Tag: racereport

Antonine Trail Race 2017 (Andrew)

Normally you get a banana at the end of a run but, yesterday at the Antonine Trail Race, we got a big banana at the start – along with two skeletons, several witches and a Homer Simpson.

That’s what happens when you have a race on Halloween weekend.

We didn’t join in. It was tough race and the only fancy dress I wanted was a jet pack to help get up and over the two hills that made up most of the route. First up, Croy Hill, a long climb through muddy tracks and thick grass, then Bar Hill, another long climb along a forest track before, cruelly, the race finished with another climb up Croy Hill.

It was a fantastic day, sunny, bright, and with a slight chill that made it impossible to decide what to wear – assuming you were wearing running gear and not a large yellow fruit costume – as it was too cold for a t-shirt at the start but too warm to run in two t-shirts a mile after starting. I choose a single t-shirt and then stayed in the car with the heater on until the race was about to start. This is my version of warming up…!

The race was mostly off-road and on narrow tracks. While dry, the previous week’s rain had left much of it covered in thick mud. The first few miles were spent doing the bandy legged hop leap and jump of someone half runner/half frog.

The good news was that you could follow the runner in front of you and try and follow their footsteps on the basis that if they cleared a path then you would just be stepping into the hole they’ve already created in the mud. So, if you want to keep your trainers clean when running through mud just follow someone with big feet in front of you.

The race was tough, with a few steep climbs (which in this context means, ‘walks up hill’ rather than ‘gets out the rappelling gear’) but some great views across to the Trossachs and outwards Falkirk and the east coast.

You can see part of it on this short video:

The Dirty Reiver 2017 (Andrew)

The Dirty Reiver 130 (80 miles) is a gravel race along the access roads that service the vast areas of forest covering the border of Scotland and England.

A gravel race is basically an off-road race and, as such, you don’t want to use a road bike.

The clue’s in the name: Road bike for…. roads. Off-road bike for… going off the road.

It should have been obvious but, oh no, not me, I knew better. Or worse, as it turned out…

The Dirty Reiver started last year and it’s based at Keilder Castle in Northumberland, an an area of the country that I, and it turned out, the mobile network, have never been.

Keilder is home to Europe’s largest man-made lake, though why there’s a lake in the middle of Northumberland is not something that’s mentioned in any of the leaflets I checked at the castle. It’s certainly not there because it’s easy to get to because Keilder is in the middle of a large moor crossed by single track roads then large forests crossed by slow winding b-roads.

It’s beautiful but it’s the kind of beauty that demands patience – and an ability to ignore the tractor blocking the way in front of you.

We drove down on Friday and registered on Friday night, though you can register before the race too. We stayed in the town of Bellingham, which was on 30 minutes from the start, though an early start of 5:40 was needed as the race started at 7am.

Normally, bike races start early to avoid traffic – so I wasn’t sure why a race with no traffic needed to start so early. But, I also thought I could use a road bike, and I wasn’t any better at predicting timings.

“Maybe six hours?” I said to Iain.

Nowhere close.

Race day had ideal weather. Sunny-ish. Not too warm. A very light breeze and, as it had been dry all week, the trail was dusty rather than muddy.

It was cold to start but nothing that an emergency use of the Glasgow Tri Club buff couldn’t fix, after I realised that I’d forgotten to bring gloves.

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Did I tell you how well prepared I was for this race…?

The race started in waves of around 20-25 bikes with a sharp drop from the castle then straight into the forest. The first couple of miles were… okayish. A steady climb. A dirt track then…

Ouch!

The first descent.

Crickey!

Another stone.

Blimey!

And another.

Jings!

And another.

And I’d only gone one metre.

100 metres of a descent later and I feel like Godzilla has kicked me in the baws then grabbed my arms, shaken me about, and punched me in the back.

And only another 78 miles to go.

It was horrendous. Every bump, stone, rock and pepple went straight through my bike and into me. I had to pull on my brakes through any descent just to keep some control.

I was going slower downhill than I was going uphill.

It was HORRIBLE.

And I knew then that my six hour estimate was completely wrong.

The first hour followed a pattern of grinding up a hill, with slate and pebbles sliding away beneath my wheels, to trying to go down hills as slowly as possible so as not to go over my handlebars or become an involuntary eunuch.

