Having had a busy 2016, racing at Kona was always going to be hard act to follow. So this year was never going to be a big (Ironman) year. This year hasn’t been my typical slow start to the season, no, this year has been even more pedestrian than usual. Decorating, illness and the Wife’s London marathon seemed to take up the first quarter of the year. First up was a few Time Trials, both with Lincsquad and at Gainsborough and quite deservedly I was a fair whack off my previous pace. I Kidded myself on that a minute off the pace and a bit of ring rust was to be expected especially as last year’s TTs were a non-starter due to weather and roadworks. In all honesty, this was just an excuse for partying a little too hard since Hawaii. Having your ‘A’ races in October like the previous two years (Barca 2015, Kona 2016) allows you to build up through the season at a more relaxed pace. The drawbacks of this of course mean you’re not really firing on all cylinders mid-year. When October comes and you are at your peak, all lean, mean and raring to go, the season has all but finished!
As the year’s progressed, my TT times have slowly improved and several wins have come my way. Still a way to go to get back to PB potential though. In early spring the Race Team, yet again received great news that Britcon were sponsoring us for another year. Coach & Captain Steve Clark recruited two new additions in Nick Martin and Amy Grocock who have further bolstered the team. I can’t say how much this support means to us all and we’re proud to be wearing the Britcon colours and have Steve’s support.
With this in mind I thought I’d better enter a few events and hopefully return Britcon’s favour. I entered the Lincolnshire Edge sprint and also tried to get in the oversubscribed Cleveland Steelman, but to no avail. I settled with another local event (Hatfield) a half Ironman distance event called the Leger Man run by ‘Race Hard events. I certainly had no regrets.
First up on the agenda, was to cram a few long rides in as I found by chance and rather last minute an opportunity to join the Brigg Cycling Club’s annual trip to Seascale for the ‘Coast to Coast in a day’ Sportive. This is an epic day of riding, some 150 miles of beautiful countryside with some testing climbs. This trip was made all the easier by some top class organisation from John Collingwood. This event could have been both the hardest and most stressful day due to the logistics of getting from one side of the country to the next. In fact, it turned out to be quite a pleasure. The weather was ideal, not too hot and not too cold but with a decent tailwind. John’s organisation and the familiar faces along the route made for a memorable weekend. Myself and Wingman Rick Stenton were happy with a riding time of 8 hours and 8 minutes but left us wondering where the best part of an hour had been spent that made up the overall time of 9 hours & 2 minutes? Punctures could only be partially blamed, the food stops were our weakness. Porkpies, baguettes, soup, sausage rolls and cakes to cobble dogs with. If I did it again I’d do exactly the same thing, it’s a long day in the saddle to just live off gels.
I would recommend this event not only for the fish & chips in Whitby and the drunken tales in the pub at the finish. But It is rewarding, you do earn that finishers medal. The mileage and hills are enough to test the strongest riders, but with a bit of training can be quite achievable for most.
I couldn’t resist the Lincolnshire Edge again this year. It’s a great event and as the crow flies is only a couple of miles from my house. Like last year, I banked on getting a decent lead on the swim and bike as I knew I hadn’t done a great deal of run training. Luckily it went to plan and I came away with the win by a couple of minutes It was a good day for the Britcon OTCF RT as Nick Martin also won the standard distance.
As mentioned earlier I found myself in the Leger-Man quite by default as my first choice, the ‘Steelman’ was full. Nevertheless this local Half Ironman was a great substitute event and one for all to consider for next year. For the second event on the trot I found myself leading the swim and bike which I can’t grumble about but I must remember to listen more carefully at race briefing to what the route involves and which buoys to swim to and roads to bike down. The 2nd lap on the bike was tough. The wind picked up and my average pace dropped by a couple of mph. This left me questioning if I’d gone out too hard? I carried these negative thoughts into the run and despite an 8 minute lead I was overtaken after 5 miles. I couldn’t complain I hadn’t done nearly enough run training and even on my best day I was no match for the winner. Fortunately I was able to run comfortably and hold on to my 2nd place overall to find myself on the podium for the second time in a fortnight.