed as he nipped past!

I was proud of myself for not trying to chase after him. Not that I would have been able to stay with him, but I’m often kind of stubborn about that kind of thing… Anyway, I made my way round the rest of the course, and came over the line to be greeted by most of the people I knew who were racing, which was ace!

18:15, which was faster than I thought it’d be!

Strava link

So, drumroll please… I felt fine after the run! I’d managed not to break myself! Woop!

#144 turned out to be a nice chap, who won the whole thing. I hope I don’t see him at too many more races!

I came 3rd, which was a nice surprise (especially as the timing system initially had me as taking 9 hours for the swim!)

Full results here: https://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/2fZ/splits.html

All in all a lovely day out with friends, and a great bit of preparation for the Grafman Aquabike next weekend (1.9km swim, 92km bike).

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10 Mile Time Trial (ECCA E2/10)

You know what? This is really beginning to get difficult! I glance down at my bike computer. I know I’m moving fast, but is it fast enough? The power reading is showing higher than I probably should be trying maintain, but the average speed, which has been slowly climbing throughout the race after the standing start, is just getting there. I could do it…

This weekend saw a chance to finally don some of the most attractive body hugging Lycra known to man (although probably not woman), and compete at something. Woohoo! An โ€œopenโ€ 10-mile cycling time trial held on the fast E2/10 course just outside of Cambridge. The afore-mentioned kit was a violently coloured (safety first!) wind-cheating speed-suit. I accessorised that with a huge visor (with a helmet attached) and with what I was hoping were clashing aerodynamic shoe covers.

The last time I tried one of these, I did it in 20 minutes 58 seconds. But, I was hoping a winter of training, and my new bright colours, would mean there was a chance of scraping under the magical 20 minute barrier. Why is it magical I hear you ask? Well, it’s a round number, innit. Duh! Ahem.

The format of this was 120 riders, who start one every minute, on an โ€œout and backโ€ course ending where you started. Kind of pointless, but fun! I was going off as number 31, meaning I was behind one of the seeded riders (based on previous PBs – they tend to be on numbers ending in 0’s and/or 5’s with the idea you get a boost from chasing down the unseeded riders in front of you). At the start a marshal kindly holds your bike upright while you clip in and wait, and then you get a countdown.

5,4,3,2,1,GO! And off I went. And I do think I look dapper, kind of like a giant mutant wasp…

There’s a slight incline on the start of this, and I wound up to speed slowly, and then settled into a steady pace – which is why I spent the whole race hoping the average speed would climb up! I wasn’t sure how fast this course, the day, or I really was, but thought I’d be aiming for about 300, maybe 305 watts. As it was, I was holding about 315, but it didn’t feel too bad. Since it’s a relatively short race, I thought I’d keep this up and see how bad it was towards the end…

My speed seemed to be around 51 kmph, which was promising since I’d need slightly over 48 average. That felt very fast, so I had a big grin on my face! I overtook a rider (number 29, so not my ‘minute man’), and held the power stead. Ish. However, there was a bit of a cross wind, and I kind of assumed that it was also a bit of a tailwind. Which would make the return section slower.

The turning point was a roundabout, which I was lucky enough not to have any traffic on, so didn’t lose too much time on. Even so, the average speed which had just climbed up to 48 kmph, dropped down to the 47s again, especially after the biggest climb on the course just after it (still only about 2%, but enough to drop the speed a bit). And yep, it was now a cross headwind! But, it wasn’t too strong. My speed was floating around 48 – this could still be on!

I could see another rider ahead, which helped keep me pushing, while trying to keep tucked into an aero position. This turned out to be number 28, but I could see number 30. Ohhh, that meant I was catching a seeded rider! Blimey! Stillโ€ฆ focus! This is where it was hurting, but the average was now showing as 48.1 kmph. A 10 mile course is 16.0934 km. That extra 93 meters could turn out to be important!

One last push in the last 500m saw my pace soaring upwards. Oh, OK, it actually saw my pace just about staying the same as I found it harder and harder to keep pedalling. Still, I made it over the line! 48.1 kmph. That might be enough. It might!

It was! 19 minutes, 50 seconds! That actually works out as (drumroll please!) 48.7kmph – my bike computer added on a few seconds of 0 kmph while waiting at the start, hence why it showed slower. Grrrr!

That was enough to get me 6th overall, 3rd “veteran” (really? I prefer person of maturity…) and claim the team victory for Cambridge Cycling Club! Woop ๐Ÿ˜€

2018 has been a good year!

This year I’ve been lucky enough to race and train quite a lot!