I hated every minute of it.

And, to make things worse, Iain was on a mountain bike and making the whole thing look easy as, every hill, he was picked up by Godzilla and given a soothing massage through the magic of suspension and fat tyres.

Not that I didn’t have the right tyres. The organisers had recommended 33 inch tyres as a minimum and that’s what I had. But I needed more than the minimum, I needed big knobbly tyres and shock absorbers. Instead I got BATTERED.

The route itself was spectacular with the scenery changing every 10 miles as you go through forest, moors, farmland, dirt track, walking trails and, thankfully, blessedly, a five mile stretch of smooth, smooth tarmac.

There’s even a river crossing.

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But it was tough and my lack of a ‘granny gear’ meant every hill was a challenge and my lack of springs in my bum meant I’ll never sit down again.

After eight hours we finally got back to Keilder castle. I had to:

  • Stop once to reattach my back wheel after all the shaking shaked it loose from the frame!
  • Stop twice to stop my nose bleeding after all the shaking  shaked it loose from my brain!
  • And stop umpteen times to just stop shaking!

I’m glad I took part. I now know what it’s like to race a gravel race and to race off-road but I don’t think I’ll be signing up for another anytime soon. Not without a mountain bike – and not without a doctor’s note that I can still father children.

Oh, my poor baws!

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Trossachs 10K (Andrew)

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

Every race needs a starter. If you don’t have a starter then you don’t have a race, you just have a lot people in lyrca standing politely and looking at each other to see if anyone else is going to move first. That’s not a race, that’s a queue.

You need a starter. Someone to fire the pistol, sound the horn, drop the flag, or fire a smoke cannon and let off a hundred fireworks (Long Course Weekend, I’m looking at you and your extravagant start!).

The Trossachs 10K however did things a litle different. It was started by a local chef from the Forth Inn.

“Good luck,” he said, dressed in chef’s whites and still wearing his apron like he’d just wandered out of his kitchen, which he had, because the kitchen was only 20 metres from the start line.

“Why is the chef starting the race?” I asked Iain.

We couldn’t figure it out. He didn’t mention a running club, so we assume he wasn’t one of the organisers, he didn’t mention a charity, so he wasn’t one of the beneficiaries, and he didn’t plug his restaurant, so he wasn’t even looking for publicity.

We can only assume that there was a misunderstanding. Someone must have said they needed a starter and someone else thought they’d best get a chef because, if there’s one thing chefs know, then it’s starters…

It’s apt that the race was started by a chef as the only reason we were racing the Trossachs 10K was that there was a cracking butchers in town and we fancied a run then lunch from the butchers (sausage roll and a macaroni pie for me, delicious).

The race itself is run through the Queen Elizabeth forest and is mostly on trail paths. It’s a great route with some ups and downs through the forest. It was raining but not too heavily to make it uncomfortable to be out running.

I ran round with Iain, we weren’t competing against each other or looking for a time, but, at the end, I felt comfortable and sprinted the final few hundred metres. Sadly, the chef wasn’t at the finish, but, you know, no one finishes with a starter.

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Tough Guy (Iain)

I’m a tough guy!

It’s true. I can prove it.

A) I’ve been in a fist fight. It was against Andrew, and we were aged five, but it still counts.

B) I’ve crashed my car and survived…It was at low speed and entirely my own fault and some people might say it wasn’t a crash, it was a poorly executed three point turn, but it still counts.

C) A man once said “Iain, you are a Tough Guy”.

First staged in 1987, the Tough Guy Challenge is held on a  farm near Wolverhampton. It has been widely described as “the toughest race in the world”, with up to one-third of the starters failing to finish in a typical year.

I did the event in 2006. Four of us came down from Scotland for it. The night before the race we stayed in a barn on the farm. The barn smelled of horses and horse shit. The hay was very comfy to sleep on but it was tricky to find a patch that a horse hadn’t used…

The race starts with a 10K run over farmland. At various points we were made to run up and down small hills. The aim is to spread the field of participants out so that there’s plenty of space once the obstacles start.

