St Neots Sprint Triathlon May 19th
The aim of my first race this year was as both a gauge of fitness and preparation for the imminent World Championship Qualifiers that I’ve set my sights on for season goals. I hadn’t raced any of the NiceTri events before, but they’ve got a whole series this year including a couple of Eastern Region league races, which this first Sprint race contributes to. That usually guarantees a good turn out and the 350 competitors racking up in transition on race morning was more than even the race organisers had anticipated.
My training to date has been erratic to say the least. Managing work, a new baby and trying to train, whilst not becoming a social recluse, has its challenges and has meant about a halving in training volume on last year. Instead I have invested in the theory that if I can’t make time up through hard graft then the only answer is to try and buy it! I’ve finally invested in a TT bike, admittedly off ebay, but a few days with Simon at the TriHarder shop and he’s got it tuned up and race ready. I also bit the bullet and had an evening suffering at the hands of Beth at the Pedal Clinic. I would wholly recommend her fitness tests for anyone who is looking for technical advice in terms of their riding or wants an accurate early season measure of where their cycling is at, and I would definitely recommend it for any of you who like their stats! It turns out I pedal like a peanut, literally and metaphorically, and my power to weight ratio, which is ultimately the single biggest factor in time trialling is decent , but with plenty of room for improvement. I will definitely make sure I go back for a follow up later in the year, in fact I might even taper for the occasion just to save face!
Anyway, with my first A-race 3 weeks down the line and minimal opportunities to get in a decent blocks of training through the winter, I had found myself on holiday in a wonderfully hilly part of Devon the week before the St Neots race. My bike happened to be on the roof and as I couldn’t play dad all day (fortunately she still sleeps a lot) it seemed rude not to make the most of the terrain. So I had a solid week of hill training and a couple days rest in the lead up to the race. The idea was to make it part of my training in the lead up to a busy summer schedule. I made my way down with fellow Tri-Anglian Will Chrome, bright and early Sunday morning to clear skies and a forecast better than any we’d had for weeks.
Transition was set up on the banks of the River Ouse. A Super Sprint kicked of the event at 7.45 followed by the first wave of the sprint at 8am. I hadn’t made it out into open water yet this year so the 11.5C was a shock to the system and hopefully why at 200m into the race I nearly retired from triathlon. Fortunately, my hypoxia abated and I settled into a comfortable rhythm on the feet of another swimmer. Turns out the other swimmer was Sam Proctor also racing for Team Triharder and we exited the swim 2nd and 3rd. Having drafted off him for 400m I also got to learn about the slippery exit when he came a cropper on the wooden ramp, so it was almost like team work (you know, a cycling team, where one man benefits from another’s efforts!).
I left transition 2nd, just close enough behind the leader to watch him take a wrong turn at the first roundabout and set about finding my bike legs. I tend to find it a bit of an ordeal for 4 or 5 miles by which time I was out on lovely fast roads in the early morning sunshine. Riding the TT bike is a joy and the over distance bike leg gave me a chance to push the average speed up to a little under 24.5mph. Well it was almost all a joy, all apart from the cycling profiency test in the last 2miles as the route took in about a dozen mini roundabouts and as many speed bumps, oh and the bit where I lost both my shoes dismounting into T2- something I really need to deal with before Nottingham Triathlon. I then proceeded to rack my bike where I had left it, in the wrong place, and tried to explain to the marshalls why as I ran out onto the run course.
It was my first race outing in the On Cloud shoes that had kindly been passed my way from Simon at TriHarder and they were awesome. My run training has suffered the most of everything recently, yet the run leg of this race was the most suprising and I’m sure it was in part down to the change of footwear. The Best on Test reviews in the Tri-mags consistently seem to get split between the On shoes and Newtons as both encourage fore-foot running without compromising comfort. Until now I’ve shied away due to Achilles and shin splint problems, but I plan on racing in the On’s from now on and suffered no ill effects from wearing them. I clocked 17.18 for a slightly short, but pan flat 5km which looped twice around well supported park route.
I had a little chat with the race organiser once I crossed the line to make sure my bike racking faux pas hadn’t cost me any time penalties, but fortunately I was let off the hook. I was nearly joined on the podium by fellow Team Triharder athlete Sam Proctor, but he’d been pipped to 3rd by only a few seconds. Still 1st and 4th seemed like a great early season result in what was a well run and popular race. Most importantly it was good confidence booster ahead of the Britsh Sprint Championships in 2 weeks time.
Toby Morrell – Team Triharder
Tom Stead- NiceTri
Sam Proctor-Team Triharder
Richard Hancock- St Neots CC