Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Days at the Races

By Darren Roberts

2 races in 2 days – the GRIM Challenge Duathlon, Aldershot and the Helly Hansen Weavers Down Autumn Assault, Longmoor. The GRIM was an individual entry and Weavers Down a team event.

The GRIM, Saturday 19th: Considering it was the 1st year of the GRIM Duathlon it wasn’t bad at all. The sun belted down as 300+ of us crossed the start line. If people had the desire to stay dry, that was soon dashed. .200 metres up the road, they threw the first obstacle at us – a thigh high pool of muddy track water. The next 5k consisted of large amounts of mud, water and sand in various doses. I entered T1 in 8th. I’d opted for no clip-ins because sand and mud clog too many working parts up, so normal pedals and trainers aided a quick transition. I exited T1 in 5th.

5km into the 20k mountain bike stage, I had managed to keep up with the front pack enough to start getting excited about achieving a Top 10 place, perhaps 1st in my category. The grin was sooned wiped from my face when I noticed people were passing me.
I couldn’t understand it. Why? 2, 3, 4 riders shot past. I hadn’t taken my foot off the gas, infact, I’d probably increased the power into the pedals. I looked down at the tyres and realised what was happening. I had a slow puncture! I bobbed up and down and swore very loudly.. The next 2 km was a nightmare. Mud, water and sand banks on a flat.

The tyre finally gave up the ghost 2k from the 1st loop through transition. Thank god the organisers had decided to put the 10k point there. I ran with the bike, by now on its wheel rims. I hadn’t bought a spare inner tube – big mistake. I ride road bikes normally and never go anywhere without a full-on emergency kit under my seat. I didn’t bring anything for the MBK because – why hell – it had massive tyres which were as thick as my skull! I was paying the price for that. F*^%*^%^!

I was minutes from sacking the race when to my delight, my mate Dan Tracey caught up and threw me his spare tube and pump before bombing off. Thank god. I lost 15-20 minutes.

I crossed the finish line in 38th.position. What could have been…

HH Adventure Series Sunday 20 Oct: Compared to the GRIM, the Helly Hensan race was a much bigger event. There seemed to be thousands of people. We were a team of 3. Myself, Dan and Simon Woddy. I’d been through alot with these blokes in the past and we were looking forward to bombing around in the mud and guts of the Longmoor Army Training Area. We started in Wave 1 of 4. The gun went off and 160 people belted into the forest. This was GRIM on a big scale.

Simon was recovering from a cold and admitted to a lack of training, so became the pacemaker for the whole race. We maintained a Top 20 position and finally crossed the line 17th out of 299 teams. A great course but the organisation was very bad around the transition area. Overall, a good day and one that reminded me that your team is as fast as the slowest man.

It is absolutely crucial that you all try and maintain the same levels of training. It can be extremely frustrating if someone hasn’t kept up their program of preparation. The propensity to push on regardless is great but you all need to stick together as a team. We all have a bad days though.
Simon had an epiphany of sorts. I think we’ll see another man in the next race.

November 23rd needs absolute 100% commitment, and I know Nick, Steve and I are completely tuned into that day.

Jeckyll and Hyde Duathlon in Hyde Park next weekend. I’ve got a recovery spinning session at lunch and then it’s back on the road for preparation for Sunday…

Lessons learnt:
- Always carry a a spare tyre
- Always familiarise yourself with your kit (the MBK was my brothers)
- Never give up – keep running
- Recce the route if possible
- Don’t swear in front of spectators (too much anyway)
- The whole team must maintain a similar training program

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