Is the winner of a race the person who crosses the finish line first or the person with the fastest time?
You might think that these two statements are mutually
At the weekend, Andrew and I headed to the north west of Scotland
to take part in the Bealach Beag sportive – a 72km race that includes the UK’s
biggest road climb. An ascent of 626m from sea level in just 10km.
I’ve done the race four times. Andrew has done it three
times. He has beaten me every time.
Race 1 – I did it on a mountain bike. Not because I am an amazing biker but because I did not know any better. I quit half round because I was knackered.
Race 2 – The first year Andrew did it too. We both did the long version of the race. I had learnt my lesson from my experience with the mountain bike. I brought a hybrid bike instead. Andrew brought a road bike. He won.
Race 3 – We both used road bikes. The temperature was unseasonably warm. It was nearly 30C during the climb. Andrew was wearing shorts bib shorts and a light cycling top. I was wearing winter gear. I felt I was biking in a vertical sauna. He won.
Year 4 (this year) – I had been training for the last four weeks and I hoped that was enough to beat Andrew’s five months of Challenge Roth training. Just in case it was not enough, I had taken radical weight saving action to eek out the best performance from my bike. I removed the bell
I also had a cunning plan….
At the start of the race we were both given a time dibber. We
had to dib in at the start and dib in at the finish to record our time. At the
start line, I let Andrew dib in first. I then deliberately waited 10s before I
At the finish, we both raced for the line. Andrew thought he had just pipped me as he dibbed in first. What he didn’t realise was that I had a 10s buffer on him. We received the paper results and it shows quite clearly I’m the winner or am i?
If you look at our Strava times it clearly shows Andrew beat
me by 5 minutes because he did the climb 5 minutes faster than me and then
paused his Strava at the top until I appeared. He then restarted it and we
continued on the course.
So… is the winner of a race the person who crosses the finish line first or the person with the fastest time? All I’ll say is that on paper I’m the fastest Todd.
This time last year, I cycled the 2000m climb of Mount Tiede in Tenerife. It was 3 hours of climbing and afterwards I felt fit and strong.
Last weekend, I cycled the 300m climb of the Dukes Pass in Aberfoyle. It was 22 minutes of climbing and afterwards I felt so tired I called the Police to report my cycling fitness had gone missing.
The Police explained that they don’t investigate crimes against fitness but if they did they would have arrested me years ago – “ello, ello, what is going on here? Do you call that a front crawl? I’m taking you to the nick for G.B.S. Grevious Bodily Swimming!”
I graphed my performance on the Duke’s pass and it looks
like my latest result took a dive off a cliff of consistency.
Afterwards I put this onto Instagram
Thge key point is the “I wonder if my consumption of macaroni pies and bakewell tarts is anyway related to this? “
How can you tell a diet is unhealthy? When the dessert is larger than the main course. Check out the size of my bakewell tart.
On a positive note the dinner was vegetarian so there must be a slight bit of healthiness in it.
Afterwards my wife said to me “how can your time be that bad due to the food. Did you eat it before you went up the hill?”
No – I had it afterwards but I think it points to the conclusion that I’m not a clean living performance machine.
So from now on I have to eat a little bit healthier and try to get back to my previous times…or I do what any middle aged male cyclist does when faced with getting slower – spend lots of money to fix the problem.
I’ve often noted the more expensive the bike the wider the waist of the owner.
PS – I actually had two macaroni pies but I only took a pic of one so people wouldn’t think I’m a fat bstrd!
Bishopbriggs has a reputation as one of the best beginner friendly triathlon races in Scotland. Which is why Andrew and I decided to do our second ever triathlon here. It was 2014 and the race came 5 years after our first attempt at a triathlon https://twinbikerun.com/2017/10/23/my-first-triathlon-iain
My preparation for the race didn’t go well. I didn’t realize I had to be there early to put the bike into transition. By the time I arrived the official car park was full. I managed to get a car parking space in a side street but I didn’t write down the name of street. I wouldn’t realize until later that Bishopbriggs has allot of very similar looking side streets…
I’d like to say the swim went smoother than my parking but I made some rookie errors:
Mistake 1: I under estimated my swim time.
When entering the event I had to give a predicted time for the swim. I took a guess and added a couple of minutes to make sure I wasn’t in a fast lane.