At the start of this season I was battling with a chronic injury in my calf muscles. As the season progressed, through a combination of rest, strengthening, physiotherapy and running style changes, I (hope) I’ve managed to finally get over that, which meant I was able to do my first Half Ironman at Holkam.

However, after that I began to have Achilles tendon issues. This I think I’ve also managed to work through in a similar manner, so am hopeful that 2019 will be a year when I can race without problems.

Fingers crossed!

Here’s a full list of results from the year – I seem to be progressing!

Ely Hardriders 25km TT
Just beat Lucy Charles! Very, very cold and windy.

Bottisham 10 mile TT

Cambridge Cycling Club 10 mile TT F2/10D
Wet. Averaged 44.7 kmph

Cambridge Cycling Club 10 mile TT F2A/10
Averaged 46.2 kmph

Saffron Walden Sprint Triathlon
Got a puncture, came 14th out of 171 finishers.

Cambridge Cycling Club Knapwell 15.2 TT

St. Neots (Grafham) Standard Triathlon
This was an ITU qualifier. 20th out of 467 finishers, 2nd in age group – qualified for the World Championships in 2019.

Ashley B TT

Dorney Sprint Triathlon
3rd out of 84 finishers.

Holkam 70.3
38th out of 1209 finisher. 4th in age group. I really struggled with the heat on the run.

ITU World Aquabike Championships
26th out of 193. 4th in age group.

Monster Standard Triathlon
1st out of 173 finishers. Fastest bike, including beating Ben Dijkstra!

Bottisham 10 mile TT
1st

Haverhill Sprint Triathlon
1st out of 108 finishers.

ETU European Duathlon Championships 2018 Ibiza
7th out of 25 in age group. Fastest bike out of everyone!

With those results I was able to win some of the point based championships at Cambridge Triathlon Club (Triathlon and Bike), and was also lucky enough to be awarded the Most Improved Triathlete and the Captain’s Award!

I worked out what you’re meant to do with one of the trophies…

Aerocoach AEOX 75mm Front Wheel review

I’ve had a rear Aerocoach AEOX disc wheel for a while now and finally have now got a front. I opted for a 75mm rather than the 100 as I wanted better handling in crosswinds – according to the website there isn’t much difference but I still felt more comfortable with that choice.

So, before the detail… is it fast?

I ran a simple test doing 2 out and back 1 km rides at a constant speed for each different front wheel, using a power-meter to compare the average watts. Same bit of road, doing the rides directly after each other. The road was reasonably flat, out runs had a mild cross tail, and the in runs had a mild cross head wind. (12:30 here. The route was North/South)

I tested the AEOX with a Vittoria Corsa Speed 23mm, an 88mm Chinese “Carbonzone” carbon u-shaped clincher with a Continental Grand Prix 4000s II tyre, and a Khasmin Asymmetric 27mm with a wiggle puncture proof tyre, all at 100psi. I aimed at 42kmph for each 1km section.

Aeox 75mm Carbonzone 88mm Khasmin Asymmetric 27mm
Speed Watts Speed Watts Speed Watts
Out 42.3 242 42.4 263 42.1 266
Back 42.2 282 42.4 283 42.2 298
Out 42.4 242 42.2 258 42.2 276
Back 42.5 274 42.6 280 42.3 297
Average 42.4 260 42.4 271 42.2 284
@42.4 42.4 260 42.4 271 42.4 288

So, the AEOX is fast! 11 watts faster than the Carbonzone, and 28 faster than the Khasmin! The tyres on the Aeox and Carbonzone are pretty comparable in terms of rolling resistance, so I think this is a pretty fair test.

This is the bike and kit I was using for the tests:

The speed/watts has held out in actual racing – I think I had the fastest bike splits at the European Duathlon Sprint championships in Ibiza using this (although I’d switched to having a latex inner tube with the same tyre, rather than tubeless by this point). There I averaged 42.8 kmph on a smooth course with 100m of climb, 4 roundabouts and 3 dead turns in the middle, at an average of 280 watts.

In terms of crosswinds, it is a lot easier to control than the Carbonzone (I’ve tried this on windier days).

Like the rear AEOX disc wheel, this is an aluminium rim wheel with a fairing on it. This means it’s not the lightest wheel in the world – although neither is it heavy by any means – officially 985g ยฑ 15g – which matches what my one weighs. I prefer the braking contact on aluminium, so I’m happy with this. It also means it’s relatively inexpensive!

