Author Topic: Weasel's first Triathlon  (Read 3167 times)

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Weasel's first Triathlon
« on: August 27, 2014, 11:22:11 am »
So this Saturday I’m entering my first Triathlon, the Vitruvian.  That’s a bit of an exaggeration as I’m not doing the whole thing; I’m part of a relay team and I’m only doing the cycling bit – which is 85km (52.3 miles) around a road circuit in the area of Rutland Water.

It’s actually two laps of the circuit so it involves two goes over the ‘Rutland Ripple’ which from the map looks like a series of three short(ish) climbs.  Anyone know how steep they are?

As I’m part of a team I need to try for a good time, so am aiming for 2hrs 45 minutes or below, which means I need to maintain an average speed of at least 19.2 mph – I think I can do that (I was not far off that for the Etape Caledonia this year which is almost 30 miles longer).  I’m hoping that if I can maintain nearly 19mph for four hours I should be ok for doing slightly faster than that for under three hours.  It’s hard to tell not knowing the terrain, as the Etape Caledonia does obviously have some hilly bits but has some very long (and lovely) lochside stretches that are very flat and allow you to belt along above evens for extended periods, thus pushing up your average.

I’m also thinking that, at that distance and considering the time of day (I’ll be setting off around 07:00 to 07:10, depending on when the swimmer part of the relay gets to me) and the predicted relatively cool weather I won’t need to stop for water or food which will help keep up the average.

Anyone have local knowledge and any advice on how ‘fast’ this course is likely to be?

I’ve been training for climbing intervals* and speed on the flat so I’m hoping that I’ll be in good shape – it’s my weight that lets me down, or rather slows me down – I suspect I’ll probably be one of the heaviest out there.

The route is here for anyone interested:

(actually that route is slightly wrong – there’s a left turn at Tinwell I think which avoids going on to the A1)

If it was just me riding for myself I would be fine with just going out and riding for pleasure but it’s the knowledge that two other people have been training really hard for their legs – a 1900 metre swim and a 21km run. They’ll be depending on me to do a good time – I’ve committed to trying to achieve the 2 hrs 45 mins or better so will be out to ride as hard as I can (I don’t usually wear a HRM out on the road but I will for this so that I can see if I’m at or above the sustainable maximum that I know I can ride at).

Wish me luck!

*That’s been part of the reason for all these rides up Box Hill – did a final ten climbs up an d down it this weekend and was a fair bit quicker than the pace when I did thirty at the end of July.

Edit:  Checked back for my EC result and I was averaging just under 20mph not just under 19mph, so there might be hope, although that involved drafting.


  • Mine's a pipe, er… pint!
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2014, 11:55:17 am »
I think, Mr Weasily pops, that so long as you fall sideways off your bike when you cross the line, then you know you couldn't have given any more!
Certainly never seen cycling south of Sussex

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2014, 12:11:59 pm »
I think, Mr Weasily pops, that so long as you fall sideways off your bike when you cross the line, then you know you couldn't have given any more!

I think my instructions are that I'm not allowed to die until I've handed over the timing transponder or died in a convenient and event legal location for it to be removed from my corpse.


  • Timelord
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 01:09:59 pm »
I’m part of a relay team and I’m only doing the cycling bit

This strikes me as an extremely sensible approach to triathlon, which should be commended.

Best of luck!
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 02:17:44 pm »
this was my first 1/2 IM a couple of years ago! it's a fantastic race.  I even did a recce of the bike course with JJs wife a few weeks before (she left me for dead). 

the course splits into 3 bits - from the venue to the uppingham roundabout is quite slow, some of the gradients are cruel to those of us of a larger frame and the downhills are never quite enough to get speed up to power up the next up bit.  Especially the slope immediately out of the start / half-way turn.  Make sure your bike shifts OK onto the inner ring (ahem)

from uppingham to where you turn left at almost-stamford is **brilliant** - really really fast, no sharp corners, we had a tailwind and flew it..  Get onto the tribars and enjoy holding 25mph for miles!   There are a couple of 30mph speed cameras which give you a 'smileyface' if you're below and a frownyface if youre over.. Challenge issued!

then from stamford back to the start/half way is pretty nasty, there are some horrible climbs, one up through a village which I remember with particular hatred.  So dont burn everything on the fast bit (ahem).

the water stop / refuel station is pretty small, so either deliberately slow right down and make sure you get something or just take enough with you to last both laps.  Or do what I did & do neither then die a miserable death during the run.. (which is great too, completely flat and loads of people to cheer you on). 

best of all, you're done by lunchtime so insist that your lovely other 1/2 drags you to burghley horse trials and forces you at ice-cream point to walk the course. The entire, 4 or 5 mile hilly, horsey-twat-populated course.  No really, you'll be fine.   I'm still not bitter about it.


