Sunday, 23 February 2014

Challenge 2: 8 pieces of advice I should give you...

Before I begin dispensing advice, I should probably advise anyone reading that I didn't manage to complete the duathlon I took part in. I set out on the run but turned back after one km because it was too hard and I knew I wouldn't make it. However, I've learned a lot in the process of attempting to complete this duathlon and thus, I am a wise font of knowledge and in such a position, I feel obligated to pass on this information. So here are the things you should consider before taking part in an off road duathlon.

1. It's a good idea to have ridden a bike in the last three years.

I brought my bike through to Edinburgh in 2011 with great plans to cycle to work. This lasted all of one week because I absolutely detest cycling in traffic (or at all, if I'm being honest) and as a result, my little bike has stood, looking lonely, chained to the railings outside my flat door since then. It got so dusty at one point that one of my neighbours kindly drew a willy in the dust on the seat. The dust willy didn't last long however, because my next door neighbour dusted and cleaned my bike for me, presumably because it was such an eyesore that she felt obliged to do something about it.

Finally, it had been so long since I'd freed my bike from it's chains, that I forgot the code to my combination lock and spent about 3 hours last Sunday perfecting my criminal skills, attempting to break into the lock.

2. It's an even better idea to have done some hill training on said bike.

Apparently mountain biking involves a lot of climbing up hills. I didn't plan for this. I did train. I did. However, 10-20k on a stationary bike, set at level two isn't really sufficient practice for biking up the side of the mountain, which is what I did (or attempted to do) today. I've always been particularly fond of riding down hills on bikes, and particularly detest cycling up hills. I really should have understood that one doesn't come without the other.

3. You should probably ride a bike designed for an adult.

I've had my current bike since I was 13 and despite the fact I haven't grown a whole lot since then, it still probably isn't the best fit for a 26 year old at the best of times, never mind in a timed competition, up and down hills, through mud and over gnarly ground. I learned today that riding a bike which is too small for you, makes it doubly hard for your legs to pedal efficiently and it hurts your back reaching down to hold the handlebars. There is also another aspect to riding a bike that you've had for 13 years which is that the bike is old. And HEAVY.

This is not the actual course, hence why I'm so happy and clean.

5. It's a good idea to conduct some bike maintenance 

I mentioned that I haven't ridden my bike in three years. Obviously I realised that it wasn't acceptable to turn up to an event in this position so I took my bike out for a spin on Friday night. When I was back home, I mentioned to Ryan how nervous I was that I hadn't done enough training because lots of people were cycling past me, going much faster than I was. He went outside, squashed my tires with one hand and announced that I'd go an awful lot faster if I pumped my tyres up. I believe this is useful information for any keen cyclists. Don't say that I'm not good to you.

6. It's always handy to have a bike with brakes that work when mountain biking.

I mentioned that despite my hatred of cycling up hill, I love a good spin down a hill. I'm pretty brave too, and I don't mind going fast. After the uphill slog, I saw the hills leading back down the finish and I started to feel a little excited. This was the fun part. This was why people came back time and again to do things like this. The first downhill wasn't that steep but as I picked up speed, I touched on my front brake, just to slow down a little. Nothing happened. I used my back brake but nothing happened when I used that either. I managed to slow down a little using my feet, and then by riding into a tree trunk. I probably should have put this as the first piece of advice. It really is important.

This is not the point when my brakes failed. Unfortunately, because this was before the race had even started so I could have sacked it off

7. Running after you've been cycling is not just like running on it's own

I didn't finish the duathlon, although I did attempt the run despite being dead last back from the cycling part. I think I ran about 1km before I asked the steward whether anyone had ran in the direction I was going in the past twenty minutes. She responded in the negative and so I turned around and ran back the way I had just came. Helpfully, the full run was a run out and back the same way, so I was able to join in with those exceptionally fit people who were finishing the full run, and cross the finish line looking like I'd just breezed it.

For your information, running after cycling feels like running wearing brick shoes. To add difficulty, the mud I was running through was up to my calves. I was not built for that.

8. Finally, always, ALWAYS listen to your parents when they tell you that you're being ridiculous.

They're right.

1 comment:

  1. I've done a few triathlons so I completely feel your pain when it comes to running off the bike! People never understand just how much your legs feel like jelly until they've attempted it. Sounds like a stellar effort anyway though - good on you for giving it a go! x