Tag: bike

The Hebridean Triathlon (Iain)

My mum was born in the Outer Hebrides. She is a native Gaelic speaker who didn’t learn English until she went to primary school. If she spoke Gaelic in school, a teacher would punish her with a cane! She very quickly became a fluent English speaker.

I was born in Glasgow but grew up in the Outer Hebrides. I’m a native English speaker who didn’t learn Gaelic until I went to primary school. Nobody hit me with a cane. I failed Gaelic. I blame the lack of “motivation”. I know only two Gaelic phrases: “How are you?” and “I am cold and wet.”

Which, in Scotland, is all you really need.

I was reminded of this whilst battling wind and rain at last weekend’s Hebridean Triathlon.

This was the second time the event has been held. Last year I came in the top 10…because there was only 10 competitors!

In the last year the organisers have done a great job encouraging participation from both men and woman. 25 people took to the start line with an almost equal split of men and woman.

Swim

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Last year the swim was in a loch by the sea but this time it was in the sea by the loch. Which is a bit of a tongue twister but it was a great move from the organizers as the sea was much more enjoyable to swim in.

Last year I wrote: “I took a detour on the first lap…”

I was determined to sight better this year. I did! This time I took a detour on the second lap.

Bike

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The bike course is an out and back route to the Callanish Stones. It was an undulating route into a very strong headwind. If that wasn’t hard enough. The heavens opened and the rain/hail started.

The wind was so strong. it took nearly an hour to do the out route but only 35 minutes to get back.

By the end of the cycle I was battered by the elements. All I could think was “Tha mi fuar agus fhluich” I’ll let you work out which of my Gaelic phrase that translates to.

Run

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I’d finished the bike just ahead of a fellow athlete from the Glasgow Triathlon Club. I was determined to stay ahead so set off at a steady pace.

The weather wasn’t any better but this was helpful because instead of letting my mind think about how much I hate running. Instead, I thought about how much I hate the rain!

I felt quite good on the run and managed to overtake a few people who were ahead of me.

Overall.

I was happy with my performance. My time was down on last year but due to the weather so was everyone else’s.

I’ll leave the last word to one of the competitors who wrote:

“Thank you all for putting on one of the best triathlons I have participated in. The course is hard to beat and the relaxed atmosphere was just perfect. Well done to everyone involved.”

Challenge Weymouth 2014 (Iain)

Next weekend we’re both racing Ironman Edinburgh. It’s three years since we last did a middle distance triathlon (1.8KM swim, 55 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). Here’s how we got on last time…

Up until 2014, the UK “Challenge” triathlon had taken place in Henley-on-Thames. A place so posh it needs hyphens. The people of Henley hated the triathlon. The closed road race would often be interrupted by a Range Rover or Aston Martin. The locals having decided that closed only meant closed to cheap cars.

In 2013, Andrew and I entered Challenge Henley, a middle distance triathlon. It was well organised and, as it was at the end of the summer, we could train for it when the weather was good rather than over the winter. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to do it again but the locals had decreed no more triathlon so the race moved to Weymouth.

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Weymouth is a place that doesn’t need hyphens. If you love ice cream, chips and donkey rides then this is the town for you. It’s also worth a visit if you want to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper recreated as a sandcastle.

We drove down on the Friday before the race. We wanted the extra day to get ready and recover from the drive. Google maps said it would take 8 hours but it doesn’t take into account any other cars or roadworks. It was closer to 12 hours. We should have got a medal for just getting there.

There’s plenty of accommodation in the area. We stayed in an ex Ministry Of Defence building that was used to test bombs. This meant the walls were so thick, WiFi and mobile phones didn’t work.

Registration/Setup

Registration took place at the pier, which is the end point of the race. The transition areas for the swim/bike/run was about a mile and a half away along the beach. This is ok but it meant you have to work out where to park your car on race morning. Do you want a long walk to the start but be close to the finish or vice versa?

Registration takes a couple of minutes and we were given all the usual – a race number, a tattoo of the number and different colored bags to put our transition stuff in. One for the bike, one for the run and one for post event.

