Broken Promises

May 5, 2017

I like to think I am a trustworthy and honest person, someone who keeps their promises. But this year I have broken three promises I made to myself over the last few years.

True, they aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it does show up my biggest flaw — lack of self control!

Many people having done an ‘extreme’ sporting event like a triathlon or open water swim say “I am thrilled to have finished that but I’ll never do it again”. Others are totally hooked and just can’t get enough, bet you can’t guess which camp I’m in ;)
So my promises were’t “Never again” but more “That’s the furthest I can go”.
There are four main event types I enter: Swim, Bike, Run and or course Triathlon. And I had made a promise about each.

Swimming 10km
I did the Henley Mile in 2014 and though I struggled I also loved it. I remember watching the awesome Olympic open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne and being amazed that she does 10km open water competition swims. I promised myself that while I was happy to do more open water swims I would never attempt such a long distance. If I was worn out and in pain from the wetsuit chaffing my neck after just 1 mile then there was no way I would put myself though something of that distance. Instead I set a goal of doing the Henley Classic 2.1 km swim in 2015.
Report card: 1/10; promise broken 9th of August 2015.
Not quite zero as I did complete the Henley Classic. Problem is I also entered ALL of the Henley Swim events. This included the Bridge to Bridge marathon swim. I swam 14.1km from Henley to Marlow.

Cycling more than 100 miles
In 2013 I did the Zappi Gran Fondo. A 100 mile bike ride round Oxfordshire. The route was lovely, the hills were killer and my feet hurt more than i can ever describe at about the 85 mile mark. So I promised myself I would never attempt to cycle any more than 100 miles.
Report card: 5/10; promise broken 19th/20th of September 2015.
I think I deserve a bit of credit for this one as I did take breaks and had a bit of a sleep in the middle! I signed up for a 24 hour endurance race called Revolve24. I spent a beautiful sunny weekend cycling round the Brands Hatch race circuit 83 times — racking up over 300km of cycling.

Running more than 10km
Thanks to ParkRun (a free weekly 5km race series) I now really enjoy running — up to a point. My knees are not what they were and after the 10km run in the Olympic distance London Triathlon in 2014 I vowed that 10km was pushing my luck and I should never dream of going further.
Report card: 3/10; promise broken 4th of October 2015.
This one was’t my fault. Honestly. I did the Blenheim 7km run early on in 2015. My friends John and Mairead had given me a lift from our open water swim session to Blenheim. They said that as i had enjoyed the 7k I should look at the half marathon also held at Blenheim as the course was lovely, running through the rolling parkland. Now if I was a bit more intelligent i would have realised that the reason I enjoyed the 7km so much was that it was only 70% of a 10km and therefore was under my maximum. Anyway, they really sold it to me and so I signed up. As it happens I don’t have any regrets about this one. It was indeed a lovely course. I peaked a bit early at 10km going way too fast thinking “only a parkRun to go”. As the palace came into sight I was ready to sprint to the finish then realised the course actually went back down to the lake round it and back up the main hill. Oops. I was shattered but had the best run of my life. It’s inevitable that I’ll sign up for a full Marathon.

I will never do an Ultra Distance Triathlon
This one is safe for the time being. Ultra Distance is commonly referred to as an “Iron Man” though that is the name of a specific race series not the distance. An Ultra Distance or “long course” triathlon consists of:
2.4 mile / 3.9 km swim
112 mile / 180 km bike ride
26.2 mile / 42.2 km run

Three out of four is not to bad.


Cycling round an f1 track

October 2, 2014

I don’t normally post about my training but this was as exciting, for me at least, as any race i have done…
I always though it would be amazing to cycle round a race track and last year I read about the Silverstone 24 Hr* — a bike ride around the Silverstone f1 track, unfortunately the dates clashed with something i was already doing but it made me think — are there other racetracks you can cycle round? Well it turns out the answer is yes.
The first one i found that lets pedal bikes onto the tarmac is the iconic Laguna Seca Raceway in California with their Twilight Cycling. These are monthly events where for $10 you can ride round for a couple of hours (5:30–7:30 pm or 5–7pm in winter).

Then i found out about Bicurcuit at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Held Tuesday & Thursday throughout the year (except race weeks) you can either buy a season pass or a single session for €5.

I already had my bike with me for the Triathlon and although I flew in / out of Barcelona on Tuesdays I would be there for one of the Thursday sessions!

So with that i asked my friend about getting there and she said just to take the train (the same line as the airport) from El Clot to Montmeló which is quite close to the circuit.

