Some of the opposition look serious but there's also a nice mix of straight handlebars and mountain bikes which is reassuring for a good placing, as long as none of them beat me of course, which would naturally be catastrophic. In fact I can safely say it appears to be a really friendly event.
Doggo gets a bit upset when I warm up without him and I notice L tries to keep as big a distance as possible between him and the competitors when they walk us all up to the start which is by the village church.
The starter's gun is fired and three psychos in full Tri gear go off like a rocket, closely followed by a lad inappropriately dressed in football kit and me. The psychos are too fast for my old legs and I drop back, although the lad in footie kit somehow manages to stay with them for quite a while before they eventually crack him too. He looks the sort who'll have a mountain bike, so hopefully I'll get my own back on him on the bike section because I'm making no headway on the run. A long-legged chap, reminiscent of last week, bounds past me on a downhill section but I still finish the run well placed in 6th.
I have a good transition, for me, and the bike feels really good. I lose another place to a chap on a 'really serious' bike who's got his nose on his front tyre in what I assume is a really serious aerodynamic pose. On the plus side I start to reel in the long-legged chap, although oddly there's no sign of Mr Footie kit.
Then after 6km of the 16km bike, I hear that all too familiar and dreaded 'hissing' sound of a tyre deflating.
Cyclists are by now whizzing past, every so often the odd one will shout 'Everything alright mate...' as they hurtle past at 30mph, they're already out of sight before I reply 'Well actually no...'.
A bit further down the field people do actually start to slow down as they enquire as to whether I have a problem before quickly pedalling off again. No, no problem, I've just stopped for a sandwich and a quick coffee... of course I've got a problem! A couple of members of the fairer sex, aka the less competitive sex, do actually stop to see if I'm ok. I consider playing the wounded male card at this point but my competitive instinct overrules all my other instincts and I politely thank them for their concern before getting on with fixing my tyre.
Now we're so far down the field even blokes are stopping but what is worse is that mountain bikes are going past. I have the tube changed but for some reason it's not inflating. Then just as I'm about to give up and accept assistance off the next passing female it inflates. I quickly remount and give chase to the millions of competitors who have passed me. I've wrapped the old tube around my waist as I'm not sure what else to do with it and being a good citizen, I don't want to leave it rubbishing the hedgerow. It also looks impressive.
In all it has taken around eight minutes to replace the tube which doesn't sound much but boy has it done some damage to my placing in the event. It does give me a feeling of power though as I overtake loads of people who are just tootling along. As I overhaul all the blokes who stopped to see if I was ok, I try and be polite in return as I pass them.
I overtake at least a dozen people then, up ahead, I see a chap on a mountain bike, in ridiculous shorts and with his helmet perched precariously on top of his woolly hat, struggling up a hill. Just the extra inspiration I needed. Thankfully, I catch and pass him. The prospect of not doing so is too grim to contemplate. I hope that I have now accounted for all the mountain bikes.
Back into the outskirts of Caythorpe and I catch one of the girls who stopped for me, if she hadn't stopped she'd probably be out on her second run by now, so I feel a little guilty blasting past her but it had to be done.
Into transition. I try and give L a reassuring 'look no blood' smile, just in case she thinks I've wiped out and have been busy picking the tarmac out of my flesh. I throw down my punctured tube with as much drama as I can muster, change shoes, and then go off on the run, where I pass another eight or nine people including the other girl who stopped to help me, sorry love. As I approach the finish line there's a chap who's ahead of me but easily within my reach. I don't like overtaking people on the line, after an hour's duelling, I feel it's terribly bad form but this is a special chase, so tough.
I end up about half way down the field, which isn't bad I suppose, in the circumstances. Frustratingly the long-legged chap has also had a puncture but he got almost all the way around the bike section before he had his. So if I hadn't punctured I would have beaten him and I could have chuckled 'Everything alright mate...' as I whizzed by.
I have yet to find out what happened to footie boy and whether he did in fact have a mountain bike. No doubt the results will appear eventually but the organiser is the sort of chap who isn't one to be hurried, so they could take a while. One thing's for sure, I'll be back next year, talk about unfinished business.
Doggo's not had a terribly good morning and got savaged by little dogs, twice. We console each other with jaffa cakes and a game of football.
We head to Bingham for Sunday lunch and thankfully something goes right. They have the terrific Gales HSB 4.8% on the bar. Regrettably now brewed by Fullers but still very good.
It's a big day in Derby's division (as in for next season). Stoke get promoted, which is good because hopefully they'll have a damn good job at taking our new record off us. Even better is that Leicester get relegated. Which just about makes up for Forest getting promoted yesterday.
The kids are still not back, so we make the most of an empty house and then when they do return we go off down the pub. We love them really. We make an interesting discovery and find that the Johnson Arms sells Leffe. So that's another pub I need to try and keep L out of.
Units this week - off the scale but appropriate in the circumstances.