The first obstacle was bits of string hanging from a frame. Next to the frame a sign said: “Electrified!” I took one look at the string, one look at the sign and immediately ignored the warning and walked into the string. I woke up 2 seconds later. My head hurt and I wondered why I was lying in a field staring at string. The electric shock had been strong! It felt like I’d been punched by Mike Tyson. I crawled under the string.

The next obstacle was a muddy body of water. I started to go round it. A man shouted “No! In it!” I’d rather not. It looked cold and was full of mud and who know what else. I jumped in. It was disgusting. I went in as myself and emerged as Swamp Man. Why am I doing this stupid race?

After that was a net. At last, something straightforward. Oh no. I notice the flames above the net. Great. If I don’t drown then I get burnt alive. I started crawling under the net. I was now faced with a much more horrific site. The man in front of me was crawling along wearing nothing other than a g string! His big sweat mud encased arse swaying in front of my face. I hope he doesn’t stop suddenly.

The race continued in this vein for nearly three hours. I wish I could say I enjoyed it but I struggled to see the point in it. I finished first amongst my friends and when I did so I heard a man say “Iain, you are a tough guy!”

But I wasn’t the toughest guy. My mate collapsed half way round. He was brought round in the ambulance. They asked him how he felt. He replied “I feel like continuing” He got up and finished the race. That’s tough!

Today I saw an advert on on Facebook – this year’s event is going to be the last one ever.

Will I do it again? No – I’m a tough guy, not a stupid guy!

Norseman Bike (Andrew)

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“Enjoy it”.

The bike leg of Norseman is 112 miles inland from the pier at Eidfjord to the town of Austbygde. It starts with a 1,250m climb to Dyranut, a long stretch along a high plateau, descends back down before the second half hits you with four increasingly longer and harder hills before a 15 mile descent to T2.

The weather forecast all week had been for a north westerly tailwind and for conditions to be mostly dry. That changed on Friday night. It was going to rain for most of the morning and afternoon. I’d brought waterproof cycling shorts, shoes and jacket with me so wore those straight from transition, even though it was dry when I changed. I thought it would be enough, I was wrong.

The bike leg start with a few miles along a flat road from Eidfjord before the climbing starts. The cliff face rises on either side, we follow the old road around the edge of the rock face, dart through tunnels lit by candles, and it feels like we’ve travelled back in time. We’ve left the modern world behind. The road is pitted, but potholes easy to avoid, the drops are steep and tumble down like the waterfalls that scour the sides. I settle into an easy rhythm in my lowest gear and largely keep pace with the rides around me. Occasionally, I even overtake riders on TT bikes standing on the pedals, while I sit down and pass them on the left.

The views are stunning. Wisps of clouds hug the tops of cliff like triumphant climbers about to summit, looking down I can see glimpses of other riders, brightly coloured ants against the dark grey cliff roads, and I keep repeating in my head:

“Enjoy this.”

Because what else is there to do? If I cannot look round and feel that this is the only place I want to be today, that these sights are glimpses of landscape that I’m privileged to see and to be part of.

“Enjoy this.”

The climb consists of two distinct sections. The first strikes through the mountain, climbing through a cleft in the rock like the remants of a giant’s axe strike, the second is a longer climb towards the summit, through moorland and patches of snow along the sides of the road. It’s in the second section that it starts to rain. And rain.

I don’t mind the rain at first. I’m prepared, I have my waterproofs and I’ve used them before in bad conditions so know they’ll be okay. But then the clouds lower. Visibility drops and now it’s not only raining I can only see 50 – 100 metres at a time. This is why we wear a high-viz vest and use lights for the full route. I’m grateful for them. Not for me, but to see others, that I’m not alone.

The next few hours are an increasing struggle. The climb goes further than the profile suggests. Long shallow climbs where, even with a tailwind, progress is slower that I’d hoped. TT bike shoot by. I can’t keep up, nor do I try. I went for a climbing bike and comfort, not speed.

Spots that I remembered from driving across the plateau are rendered indistinct by the clouds. A lake with two black houses on the shore. Three turf houses at the side of the road. It’s always too late when I spot them. But still I tell myself to smile. I’m happy. But wet.

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The support car can’t join you on the climb, I see them in a traffic jam going down the mountain as I climbed up, the single road meaning there’s no place to stop. I’ve brought enough food for two and half hours, eating every thirty minutes. My standard ‘meals’ of ZipVit uncoated orange bars and banana gels. But after two and half hours I’ve yet to see Iain.

