Thursday, 26 May 2011


This is where you end up after a long ride and a sudden change of plan! Cycling is inherently dangerous!!

This accident resulted in a broken collarbone and a some pain, an enforced rest from raining and no little annoyance. But it could have been worse.

I have also suffered this week after a freak accident whch saw me hit a 2 inch block of wood in the road that punctured both tires and through me to the ground at about 20 mph. It hurt and I have the road rash and bruised ribs to show for it. I also get to share in the frustration of not being able to complete my training goals, cycling seems OK but swimming and running are out... good job I am dong a 350 mile cyclosportive over the weekend so I hope to be back running and swimming by next week.

So what are the risks in cycling and what can we do about it. It starts with setting out with the correct equipment. Make sure you bike works, the brakes are in good condition and you tires or OK. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing, especially cycling gloves and a helmet. Your hands will save the rest of you from significant injury but dont grind out the palms of your hands, cycling gloves have padding where they do for a reason (and it is not really to make your griip easier- its to cushion your hands in a fall onto your outstretched palm). As my hands are my livelihood I try to wear gloves even in a race.

The evidence for helmets is overwhelming if you view it correctly, There is a population study from australia that suggested that the wearing of helmets discouraged people from cycling and as a consequence there was a net reduction in total health benefit from cycling. It did not show as is frequently quoted that wearing of helmets themselves does anything other than reduce risk of serious head injury. Helmets save lives so you would be a fool not to use one.

The remaining risks are down to how you cycle and how you interact with other road users. As a lifelong rider in a busy city I can be pretty assertive in the way I ride which ensures visibility (good) but can lead to conflict (bad) but most city road users develop some degree of acceptance (probably related to the frequency of traffic lights) of each other. Country side road users seem to regard cyclists as more of a nuisance and often seem to be in more of a hurry. Any feedback to them of their inconsiderate driving is limited by the lack of aforementioned traffic lights. So we you need to learn where the roads are safe, how to avoid hotspots and how to reduce conflict. After 42 years I am slowly getting more mellow (OK hard to believe) but I do now try to smile and adopt a positive attitude in my response to other road users.

Finally speed increases risk. Take care especially on fast descents when you are tired... which brings us neatly back to the start of this post

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

oops I won something (well sort of)

Sunday saw me take on the Marshman Middle Distance Triathlon based down in the Romney Marshes around Lydd in Kent. Set up as a staging event for those doing a summer IM it is almost exactly 8 weeks before IMA which is ideal if you follow the Friel 30 week IM plan (not that I do). Still it is a good event and a perfect run out to see how my training is going. I did it last year and it was a bit basic and more like an old school race and none to bad for that.

So i rocked up at 06:00 to register and found that my race registration had gone missing..... seems like I forgot to do it! No worries they had a few late withdrawals and I was given a slot in the third wave of the race.

The Race Director had heated the water in the watersports lake to a balmy 17 degrees compared to the chilly 12 of last year, and with minimal fuss we were off. I sprinted the first 20 strokes as normal expecting a bit of bumping but soon realised that the groups had been seeded (effectively) by swim time. So for the first time ever I lead the swim!! After about 600m I started catching some slower swimmers from the group ahead (who perhaps had been more aspirational in the expected swim times). The swim went steady and in the final third I started to catch up with the middle of the pack of the field ahead. Most of them seemed a bit surprised to have me cruising past but it gave me great motivation in the last few 100 metres; Time was 31.06 (32) slower than last year but I think the swim was longer.

T1 was a mess, I was not at all prepared and it showed. Mind you I felt calm and when I realised i had lost my racing chip I spent a good minute looking for and finding it among the mess of my wetsuit.

Out onto the Bike which is Flat Fast and Windy. I was soon passing riders at regular intervals and reeling them all in. I was not passed the whole ride and picked up a few pacers who hung onto me with varying degrees of success. I felt strong most of the way but lacked a bit in the the third quarter of the bike, but picked up in the last quarter. Time was 2.29.41 (17) new pb.

T2 was a bit more successful but still managed to lose about 200 yds on a Belgian guy who had been pacing with me during the bike... annoying and again I think I was a bit dazed but none to bad really.

Out on the run I had my Belgian mate to chase down, and was motivated by his comment as he passed me in transition, "Now we see how well you can run".

It took me about a mile and a half to close the 200 yards, my HR was way up but my runs always start so no surprise there. when I caught up with this guy I had a quick chat, noted his Im gear and established we are both doing IMA this year. After a minute or so I started to chase the next runner and so on. It felt too easy but I had the speed and I was not gonna waste it.

The only person in the race to pass me came by at mile 10, he went on to run a 1.27 HM but I hung with him for a mile or so then backed of cause it was hurting too much. I told myself that if this was my A race I could have stayed with him for the last 3 miles, not sure it was true but this was not the day to use up those mental reserves.. and probably I went a it far into the red as the run was quite hard for the last mile or so but my pace did not drop dramatically.

I finished by passing one more runner with 200 metres to go. Time was 1.33.22 (new pb) for the run and a finish of 4.39.36 also a new pb. Confident I had at least 2 minutes to shave of my transitions (and clearly something to focus on) all in all a very satisfying day out. Overall I was 19th and first Veteran home (over 40 and first in my AG.

Nex event will help to sort out my bike which will see me doing the Tour of Wessex whilst I boost my run volume to try and keep the speed for the more challenging IM marathons to come.