Hertfordshire Triathlon

Firstly, an apology as there are not many photos from this one I’m afraid. Why? I hear you ask. Well, my wife didn’t attend this one unfortunately, and she is the one who usually takes all the pics. I did get a few and some were taken by photographers on course.

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I was up at stupid o’clock and heading out the door by 4:30am to pick up a friend who was also competing that day. Usual breakfast – Weetabix and banana with a coffee and I was ready to go. The triathlon was held at Stanborough Lakes which was around 45 mins in the car from where I lived which is why I decided to do it. We arrived with plenty of time to spare at 5:30am and registration opened at 6:00. A nice time to look out across the lake and to noticed bloody rats scurrying around us! I hate rats as you will know from my previous post.

This triathlon is relatively small with around 300 people. It is nice to do an event of this size from time to time. It is used for all the local clubs to have their local club championships which included some seriously fast people there. Registration and transition were fairly swift and we were ready for the off about 7:45.

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I knew before my race that my condition was mediocre. After spending most the summer holidays enjoying myself and eating pretty freely, I knew race condition was a little way off. I had completed a few swims, cycles and runs and could tell from these that speed and pace was nowhere near what it had been. So I went with the attitude of just enjoying it and completing it.

The swim was certainly the best part of my race finishing the 15o0m in 27:33. After that it became a bit of slog to be honest. The cycle took me 1hr 32 (slow) and the run, which was tough, 55mins (slow again!). I finished the triathlon dead on 3hrs and 8 seconds, some way off previous bests.

I was tired at the end and had realised how much condition I’ve lost over the last 6 weeks. I was fit enough to complete it, but not fit enough to race it. It must be hard for pro athletes to hold on to peak condition for so long. It certainly takes dedication.

I do have some breaking news however…I have signed up for the Outlaw half in May 2017 and then exactly 4 weeks later I will take on Ironman Staffordshire 70.3. So next year will see me debut at the middle distance.

I’m not sure whether that was my final triathlon of the year or whether I will complete another in September. Stay tuned to see!

Majorca – I love Majorca (the cycling isn’t too bad either).

What can I say and where do I start? Quite a long blog entry this one so here goes…

I’ll start with a few questions that are pretty easy to answer but are obviously very important. Was it a great holiday?…Yes. Nice people?..Yes. Lovely food?…yes…I’m not race weight anymore that’s for sure. Hotel any good?..yes, everything you need and more. Would you come back?…We did..we were here last year and returned. Majorca is a great island with a lot to offer. I spent two weeks close to Puerto Pollensa with my wife and daughter and we all had a fantastic time. Simple.

Puerto Pollensa in the north east is the place to base yourself if you want to cycle and tackle the climbs made famous by the likes of Team Sky. The Challenge and Ironman events every year are held close to this area as well. With two weeks on the island, I decided to hire a road bike (from the bike station based at my hotel) for 8 days. I pre-planned my rides before going but it should be noted I rode here last year but I did lose two days from bad weather. This year however, not a rainy day in sight!

I was based just outside of Puerto Pollensa at a resort called Club Pollentia. It is basically just outside Pollensa and Alcudia. I have to say Pollensa is a much nicer place, whereas Alcudia has that feel geared towards the British. There is definitely a more up market feel to Pollensa with a lovely port and many nice restaurants offering traditional Spanish cuisine but that may be my snobbery coming out! Like I say, it all depends what you like!

Our Location:

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First Ride – Small Spin 

After picking up the bike I decide to go for a quick spin in the evening. Slight disaster was averted after bringing the wrong cable ties with me for the garmin mounts but I managed to MacGyver it and get them seated. The one thing I learned from riding in Majorca last year was that riding early is best. The heat is exhausting and makes riding truly difficult. I kept this ride easy and wanted just to check the bike over but it was bleeding hot. Stats and a few pics from the ride below.

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Cap de Formentor – Ride 2

The ride out to the lighthouse is a lovely little ride and around a 30 mile round trip. I decided to complete this the day after my first ride. It is a punchy little number though, with some serious climbs in it. There is just under 3000ft of climbing but the climbs aren’t massively long. I left early, around 6:15am to beat the heat. I also realised last year that sunrise in Majorca is later than expected at around 6:45 and the temperature rapidly increases. This year I brought some lights with me which were essential for the early starts. I was shocked last year when getting up really early to ride and not being able to go as it was so dark and waiting around for the light meant I wasted time but had to endure the heat.

The ride out to the lighthouse is very scenic and takes you out via a tough little climb that descends quickly through an alpine forest where the smell of pine is incredibly strong but beautiful. I would say getting to the lighthouse is certainly harder as the majority of climbing is completed on the way out.