I thought I saw him at one point. A black Hyundai estate with 91 – my number – on a sticker on the back. He was down a short lane and trying to reverse the car. I’d shot passed him before I could stop. I thought if it was him, that he was reversing because he’d seen me and was going to follow. I was wrong.

It was another hour before I saw him. Every time a car passed I would hope it was him. After 30 minutes I started to worry. I wondered if he’d had a puncture or, worse, an accident. Every black car that passed was met with a searching look of its back window. 201. 15. 134. Not 91.

I was relieved when I finally saw him. I was soaked through and had run out of food. He pulled in a couple of hundred metres ahead of me. “I’ve got you pancakes,” he said.

By this point, I’d been thinking of quitting. I was starting to shake with hypothermia. I was losing the feeling in my hands. The rain was bouncing off the road and I wasn’t sure if I could carry on for another five hours like this.

“Put this on,” Iain said as I stripped off my hi-viz jersey, waterproof jacket and cycling jersey while sheltering under the open boot of the car.

He gave me a new base layer, my thicker cycling jersey (a Castelli Gabba), a fleece, a Goretex jacket and full length waterproof trousers. I thought he wanted to keep warm while we’d stopped. I didn’t realise that I was going to wear this for the next 60 miles.

“I’ll go to the next town,” I said. The warm clothes having done their job in persuading me to carry on.

“Just keep this on,” Iain said. And I did. I got back on my bike and pedelled off wearing more gear than I would I was climbing a mountain.

But it worked. I warmed up. I stopped shaking. The weather was still awful but as I descended in Greillo it became warmer as I left the plateau.

In town I met Iain again. “I’ll get to the end,” I said while thinking “Enjoy this, you won’t be doing it again.”

The second half of the course is a lot different to the first. It’s feels more part of civilisation, you can see towns, wider roads, and more road signs for evidence of other people.

There are four climbs in this section, nothing too tough or too long but each steady. The final climb is the longest, taking you up to and across a damn. It’s here that a Norwegian woman stands on the porch of a remote house and shouts “Well done, Andrew, keep going!”It takes me a few minutes to work out she must be following Norseman on the website. It’s also here where the support of other teams becomes invaluable. I’m going the same pace as a few other riders so I not only pass Iain every 40 minutes or so I’m also passing other support crews who also shout encouragement.

By now I’ve decided I’ll finish at T2. My temperature is screwy, I’m not sure of whether I should be running after hypothermia and the final climb up Zombie Hill is looking increasingly beyond me. I make the decision to be sensible and  finish while I have Iain as support and not to keep going when I’ll be running for at least 13 miles without support as Iain cannot park on the first half of the course (though it looked like many do!).

The final descent for 15 miles, through thick forest, small villages of colourful chalet houses, and, even better, it’s also the first time it’s dry. The sun peeks out, though not for long, and I’m hitting 35 miles an hour on the sharp descent and 25 mph on the flats. It’s too fast, too late though. I’m still dressed like Ranulph Fiennes.

At T2 I tell the timekeeper that I’m done. There is not a single doubt in my head that I’m doing the right thing. (Though a week later as I write this I think “maybe, just maybe I should have gone on” – but I know that’s a daft thought, I wouldn’t have finished).

After 112 miles, my legs feel okay, I still feel strong(ish) but the desire to keep going has been been washed out by the cold and the rain. The thought of running thought that again is more than I take. I’m done. But I loved it. Every cold, wet, miserable minute of it.

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Norseman – Part 3

“How’s the legs?”

“Sore” replied Andrew.

He’s lying in bed in rjukan. A nice wee town at the base of “Zombie Hill.” The famed section of Norseman where runners switch from running on the flat to climbing  Mt. Gaustatoppe.

I’m feeling fit so I’ve decided to take the bike out and head up the mountain. The climb is hard but its more a mental thing than anything else. It doesn’t have many hairpins so each section feels like a long slog.

On the road people have painted zombies or inspirational words. Its easy to tell the UK supporters as they’ve painted the wrong side of the road!

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I stop once I get to the Furnicular railway that takes tourists to the stop. I notice its open and running so I head back down hoping to convince Andrew that we should go the top. It feels like the logical conclusion to our trip should be on top of the mountain!

