I entered the Ashridge Duathlon looking for a fun and local early season race. Having this race on the Tri Force race series meant that there were 12 others entered to race under the club banner.
Suffering from a sense of FOMO, I’d raced the Southern Cross Country Championships the day before, which had me running a hilly and muddy XC for nine miles on Parliament Hill. Despite pacing myself, my legs were tired and lacking spark on Sunday morning. Coupled with the cold, wet and windy conditions on the drive over to Ashridge my enthusiasm was low, but the great location and the sun coming out whilst racking made the world a much better place. Due to the conditions the race referee had neutralised T1 & T2, meaning that we had up to 5 minutes to go through transition each time, so that we could add layers as necessary.
Charging through the gateway to start the race there were already plenty of athletes streaking away from me, but I was able to keep my legs turning over for the two laps of the first run. Getting back into transition I added layers and got out onto bike course. The fact that I was tired and distracted during setting up transition became immediately apparent. As soon as I started peddling I found I’d left my bike in the 11T sprocket making for a very slow and heavy start to get the bike rolling, whilst I crunched my chain back up the cassette. No sooner had I got rolling then the road tipped down and headed out of the estate and over a few speed bumps. Pulling on the brake levers to scrub some speed off, their performance was incredibly sluggish and I was only slowing down gradually. Again, I immediately knew what I’d done wrong, in my haste I’d forgotten to flip the quick release levers on the brake callipers over into their locked position. Taking a moment to check the rest of the bike over for any more acts of self-sabotage I realised I’d forgotten my saddle bag, which had my full puncture repair kit in it! The wet weather had washed debris on to the road so there was more of a concern over punctures, but fortunately my tyres stayed inflated and I didn’t end up with a long walk back. Getting back into Ashridge I took a couple of minutes to gather myself in transition, before a final lap of the run course, trying to maintain form and keep the legs going. I finished with a sprint finish with Rav (I‘ll get him next time 😉 ), before collecting my medal and banana.
I guess the main take outs from this for me were:
1) Don’t try and cram too much in if you want to race well, some people may be able to race two days on the bounce and do well, but I’m not one of them.
2) Take your bike for a quick spin after reassembling it to make sure it is set up properly. If I’d done this I’d have certainly spotted my gearing and brakes.