We went back to the hotel to sort everything out. Once we had all the stuff ready we headed over to transition. At this point my brother remembered that he had not put any his bags into the car. So it was back to the hotel…and then back to transition! As a forfeit he had to buy me dinner. I picked the expensive options.

Swim

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The hotel was open for breakfast from 3AM so I popped along at 5AM for some Weetabix. There was a few others eating. They all had Weetabix too except one man who was having a full English breakfast. I assume he was just a hungry insomniac rather than an athlete.

We choose to park nearer to the finish than the start. As we walked along the beach to transition  we noticed just how fierce the waves were. A quick check of Twitter (always a useful reference to find out whats going on) revealed the waves were so strong the course was going to be altered and the full length race was going to be shortened. Our race would be delayed by 30 minutes.

This meant a long cold wait by the sea as we watched the full distance athletes struggle in the waves. I’d swam in similar conditions last year in a charity event in fife. That day the weather was so bad the Women’s Golf open was cancelled. I hadn’t enjoyed it as it became an exercise in survival rather than fun. I wasn’t looking forward to the swim!

Luckily it calmed down slightly by the time we were due to start so we decided to give it a go. After all, whats the worse that can happen?

It was two laps out and back to a buoy. The way out was very choppy. I quickly lost my brother in the swell. Sighting was straightforward as there was so many folk around I just followed everyone else. I actually quite enjoyed it but it probably helped that I’d been swimming in the sea whilst on holiday the week before so I was used to the salt.

I finished the swim in about 45 minutes.

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Transition 

We have an agreement that we wait for each other in transition. As neither of us is going to win the race we just race each other so all we care about it the times for each section. I had a 10 minute wait for him before he turned up. He said he was delayed as he’d gone for a spin on a boat! If I knew that was an option then I’d have taken it. He had felt fine on lap 1 but, near the end of lap 2, he was sick so had to hitch a lift on the boat so he could be ill. Luckily it was just all the salt that had upset his stomach – or maybe he’d ordered a full English breakfast when I wasn’t looking.

Bike

Experts say you shouldn’t change anything before a race. I decided to ignore that advice and put aero bars on my bike and I adjusted my seating position. I’d never used aero bars and I was surprised at just how great they were! I’m going to use them all the time now. [NOTE: I wrote this in 2014. I’ve barely used them since!] The race was one lap of 55 miles into the countryside. It was fairly flat with some slight hills. I saw some riders getting off their bikes and walk up the hills. They should move to Scotland and learn what real hills are like.

Highlights of the ride was passing a Tank Museum. The speed signs on the road to it had separate speed limits for tanks and cars.

I enjoyed the bike ride and I finished it in 3hrs 10min

Transition 

I waited for about 15 minutes for my brother. He likes watching his speedometer and keeping to a steady pace whilst I don’t bother with any tech and just cycle faster when I feel good and slower when I don’t. I think this is why he is better at going up hills than me but I’m usually better on flatter courses.

Run

Annoyingly the run was 15 miles. Which I thought was a bit unfair, as it was a half marathon race not a half and a bit race. We had no choice in the matter so off we went. The course was two and a half laps of the seafront taking in a section past all the pubs called “the beer mile.”

Whilst on the run we passed a section of beach which contained just one man: one man playing the bagpipes. One man playing the bagpipes badly. It was clear why he had that part of the beach to himself. Even in one of the most southern parts of England there was still a reminder of home.

The run was good and I dropped my brother after half way as his chat was dull 🙂 I then made a fatal error! I thought I’d run for a bit with headphones on. I didn’t realise doing so is a complete no-no! I do it on all running races so I assumed it was okay here. I’d find out about it at the end when I wanted to check my result….

I finished the run in 2hr 3min and then hung about for 15 minutes until my brother finished.

We both checked the distance on our watches and it had only been 13.1 miles so we were thankful it had been changed from 15. It later transpired this change meant the full distance runners didn’t do a full marathon. Their race was 4k short.

Overall

It was a good well organised race in a nice part of the world. Both myself and my brother beat our time from last year on all three disciplines so we were happy. Afterwards I went to check our times and found out

A) My brother had been DQ’d. It turns out a ride in a boat isn’t allowed

B) I was marked as “withdrawn from race” which was news to me! I then found out it was due to been spotted wearing headphones.