Thankfully he’s up for it and even more thankfully he’s done all the packing!

Th13906646_10154314344108162_7927054594518622418_ne funicular is great. Its split into two trains. One that takes us into the mountain and then another that takes us to the top. We share a cabin with an older couple.

From the exit its just a few hundred metres to the Norseman hut. Its great to see the finish line even if its 24 hours later!

We take some pics and record a video of Andrew crossing the finish line.

We then pop into the hut to buy waffles. All races should have waffles at the finish!

On the way back down the same couple are in our train carraige. The man says “Not much to see, was there?”

Not really but if we hadn’t gone up we’d always have regreted it!

The aim of the trip was to enjoy the adventure. We had an adventure and we enjoyed it. What more to life is there than that? 🙂

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Norseman – Part 2 (Iain)

If 3 am is an ungodly time to get up, getting up at 2.30 am is even worse.

Today was the day. It was now or never. Which is a strange expression. It should actually be “It was now or never or…in a minute! Cant’t you see I’m busy. I’ll get to it when I can!”

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We left the B&B quickly and headed to Eidfjord. There’s plenty of parking spaces near the ferry but Andrew refused to use them. He was worried that the police would turn up and fine us. Its 3 am. I think the police have got better things to do than check anyone is parking illegally.

We park at the the school. On the walk to the ferry I point out to Andrew all the Cars parked in the spaces he said not to use.

The port is busy. A lot of athletes and supporters are here. I look at the ferry and notice it has a TV lounge! And comfy chairs! And its showing the Olympics! Extreme Triathalon? My Arse!

On the way into transition Andrew has to show that his bike’s front and back lights work and that he has a reflective jacket.

The volunteer checks his jacket and says its not reflective. It is very yellow but its not reflective! Andrew blames it on buying a cheap one from Decathalon. Idiot!

Luckily the volunteer had a spare so he gave that to Andrew. The winner has a black T-shirt but I bet he doesn’t have a Norseman branded reflective vest.

I wish Andrew luck and he heads onto the ferry.

I decide to drive down the coast to watch the start. Surprisingly no-one else had thought of this so I was on my own watching the start. I can’t imagine what people did in town. It must be pretty dull waiting for the swimmers to come back.

13873048_10153645915211196_6084655913261949439_nAfter they jumped in I headed back to town. I stopped at a pier near the yellow buoy and watched the race leaders zoom past. My watch said 50 minutes so it seemed like they were slow or the race had started late. I later found out this years swim times were slow due to the tide.

I got back to the pier in enough time to watch Andrew come out. I showed him over to the transition point and helped him get changed. About half the swimmer were still in the water so his swim time was pretty good.

I sent him off and said I’d see him in a couple of hours time at the top of the hill.

I notice a man at the pier has made fresh pancakes. I buy four so that Andrew will have a treat at the top of the hill. I then eat two. Oh well. Two is still a treat!

I then headed back to the B & B to get some breakfast. Mmm waffles. Its a hard life being a support team!

I’ve lost Andrew.

I saw him a minute ago. I passed him in the car. I gave him a wave and the parked at the next available parking spot. I’ve now waited 20 minutes and he’s not gone past!

I’m on the plateua. Due to thick mist visibility is 100m and it’s freezing cold. I wouldn’t like to be in a car in these conditions, let alone on a bike.

I decide something has gone wrong. He’s gone past and I didn’t notice or something’s happened before he got here.

I decide to head back down the road. I travel for 10 minutes and don’t spot him!

Its now colder and wetter and I imagine he will be wondering where I’ve gone.

I race along the road. After 10 minutes I still haven’t spotted him.

After 20 minutes, I’m worried. Something must have gone wrong.

After 30 minutes I spot a very cold and wet looking cyclist ahead. Its Andrew!

I pass and wave and this time park where he can see me.

It turns out he had cycled past me. My parking spot was in an awkward place. He assumed it wasn’t my car. I must have missed him as I was too busy concentrating on not crashing the car as I maneuvered into the space!

I thought he’d be angry so I pull out my trump card – the pancakes!

I think quickly and then ask him.

“Do you want a Twix?”