My estimate was too slow! I was actually much faster than everyone else in the lane. I should have realised I wasn’t among fast swimmer when everyone else arrived wearing rubber rings and snorkels.
I’m not a fast swimmer but I’m not slow either. I should have checked my time in advance and I should have had confidence in my ability. It would have been an easier swim for me and the other in the lane if I’d been in the correct lane.
Mistake 2: I didn’t have a tri top
I was the only one in my lane without one. It was a cold wet day. When we headed outside for transition I felt every cold blast of wind and rain on my bare naked skin. I was more more Frozen than children singing “Let It Go”
I should have worn clothes appropriate for the weather condition outside and not just for the tropically warm indoor condition.
Mistake 3: Leaving clothes outside uncovered
The weather was dry when I placed them in transition but now that it had rained all my stuff was wet. I should have put a plastic water proof bag over them to keep the rain off.
My bike seat was soaking wet. If I’d put a plastic bag over it then I would have enjoyed a nice dry seat instead of a “wet Andrew” which is my code for a soaking wet arse.
Mistake 4: Safety pins!
My biggest mistake was that I’d accidentally put my safety pins through the front and back of my cycle top preventing me from getting into the top! DOH!
I had to do undo all the pins. Put the top on and then tack on the number. Ever since this I’ve used a race number belt.
There was quite a variety of bikes on the course from mountain bikes to hybrids to full on time trial specific machines. Maybe triathlons shouldn’t be just about age group results but about how much was spent on the bike.
But then again I saw one man on a hybrid race past a man on his time trial bike. Maybe it is actually about how hard people train!
The run was the first time I’d ever seen a spray can used as a course feature. After running 2km I had to run round a spray can, which was placed in the middle of a path, back to the start. I remember thinking why don’t they just spray the ground instead of putting the can there?
The last km was through a muddy path but annoyingly I had on new trainers. I abandoned running quickly and instead ran cleanly as I gingerly avoided every bit of mud. That was my excuse for my slow run time.
POST RACE (1:26:47)
As I’d forgotten where the car was parked I had to spend twenty minutes on my bike, exploring the back streets of Bishopbriggs, trying to find it.
This is my last post about Norseman. Normal blogs about any old nonsense will resume next week! Although reading Andrew’s latest post he seems to have started a week early. NOTE: He is wrong – Ryan Gosling is great. La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love and Bladerunner 2049 are all superb!
This is not the most interesting blog I’ve ever written but I thought I’d write it as it is something I looked for when I got my Norseman place – a Norseman training plan.
My aim was to complete not compete. I split my training into into two distinct parts
Part 1: Get fit (Jan 1st until 12 weeks to go)
My base swim fitness was poor as I barely swam in the three months previous to January but but my swimming technique is good. I was confident I would quickly get my stamina back and that I wouldn’t need to work much on technique.
My base bike fitness was good for short rides. I was commuting to work by bike four days a week (15 miles per day) and I would occasionally ride 30/40 miles at a weekend.
My base run fitness was ok for short races. I could run 10k in 45 minutes and I’d run two or three times a week at lunchtimes.
For each discipline I created a schedule but deliberately didn’t put days against any session. I prefer to fit training into my week rather than fit my week into training. I also took the view that if I missed a session, I wouldn’t try and catch-up. I’d just continue as if I had done it. That way I wasn’t putting pressure on myself if plans went awry.
Running Schedule (per week)
1 x hill run – 4 miles comprising 3 laps of a hill.
1 x tempo run – 4 miles where I pushed myself to run above my normal pace
1 x recovery run – 4 miles easy pace on flat route
1 x long run – anything up to half marathon distance at an easy pace.
I commute to work by bike which meant I could do most of my bike training to or from work. My plan was to stick to my normal biking but to increase my mileage each month. As the weather was not great this winter/spring I added in some turbo sessions with a similar steady increase in time rather than distance.
In January I did 60 miles a week, in February I did 80, in March 100 etc
I stopped increasing it when I got to 120 miles as that was about as far as I could go with the free time I had available.
On the turbo in January I did one 45 minute sessions a week, in February I did an hour and then in March I hour 30 minutes etc.
I stopped increasing the length when I got to two hours as any longer than that on a turbo was incredibly boring.
Swimming didn’t really happen. I had a plan to swim twice a week but didn’t do it. Instead my sechedule became
In April I started going to my triathlon club’s swimming session. This ws a 2K-ish weekly swim. I went most weeks until Norseman.