Luckily neither of us care about the final result other than who beat who and we still got our medal 🙂

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End Of Month Report (Iain)

My plan for May was not to have any mileage goals but instead complete a number of events:

  • Helensborough 10K – I was hoping I’d get under 45 minutes for one of my 10K’s this month. I surprised myself by managing it in the first race. Link here
  • Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice) – My aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me due to a puncture. We didn’t do the climb twice due to the puncture. Link here
  • Loch Leven half marathon – the aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me easily! I was happy with my time so I can’t complain…too much. Link here 
  • Antonine Trail Race 10k – great race. I’ll sign up for the half marathon when it becomes available. Link here
  • Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike  – My aim was to beat Andrew but he cheated 🙂 Link here 
  • Dumbarton 10K – I didn’t make it to this race which I think is the second time I’ve entered it but not made it to the start line.
  • Shettleston 10K – Last race of the month. I was tired and hungover but my time was okay. Link here 

The theme of the month was “My aim was to beat Andrew but….”

Thankfully, despite these losses, the Todd Championship is still close. It’s currently 4-3 to Andrew. Overall, I enjoyed the races and got PB’s for the biking so it was a good month.

My plan for June is not to have a plan. Iron Man Edinburgh is the next goal (at the start of July) so I’ll concentrate on keeping everything ticking over so that I’m fit and healthy.

I also don’t want to let Andrew know what my plan for this month is to ensure I win! I have a secret idea….

Here’s a selection of photos from May. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/twinbikerun/

Bealach Beag 2017 (Andrew)

“When’s the worst time to get a puncture – the start or end of a race?”

We were about five miles from the finish of Bealach Beag – a 45 mile race around Applecross and over the UK’s highest road: Bealach Na Ba.

We’d just passed a rider changing a tyre at the side of the road.

“If you get a puncture at the start then that’s really annoying as you’ve just started and you have to stop. But, if you get a puncture at the end, you’re thinking that you don’t have long to go when, suddenly, you’ve got to wait and change your tyre.”

We didn’t answer the questions. We came to a short hill, a fast descent and sudden climb. I’d read the course profile and knew that the last two miles were downhill. I thought if I made a break for it now then Iain wouldn’t keep up.

I was right.

I was first over the hill. I kept going as fast as I could for two miles, looked back and knew he wasn’t in sight.

It was an easy victory.

Until I had to wait at the finish line.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Eventually, 20 minutes later, far, far longer than he should have been, Iain cycles into Sheildag.

“I got a puncture just after you left!”

He tried to claim that meant my victory was void, that professionals who get a mechanical in the last stage of a race are given the same time as the winner.

I pointed out that I was the first to climb Bealach Na Ba – a six mile, 626m climb, that takes you from sea level to mountain top and back down again. Some parts have a gradient of 20% – which is almost like doing a wheely without your bike leaving the ground!

I also pointed out that I was the first round Applecross and had waited for him.

But still he insisted he was given the same time.

So, I said: “That’s okay, you can have the same time – but you don’t see Chris Froome handing over the yellow jersey! It’s the same time not the same place! I’m still the winner!”

Same time then, but, a much needed victory in the Todd Championship to claw it back to 3 – 2 to Iain!

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End Of Month Report: April (Iain)

My plan for April was:
– The Dirty Reiver race (you can read about it here
– Bike (on average) 110 miles a week – I managed 129
– Run (on average) 16 miles a week – I managed 16.3
– Do yoga at least once a week – done!
– Swim twice a week – I failed. I managed three swims in a month. I need to do better!
– Plaster the hall. I phoned a man and he’s doing it next week 🙂

I’m happy with how April went. I had a two weeks vacation. I call it a Scottish compass holiday because, by the end of it, I’d visited the north, south, east and west of Scotland!

In the north, I visited Findhorn. A very spiritual community of hippies with eco-homes. I found this book – “Your Pet’s Past Lives & How They Can Heal You”.