  • Peroxide Viking
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 08:56:21 pm »
Cor, that sounds lovely.

On the rivet, lad, hop to it!
It takes blood and guts to be this cool but I'm still just a cliché.
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Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 09:00:52 pm »
Mike =hilarious ;)

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2014, 10:31:21 am »
Well that was a fairly epic affair – never even been to a tri event as a spectator before, let alone competitor so it was really interesting to see the whole thing from start to finish.  This time, as mentioned, I was part of a team of work colleagues but there were also two others that we knew who were doing the full event.

The vast majority of competitors do the whole thing and there were only 18 relay teams entered, so the teams get set off in the first wave along with the youngest male age category, meaning our team swimmer (Dave) was off at 06:30, straight into the sunrise.

I watched Dave set off then went for last minute preparations (read ‘last nervous loo stop’) then headed for transition to my bike to wait for him -  he did a cracking time (33:27) so he was there quickly, grey faced and dry heaving from having sprinted up from the lake shore then I was quickly on my way.

It’s a two lap course and starts with a gentle climb up to the main road to Oakham.  And then sadly into quite a stiff headwind.  The road is quite undulating but is fairly exposed making for some hard work.  I think if I was just riding for myself I would have ridden fairly hard but having seen just how much effort Dave had clearly put in, it did motivate me to really keep the pressure on.  The Rutland Ripple (a set of three short climbs) came on fairly quickly, although it came after a few undulations that fooled me into thinking that it had been heavily oversold.  While none of the uphill bits were very long or excessively steep, they were steep enough, especially with the wind.

But after the climbs, came a turn to the east, on fairly decent roads, with a tailwind  and mostly downhill for quite a way, in fact, pretty much until the turn back north at Tinwell.  So I was battering along on that as fast as I could – my average was 17.4mph when I got to the start of the downhill leg and 20.6 mph when I turned off it and back in to more mixed terrain.  I didn’t see if I set off any of the frowny faces Mike mentioned.

One advantage about all of the stats obsessing is that it does help pass the time and keep you focussed.  I virtually never leave the average speed indicator up, as in busy London traffic it’s far too distracting, this time I was obsessing over it and trying to either retain the higher average for longer or get just that one more 0.1mph added to it. 

Then the ride turned back west and back on to the undulating main road and a final climb before dropping back down to the start/feed area to start the second lap – I heard shouts of encouragement from the rest of the team and supporters but couldn’t spot any faces as I sped past.

The second lap was harder – partly because the wind had got up a bit more I think but more because it was just the general accumulating distance.  Interestingly I noticed the road surface a lot more the second time around, finding bumps where there had been none previously.  I felt I was having to work a lot harder, overall my lap time was four minutes longer the second time around (1:22 compared to 1:18).  Time did seem to speed by though and it wasn’t too long before I was back on the lovely downhill leg.

Disaster almost struck at Ketton as a car pulled straight off at grass verge when I was approaching it at about 30+mph.  I had to brake very hard to avoid a collision, so hard my back wheel locked out and fishtailed alarmingly.  I actually thought I was going to flip the bike – on inspecting the tyre later, I flat spotted it due to the braking (it was fairly worn and due for replacement shortly but it was almost a brown bibshort moment).  We had been warned, very, very strongly that abuse and/or profanity at locals and other road users was an instant disqualification offence, so I limited myself to a  “that was very frightening” comment.  I did check the penalties board later to make sure I hadn’t been disqualified!

Despite that I managed a reasonable pace and was still just on time for the 2 hours and 45 minutes I was aiming for as long as I kept pushing.  In fact, the finish came up quicker than I was expecting and I came in at 2hrs, 40 minutes and 44 seconds which if the distance is correct would be about a 19.7mph average (I think either the distance is shorter than advertised or my bike computer was not recording 100% as it had my average at 19.1 mph).  I was quickly back into the transition area and handed the transponder on to Sophie, our team runner for the final leg and was then free to spectate, recover and drink free beer.  Sadly this was alcohol free beer, the words’ alcohol’ and ‘free’ being in the wrong order.

Sophie ran a really great leg, putting in her PB for a half marathon distance by some minutes, finishing in 1:44:08 (she was third in her age category for the run), which gave us a final time of five hours and fourteen seconds.  It was a little bit frustrating to not sneak under the five hours but overall we were all really happy with our times and it was the best time our work relay team has put in before (the previous best was more than three minutes slower).  When doing a comparison against the two people who were there with us we were 00:26:47 and 01:11:29 quicker.  Those are the times without transitions as it isn’t a fair comparison to compare the time of a relay with that of a single individual due to the lengthier changeovers an individual requires to switch from swim to bike to run.  Of course, it isn’t a fair comparison at all, as the relay team members can give their leg everything whereas the individuals have to pace themselves for the whole event and I’ve got great respect for those who do the whole thing.