Part 2: Get Norseman fit
Part 1 got me fit enough to do part 2 which was to take my now increased base fitness and attempt to do longer rides/runs.
I based it on starting 12 weeks out from Norseman. I listed the one key thing I had to do each week in each discipline. I’d normally manage to run and bike outside of this BUT the priority was to do these. By only having thee key points I was able to fit them into my week. I also preferred time over distance as distance can be a cheat. A hilly 100 miler is different to flat 100 miler but five hours in the saddle is always five hours in the saddle.
10K + half marathon
HALF IRON MAN
I was 172nd in the swim with a time of 1 hr 21 min
I was 209th on the bike with a time of 8 hr 1 min
I was 41st/58th run (white tshirt) with a time of 6hr 13 min
SO I comfortably made the white shirt times and cutoff. I also felt fine all the way round. I wasn’t quick but I was steady.
Looking back at my plan I couldn’t have done much more based on the time I had available and the desire to still have a life outside of training.
The downside of my plan – I had low level anxiety for weeks leading up-to the race. Every day I’d wake up thinking what do I need to do today to get through the race? If I was to do it again I wouldn’t have that anxiety because I’d trust in my plan. I could have avoided this by having a coach but I hate being told what to do. A coach would have made me more anxious!
If you fancy giving it a go hopefully this post and the one about logistics will give you a good idea about how to do it.
Norseman is point-to-point (or fjord to peak) race starting at sea level, with a four meter drop off a ferry into a fjord. It comprises a 3.8k swim to the beautiful town of Eidfjord, then a hilly bike leg (3.5K elevation) crossing Hardangervidda mountain plateau, and finally a marathon run to the top of the 1850m peak of Gaustatoppen.
The race is limited to 250 competitors of which 160 finish at the mountain peak and the rest finish at the town below the summit. The originator of the event describes the race perfectly:
“I wanted to create a completely different race, make it a journey through the most beautiful nature of Norway, let the experience be more important than the finish time, and let the participants share their experience with family and friends, who will form their support. Let the race end on top of a mountain, to make it the toughest full distance triathlon on planet earth”.
I have only ever cycled a 100 mile bike ride twice before. The last time was IronMan UK back in 2015. I had never done a non-stop 3.8K swim. My only two times doing so had involved loops with an Australian exit. I also had not ran a marathon since IronMan UK.
Basically I prefer shorter events.
Despite this I’d always wanted to do Norseman. I think it’s the jump off the ferry start that attracted me. I grew up on an island and regularly travelled by ferry to the mainland. It was a very boring journey and I used to joke with my brother that one of us should jump off just to add some excitement to the trip.
I decided from the beginning that my aim was a white t-shirt so I wouldn’t have to worry about how fast to race. I would instead concentrate on being fit enough to do the distances.
Swim (1hr 22 min)
The race starts at 0500 which meant getting up at 0230 to catch the 0400 ferry. What they do not show you on the videos of the event is that the ferry has a very comfortable TV lounge. I sat and read a book on my Kindle. It helped keep my mind off the race.
At 0445 I went down stairs and entered the water using what could only be described as a belly flop. I didn’t see many other people use this technique. Possibly because upon entry most of the fjord ended up on the ferry.
It was a short swim to the start line. I’d swam the previous day in skins so wearing a wet suit meant this felt tropical in comparison.
I kept a steady pace for the swim. It was very easy to sight the route. I kept the land 20m to the side of me and followed the coastline back to town. Occasionally the water would get very cold. I suspect that was the points streams were entering the fjord.
I reached the exit and stood up and promptly fell face first back into the water! I always struggle with staying upright after a swim. I paused for a minute and then tried again. Thankfully this time I stayed up.
I ran into transition and was met by Nic. She said she’d won a bet with Andrew as she thought I’d be out in 80 minutes. He thought it would be at least 90.
BIKE (8 hr 10 min)
The bike leg starts with a 40K climb. I’d broken all the climbs down into units of measurement known as “crow roads” The Crow Road is a climb starting at the back of my house up the side of the Campsie Hills.
I find cycling more manageable if I break objectives down into things I know I can do. The first climb is five Crow Roads. Similarly, for the flatter section I’d think of in terms of how many commutes to work it would be. My normal commute to work is a 8 mile cycle so when cycling the plateau I’d calculate how many commutes to the next town.