Andrew is standing in front of me. He’s shaking due to the cold. I offer him the sweet. He’s still cold and shaking but at least he gets chocolate biscuit snack.

He says he’s struggling to bike due to the cold. The weather is bad and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up.

Luckily I’d packed Goretex trousers, thick fleece top and a jacket. He takes off his wet clothes and replaces them with the new ones. He now looks ready…to climb Everest!

At least he’ll be dry and warm even if he’s not going to be very aerodynamic.

He says he’ll cycle to the next town before deciding whether to carry on.

I hope he keeps going. It would be a shame to finish at this point.

We pass the next town and come off the plateau. That section is supposed to be fast but due to the weather he never got up to a good speed.

Thankfully he now feels warmer and decides to continue.

13886465_10153645913911196_8173376943594334046_nThe next half of the race has four climbs. They are all manageable. There’s a climb of 400m near Glasgow called the Crow Road. So we split each section into how many Crow Roads it is. As in, this next climb is 1.5 crow roads. The one after is 2x Crow Road etc It helps to put each bit into perspective.

For the next 50 miles we get into a pattern of he bikes and I drive a short distance up the road. He then either passes me or pulls in and gets food. It seems to work well.

At the top of the last climb support has to end. Its all downhill now so I leave him to it and head to Transition 2. There’s not many folk here. Most of the competitors have already been through. I go for a walk and watch a couple posing for wedding photos.

Andrew eventually arrives. I expect him to call it a day. He’s been out on the bike for 8 hours+ and is pretty knackered!

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He decides to quit. He doesn’t have the energy to run over  a speed bump let alone a huge hill.

We pack up and head off. As we drive the route towards our accommodation we see the athletes struggling along the road. No part of either of us thinks we wish we’d continued.

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Norseman Triathlon – Part 1 (Iain)

The gym manager of the Western Isles Leisure Centre once said to Andrew and I: “If you two were clever you’d only have one gym membership”. Little did he know, that’s what we were already doing!

The membership was a photo ID so, as we’re identical twins, we’d pass the card to whichever one of us wanted to use it.

Similarly, we can both use each other’s bikes.  Between us we have a mountain bike, a time trial bike, an aero bike, a cyclocross bike, a road bike with a 28 cassette and a road bike with a 32 cassette.

For this race Andrew decided to use my 32 cassette bike as it copes best with hills. This decision had one issue. Andrew has the bike bag so he would have to get it from his loft to my house.

He called to say he had the bag and could he drop it off the next day. He then added – “There’s just one problem. I’ve injured myself lifting it down from the loft!”

Idiot!

The adventure was nearly over before it began!

Although it did make me think this may be karma coming back. Revenge for the gym membership.

The physio worked wonders and Andrew was patched back together before the flight. He was as good as new…although he is 38 so the phrase should be – as good as new-ish. The physio isn’t a miracle worker.

We flew from Edinburgh to Oslo. It’s a short flight but, due to the time difference, we land after midnight.

Once we land it takes an hour to retrieve the bags. We head outside to collect a taxi. The driver takes one look at the bike bag and says it won’t fit in his car and even if it did there wouldn’t be room for the two of us.

I put the bike in the boot and sit in the back. He’s wrong. He mumbles something and then probably bumped the fare up to twice the standard rate!

Welcome to Norway!

The hotel has a waffle machine. A hot burning girdle lying open on a table. If British health and safety was here they’d go mad. Thankfully they are not here so I throw caution to the wind and made a waffle. Delicious.

We take the opportunity to cut bread and steal the cheese and ham. We’ll have them for lunch.

According to our car rental instructions the Hotel is across the road from the car rental location. We head over. It isn’t the car rental location. Even though that’s what’s written on our booking. They tell us we have to go back to the airport. Oh well, we have plenty of time it’s only 300km to eidfjord. That won’t take long. We can afford the delay.

An hour later then intended we’re on our way. The car is big and brand new. The man at the rental desk tried to sell us a GPS. We said no. When we get to the car it has one built in. I’m glad we didn’t pay extra for it!

We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.

Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.

This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.

I wish I could tell you the scenery was stunning but it required full concentration to make sure I didn’t miss the next turn in the road.

Andrew on the other hand raved about the view.