I did hope having aluminium rims would mean it would be easier to switch wheels out for training wheels (without having to switch carbon/aluminium brake pads), but as with the rear, this isn’t actually that easy as the rims are very wide – 24.7mm. This is much wider than your usual wheel, so you have to adjust brakes.

There are some downsides unfortunately. While having fairings means the spokes disappear inside the fairing in an aerodynamic way without nipples protruding, it leaves issues with the inside curve coming over the top of the valve.

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This doesn’t leave a lot of room for attaching a pump. With the 45mm valve that comes with the tubeless kit, the only pump adaptor I could use was the hold on type shown in the above picture. If this slips, it can hit the fairing, which around the cutout is very, very fragile. I cracked the fairing doing this, and again when pulling the valve off and hitting the top!

After letting the wheel down to get it in a flight box I had real issues trying to get it re-inflated. Inflating tubeless tyres generally involves putting in air at high pressure using some kind of compressor in order to get a seal around the rim. I don’t have one so took the bike to a local (decent!) bike shop. They didn’t have anything that could hold that kind of pressure that would fit under the fairing (and a hold on adaptor is not an option with that kind of pressure) so couldn’t help me!

This is why I switched back to using a latex inner tube (which also I could get with a shorter 40mm valve). It’s possible to get 35mm tubeless valves that would help, but I was in a hurry to go on a plane by this point!

Aerocoach said they didn’t use compressed air to get the tubeless tyres on – I’m a newbie with tubeless so I’m not sure how this works, but it wasn’t a process the guys in the bike shop were familiar with either.

The team at Aerocoach were very supportive (which they have been whenever I’ve contacted them), and made opening larger, which got rid of some of the cracks – I’ve supported the edges with electrical tape now and intend to be a lot more careful with it in the future. I’m now able to get a small track pump head in there which should help.

ETU European Duathlon Championships 2018 Ibiza

I was lucky enough to represent Great Britain again, this time at the European Multisport Championships in Ibiza, racing in the Sprint Duathlon. Since qualifying for this last year I haven’t actually raced a duathlon – I’ve been focusing on triathlon and haven’t got to a point where I’ve been confident enough of my various leg injuries to think it’s a good idea!

However, having had a break from running since the Monster Triathlon and having built back up carefully, I was actually confident I could do this. However, I wasn’t confident I’d done enough running to be competitive. Bike training was going well however!

Having managed to actually travel to Ibiza with my wife (despite her being unwell – she’s a star for having managed to come despite this!) and get to the hotel, we were quite pleased with it!

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I’d travelled with my bike in a bike box – this time a more sturdy Bike Box Alan, with extra supports that go through the centre of the wheels so that it’d work with a disc wheel. Unlike Denmark, this time nothing was broken – huzzah! So first order of the day was to rebuild the bike. Which I managed with only one minor panic about a wheel being buckled (which it wasn’t…)

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I went for a short test ride on the course. It appeared I’d managed not to mess anything up with the bike build, and the course was amazingly fast ๐Ÿ˜€

Next it was time to travel the 20km to the random location of registration and briefing. I’d been looking forward to getting the bag promised in the blurb to replace my ailing transition bag from Aviles. Imagine, if you will, my joy and delight at what was presented instead of a transition bag:

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Onto the GB briefing, and it turned out there were a lot of GB athletes!

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The night before the race there was a parade of nations, which was fun! Music, marching around and a balloon arch.

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The organisers were having a hard time, however. The transition was planned to be on a beach, but there had been a storm surge, which had destroyed this!

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Fortunately, there was a backup plan apparently, which was to take over the Elite transition area. However, there were a lot of bikes to fit in that area!

Overnight they managed to perform a miracle and get everything moved, and it didn’t look too bad by the time I arrived in the morning!

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The run course had to be adjusted to cope with this, and apparently the bike course had been slightly shortened to ditch a turnaround at a roundabout as that was covered in dirt and was a bit slippy.

Just before the race, it started to rain. Fortunately it was pretty warm, and stopped after a short while, but everything was now damp and slippy.

The run course was very, very narrow. An out and back 1.25km section along the waterfront, on slippy terracotta tiles, which after the rain were now pretty treacherous. As a result, it was important not to get stuck behind slower runners.

For the start we were due to go in waves. I was in the second wave (40+ men) and we were instructed to stand in transition and wait for our waves to be called to the start line. After the first wave of younger athletes started, we were called forwards.

The layout of the transition was linear, so I cunningly moved to the nearest end of the 40-44 men to the start, in the hope of being at the front. This was about halfway up transition.

