Friday, July 07, 2017

Bishop's Castle Tandem Triathlon

We were aware of this annual event many years ago before we went to Japan. However, back then I didn't run and jules was not that regular a swimmer, so we never got round to entering it. The last couple of years since returning from Japan it has clashed with our local club triathlon so it was only this year that we finally got round to doing it for the first time. It's a very informal event and the format is slightly non-standard in that the pool swim (1km), tandem ride (32km), run (10kmish) is followed by a final 5km tandem ride back to the event centre as the (trail) run is situated in a hilly forest some way out of town.

We drove down to Bishop's Castle the day before, not having worked out that this meant “enjoying” Friday evening rush hour on the M6...though it didn't turn out too bad as it happened. My Airbnb arrangement was a comedy of errors due to various communication problems and minor misunderstandings but it all turned out very well in the end and we found a decent pub dinner for pre-event calorie-loading - the traditional high-fat high-beer version as pioneered by yours truly for previous marathons (e.g. 1, 2). The airbnb had a little kitchen so we made quite a success of breakfast too. Theresa May take note!

Our start time was 10:52 which gave plenty of time to digest the bacon, black pudding, potato scone, egg, tomato, beans, mushroom, cereal, croissant, banana, yoghurt (albeit not all on the same plate). Oh, and we also managed a good look at the chaos taking place in the pool before jules had to jump in and join it. There were 4 lanes each with about 3 swimmers splashing up and down who had been theoretically laned according to their predicted swim times, but it seems they were mostly lying or, perhaps we may charitably say, mistaken as to their prowess. Jules ended up overtaking her breaststroking lanees multiple times but if anything this seemed to spur her on to a sub-19 min time, comfortably ahead of expectations. Then she made a quick switch of googles for specs and on the with the shoes and helmet and off we were on the bike.

The bike leg was great, it was fun to go properly fast again on a fairly flat course on A and B roads. There were plenty of tandems ahead of us to chase down around the course and one quite steep hill that we had to do twice (the route being a lap and a bit). Up the hill for the second time and I had to jump off and head into the forest for a moderately hilly run. That was really hard under what was by then a very hot mid-day sun. Even trees don't provide much shade when the sun is vertically overhead! There were times that I seriously considered stopping/walking/lying down in a ditch but fortunately water bottles handed out on course stopped me from expiring. I didn't even get a rest while changing shoes as due to the double transition I'd decided to just ride in running shoes and old-fashioned toe clips (which worked out fine, it didn't really handicap us on the bike). Back on the bike and downhill to the finish was a bit of a blur and then we forced down some food and drink before watching the later teams come in.


Perhaps "lying down in the sun while people ride past" would be more precise!

(top two pics from Sandy Plenty, bottom one by jules)

Chip timing and a live-updated web page (apparently for the first time this year) meant we could immediately see how well we had done and who of the remaining competitors was likely to be close...initially we were the first mixed team and 2nd overall....and then one more male team came in ahead...but all the mixed teams were a bit slower! Making us the national mixed tandem triathlon champions for 2017. Possibly world mixed tandem triathlon champions too, as this may be the only event of its type in the world. And we were first vet (over 40) team of any gender too. Jules has been basking in her multiple QOMs on strava, even though I somehow still managed to complete the first lap some 8 seconds faster than she did :-)

To be fair, all the fastest women are on tandems, this is clearly a route that only tandemmers race round (it's not an official RTTC course). So we don't feel too guilty about the ranking. We're hoping to return to defend our title...