I’d last left you before my big test weekend in the Lake District where I planned to tackle a brute of a ride on my TT bike, including two laps of the Helvellyn Triathlon course with two climbs of the infamous Struggle, backed up by the run course up and down Helvellyn.
Well, it went brilliantly. The stats for the ride were 133 km / 1879 m ascent, 4:17:22 and an average speed of 31 kph. Nutrition on the bike felt spot on, pacing super comfortable and I was strong throughout. The road surfaces in the Lakes were truly abysmal, either rough and super draggy or littered with wheel swallowing pot-holes.
The “Struggle” on the TT bike was fine and I was able to hold a solid Zone 3 effort. Although 17 km short of the Powerman bike course, there was more and steeper climbing and smooth Swiss roads, longer less technical descents and unleashing my race wheels should bump me up to the 35 kph I hope to ride.
My biggest boost, though, was how comfortable I was on the bike, experiencing no lower back soreness and having no issues holding my aero position. This translated to a strong run, cruising up and down Helvellyn in 1:42 despite a biblical rainstorm for the entire descent. Looking at the results of last year’s Helvellyn Tri, this is the kind of run split that top 20 finishers were posting and I’d ridden more than double the distance beforehand and taken it relatively easy. I felt pretty smug and rewarded myself with fish and chips and a beer or two.
My weight had continued to drop and I’d hit an all-time low of 77 kg. I know that I always tend to gain a little during taper but, with my usual “race weight” at 80 kg, I should be ahead of the curve. With such a confidence boost and happy that I was comfortable on my TT bike, I decided against any more long sessions on it. It’s certainly more stressful on the body and, with couple of shorter rides each week on it, I’d be able to retain familiarity.
With that in mind, I opted for a long mountain bike ride the next weekend and, covering 72 km / 1732 m off-road in a little over four hours was another big boost. My only mistakes were having a hot curry the night before which played merry havoc with my guts on the bumpy trails and not applying enough suncream. I’ll have some great tan lines to show off in my tri-suit on race day. My upset tummy made my 1:45 trail run the next day a bit grueling but, after a totally deserved ticking off from my wife for being stupid, curry was placed on the banned list until post-Zofingen.
It was then into taper. I’m normally a bit of a nightmare so we’d decided to go on hols to Northumberland. It was perfect and I was able to complete my final peaking race simulation workouts, sleep loads and stay off my feet. The workouts went brilliantly, getting faster and easier as the accumulated fatigue drained away and my final 90 mins brick (60 mins bike and 30 mins run at race pace) felt amazing. It was as if my legs were full of shook up Champagne, bursting to be uncorked and resisting putting the hammer down was almost impossible. My weight had crept up a little back to 78 kg but even so I felt super light and fast running.
Now into race week, I’ve done a couple of easy runs and a spin out on the bike. I feel great, have a massage booked in tonight and then head down to Luton to fly out tomorrow. I guess I’ve no excuses. No injuries, no hiccups in training and it looks as though it’ll be a cool 16-18C on race day. I’m feeling oddly Zen though and, although I have secret expectations, am just looking forward to the race with genuine excitement rather than apprehension. I’m sure some nerves will kick in once I get to Zofingen but this is genuinely the most relaxed I’ve been before a big race. Whether that turns out to be a good thing, we’ll have to see.
Anyhow, bike to pack and passport to find. Thanks for reading my ramblings and the next you’ll see of me will be my race report in the mag.