It was a stark contrast landing at Heathrow after the 28 hour journey home from Xterra Maui – from 33 degrees, humidity and sunshine, to a damp, grey, cold and typically rainy November English morning. Spirits were not hugely brightened by the discovery that my bike - and all our luggage - had been left in L.A. to enjoy an extended stopover!
With only 3 days until I drive up to Nottingham for the National Offroad Duathlon Championships – will I get my steed or any of my race kit in time to compete?!
Thankfully Virgin Atlantic managed to pull their fingers out and everything arrived with a day to spare. A couple of missed training sessions on the bike, but perhaps the rest would do me good. Last minute prep sorted, and I was off up North. Sadly the weather was no better in Sherwood Pines, and I was in a small minority to brave a course recce in the pouring rain. The only benefit of wet conditions was it made the relatively easy MTB course slightly more technical!
I knew I had to get good lead on the run have any chance of holding off Commonwealth MTB-er Jess Roberts on the bike. Luckily this went to plan – sharing the lead for the whole field with Andy Chatterton.
I was hoping I could stay ahead of Jess and take it easy on the final run… but I couldn’t have it all my own way, and Jess caught me with about ½ a lap to go. I tried to keep her in sight but got stuck in traffic in the singletrack – some of the lapped riders were not too keen on allowing others to pass… Sure, not I or anyone expects a slower rider to stand aside or go completely off their line – but where there is space to ride on one side of the trail, yet they choose to actively block you… unnecessary!
So Jess was out of sight by the time I reached T2, but plenty of encouragement from Paul Davies and the rest of the crowd spurred me on to close the gap. I only had a short run of 3k to do it, and my legs – still acclimatised to 33 degrees – were not happy with the British cold and seizing up with cramp. Thankfully a controlled effort was enough to take the lead again with a mile to go – no need for a sprint finish which my legs were in no state to do!
There is a great highlights video here.
Once finished and recovered, there was no better way to celebrate (and begin my end-of-season break) than with some lovely fish and chips in a local pub. Then the only downside - the long drive home through rain with cramping legs – uurrgghh!!
Sika Duathlon - Course Record
I couldn’t wait to get back into training (I suspect just the effect Jez wanted!) but it was somewhat of a kick-start for the body with my first ‘session’ being a race!
I had wanted to try the TriPurbeck Sika Duathlon for a few years, and for the first time it fitted in my calendar! It is a low key, friendly and fun event, great value for money, and highly recommended for anyone looking to give Offroad duathlon a go. We made it a family affair for the Bardsleys – with my dad also racing, and mum plus Simon entering as a relay team.
There were two previous winners in the ladies’ field so despite my result in Nottingham, I wasn’t about to get complacent. A fast start on the run, and a bike course I enjoyed getting stuck into – literally at times as it was nice, wet and muddy! The few short sharp climbs got tougher with each of the 4 laps, but it was great to hear the commentary and encouragement every time you pass through transition. The final run was a 2-mile out-and-back - ideal for seeing who’s ahead or behind you. Once I was sure there was no-one chasing me down, it was nice to be able to relax for the last mile!
Some hard-earned hot chocolate recovery drink at the finish – just what was needed to reheat and rehydrate :-) And even more warming was the news that I had broken the ladies course record! Thanks to Fran and Ade for organising, and all the Tripurbeck adults and kids for marshalling. Hopefully I’ll be back on a dry day to try and break 1:30!