Toddman 2021 (Iain)

Toddman is the annual competition to decided who is the greatest Todd.

The entry requirement is simple. You have to be called Todd. Surname only. If you’re first name is Todd then you aren’t getting in.

This year, many Todd’s entered…actually just two. Andrew and I. Which guaranteed we would both finish on the podium.

Last year Andrew cheated his way onto the top spot (https://twinbikerun.com/2020/06/19/toddman-2020-iain/) This time I was determined I would be declared Toddman!

The route was a new improved Toddman route featuring an altered bike and swim course than the 2020 version.

Swim

We started with a 1km swim in Carron Valley Reservoir. There is no set route so I did some 200m laps back and forth until I hit the race distance. Even though Andrew started five minutes before me, I still finished before him.

I think our GPS watches have very different ideas about how far 1Km is. I’ve noticed even if I swim, bike or run right next to him we will often have very different distances logged.

But in this instance I’m sure my watch was 100% accurate and therefore I declare myself the winner of the Swim leg. 1-0 to Iain.

Bike

The new bike route comprises a climb of Crow Road and Tak Me Doon. Which we have renamed Todd Me Doon. The fastest to the top of both climbs would be declared Todd of the Mountains and he would be awarded the Polka Todd Jersey.

Andrew beat me to the top of both climbs.

BUT I let him win. I had a camera with me as I was filming the competition as we did it. Did Chris Froome have to film his own Tour De France wins? No! Someone did it for him. I lost all the time having to cycle slowly so that I could get Andrew in the shot. If I’d cycled at my normal pace he’d have been left behind and I wouldn’t have had any shots of him.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

I think, even though he came first, I should be declared the winner. 2-0 to Iain.

Run

The last leg was an out and back run to the Summit of Meikle bin. I knew from the start of the run that I would win. Each time I pushed the pace a bit faster Andrew would struggle. I was feeling great so I was confident I’d outpace him at the end.

With 1KM to go. Andrew’s shoe lace came undoe. He claims he shouted at me “Hey, wait a sec, I need to tie my shoelace!”

All I heard him say was “Hey Champ, run on. You deserve the win. You truly are Toddman!”        

Who knows who was correct? All I can say is “I am Toddman !”

Outdoor Swim Review: Bayble Beach, Isle of Lewis 2021(Iain)

I wrote about Bayble beach last year. https://twinbikerun.com/2020/06/29/outdoor-swim-review-bayble-beach-iain/

Nothing has changed since then 🙂

Although it has got a little bit busier. Previously, I did not see anyone swimming here but on my last couple of visits there has been at least one other group swimming.

Its a great sport for a quick dip within easy access of Stornoway.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There is a car park next to the beach (by the pier)

Water quality: The water was clear and I could see a good distance under the water.

Swim Quality: 12C in August. You can swim from one beach to another just a few hundred meters away along the coast. The Pier blocks the worst of the waves. It was flat calm during my visit.

Other People: There was another couple of swimmers splashing about.

Would I go back: Yes. Nice spot for a swim and easy to access.

The Hebrides Triathlon 2021 (Iain)

When you turn up at a race and accidentally pose for a picture dressed as a traffic light!

Someways, I do a race and think “wow, that was great. It felt really easy. I could have carried on all day”

Other days I think “Please God make this stop. I hate every second of this”

The Hebrides triathlon was a “make this stop” day. It was entirely my own fault that I felt like this!

Swim (36min 46 sec)

The swim is usually in a Loch but due to the presence of Blue-Green algae the organisers wisely moved it to the sea instead.

Normally I love swimming in the sea. The clear water is much more enjoyable than a peaty dark loch. Unfortunately. I made a mistake when choosing my swim googles. I wore tinted lenses. It was an overcast day and the tinted lenses made it seem even more overcast. I could barely see my nose let alone the course markers.

My sighting was so poor I swam 1800m instad of 1500m!

Even worse than that – Andrew beat me.

I should have brought the correct googles.

Bike (1hr 22 min)

The bike course is an out and back route to the Callanish Stones. It was an undulating route with a strong head wind on parts of it.

Andrew is a better cyclist than me so I knew I wouldn’t catch him on this section. I hadn’t ridden my TT bike in a year. I struggled to get comfortable on the bars. It wasn’t an enjoyable ride.

I should have done some test rides before the race.

Run (1hr 03min 02 sec)

I injured my foot a couple of weeks before the race. I debated whether to start the run or not. I wasn’t sure my foot could handle the race.

I decided that I didn’t want a DNF against my name so I decided to start but walk whenever my foot felt like it might be sore. I quickly realized it was ok on flat sections of the course but sore on up or downhill parts.

There wasn’t many flat sections!

I should have walked all of it so that my foot wasn’t sore

Overall. (3hr 10min 12s)

I was happy to finish!

