The Bike – Rain, Rain, Hill, Rain, Rain, Hill, Ouch

Posted on August 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’m really not very good on the bike. It should be simple, I’ve done it for years – god knows I even had a Raleigh Grifter with all 3 gears. However, I’m just not built for cycling and I’ve not really worked out how to over take the ladies with the shopping baskets on their bikes. But I now had to cover 112miles before the blessed relief of getting off to run a marathon.

I can only assume that the first 10k or so was largely downhill or the wind was blowing a hoolie on my back as I averaged about 38kph which is the equivalent of a land speed record for me. I knew that pretty broadly between 10k and 30k the course climbed and very quickly I got my first Pirate cheer from Orange Cannon who was going at speeds I can only assume make your eyeballs bleed a little. The rain came and went, got lighter and heavier and got colder and warmed but I ploughed on. I found the climbs tougher than I expected to and, combined with the foul weather, as a result I made my first schoolboy error by not taking on calories when I knew I should. After a while I had lost track of what I had eaten and what I should have eaten and a whole year’s work on practising nutrition went out of the window.

At each little cluster of houses there were people gathered who clearly moved from coffee in the morning on to hard core schnappes by the time we saw them in the afternoon. My favourite supporters were a bunch of paddies just before the top of one of the hills. Without the dulcet tones that echoed around the hills you could still see their tricolour from some distance out. On the first lap they reassured us that we only had 100m of climbing to go. On the second, when I was dead on my ass, they ran along with me assuring me that the rest of the course was pan flat. Having done one lap already and knowing it wasn’t pan flat I asked if they had ridden it – yes, apparently, they had ridden it the previous day, on a tandem, for the craic!

At about 50k we hit Sunching which had been the anticipated Pirate cheering spot but presumably the rain put paid to that plan. There were individual and groups of Pirate sherpas scattered all around the course which were always a welcome distraction wherever they were found. I had expected Pam and the Farkies there but wasn’t surprised when I didn’t see them given the weather and the totality of the road closures. Just before the end of he first lap we went through a little town where they must have had jaeger bombs for breakfast. The town ghetto blaster had been dragged into the street and had been turned up to 11 and what must have been the entire population was out on the street. The crowd narrowed the road down to about one bike width a bit like on the mountain stages of the Tour de France and the locals supported and high 5’d wildly. Their cheering on that lap was trumped only by their cheering on the second lap where it felt like I had intruded by cycling through their own personal Soddom and Gomorrah.

As I passed the lake noting that the whole transition area had already been dismantled I passed Pam and the Farkies on the first corner of the course. Not expecting them I got distracted and had a bit of a slide on the corner almost leaving a large stretch of Lycra and DNA along the road. I almost fell off my bike a second time when I realised how fast I had done the first lap – just over 3 hours at the half way stage – by far the quickest I have ever cycled. However, it is easier to cycle really fast if you are not pausing to eat anything. At the start of the second lap I realised how much trouble I was in when my triceps kept cramping either through dehydration or just the cold. And it this point my earlier error started to unwind – realising that I hadn’t been eating I started double dipping to catch up and downed gels and bars and bananas with sports drink. Pretty quickly a bit of a bubbling sensation in the belly suggested that I might be in trouble. About the same time I realised my back was hurting. Not so bad that I couldn’t get into the aero position but bad enough that I struggled to get out of it. So, the second lap was going to be slower and tougher.

The Pirate Boys

Having gone backwards since the end of the swim it was nice when somebody paused to say hello rather than just cycle past you as if you were going backwards. A Scottish chap who was obviously also having a tough time rode alongside me for a while but he just kept talking about his demons so I think he was a bit disturbed and then Pirate Cougie paused for a few words of much appreciated encouragement. Other than that I just did a statistical sample of common German names from the backs of people’s shirts (Karsten and Wolfgang being the most common in my sample – crap swimmers, good bikers) and pondered why hairy arsed Europeans had decided to go for white sportswear on a rainy day.

With 10k to go we were waved towards the city centre which should have been a relief but with a very grumbling stomach and the back of an 80 year old hunchback every second in the saddle was pure purgatory. When I came to the final turn I took the race briefing warnings about the corner very seriously and just about fell off I went to slow. At the dismount line, my back was so sore I simply couldn’t work out how to get off my bike – if I tried to lift my left leg to dismount I was sure my back would go into spasm but I didn’t think it could hold me up on it’s own if I went for the other leg. I contemplated just letting the bike drop and then trying to disentangle myself from the ground. Marshalls looked on mainly bemused and a little amused as I tentatively tried all of the options. Despite a supersonic start the bike was eventually a pedestrian 7h 23m.

The Pirate Girls

Once eventually off it my racking point was about as far away as was possible to get in T2 and by this stage I had no intention to race into transition. I did what I could only describe as a very painful mince to the bike rack and thought about just leaving my cycling shoes on the floor to their fate but eventually hobbled towards the changing tent. En route I spotted the portaloos and decided that I had to visit to save my race. Once again I will probably share a little too much of the logistics but sharing is caring as they say. A portaloo does not require a picture to be painted to describe what it might look like after 1800 people have passed by – suffice to say that there was a pair of Oakleys on the floor that me, the original owner and possibly hundreds of others had thought better of picking up. So crippled by back pain in I went and my first crisis was where to put my bike helmet and shades while I wrestled my way out of my trisuit – there are just no handy storage hooks or shelves in these black holes. And then came the biggest issue – I was pretty certain I could get myself on to the pot (I had one shot at getting the aim right) but I had no confidence that I could get back off again while maintaining my dignity with the ironman world that was just outside the door. I left a little lighter, with (most) of my dignity intact and only spent about 4 or 5 minutes on the scenic detour.

In the transition tent I didn’t think I could sit on the bench – bending forwards from the waist literally made me want to vomit with pain. A young lady and old man volunteer got me my run bag and lowered me in to a sitting position. I then had the added problem of changing my socks and getting my trainers on. Inexplicably, I went all independent at this point and told the volunteers I would be ok and as a consequence I started a marathon in wet socks and loosely fitting trainers, unable to straighten with back pain and with palpitating intestines.

At least I didn’t have long to go…….





Sleepless Night


The Longest Day

One Guy, 5 Stone, Two and a Half Years and Two Races

The Swim – Froth, Speedos and Bulging Eyeballs

The Bike – Rain, Rain, Hill, Rain, Rain, Hill, Ouch

The Run – 42.2km of Hanging In There

The Aftermath



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2 Responses to “The Bike – Rain, Rain, Hill, Rain, Rain, Hill, Ouch”

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Unsure I will be able to sleep after that ‘Oakleys’ comment ! My sides are sair.


What about Sunching on your second lap round? Were we invisible there too?


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