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I have so many questions:
– does my cat have nine past lives?
– Was my cat a cat in a previous life? If not, is being a cat a punishment or a reward for past behavior?
– how can my cat heal me? He seems pretty lazy and selfish. I suspect he’s planning to kill me.
– the author is a whale whisperer??? What are whales saying ? And how do you whisper underwater?

and WHO BELIEVES THIS TOSH?

In the south I visited the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. A wonderful garden that’s only open once a year. One of the grass mounds in looks like an ass which meant they needed this sign:

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Which is a motto I live my life by.

In the east I biked from Edinburgh back to my home in Lennoxtown. On the way I passed this sign:

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How many people get shot in Falkirk that’ve had to put a sign up telling them not to?!

And, in the west, I went home to Stornoway. I visited the Callanish Stones. They were much more redder whiter and pointy-er than I remember.

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My Plan for May is not to have any mileage goals as I’ve got loads of events to do:
– Helensborough 10K run
– Antonine Trail Race 10k run
– Dumbarton 10K run
– Shettleston 10K run (which despite the name isn’t in shettleston!)
– Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike race.
– Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice)

Here’s a selection of photos from April. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/

The Dirty Reiver (Iain)

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

If a bike race takes place in a forest and no one is around to see it, did it actually happen?

The Dirty Reiver (https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/) is a gravel race held in Kielder Forrest -the largest man-made woodland in England covering 250 square miles. The race has a choice of distances – 130KM or 200KM.

Andrew and I choose the 130KM option as it sounded more fun and less of a slog than the longer race. The course was on “gravel” which actually meant 50% was on a good gravely surface, 25% was a larger stone rubble surface, 10% was road and 15% was rough as f*&k!

There was an online debate before the race about what bike suited the course. Most competitors choose a “gravel” bike. Which is a tougher more off-road friendly road bike.

I don’t understand the popularity of gravel bikes. If Colin MaCrae (famous rally driver) was alive then he wouldn’t go to a Ferrari garage and say “‘I’d like to take this off-road. Can you put fatter tyres on it?”

No! He’d get an off-road car with proper suspension.

Therefore I decided to “Colin Macrae” it and use a mountain bike. Andrew decided to “Sebastian Vettel” it and use a road bike with fatter tyres.

The success of our choices can be summed up by our reactions at the end of the race.

I said: “That was great. I really enjoyed it!”

Andrew said: “I’m never doing that ever again!”

Also, during the first hour of the event, I saw 35 people stop due to a puncture. Not one of them had a mountain bike!

The race was great. 2200M of climbing over 80 miles. There was barely a flat section to the course. The course was more barren of people than a Theresa May supporters party in the Gorbals. The only time we saw anyone other than riders was at the two food stops.

I’d recommend it to anyone who fancies a bike race that’s a bit different – but bring a mountain bike and make sure you know how to fix a puncture!

And to answer my original question. Did it happen? Yes – its on Strava so it must be true 🙂

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End Of Month Report: March (Iain)

My plan for March was:

  • Stirling Duathlon.
  • Alloa Half Marathon.
  • Bike (on average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including a half marathon and a 10k.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

What actually happened:

Oh well, I achieved everything but the second swim. I can’t complain about March. The weather was good and I was healthy all month.

This month’s targets:

  • The Dirty Reiver https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/ It’s a gravel bike race in Kielder forest. A 60 mile off-road course on gravel tracks. I’m looking forward to it as I’ve never been to this part of the Country before and I’ve heard its a beautiful spot.
  • Bike (on average) 110 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including at least one off road hilly run of an hour a week.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

I’m on holiday for two weeks so I’m looking forward to biking and running but also catching up with household chores. I have a hall that needs plastered and painted. That’ll definitely be the hardest challenge of the month. 🙂

Here’s a selection of photos from March. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/ 

This boy can’t… (Iain)

#thisgirlcan is a social media campaign encouraging women to participate in sporting activities. Women are encouraged to tweet/facebook/instagram tales of sporting success (no matter how big or small) so that other women will be inspired.