It is a great, friendly race with a great selection of food available at the end. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to combine a trip to the Hebrides with a scenic challenging race.

Outdoor Swim Review: Huisinish Beach, Isle of Lewis (Iain)

A few years ago a local man met aged rock god and ex-Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant in a bar in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris and asked him what he was doing there.

Robert Plant said he was there to look at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle. It was for sale and he was interested. The local looked at him and said “What do you do to be able to afford a place like that?” The world famous rock start said, “I play music and I was in a band when I was younger”

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle - Wikipedia
AMHUINNSUIDHE CASTLE

The local replied, “did you play the sea angling club? I thought I recognised you!”

Robert Plant didn’t buy the castle. I suspect the main road that passes the front door of the castle put him off. The castle is a dramatic backdrop on the way to Huisnis beach who can only dream of living the downton abbey lifestyle!

What the picture doesn’t show is that there are some normal houses just out of shot. So I might not be able to afford a castle but one day I might be able to buy the smaller place and get the same view.

REVIEW

Ease of Access:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

There is a car park next to the beach. There are toilets and other facilities which are normally open but at the time I visited (July 2020) they were closed due to Covid.

The road to the beach is single track, very hilly and lots of bends. It will take much longer than you think to drive it as its difficult to see any oncoming traffic. On the bright side – the scenery is stunning.

Water quality:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The water was crystal clear.

Swim Temperature: 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

12C in July.

Other People:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had the whole beach to myself.

Would I go back: Yes. It is a beautiful spot.

Outdoor Swim Review: Bayble Beach, Isle of Lewis (Iain)

I watched the Gaelic news and discovered there is a Gaelic pronunciation of “coronavirus” – it is “coróinvíreas.” But they haven’t changed “self-isolate” they pronounce it as “self-isolate.” it is surprising nobody has invented that Gaelic term as there is nothing more self isolating than a wet and windy day in Lewis.

My first school in Lewis was Point Primary. I don’t remember much about it as I was only there for a year before moving to the larger Primary in Stornoway.

Babyle beach is just along the road from my first School.

The School had been knocked down and replaced by a new building so I wasn’t able to see anything that would jog my memory about my time there.

It was whilst living down here that Andrew and I got two sheep as pets. They were called Donald and Shona.

A sheep is not a particularly good pet. It does not respond to commands. Donald would not fetch, sit or wait. He would only eat grass and baa’d occasionally. Shona was no better. She never once responded to her name and showed complete indifference to us as owners.

One day we came home and the sheep were gone. Mum said they ‘d gone to a better place where they’d be happier. In later life she admitted the better place was my uncles’ belly! He chopped them up to eat them.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There is a car park next to the beach (by the pier)

Water quality: The water was clear and I could see a good distance under the water.

Swim Quality: 12.3C in June. You can swim from one beach to another just a few hundred meters away along the coast. The Pier blocks the worst of the waves. It was flat calm during my visit.

Other People: There was one couple sitting on the beach having their breakfast. Which was impressive as it wasn’t that warm a day and there was light rain.

Would I go back: Yes. Nice spot for a swim and easy to access.

Outdoor Swim Review: Lake Of Montieth (Iain)

The name Lake of Menteith is a mistake by a cartographer. It was originally called Laich o Menteith, where “laich” simply means “low place”.

Which is very apt because when I went the water was very low.

It is not the only lake in Scotland (as I thought) there are also lakes in Fife (Raith Lake) and Sutherland (Lake Louise)

I took advantage of some nice weather to pay a visit to the lake. I wasn’t the only one with that idea. the place was mobbed. Finding somewhere to park was very difficult but luckily I managed to get a spot close enough to walk to the water easily.

The water level was low and I could easily walk out 30m without going under. There wasn’t anyone else swimming but there was a number of boats and fishermen about.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There is a car park on the B road by the east of the lake. It is currently closed due to lockdown (June 2020) but may by open when you are reading this.

Water quality: The water was low and the lake is shallow. I’d check carefully for blue green algae before swimming. It was fine in early summer when I visited but I prefer deeper water to be safe.

Swim Quality: Hot! 20C in the water. I could have had a bath in it.

Other People: Fishermen and some kayakers. It seemed a popular busy place. I prefer quieter spots.

Would I go back: No. It was fine for a one off swim but I would only go back if I was passing by for another reason (ie post biking or running)

What to do when your race is cancelled (Iain)

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career…” of cancelling races. Although it is usually me who cancels rather than the race cancelling on me.

I should have started this year by running the Buchlyvie 10k but I cancelled. Which is not a surprise if you have read last year’s blog about the race. https://twinbikerun.com/2018/01/29/buchlyvie-10k-iain/

I should have done the Scottish winter Swimming Championship but I cancelled. You can read why here https://twinbikerun.com/2020/03/06/outdoor-swim-review-loch-chon-iain/

I did not mind cancelling because the races were not my early season goal. My goal was the John Muir Ultra Marathon. I trained hard all winter to do the race. I trained in the cold and rain, I trained when it was dark, I trained early in the morning and late at night. All to be ready for the race.

