I’m ready Freddie. So that’s it. The training for Ironman Florida is done and I’m now tapering.
I hate tapering for races. It feels completely unnatural having spent weeks training at all hours in all weathers to suddenly be doing next to nothing. Every day that passes when I’m not out cycling 70 miles feels like I’m losing fitness, and every mouthful of food I eat feels like I’m adopting the potato-based lifestyle of your average McDonalds fan.
This is rubbish, of course, tapering is vital if you don’t want to go into a race feeling knackered and jaded, but it’s hard to get your head round not doing much. It also forces you to confront the fact that you now have time on your hands – time that can be filled by doing all those jobs you haven’t had time for during the past few months. In my case this largely involves walking and playing with Freddie, our new 14 week old Spaniel puppy. I realise this isn’t coming across as the most unpleasant of domestic chores, but it is surprisingly exhausting trying to prevent a fast moving, tireless ball of fur from chewing your trainers, tyres etc. And when I’m not issuing threats to “drop that or I’ll…..” I am cleaning oil off his head due to his habit of investigating my bike’s bottom bracket. Who needs Muc-Off to clean your bike when you have a puppy!
I could have done with some of Freddie’s energy at my last cycling event of the year, which was my club’s annual hill-climb time trial. Actually I didn’t do badly and finished well inside the top 10, but having spent the entire 2-hour ride out to the hill on the front of the bunch I learned a couple of valuable lessons about saving your energy, and the craftiness of your average club cyclist.
I did the hill climb on my Wiggle-sponsored Focus Cayo and I have a confession to make – I think I may have fallen in love. When the good folks at Wiggle provided me with two bikes it was naturally the Chrono Izalco that made my jaw drop, mean-machine that it is. I already had a road bike which I was happy and comfortable on so the poor Cayo didn’t get much attention initially. This changed the first time I rode it and I thought: “This is nice”. Over the months the Cayo has grown on me to the point where my own bike has been unridden since May and when someone asked me “What’s the Focus like?” I started warbling on about how wonderful the Cayo was instead of the Izalco which they were referring to. Despite its loveliness though, it’s the Izalco that will be going to Florida with me.
Also travelling to Florida with me are a number of club-mates from Coventry. There are eight of us in total getting ready to take out the British cane and give the Yanks a damn good thrashing, so I thought I would introduce them to you now so it makes the abuse they will receive in my race report easier to follow: By these signs shall ye know them:
• Phil Richmond –aka “Tigger” due to his bouncy running style. Phil is looking forward to his first Ironman enormously, not for the challenge but for the many opportunities it presents for faffing about with his kit, something Phil is world-class at.
• Steve Howes – a Barry Chuckle lookalike who has qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii so many times he has his own hula skirt. He is a phenomenal athlete, despite the double drawback of being both short and ginger.
• Joe Reynolds –the world’s most exciting man! He is a 60-year-old grandfather who is also a Formula One racing engineer and who once appeared on Top of the Pops. To make himself even more exciting he’s decided to do the race with a broken collarbone following a recent bike crash.
• Dave Barrile – a Sicilian mafia hitman whose legs are so bandy that when he runs he looks like an egg-whisk.
• Lisa Wells – Dave’s long-suffering partner. A stylish runner whose high leg-speed has made her an excellent climber on the bike – so it’s a shame she’s doing a completely flat course.
• Mick McCann –the only one of us with a worthwhile reason for doing the race given he’s raising money for Marie Curie cancer care. He can be sponsored at http://www.justgiving.com/michael-mccann/
• Penny Wilkin –completed her first Ironman last year and has been preparing for Florida by luring unsuspecting club cyclists out on 5-hour training rides.
So that’s it, we’re all off to Florida to do an Ironman which puts us all in the same boat. I say the same boat, obviously being a sponsored athlete I’m up on the bridge with the binoculars and the Richard Gere uniform on while they’re all down in the engine room with the big sweaty lads, but essentially it’s the same boat. More of this rubbish when I return. Wish me luck.