This made the experience manageable but I do not particularly enjoy long bike rides so its always a struggle to enjoy it. My support team said I was like a stroppy teenager. One minute I’d be demanding a banana but then as soon as they got one I’d say “Why’d you get me a banana. I wanted an apple!”
Because I don’t ride long distances often enough I also struggle to refuel on the bike. I prefer to stop at a cake shop and enjoy a break so I did the same here and enjoyed a particularly good bakewell tart from a shop in Geilo.
Other food delights on the bike (other than gels and bars) were a Twix, a chocolate brownie and an ice lolly which I refused to take as even I have limits of what should be eaten in race!
RUN (6hr 3 min)
My aim was to get to the bottom of Zombie Hill in 2hrs-ish and then walk from there. The great thing is from that point I could have a support runner. I was really looking forward to having someone to speak to but after my stroppiness they probably weren’t looking forward to speaking to me!
I made it to Zombie Hill in good time and thankfully Nic was pleased to see me. She’d filled a bag with food so we were good to go. I felt good so we were able to walk quickly. I’d cycled zombie hill a few years previously o I knew roughly what to expect when climbing. That made it easier to do.
Thankfully I was not in the top 160 so I got to head to the village rather than the summit.
The village finish is 10 laps of a hotel complex. There’s a great atmosphere as competitors finish, music blares out and Norwegians wave flags.
I was happy to cross the finish line in under 16 hours as I was desperate to get to the pizza place in Rjukan before it closed 🙂
Norseman is the ultimate triathlon experience because its about sharing the journey with friends and family. We all had a great time in Norway with experiences that’ll last a lifetime.
A few years ago I received a Christmas present – a voucher for a Trackman golf fit session. Trackman is a radar tracking system used by golf professionals to ensure they have a perfect swing.
The session was really interesting. For an hour I hit golf balls whilst a man analysed all the stats generated by the radar system. At the end he said to me “You have the swing of a professional….”
I interrupted him “YES!! I’ve always wanted to be a golf pro. Should I quit my job and concentrate on my game? Should I change my name to Tiger Todd? How many competitions will I need to play before I’m a millionaire?”
He didn’t answer me. He finished his sentence. “…a professional footballer!”
He went onto explain that he had many clients who were professional footballers and they all have the same fault. They balance their body weight on the front of the their feet rather than the back. A professional golfer always balances on the back…in fact most golfers do it except professional footballers and I.
I’d played golf for 30+ years but I didn’t know I was doing it incorrectly until then.
Last Christmas I received a bike fit voucher as a present. I’ve been slightly scared to use it because the only sport I’ve played longer than golf is biking. I didn’t fancy learning I’d been doing that wrong too.
I bit the bullet and went along last week to get tested. The fitter used the retul system which is an adjustable bike rig that setup to be an exact copy of my current bike setup. The advantage of using this rather than my bike is the rig can be endlessly adjusted whilst I’m sitting on it. A normal bike fit would require me to get off the bike to adjust it.
The first question he asked was what type of fit I was interested in. I choose comfort as 99% of my riding is for fun.
The next question he asked was about my injury history. He was surprised when I said “I rarely get injured.” He said that question normally takes at least 30 minutes to discuss. In my case it took 30 seconds.
We then did a series of physical tests. By the end of them he declared my legs were almost identical. Which explained my lack of injuries as most people have one side different to the other which leads to imbalances and injuries in the body when doing repetitious actions such as running and biking.
The only change he recommended after the physio exam is that my saddle is too small which I think is the polite way of telling me my ass is too wide
After that I had to sat on the bike as he attached monitoring points to various parts of my body, The points were mapped to the Retul system, so that all my stats could be accurately mapped.
As the system has done thousands of Retul fits a range of good stats has been set. His job as a fitter was to adjust my race position until my stats matched the good stats of a Retul rider.
After thirty minutes of riding as he made adjustments to the bike rig I went from mostly red numbered stats to mostly green.
He then took my bike and adjusted the setup to match what he’d changed the rig too.
I asked him if I’d been riding incorrectly all these years. He looked at me and said “not incorrectly just differently to everyone else!”
This week was the last week of Norseman training. Thank f$%k!!!
I don’t know whether I’ve done enough training. I’ll discover that in a couple of weeks time when I attempt the race BUT I do know that I’ve done all I could in the time I had available.