BUT the race has been cancelled.

Am I gutted? No I’m not.

I race to train.

A race give me motivation to do all the things I have just mentioned. To get up early, to go out when it raining, and to not sit and veg in front of the telly.

So when your race gets cancelled dont be gutted. Be thankful for the health and fitness you got whilst training for it. There will be other races in the future.

Outdoor Swim Review: Loch Chon (Iain)

Last year I went to the Scottish Winter Swimming Championship. It was a great event full of nice people and good energy.

I vowed I would do it this year. I trained for it until Xmas and by swimming outdoors regularly I had become comfortable in 8C water.

Since then I’ve not had a chance to swim outdoors (for various reasons – see previous blogs)

The event is this weekend (7th March) so I decided I should test whether I could do it?. The answer was a very clear no! The water temperature was 3.6C. I struggled to get my face in the water. My hands and feet were ok but my body tensed up too much whenever my face got close to the cold water.

It took me 5 minutes to do 100m!

My face didn’ look great after the cold water. I hope this was because of the cold water and that I don’t look this rough all the time!

I realise it would be stupid to do the event. If it takes me that long to do 50m in a wet-suit then I wouldn’t stand a chance without it. I’ll aim for next year instead.

The training hasn’t gone to waste. Previously, I struggled to go in the water when the water temperature dropped below 13C but I can now get in at 3.6C.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There was plenty of space in the car park and the water was just a 2 minute walk away. (https://goo.gl/maps/gvBbjcmostRTnj9W6)

Water quality: It seemed OK but I’d have to go back in Summer. I didn’t spend long enough swimming to decided whether the water was good or not.

Swim Quality: Baltic! I’m please I went in but I was even more pleased to get out

Other People: It was quiet but a couple of cars were there. Folk were admiring the view of the Loch.

Would I go back: Yes. It looks like a nice pl;ace to swim. I’ll be back!

Outdoor Swim Review: Hebrides – Braighe Beach (Iain)

Recently I was browsing Instagram and I spotted this photo from the Isle of Lewis. It shows a couple walking a dog on a nice beach. It’s a nice pic.

Something about the pic seemed familiar but I couldn’t work out what. I looked at it more closely and realized that the couple in the photo are my Mum and Dad. They were walking on one of their favorite beaches – the Braighe. I doubt either of them have ever heard of Instagram or know that the photo even exists.

Braighe is an apt name for the beach as it means sandy strand in Gaelic. The sandy side of the beach is a fine sandy strand between two parts of the island.

You can swim on either side but normally the west side is calmer as it faces a protected bay.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There are three car parks available. The middle one has toilets. It is only a 10 minute drive from Stornoway to the beach.

Water quality: The water quality is crystal clear and perfect for swimming although on a wild day it can get a bit sea weedy on the bay side.

Swim Quality: Cold. In December the temperature was 7C. I had a short swim in a circle. In the summer I’ve been here and swam the length of the beach.

Other People: Not a soul.

Would I go back: Yes. Its the easiest place to get to have a sea swim that is near my parent’s home in Stornoway. Normally one side of the beach will protected from any bad weather.

Outdoor Swim Review: Hebrides – Reef Beach (Iain)

Next month Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, will attempt to swim 1km of a lake of melting Antarctic ice ( https://lewispughfoundation.org/east-antarctica-2020/ )

To train for the brutally cold endeavour he could have chosen anywhere in the world –Norway or Iceland etc. He chose the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

He trained twice a day on the island. Each day he would post details of his training swims on social media and invite anyone to come and join him.

Initially he was based on the west side of the island. Its a great location for swimming. Some of the beaches are stunning. Especially when the weather is good.

Cliff beach in summer

Occasionally the weather is bad…very bad. In England, during bad weather, the MET office might issue a “danger to life” warning. In Lewis, during bad weather, you just get on with it. As my Dad said whenever I complained about the weather – it is only a bit of wind and rain.

The stunning views and bad weather makes Lewis the perfect place to train. if you can swim here you can swim anywhere!

Scottish outdoor swimmer/filmmaker Calum Maclean, me, Lewis Pugh

REVIEW

Ease of Access: Reed is 60 minutes from Stornoway. There is a parking spot beside the beach. It is a 5 minute walk from there to the sea.

Water quality: The water quality is crustal clear and perfect for swimming.

Swim Quality: Cold. In December the temperature was 7C. The beach is 1km long. I did a length of the beach and then jogged back.

Other People: Not a soul other than a few hard folk joining Lewis for a swim

I’m in the wet suit.

Would I go back: Yes. Uig is a beautiful spot. When I was younger I hated coming here because the road to it was terrible. I would get car sick. Nowadays the road is much better!