It’s a great campaign and I recommend you check out the website: http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/

Would men benefit from a similar campaign? In my opinion, probably not – men do not have to be encouraged to brag. We’ve all written a blog post about an amazing training session or event, we’ve all gone into work and said how we smashed a bike/run/swim course at the weekend.   Did it inspire people? No, it probably bored them. Nobody likes hearing about success unless it’s their own.

So instead I’ve an idea that I think can inspire men. Let me be the first to say #thisboycant

Because I’ve learnt more through failing at sport than succeeding.

So join me as I admit:

#thisboycant snowboard –  I fell over during the first hour of a five day ski holiday while on the training slope. I accidentally punched myself in the chest. I broke my rib. I haven’t felt that bad after a punch since the last time I went to a house party and drank from a fruit bowl.

#thisboycant play rugby –  I was told by my coach that with correct technique I could tackle anyone. That was a lie. I tackled a man twice my size. My technique was perfect. I ended up concussed. I was more wiped out than the Labour vote at the next general election (oooh. A little bit of politics!)

#thisboycant cycle on the track – I attended four track session. On the test day another cyclist crashed into a wall above me. His bike slid down the track into mine. I fell off, hitting the ground hard. I bashed my head and lost skin on my arm. I looked so bad I was mistaken for the Elephant man.

#thisboycant rock climb – I went to a climbing center. I had to attach the rope to my harness in two places. I attached it to just one. I fell off the wall. Luckily the one place holding the rope was strong enough to break my fall. Unfortunately that one place was my crotch. The instructor said it took balls to survive a fall like that. It certainly did!

I learnt something from each of these failures. I learnt I don’t have to be good at sport to enjoy taking part.

So when people ask me whether they should attempt an event be it running/biking/triathlon? I say, YES! I can’t do it but I’ve never let that stop me so it shouldn’t stop you either 🙂

The next time you write a blog/tweet etc think about writing about something you can’t do.

End Of Month Report: February

My plan for February was:

  • Bike (average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (average) 16 miles a week including a 10k+ run once a week.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

What actually happened:

  • I averaged 85 miles a week on the bike. I’m happy with that. Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to do any weekend biking (other than once) I also lost a week due to a head cold.
  • I ran on average 15 miles a week and managed at least a 10k every week.
  • I managed 1.5 yoga sessions a week.
  • I swam twice a week.

Overall, I’m pleased with February. I didn’t have much spare weekend time to bike/run but still managed to get close to my targets.

This month’s targets:

  • Stirling Duathlon.
  • Alloa Half Marathon.
  • Bike (on average) 100 miles a week.
  • Run (on average) 16 miles a week including a half marathon and a 10k.
  • Do yoga at least once a week.
  • Swim twice a week.

I’m looking forward to the duathlon as I’ve never done one before. I’m not sure how to pace one it so I will just aim to go slightly faster than Andrew!

I’ve done Alloa a few times. It can be a hard race as there’s a long straight section into the wind. My aim is to get under 1 hour 45 minutes.

Here’s a selection of photos from February. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/ 

 

The Beer Triathlon (Iain)

Whilst training for an event some people will abstain from alcohol. There’s a name for them – boring bastards!

My fastest ever half marathon time was achieved whilst drunk. Would I have gone faster if I’d been sober? Probably not – I was so hungover and desperate for water that I ran the legs between water stations as fast as possible.

If it’s possible to drink and run, is it possible to drink and triathlon? After a swift Google I’m proud to announce the best and definitely drunkest race ever invented – Beer-athlon!

It comprises a beer swim, a beer bike and beer run. It will take place in Austria because that the only place I could find a beer swimming pool.

Starkenberger’s Castle in Austria doesn’t just have the world’s only beer swimming pool. It has seven! Each pool contains 42,000 pints of beer! That’s 294,000 pints. Enough to keep a Scottish man in beer for at least a few hours. 🙂

If anyone gets out of the pool alive then it’s onto the bike leg. For this I’ve sourced the worlds best beer bike.

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This bike allows you to “refuel” on the move. The distance of the ride is however far it takes to finish both kegs.

The finale is provided by a beer I spotted in the pub – Running Beer.

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Each athlete has to down a pint and then run 100m in a straight line. The winner is the first person to achieve that.

I can’t see what could possibly go wrong with this format. 🙂