My aim has always been to complete rather than compete so, on that basi,s since the start of the year my training stats are:
BIKE Distance: 2,720.5 mi Time: 184h 41m Elev Gain: 100,682 ft Rides: 164
If I was to ride 2,720.5 miles from Glasgow then I’d end up in Baghdad in Iraq. I suspect at some point in Norseman I’ll wish I was in Baghdad as, even getting shot at, will be more pleasant than the swim/bike/run!
100,000 ft of elevation is the equivalent of cycling three times the height of Everest. Which sounded impressive until I looked up the record number of climbs of Everest. Kami Rita Sherpa has summited 22 times! So, my paltry three times is just a walk in the park to him.
184 hours is a long time to be biking. I could have used that time to learn to paint, speak a foreign language or more likely just watch television. 184 hours of TV means I could have binge watched:
All of Game of Thrones (63 hours)
All of Breaking Bad (62 hours)
Every Marvel film (36 hours)
Every Harry Potter film (22 hours)
One episode of love island. (1 hour)
RUN Distance: 544.1 mi Time: 100h 1m Elev Gain: 37,493 ft Runs: 101
If I’d have run from my house for 544 miles I’d have ended up in the sea but, if I ignore that pesky issue, then I’d have ended up in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Which until now I’d never heard of! After a quick Google search I can reveal the most interesting thing I could find about the place:
On the coat of arms for the state, the symbols of Holstein and Schleswig can both be seen. The two lions represent Schleswig while the leaf of a nettle is for Holstein.
Before the Prussians took over the region, the lions faced away from the nettle. But legend has it that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck couldn’t bear the idea of the ‘Danish’ lions pointing their bums at the Holstein nettle, so they turned to face it instead.
Sorry – it was not that interesting a story but its the best I could find!
Time 19h 4m
When training for an Olympics Michael Phelps would swim 80,000m a week. That’s 1600 laps of a 50m swimming pool. I’ve managed half a week of his training in six months. Which is why I don’t have any Olympic medals but how many episode of Love Island has he seen? I bet its none. I’ve seen loads. Who’s the success now?! Umm, probably still him!
Hopefully, I’ve reached the start line fit, injury free and happy. I can’t ask for any more than that.
(Although I have one long run and one long bike ride still to do. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!)
I’ve not been ill at all this year until… two days before the race. Thankfully, it was only a head cold but it meant I had a worrying 24 hours on Friday wondering whether I’d be fit enough to take part.
I felt much better on Saturday so I headed through to Edinburgh to register. I didn’t mention my illness to Andrew. I didn’t want him to get the psychological boost of knowing I wasn’t 100% fit.
Registration was quick and easy. I spent longer in the queue to the expo shop than I did registering. I’m always amazed at the amount of tat for sale at the expo. This year’s prize for worst product goes to the IronMan door mat.
We stayed in Macmerry, a small village near the swim start. The village is tiny but it contains one of the most important facilities in Scotland – the Royal Bank of Scotland datacentre. Billions of pounds of banking trade goes through the site. There are no signs on the building to indicate its purpose. It looks like an anonymous industrial unit.
I used to visit the site when I worked for RBS. I joined RBS the day the bank collapsed. I don’t think those two events are linked. I’m pretty sure the damage was done before I got there.
Its the worst place I’ve ever worked! I left after six months but not before accidentally getting stuck in the door entry tube to the datacentre. I was there until a security guard rescued me. I don’t miss the place.
Last year we we were one of the last into the water as queuing for the toilet had taken priority over queuing to get into the water.
This year we were also one of the last in as there was still a lack of toilet facilities at the start. Hearing ACDC play “thunderstuck” is supposed to be one of the iconic moments of any IronMan race. It’s less iconic when heard in a portaloo as I tried to get my arm back into my wet-suit sleeve.
It took 30 minutes to get into the water as they only let three people in at a time. This worked out well as there was plenty of space on the swim. I never felt boxed in at any point. Although one guy did swim past me perpendicularly. I’m not sure where he was going!
I enjoyed the swim. The sea was calm. The water was warm and I felt great.
I decided to race the bike by “feel” which is my way of saying I forgot my GPS watch! I also forgot my water bottle and my spare tube. People who say bad luck comes in three’s are wrong. Bad luck comes in fours as I’d also forgotten my sun tan lotion!
