Sunday, 5 October 2008

Amongst The Veterans

Earlier in the week, I sent my Dad a copy of the map of the Carsington Duathlon bike course. This caused him to immediately ring me up to try to talk me out of doing it. He says he struggled to walk up Middleton Top when he was lad, let alone ride up it on a bike.

Of course, I know how bad it is, I rode up it two years ago and it put off doing this event because I didn't think my bike or myself were up to it but now... well... I'm not sure much has changed but here goes.

In a way, I'm really looking forward to it. I think. The things we do for fun... and I can't back out now because L's threatened to drag me there by the ears if I try to.

Despite warning me off it, my Father is also looking forward to it. Even the 8am start hasn’t put him off. I'm not sure I've mentioned to L, that's it’s an 8am start...

Well, when I say I'm looking forward to it, that was before I saw the weather forecast and before I woke up to some seriously heavy rain. Oh well, a condemned man cannot evade the gallows for long.

Turns out that my start isn't actually at 8.00. They're obviously worried about me because they've given the main field a 15-minute head start. I start at 8.15, in something that they've called the 'veterans start', some mistake surely.

By the time it gets to 8.15, the rain has eased a touch but it's still a bit on the cold side. I feel a bit of a wimp in my leggings, borrowed from L and my long sleeved top... err also borrowed from L.

The upside of the 'veterans start' is that it's 'veterans and all women'. It would be an upside, if they didn't all look so serious and were all destined to beat me.

I try to take it easy on the first run, which is flat-ish, but I still go under 20 minutes. Back in transition, I slip my, by now, wet feet into my bike shoes and go off on the bike, which isn't remotely flat-ish. The bike is really good. I'm reluctant to use the 'E' word, but I do 'enjoy' it, although 'endure' also begins with 'E'.

I soon discover another benefit of being in the OAP's start; it means that those youngsters who I manage to outrun but turn out to be much stronger cyclists, don't come bombing past me once we're on the bike. One chap does come sailing past me and he's as old as my Dad. I can only marvel at his fitness, from a distance, as he disappears into that aforementioned distance.

The good news is that I start to catch some of the stragglers from the 'proper' start. The first one I pass is a chap on a mountain bike; I don't envy him trying to get up those hills on that big heavy thing. Subject to what people think mountain bikes aren't actually very good at going uphill, well not unless you spend a lot of money on one.

One chap I chase down turns out to be a girl. She had pipe cleaners for legs and no hips; she was so scrawny it was no wonder she was struggling on the hills. I would have expressed my sympathy to her, if I hadn't been so elated to pass someone from my own start.

The rain makes the downhills, often around sharp bends, even iffier than they would have been in the dry. I slow down for these death defying bends (L take note, I'm safety conscience), I notice a lot of others don't.

At this point I realise I haven't seen my father. He was intending to catch me somewhere out on the bike course but this is no easy feat. Everyone looks pretty much the same with a helmet on when they wiz past you.

Wirksworth is more uphill that I remember and just after Wirksworth it's the climb to Middleton Top. You go around a left hand turn and then it hits you. Or rather I go around the corner and see cyclists everywhere; Middleton Top is littered with bodies on bikes. I skip past, kind of, as many as I can. There are so many tears but I do not have time to stop to console anyone, not even the girlies. Actually, the climb isn't as bad as I remember, not sure what they're all whinging about.

From Middleton Top to transition is, just about, all downhill. I head into transition, having clocked just under the hour, which was my aim. There's still no sign of my father and oddly no sign of L and the dogs either. I ponder the likelihood that my Father has got lost and L's has had to go and rescue him from somewhere.

The second run is hard work and I consider walking a bit but I don't, that would be terribly bad form but it is tempting. Eventually the legs come back to life. As I've passed lots from the earlier race on the bike, the order is well mixed up, so I don't really know where I am in the great scheme of things. I concentrate on holding my position and just making sure no one goes past me. That is until the halfway, turnaround point, when I notice that pipe cleaner girl isn't too far behind me. Thinks she can chase me down. Huh? Think again.

I finish in 1 hour 41 minutes, which I'm well pleased with. Although 22 minutes is a bit slack for last 5k run.

I see my Father as I cross the line, wandering looking lost in transition (what a good name for a film), and rather predictably he's missed me on the bike. In fact, he's missed seeing me in any of the event. Oh well.

After I've finished, I realise how cold it still is and I head back to the car with L where I strip off all my wet gear. The dogs have thoughtfully steamed the car up, which affords me some privacy to do so. I towel myself down whilst L warms me up with hot coffee. Disappointingly, she doesn't offer to use her body heat but then L's always been a bit nesh and she probably hasn't got any to spare.

We were supposed to be out at the Hold Steady tonight but they've cancelled the entire tour because guitarist Tad Kubler is in hospital with pancreatitis, they'll now be over in December. Shame, I was really looking forward to that. So we stay in instead and raid the cupboards for what beer we can find.

Turns out L's been telling me fibs. It wasn't our turn to win the lottery after all. So the new bike project is back on hold again.

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