In retrospect, now that I know the course I think I could do a better time – I reckon on saving a minute or so per lap due to course knowledge in future, I reckon on up to three minutes a lap if the headwind is less fierce and anything between five to ten minutes a lap if I was lighter.  So all in all, it would be quite possible to get round in 2 hrs 25 minutes or less, which would have gained us at least five places on the team leaderboard – it would also have put us in 87th place overall out of the 1,000* entrants rather than the 167th we finished in, although we were very pleased with that. As it was we were ninth out of eighteen teams and all in the top 33% for our disciplines (apart from Dave who was just outside the top 10% for the swim).

All in all a great weekend but I still have a permanent huger at the moment, don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on a bike before.

Thanks again for the advice and route description Mike, I was glad to avoid the horse trials.  Also Kim was definitely right, this was a great way to approach triathlon.

Cheers all!

*Looking at the results, only just under 800 actually started though (785 starters, 8 disqualifications, 33 DNF)


  • aka Joth
    • TandemThings
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2014, 01:22:06 am »
Wow great write up, and really well done  :thumbsup:

And now having completed one discipline of a triathlon, the next logical step would be to do 2 in the Bishop's Castle Tandem Triathlon:)

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2015, 03:47:12 pm »
Wow great write up, and really well done  :thumbsup:

And now having completed one discipline of a triathlon, the next logical step would be to do 2 in the Bishop's Castle Tandem Triathlon:)

No.   :)

I am doing the Vitruvian again this year though and am aiming for a better time!

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2015, 02:37:49 pm »
I’m heading up to Peterborough this weekend to ride over to Rutland Water for a lap of the course to remind myself of what it’s like – and how to better pace myself.  After doing a lap I’ll ride up and down the three hills that make up the Rutland Ripple a few times to learn how best to go up them quickly – that’s the bit of the course where I lost most of my average time last year (obviously, as it’s the hilliest bit).

I’m going to find out if I can stand and honk up any or all of them (one of the three is longer from memory and what difference that would make – I don’t recall any of them being particularly hard, they just bring the average speed down quite a bit.  There’s also a bit of a drag up from Empingham that slowed me down a bit too.

I *think* I’m  a shade faster than I was last year.  I’ve gone out to Richmond Park a few times at weekends recently to do timed laps but I’ve never got up early enough to avoid traffic.  The last two attempts, despite being held up in traffic a bit here and there I’ve just been outside the magic twenty minute lap time

I’ve not lost as much weight as I had hoped, so I don’t think my climbing speed is much better, just think I’m a bit faster overall on the flat.  Partly helped by my longer commute from Thames Ditton (32 mile round trip) and going out a lot at weekends – I’ve managed to do over 1,000 miles a month for the last two months (my daily average for the last three months is about 35 miles now).

Last year a lot of my riding was done before the Etape Caledonia which was much earlier in the year.  This year I’ve done slightly less mileage overall (about -500), the difference is that this year, most of it has been in the last three months or so*.

It’s hard to tell really – if the weather is more friendly than last time then I’m sure to save time there and so I think any improvement above that is going to come from minimising the time loss on the hills.

*My mileage dropped off significantly when I moved to Croydon last year and only really picked up again when I moved out at the start of May. Over the last three months I’ve done about twice the mileage I did over the equivalent period last year.

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2015, 02:44:35 pm »
I forgot to update this.  I was horribly slower than I thought I would be and the Rutland Ripple was much harder than I remembered.  I lapped at about a 17mph average but have no idea how that will translate on race day.

I'll have had the advantage of 'tapering' (or, not riding in today and getting bloody soaked as I prefer to call it).  Didn't ride in on Monday, rode in yesterday (32 mile round trip), I'll ride in tomorrow and other than the trip to the station on Friday, that will be all of my miles for this week until the event!

I'll also not have a small rucksack with me this time with a heavy book in it.  Unless I'm really stupid which should never be ruled out.

Wascally Weasel

  • Slayer of Dragons and killer of threads.
Re: Weasel's first Triathlon
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 11:56:50 am »
I even more horribly forgot to update this - that year (2015) I managed a time of 2 hours and 38 minutes.

Went back again in 2016 - I think I would have been on for a better time but the weather was appalling (rain and wind) but I still managed 2 hours and 41 minutes.

Back again this year and managed a new PB of 2 hours and 35 minutes.  Happy with that!