On the bright side, this meant my bike was not weighed down with extra bits. I collected a water bottle at the first feed stop so it worked out fine.
The bike route is pretty flat (compared to where I normally ride). The long climbs aren’t very steep and the steep climbs aren’t very long. The first 30 miles are the best part of the course- good road surfaces and nice views over the East Lothian countryside. The route back into Edinburgh had some ‘interesting’ sections – some cobbled roads, a farm road and some pavement.
I was confident I was well ahead of Andrew so my plan was to run the first two laps of the course and then see how I felt on the last.
It very hot and there was no breeze on the bottom part of the course. The BBC claim it was 21C. Which coincidentally is also the race distance!
I didn’t spot Andrew until the 2nd lap. I was at least 20 minutes ahead of him. I knew at that point I’d won so I took it easy until the finish.
The course was good, the event was well run and I got home in time for my dinner. What more can you ask for in a race?
One major improvement this year is the t-shirt. Last years’ effort was shockingly bad. It looked like the sort of design a contestant from The Apprentice would come up with when they only have five minutes left in a design challenge but hadn’t done any prep work on it.
“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”
Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?
The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day. At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.
That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.
I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?
Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.
The “smashed it” post
The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?
I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”
The look at me post
The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.
I’d suggestpost the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.
The too good to be true post
The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.
I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.
The meme post
“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.
If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.
The blatant plug post
If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!
PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.
Andrew and I were nearing the end of the Caledonian Etape (the annual 84 mile cycle sportive in Perthshire) when I began to increase my speed. Just a little. Just enough to see if he’d keep up. I went a little bit faster and was starting to build a gap when I heard him shout.
“IT’S NOT A RACE!”
I knew then that I’d won.
The Etape started in 2009. We’ve done it since 2010 and Andrew has beaten me every time. Most of the time he wins because he’s better at biking than me but occasionally he uses underhand tactics…
One year he arrived at the start having bought a road bike knowing that I had a hybrid. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t keep up with him.
Another time we agreed at the start that if we got separated during the race we’d meet at the next food stop on the course. The race started. He immediately biked off. I didn’t worry about it because I knew I’d get him at the next food stop. I arrived at the food stop. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited 10 minutes. He didn’t turn up. I realized I’d been tricked. He went on to win the race easily because he didn’t stop once!
Last year, he brought a “ringer” from his work. The “ringer” was a man who could cycle sub 4 hours for 80 miles. Andrew biked behind the “ringer” to get a pull round the course.
This year he had no underhand tactics….that I’m aware of. Although, I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Maybe he upped the temperature in the hotel room to disturb me.
The weather forecast was for sunshine. It hadn’t rained in the week before the race. Unsurprisingly, it was wet at the start! We were off at 0632 which meant we got away before the majority of riders. The first five miles were uneventful until we came to a corner. I could see the road kicked up after the corner so I changed to a lower gear before I got there.
As I took the turn I heard the unmistakable sound of a gear clanking away and coming loose as some poor rider tried to get into a lower gear. I thought to myself “What idiot wouldn’t notice the hill! You’d have to be a right twat to not change gears in advance. Who’d be that stupid?”
“IAIN!!!” I heard Andrew shout. I looked round. The idiot was Andrew.
Impressively he’d managed to wrap his chain round his bike crank in such a way it was impossible to pull off. Thankfully a moto-bike mechanic turned up. He looked at it and said “Wow! I’ve never seen one wrapped that tight.” Thankfully after ten minutes of pulling and chain splitting we were able to sort it.
I could at any point have cycled off to ensure I’d win the race. I stayed. Not because I’m nice but so I could spend the rest of the ride reminding Andrew that I could have ridden off and therefore he should declare me champion by default!
We finished together but Andrew knows in his heart I won. Next year I expect him to use every underhand trick he knows to get his Etape crown back!
Some points on the race
The course has altered slightly this year as the organizers have added in a hill. Its not a tough climb but it breaks up the first half of the course nicely as I got nice views on the descent.
Their was no sports nutrition bars or gels this year. Each stop only had a banana or a flapjack.
The registration pack came with a complimentary bike cap. The first time the race has ever given away something for free!
The race used to be sponsored by Marie Curie cancer. They didn’t appear on any marketing this year. I’m not sure if that means its not more of a private for profit event.
It rained on the course for a couple of minutes which means we still have never had an all dry Etape.