What I didn’t spot was that the older age groups (who were also in the same wave) were on the other side of the bike racking, and were much nearer to the start. Doh! By the time I got there, there was a wedge of old gits men even older than myself, about 8 rows deep at the start line.

I gently moved forwards as far forward as I could politely, and ended up in about the 5th row. Given I knew that there would be a lot of faster runners around, I didn’t want to push too much. Unlike the Spanish guys in my age group who were now all at the front somehow!

An Italian guy suddenly appeared at the front and ran off after the first wave! We guessed he had missed the start, and he got a big cheer! Followed by an even bigger one about a minute later as he came running back up the course to the start line as he’d realised he was in our wave after all!

Shortly afterwards, it was time to start! There was a little bit of heartbeat sound-effects over the speaker system, then we were off!

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Photo credit: Jon Izeta

It was very congested, and we were all pretty nervous about a sharp corner after about 100m. As a result I was already 8 seconds behind the leaders by the time I got there.

We followed the seafront, and slowly began to spread out. Not much, but at least I wasn’t in danger of losing a trainer here! Suddenly there were shouts of “Bench!”. What? Oh, the course got even narrower, and there was a bench in the middle of it. I hurdled over one end of it (shouting Bench as I went) and carried on.

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At the turnaround point (1.25km in to the 5km course), you got a good chance to see how you were doing. Not good, it turned out! I was about 30 seconds down on the mad Italian already! Still, I was hoping I’d do well on the bike course, and had noted that some of the faster looking runners didn’t have fast looking bikes. So, there was some hope!

Running back along the front I heard my name and there was my wonderful wife who snapped this picture!

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I was actually running bang on what I’d hoped I’d be able to do, despite the slippy floor and congestion. Which was about 18 1/2 minutes for the 5km.

The waves were going off every 3 minutes. There was a little bit of mental maths I should have done before I got to the 2.5km point. Given the lead in from the start to the main run course loop, I was bang on target to get to that turnaround just as a wave was started, which is what happened! Had I done this maths, I could have pushed harder for the first loop to avoid it. Instead I found myself in the middle of a women’s wave. Damnit!

I did few slightly dodgy overtaking manoeuvres on the wrong side of the course it began to thin out again. The mad Italian was looking like he’d be 2 1/2 minutes ish up by the end of the run, with the next guy I thought was in my age group about 1 minute 20 up.

Coming into transition, I was pretty pleased that I’d done the run pretty fast (for me!) in the conditions and it all felt pretty controlled. I’d still have plenty of energy for the bike, which I was by now, very much looking forward to!

Run 1 Strava link

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Er, that wasn’t my transition technique. Don’t know where that came from…

So I got through transition with a minor faff with the helmet, but nothing untoward. I got out, over the mount line, leapt onto my bike, took a few pedal strokes, then got my feet in. This is something I should have done better – I didn’t get enough speed up before doing this, and wasted a few seconds.

But then I was going. And going fast! I was in my happy place. No longer a sluggish runner, but a speeding demon! The competition was in my domain now! Bwahahahaha! Er, ahem. Sorry. But I was going fast!

The course had a short connecting section, with a simple “out and back” after that, which you did twice – in total it was 18km (slightly short of the normal 20km). On the “out and back”, there was a single roundabout near the first end.

The road surface was very, very fast, and the conditions were just right (not much wind, warm and slightly humid), although slippy after the rain, so care needed to be taken on corners.

I cranked up the speed, then settled in. The first “out” was slightly uphill, about 50m height gain over the 4.5km. I was cruising, getting my heart rate under control and taking on some fluids. And overtaking everyone in sight! There were a few clumps of people, but mostly it was just one or two riders at a time. I occasionally ended up on the wrong side of the road as I was overtaking big groups and someone drifted out, but this didn’t happen very often.

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After the turn point I put in a bit of a burst to get up to speed, then dropped the watts down about 10%. I was loving it! Again, overtaking, and really feeling in control. I hadn’t spotted the mad Italian at any point, but thought I spotted the guy who’d been in 2nd.

Coming up to the roundabout, there was someone shouting “Straight on! Straight on!”. This seemed a little unnecessary. However, it turned out it was necessary! Slightly earlier on in the race, a policeman had taken it on himself to help out, and had directed riders to turn here. For about 2 minutes riders coming through had turned here. It saved at least 1 minute.

We found out about this afterwards, when there was a very noble act by one of the Spanish 20-24 athletes. He’d gone the wrong way, and had a big battle on the run to win his age group by a few seconds in front of a British athlete. However, he realised that the British athlete had got to the roundabout before the policeman had got involved, and had done the full distance.