So i headed off in my cycle kit and decided to go for a quick ride round the city as it was still quite early in the day. I cycled up to Park Güel (seriously steep) and then headed to El Clot station, which is where i made my first error. I carried my bike down the station steps and looked at the map to get to the right platform and realised that this was a metro only station. Oops. Headed back up the steps and tried Apple Maps on the iPhone and there just a few hundred yards was another station “El Clot – Arago”. I cycled over and this time noticed the sign post outside had another symbol — which i took to be for the rail system. I went down the stairs into the station and Indeed it was, so i got a ticket from the counter and went down more stairs to the platform. There was a train in and i tried to run down the steps but there were too many people getting off the train. It said Airport on the platform sign and this reminded me that me friend had said it was the airport train i needed. Turns out it was lucky i missed that train — after i got down to the platform i looked at the stop list and the airport was in the opposite direction! I had misunderstood in that it was the same train line as the airport not he actual train to the airport. Nearly a big oops but got a way with that one.

The circuitShort ride latter i arrived at Montmeló station and went outside, fired up the Maps app and set off for the circuit. A short while later there was a fork in the road for East or West circuit entrance, no idea so had a look at the Bicircuit webpage and it said West so quick u turn and took the West road. As i got closer i could hear the sounds of a race car engine tearing round the track. I went past a few of the race-day pedestrian entrances and then came to a mini round about where the main gatehouse was. I was quite a bit early as i hadn’t banked on getting from the station to the circuit so quickly. The guard would’t let me in so i had to wait until 6pm — the official start time. I cycled along the boundary road and found a place where you could see a glimpse of the track and brief flashes of what appeared to be a single seater open wheel car roaring round.
I cycled back up to the gatehouse about 6 and tried again — no, not yet he indicated that while he could hear the car(s?) on track I could’t go in. By this time a few more people started turning up in cars with bikes wedged in the back. It looked like most where regulars as they got out of their cars to chat and change into cycle kit.

After the track fell silent (it was now about 6:20pm) i tried again, nope not yet. If i hadn’t been so early and / or i had been able to actually see the track properly i wouldn’t have minded but i was now getting a bit fed up waiting.(Note to self: Bicircuit starts at 6:30 in winter, so was not actually a late start)

Eventually another guard came from the direction of the circuit up to the gatehouse and they had a chat, did a load of paper work then finally he waved me over. I paid my €5 and he opened the barrier.

Uh, now what? I cycled down the slip road and under the track saw a tiny a4 sized sign saying Bicircuit and followed it. A second one followed and i was in a car park surrounded by chain link fence which had a small gate that had been tied open. OK, Looks promising i though so headed through it. Next think i know is a painted arrow on the wall saying “Pit Lane” followed that and…Oh My God. I am sat on my bike in the pit lane of an f1 track!!!


No one else had arrived yet and there were no marshals so i just cycled off round the track.
It was so so cool I had done an entire lap on my own before i even saw another person! They had parked up and got their bikes out and then cycled out into the pit lane and were circulating in bunches. There are a few local clubs (full team kit ) doing draft training and a farther son pair as well as a few older blokes on mountain bikes having a chat as they went round.

It was surprising how much elevation change there was, and in places this made it quite hard work but swooping down through the final chicane into the finishing straight is something i will remember for a long time.

I cycled 6 laps down the start finish straight & down the pit lane. It was still quite warm and i had nearly finished my water bottle so went in search of a refill. There is a shower block and toilettes behind the pit garages, near the start of the pit lane, but notices on the taps indicated the water was not safe for drinking. Also I could’t find any vending machines so if you do go remember to bring your own supplies. I returned to the track and i did a couple more laps as the light faded.

8 laps of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

8 laps of Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

It was a great (if a little lonely) evening and something i would definitely recommend to cyclists who have even a passing interest in F1!

IMG_7348The third error (after the station and early arrival) was on my way back to the station. There was a bit of one way road then a sign for Montmeló so i thought, erroneously, that i was going back the way i had arrived. I cycled quite a way until i was on a slip road for AP-7 ( the spanish equivalent of a motorway). By this time it was pretty dark and i uttered a few 4 letter words in frustration. I looked at the maps app and saw the problem — the ‘quickest’ way back to Montmeló was indeed to go one junction along the motorway, the sign had sent me round the northern tip of the race track ( as in further from where i wanted to be). I cautiously walked up the hard shoulder with all my bike lights in full christmas tree mode and made it back up to the C-35 a much more civilised road. I then cycled back round the track and on towards the station, stopping for a rather refreshing pint (well, two halves) at Bar La Ruta on Carrer Vic not far from the Montmeló station.

* The Silverstone 24hr charity ride was cancelled and many people lost their entrance fee.