I feel like Morgan freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. If Miss Daisy was a lazy triathlete who claimed he needed the rest in the car to better prepare for his race!

Eidfjord is a beautiful but tiny town. It’s surrounded by mountains and is the perfect setting for a race.

We couldn’t stay there so I’d booked the closest place I could find to it. http://www.ovre-eidfjord.com/

13892307_10154314344768162_1390814182140077994_nThe hotel was quirky but nice. When we arrived a fellow competitor was arguing with the owner about the price of the room. He couldn’t understand why he was being charged more for having six people in a two bed room. He argued that he should pay for two!

I admired his logic and his cheapskatedness.

We left them arguing and decided to visit the biggest waterfall in Norway.

It was a few miles away so it was back into the car. By the end of the trip I’d spent more time with the car then I’ve spent with some friends!

We parked near the viewpoint of the falls. It’s a great view and well worth a visit. Although the markers showing where people have died did make me extra careful with my footing.

We headed back to eidfjord to get some supplies and to check out the town. I decided to test the water temperature in the only manner I knew how. I stick my hand in. It wasn’t too cold. No different from current Scottish loch condition.

We took some photos around town and then head back to the B+B to get some sleep.

Breakfast was waffles. Yay.

Unfortunately they’d all been eaten. The buffet had opened at 8am and everything was eaten by 0801. Triathletes like to eat and they like to get up early.

The waitress said she’d never seen so many folk turn up at once.

Looking at the “competition” it was clear there was some very fit athletes here and they were just the supporters.

I did wonder what they made of myself and Andrew. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to hear what a Norwegian sounds like laughing.

We headed into town to register and to get the bike serviced. The flight over had damaged one of the disc brakes. It was slightly bent. I wasn’t worried. At worse we could bash it with a hammer.

13876311_10154314344673162_3062910982430429298_nWhilst the bike got serviced we went for a swim.

Huub had sponsored a practice session. Lots of athletes took the opportunity to have a go swimming out to the yellow buoy that would be used on the real course.

Andrew immediacy noticed a problem. He’d forgotten his swim goggles. Idiot (again!)

He went to the Huub stall to buy a new pair. They were 450 NOK which converted to GBP is equivalent to f’ing expensive!

The swim was great. The water was chilly but not unpleasant. Although I overheard a man from Dubai complain about how cold it was. I think his and my idea of hot and cold differ wildly!

The water wasn’t very salty which must be due to water flowing in off the mountains.

Andrew did one lap of the course. I did two. The swim reassured him that the big one wouldn’t be too bad.

The service man had finished with the bike and it now worked like a charm. Things were looking up.

Feck, deck, feck, feck!

The bike was making a sound. Not a good sound like wiiiiiissshhhh of speed but a grrrnnnnnhhhkkk of metal.

It seemed to be coming from the front wheel.

I now regretted taking the bike out for a spin. I’d noticed a big climb behind our B and B and thought it would be a good test for the bike but on the way down it had started crunching.

I stopped and spun the wheel. It was sticking. This was a problem!

I was near the B & B so I spun along. Planning to look at it without Andrew finding out. It would just worry him.

Annoyingly he was standing outside.

I had to tell him. He was worried. The service man was now shut and the race was tommorow.

“We need a plan,” he said

“We need google,” I replied.

I started googling grinding disc brake pads.

Andrew looked worried. He repeated, “we need a plan”

I told him to get the bike

“No, we need a plan”

Get the bike!

“We need a plan”

What’s the point of a plan if we don’t have the bike? He didn’t seem to grasp that whatever the plan the first step would be to get the bike.

He stropped off to get it.

I found the video I wanted. It explained how to loss the callers on the brake.

He came back. I took out an Allen key and loosened the callipers. The wheel ran smooth. Andrew looked relieved and worried. He may have secretly hoped that this would get him out of having to race!

We celebrated our achievement by having Norwegian meatballs. There’s a reason I’d never heard of them over their more famous Swedish rivals. They tasted disgusting.

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Hebridean Triathalon (Iain)

“Blue-green algae occurs when specific types of photosynthetic bacteria forms blooms”

Blue-green algae can be toxic to animal and humans. Although it’s a misnomer as its not actually an algae. There’s a useful/useless fact you can tell your friends.

