Somewhat of a belated post, because it’s hard to admit. It’s not easy to confess to cheating. Last year I cheated in a big way. I went behind running’s back and (shudder) cycled the Ride 100. The bike is still in pieces in the garage from where I took the wheels off to fit in the car. I feel leaving it dismembered in some way atones for my sins. I’d tasted the forbidden fruit and went back to the honesty of running.
Fast forward to Easter and our plans to go away never happened so we had a long weekend at home instead. But everyone was racing. All the local races were full. It was nicest weekend of the year. I needed a run. They were all booked or a long way away. But I could get a place in the Milton Keynes City Duathlon. So it would be a running race (well sort of two) with a bit of cheating in between. It was billed as a good beginners event, like a gateway drug to harder stuff.
I signed up and then went to the garage. It was an off-road Duathlon using some of the same course as the recent cyclo-cross world champs. So my road bike stayed in pieces. For the event you could use a cyclo-cross bike (not sure what one is, pretty sure I don’t have one) or a mountain bike. I had one of those. In fact I’ve had it a while. My Raleigh Activator was a birthday present when I was 16. Having turned 40 that gives an idea of the age. It weighed a tonne, still had panniers attached from its stint as transport at University and hadn’t seen the road in a good decade. Ideal then.
Preparation consisted of stripping off the panniers and some old mounts for long forgotten lights and pumping tyres up. I rode it to the end of the drive and it worked. With standard pedals and old fashioned straps I wouldn’t need silly clipping cloppy shoes so could save some time in transition and run better on the inevitable sections I had to climb off.
The day arrived and I cycled to the start at Willen, bringing the total decade mileage of the bike to about 1.3. After bumping into loads of cheats, I mean cyclists, that I know from running I had to go and ‘rack my bike’ like some sort of duathlete. The invigilator inspected my bike and confirmed that yes, despite his initial impressions it was indeed a bike, mostly by default since it didn’t fall into any other categories. Being aimed at beginners he was very relaxed and friendly.
Then we assembled in the start pen and set off. I was actually about to do a Duathlon!
First leg was 10k and was two laps of Willen Lake, my home turf. Some set off way too fast and others paced well. I gradually reeled some in but was passed by mate Jason. The Duathlon had three distance options, plus standalone 5 and 10k events so it was tricky to pace against other runners never knowing if they were about to stop after lap 1 and get on the bike, or just stop and go home having finished entirely.
After a respectable 10k I ran into the bike area, aware of the ‘helmet on before touching bike’ rule and necked a drink. It was frigging boiling out. After pushing the bike to the start of the cycle section I set off and made a poor fist of the first lap, slower than almost everyone and pushing it a lot due to lack of bike fitness and no real cycle skills. A combination of confusion between myself and marshal meant I needlessly dismounted the bike at end of lap one and pushed it to start of lap 2, then set off again.
Somewhere on lap 2 the bike started to object to this punishment of being whipped around a hilly course after a 10 year slumber and emitted a honking noise that got progressively worse on the third lap but I did pass some others which made a change. It held together for the event and I racked it again, ditched helmet and went for a run. Or at least tried. My first stint of running off the back of a bike (or BRICK as they choose to call it) was an experience. Although only 5k it took most of that to loosen up and my awful bike performance meant I was on my own and couldn’t see anyone ahead or behind.
Eventually I crossed the line a hot sweaty mess with legs like concrete. Feeling oddly relieved to have finished and have done so on a bike worth scrap metal value at best.
First Duathlon done. The inevitable question is could I learn to swim properly and do a triathlon? Given I had one swimming lesson and it went so badly I cramped up and almost drowned, I’m thinking no.
The event was great and I’d recommend it. Challenging course for the bike but good fun!