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I saw around 4 cyclists travelling out and probably 3 or 4 cars. It is worth going early on a lot of these ride as they are tourist destinations that get busier later in the day. I was back in time for breakfast though so a nice little reward!

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Ride 3 – Sa Calobra – The famous one!

I must say that in all the times I have visited Majorca and ridden here, Sa Calobra has been the one ride that has failed to be ticked off the list due to bad weather. Not this time…finally I can say I have completed it. It was a tough day out and I would put it down as probably the hardest ride I have done. Again I left early…really early this time at 5:30am. Riding in the dark is something I have not really done much of and the lights did not let me down. The only parts of Majorca which are lit are the main junctions and without lights it would have been impossible and extremely dangerous to ride. The light below in the pictures is from the beam of my front light on my bike.

There is around 8 or 9 miles of flat riding and a number of climbs to overcome just to get to Sa Calobra -a small port town in the north of the island. To ride the famous climb, you must first descend into the port before riding back up. There is only one way in and out. First up was to tackle the Coll de Femenia.

I started in the dark but by the time I had reached the top it was light. It was truly breathtaking looking across the mountain as the sun rose.

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Once up the first climb there is around 25Km to Sa Calobra but with a few hills to tackle!

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Eventually, I arrived in the Port at around 8:40am so it took me around 3 hours just to get there. Descending into the port was nothing like I have ever done before. 26 hairpins to negotiate that switch back on themselves, steep gradient sections, screeching bike brakes, controlling a bike that just wanted to fly, plus my arms and every muscle in them locked in controlling the bike and brakes.

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The descent and climb back up:IMG_2529

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The Sa Calobra climb’s official name is the Coll dels Reis. There are many posts on the internet about how to tackle this climb but all I can say is you need to find a rhythm and spin it up. There are steeper sections nearer the top so keep something in reserve for these. There is a lot of mental strength needed as well as it is quite disheartening to see the road going up and seeming like it never ends. The climb is just over 200oft.IMG_2533

Success but not finished…

The hardest part of the ride was complete but I still needed to make my way back to Pollensa with a few smaller climbs to negotiate and the descent off the Coll de Femenia. I actually had a small accident which was fairly innocuous and down to a lack of concentration. Simply going down a nice straight road and looked down taking my eye off the road and all of a sudden I was in the ditch. Somehow I managed to keep the bike upright and didn’t come off! I punctured the front wheel though so had to fix this but was back on the road within ten minutes and made my way back to hotel to rest my weary legs!

Stats below, although Garmin stopped recording so ride was 60 miles.

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Ride 4  – Pollentia – Alcudia – Sa Poblo Loop

I did have two days off the bike after the big one. The legs were pretty heavy and the bum a little sore so thought I’d relax a little. I decided on a much flatter ride for the fourth ride meaning a small loop from the hotel towards Alcudia and down to Sa Poblo before heading back. It was around 28 miles. Not the nicest of rides you can do but a good way to see Alcudia and some of the farming land close to the area. I saw a lot of rats as well. Mostly dead but a few live ones. One scared the life out of me as it seemed to to run out into my path and proceed to run a long with me before darting back. Bloody hell….I hate rats!

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Ride 5 – Lluc Monastery

This is a lovely ride to do and one that has a little challenge in it but nothing too difficult. You ride out to the Coll de se Batella via Campanet and Moscari. As you reach these towns you will begin to climb but the main climb doesn’t start for another few kilometres.

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The Coll de se Batella is another lovely climb. It is incredibly scenic and as this was the second time I have done it, it did not feel nowhere near as long or as tough as when I completed it last year. There are no steep sections on this and it is fairly steady all the way through. Again it is another looping ride that takes you up to the Lluc monastery in which I had a brief stop for a cafe con leche. There is a another small climb after the monastery up to the Coll de Femenia but then you have a lovely descent all the way back to Pollensa. I believe this is the climb they use for the Ironman or Challenge event here in Majorca.

Here are a few pics and a little video I made whilst riding on the last day:

And that was that as they say…

Majorca has been superb again this year and I am so pleased I managed to get the Sa Calobra ride in this time. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone wishing to experience it. The main roads are extremely well looked after with beautiful tarmac and a big cycle lane. If you are ever thinking about it, don’t, just go and do it…you will not regret it.

My plans now are to continue enjoying my summer holidays and prepare a little for the Hertfordshire Triathlon at the end of August. I’ve swum a fair bit here but nothing crazy. I’ve also kept my running legs in check and completed a few very short runs. I will step these up a little over the next few weeks again and shall blog again about my exploits in Hertfordshire. Hope you enjoy the read!