Lakeland weekend part 2: Coniston Old Man Triathlon

Ok so this may not have been one of my more sensible ideas, but we were already in the Lakes so it seemed rude not to and to be fair the MyTriClub events are my favourite.  I’ve always wanted to do the Coniston Old Man Triathlon, it’s brutally hard, a 2000m swim in Coniston Water followed by 70km bike including Wrynose and Hardknott pass followed by a 20km fell run round the Coniston horse shoe fell race route with Sport Sunday hiding in a hedge waiting to catch you out gurning up the climbs. Honestly what more could you possibly want from a triathlon?!

Now normally one would spend months training and preparing…..*ahem*….not decide on tuesday that it might be a fun thing to do on sunday…..*ahem*…..and certainly not even contemplate it if say, you hadn’t done much swimming lately….or much running either for that matter!

Now to be fair I have done the fell race a few times so I do know the route, mountains are to be respected. I might not be the fastest of swimmers but I am a fairly strong swimmer. Still it was daft…..However, there’s places to be won for Wasdale Triathlon if I can get on the podium. (please feel free to laugh here at my optimism) Well it was either that or I’m going to have to cash in the £2 coin collection for the entry fee!

Now my plan was very simular to normal…survive the swim, win the bike with enough of a margin to cover the fact that I was likely to die on the run. Honestly, why I like triathlon is a mystery to me as well?

Then some lovely shiny Reynolds Assault wheels arrived….with tyres on! Winner I thought. I had eyeballed then to check for nicks and they looked fine. Normally I’m a conti girl but I know others like ultremo’s so didn’t change them. Cassette on, pads changed to the Reynolds blue ones, a quick whizz up and down the road with a couple of emergency stops thrown in and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at them. 

It’s been a while since I’ve felt nervous before a race. I think a fear of getting cold in the water then my hands not moving for hours was the biggest one. So under my wetsuit I put the BBB base layer, a good coating of Zipvit hot embrocation (cheeky tip, it reacts with sweat and water) and Oli’s long sleeve manskin….sorry I mean skinsuit, secretly hoping some magic Oli power would rub off too!


Don’t I look happy?

Then a moment of joy! They had to cut the swim short due to water temperature being too low. Winner πŸ™‚ Well that’s if I don’t freeze in the 1500m we still have to do.


Yes that’s right not many people are daft enought to try! Shame, they might enjoy it!

It’s the usual punch up in the swim. Folk swimming over you. It feels a long way today, oh yes, that’s because I haven’t done any training, doh! However the hot embrocation seems do be working and despite the long sleeve man skin my arms are still going round. I can still feel my fingers a bit too and my feet haven’t dropped off yet. All is good. Round onto the second lap and my hands are beginning to go. My fingers separate with the cold and I have no control over them to bring them back together. Thankfully I’m soon scrambling up the stony exit. Swim survived!

Its a 600m run to transition, wetsuit off shoes on, Ali runs beside me worried about my usual hypothermia inducing swims. I think the short run saved me. Cap, Helmet, Gloves, shoes on bar in hand and we’re off on the bike. Quite often if the water has been too cold I can get a bit wobbly with balance and feel a bit sick. Not too bad today really. Though I was having to pull my shifter from the inside as my fingers were too numb to change gear!

Slowly I begin to pick off riders one by one, I know my biggest gains are to be made on the steep stuff so I save a little letting a girl I’ve just passed catch me for a moment before the road turns upwards and I sail away from her. There are cars everywhere, it’s bank holiday weekend after all. Full on traffic jams and the smell of burning clutches. Other riders walking (staggering at times) on the climbs too. I glance down, They’re trying to unsuccessfully push some huge gears. I spin past glad of all the thought I put into the GF-Ti when I built it up. The wheels are climbing well and the main thing, the brakes feel alot more like normal brakes. Worrying though I feel a slight dead feeling on the tyres, I put it out of my mind as they’re not a brand I’m used to. All tyres feel very different after all.

Just when I’m thinking Wrynose is starting to hurt I spy Sport Sunday grinning and cheering by a wall of tarmac. It must be noted that not many can co-oordinate a cerise pink INOV8 buff to their welly boots!

Down Wrynose, into lots of cars who don’t know how to drive, funny, we’d never take Snail over the passes! Hardknott is in view, from this side it doesn’t look like a real road, more like a comedy road that has been drawn on the mountain side. The first ramp catches me out, I run, then a girl passes me, into the twisting bends and the grumpy traffic. A quick glance at the situation and rather that re-mounting I hop onto the grass and run past the lot, girl included, without the strain of the bottom ramp I’m able to hop back on fairly fresh and twiddle my way to the top. 
It’s a scary decsent (Thanks Mum for pointing of my ‘decent descents’ in previous blogs). Easy to build up too much speed and not be able to get rid of it intime for the twisty bends, It’s 33% on the top sections. Just when I think I’m down them safe….BANG!!!!! Puncture. Thankfully I get the bike under control, brakes still doing their job and not grabbing like some carbon rims. 
Now luckily I do have a few vain moments and always buy long valve tubes, ok it’s because I think they look cool in a ‘my other wheels are deep section’ kind of way. Fingers round tyre, don’t spot any snags/spikey bits, tube in and with the aid of the Lezyne gas it’s up in seconds. Followed by BANG! Arse I think assuming that even though I’d checked I’d somehow manage to nick the tube. Closer inspection reveals a blown tyre side wall. RACE OVER 😦 but I’m safe, that’s the main thing. Seeing the tyre flat I could see it was much older than I had thought. I was running them 25psi under their maximum so new tyres would have been able to cope with any heat expansion. Normally if they blow from heat it will unseat the tyre rather than blow a side wall too.

Some where, as if by magic Tony appears in his van. Those Toddies get everywhere! Bless, he knew I was racing to try to get a Wasdale place and had been at the bottom of Hardknott counting the women through. Annoyingly there were only 4 in front and we were only 10 miles into the bike. He bundles a babbling me into his van and took me back to Snail. Thankfully we have the Mills Physiotherapy decals on Snail the van and were able to ring Ali (who was marshalling), to find her to get the keys.

ARSE ARSE and double ARSE! It’s such a beautiful race, I’m going to have to come back next year and do it again! 

Still Mark at MyTriClub organises Wenesledale Triathlon too and that’s another of my favourites. That’s August sorted.

I guess I broke one of the big rules, NEVER try anything new in a race. Always know your kit. Whilst the wheels behaved beautifully I didn’t know the history of the tyres. It seems to have been puncture weekend as I seem to have a hole in my foot from the swim exit too. Probably a good thing that I hadn’t run 3 mountains on it. It’s rather bruised!

Still despite all this I had a great day. I can’t rate this race series high enough. They’re all about the race and not the bling that goes with it. They comply full with my only race somewhere beautiful that you’d like to visit anyway rule πŸ™‚

Oh well I’ll have to take the Assaults out for a play later…..looks like I’ll be finding out how well they behave in the rain! Where’s summer?

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