The Hebridean triathlon is the first ever triathlon to be held on the Isle Of Lewis. This year’s event was a test event. The organisers had never done a triathlon themselves so credit to them for putting on a successful event.

Nine hardy souls had agreed to test the course. A mixture of individuals and teams.

Swim – 30 min

The day before the event blue-green algae was found in the loch. Luckily a retest of water in the morning showed no sign of it.

The swim was two laps. The water was so full of peat it felt like swimming in a pint of Guinness. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I forgot to start my GPS watch so I can’t check how accurate my sighting was.

I know I took a detour on the first lap as a canoeist came over and pointed me towards the correct buoy. I was swimming towards the wrong one.

The second lap was fine and I was out of the water in 30 minutes. I could have been quicker if I’d gone in the correct direction but I was happy with the time.

Bike – 1hr 26 min

bike

The bike course was an out and back loop to the Callanish Stones. An ancient stone circle site. There was a strong north westerly wind but it never felt like it was helping on the way out or back.

The route was “lumpy” with one minor 15% climb(!). It was short but I could feel the front of my bike lifting as I tried to go up it.

On the road it was sometimes better to cycle on the pavement. This sounds dodgy but pavements on the island are just an additional bit of concrete next to the road. Some of the pavements have been laid later than the road so they are smoother to ride on.

My time was slow but it never felt like a fast course. I think most people came in slower than they expected.

Run – 57 min

bike

This is the slowest I’ve ever run a 10k! The route was out and back through a local village. It was as “lumpy” as the bike route.

It was strange running along with so few people about. When I finally saw someone in their garden I gave them a big wave. Relief that someone else was out and about.

Thankfully the last 2km are mostly downhill. The first time in the day I felt it was easy.

Overall

Great first race on the island which should go from strength to strength. The course is good, the location is amazing and the food at the end is the best of any race I’ve done.

Just don’t expect a PB 🙂

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Tenby Long Course Weekender – Bike and Run (Iain)

Last night, I watched a program about people who swim the English channel. The pilot of a boat told one swimmer: “You need to be prepared.”

The swimmer replied “Prepared for what?”

“After doing this you’ll never be the same again!”

Which implies some life changing profoundness will be gained through completing the challenge but I’ve found that’s not always the case. I once had the same conversation as the swimmer and pilot with a friend of mine. He’d accepted my challenge to eat 12 Cadbury creme eggs in one sitting.

“After doing this you’ll never be the same again!”

He was never the same again. He used to love creme eggs but now can’t abide anything with caramel in it.

I don’t think I’ve learnt anything profound by completing race but I have learnt one lesson. I don’t like racing in the cold, rain and wind!

I wish I could tell you how I overcame the hellish weather, the problem with start times and the atrocious food stops at the Long Course Weekend Bike Race but I can’t. It was wet and miserable so I did one lap of the course. That was more than enough.

Instead of battling on we finished early. We used the free time to watch the movie “Central Intelligence” which was very enjoyable.

Some quick thoughts about the bike leg.

– There are no timing mats on the course until near the end of the lap. We should have done the big loop twice rather doing the small one and getting caught out by the cutoff time.
– The feedstops were pretty bad. No sport gels and the “energy drink” was diluted orange. I know this because a woman at one stop told me after I’d asked what it was.
– The course is roughly the same as Ironman Wales. This has a fearsome reputation but I didn’t find it that bad. There’s no long climbs just lots of short one. None of which required me to get out of my seat.

Thankfully the weather was a lot better on the Sunday. Andrew had won the bike leg so this was the decider. I was confident of victory having beaten him in most running races over the last few years. I was too confident.

I started off way to fast and bonked at mile 9. I thought I’d done enough to coast round ahead of him but I was wrong. He caught and passed me. I didn’t see again until the end. He was the deserved winner….this time!

Some quick thoughts about the run leg.
– Its a very undulating course. Don’t start off too fast and be prepared for some steady climbs.
– The food stops were fine for a half marathon but if i was doing the full I’d have preferred a better selection.
– The finish into Tenby is great. A big crowd cheering me on was a relief after the steep hill into Tenby.

Would I do the Long Course Weekend again? No but that’s not due to the race. Its a tricky location to get to due to all the driving from Scotland. Worth visiting once but never again!