The organisers had failed to put a timing mat at the turn around point (which would be normal practise), so stated that they would not be doing anything about it, but if anyone admitted taking the shorter course, they would be disqualified.

Knowing the consequences, the Spanish athlete admitted what had happened, was disqualified, and the British athlete became the European champion. The Spanish athlete was in tears afterwards.

Not many other people admitted taking the short course, which I can sympathise with, given the draconian consequences by the organisers, due to the organisers own mistakes, and the fact that most would have been in a contest with people racing close to them (so the winners of medals would probably have got the correct medals they would have got had this not happened).

Anyway, when I got to real correct turn around point, I had closed in on a group which I thought contained lots of athletes in my age group. This was good news, as if we had a similar second half of the bike leg, and similar run, the fact that the second run was only 2.5km would mean I’d likely beat them ๐Ÿ˜€

One athlete slipped over at the corner, and everyone else slowed down more to take the turn! I got round safely, and again cranked up the power.

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I thought one of the athletes might be following me, and wasted some time checking and lost a bit of focus. By the time I got my focus back, I’d lost a bit speed and had to wind it back up.

The course was a bit busier now with more athletes for later waves out. But that was just more people to overtake! I was loving the feeling of cruising along on the smooth road listening to the whoosh of my wheels!

After the last turnaround, on the steepest downhill section, I got my speed up, and then took a bit of a break to help prepare for the final run. Just up ahead was another athlete moving fast. After the mini-break I pushed on to overtake him, which took much longer than any of my other overtakes.

I passed a little before the roundabout, but coming up to that I could see an older athlete on the outside of the road that I was going to overtake just as I got to it. We had quite a big speed difference, and I had a feeling he was about to cut into the middle of the road to take the racing line. I shouted out, but it didn’t stop him doing it…

I hit the brakes hard and swerved round him. The guy I’d just overtaken managed to miss me and passed by on the right. I got back up to speed and started to catch up again as we approached the dismount line.

I got my feet out before him, and overtook about 200m from the line. As I approached it, I got my right leg over my saddle, and in front of my left leg, with hands on brakes. I applied the brakes, and slowed. As I jumped off I heard a crash to my right – the other fast athlete had messed something up and gone over!

I ran into transition, and got my bike racked. Looking back at the way in, I could see him carrying his bike, so fortunately he hadn’t injured himself too badly. Unfortunately I could also see the big group of athletes in my age group – I hadn’t managed to pull away in the second half of the bike leg.

It turns out I’d officially got the 3rd fastest time for the bike leg out of 700 international athletes, only 6 seconds off being the fastest! Unofficially, I think I actually was the fastest!

The 2nd fastest posted his Strava log which shows he turned at the roundabout.

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The 1st fastest didn’t post his race on Strava, and after an unhealthy amount of cyber snooping, while I’m aware he’s a very good cyclist, I think there’s a high probability he turned there too. But that might just be because that’s what I what to think!

Regardless, here’s my ride on Strava.

Out of transition, the route was up to the top near the start, then back down to the run course. There was a timing mat here to make sure you didn’t just go straight onto the run without doing this loop, and to start the run timing, but sadly this wasn’t working, so the official run times include the transition.

I got going, surprisingly managing to run at the same speed as the first leg – whoop! However, with the knowledge that, given my fast bike ride, and the initial run, everyone around me would be better runners ๐Ÿ˜ฆ That coupled with the fact that I’d seen the group of athletes in my age group just behind me, meant I didn’t really feel like I had a chance, so wasn’t able to really motivate myself.

The athlete who crashed at the dismount line came past. I asked if he was OK (he was) and more importantly if his bike was OK (he didn’t know!) Then about 15 other people came past.

I saw the guy who’d been in second at the turn around point and was determined to stay ahead of him in case I was wrong about the other people I thought were in my age group!

Coming in to the finish, I was about 15 seconds clear both ahead and behind, so had time to grab a couple of flags that were being offered and mess about in the finishing chute!

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Run 2 Strava

I’d made it to the end, I hadn’t had any problems with injuries and I’d raced a race I was proud of. Whoop!

I’d come 7th – from 2nd to 7th was pretty close, but if I wan’t to get on the podium I’m going to have to improve my running! The mad Italian (an ex professional) had won by a large margin, so apparently his “warm up” hadn’t done him any harm. He also won the standard distance duathlon the next day!

Full results

All in all it was a great experience, and we did a bit of holidaying afterwards, before returning home and retrieving the kids from my parents (thanks Mum and Dad!)