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Duathlon World Championship
10/6/2010 6:57 AM
2010 Duathlon World Championships
By Bob Lane
The following is summary of my experience at the Duathlon World Championships held in Scotland on 4 September 2010. I should say that my goals for this race were rather modest, finish the race and beat few of the other competitors. This was the first time I have ever competed at the international level and I was here for the experience. My preparation was complete I had set a PR in Pequot Cyclist TT prior to departing and was well rested as I tapered back on my workouts in the two weeks prior to the race.
Race day - 4
My trip started well at Boston Logan airport. As my wife and I checked our baggage the Continental ticket agent inquired if the big box I had was a bike. I reluctantly replied yes, now expecting to be asked for $200.00 to ship the bike. Much to my surprise the ticket agent suggested that I check the bike as my 1st piece of luggage for free and carry on my other roll about luggage and there would be no extra charges WOW. The only catch was my bike need to weigh less than 50 lbs. It came in at 49.5 lbs, so I was good. The flight was uneventful as we went from Boston to Newark, NJ and then directly to Edinburgh. The flight from Newark was full of other athletes from the USA. I imagine the baggage handlers have never seen so many oversized bike boxes on a flight.
Race day - 3
Arriving in Scotland we were met by team representatives and our bikes were loaded onto a box truck and all of the athletes jumped on a luxury bus to head to the team hotel. On arrival you could tell it had just rained a few hours earlier. Nearly everyone I spoke to had mentioned how much it rained in Scotland and I should bring rain gear. As it turned out we never saw a drop of rain the whole week we were there.
After arriving at the team hotel which was located in old town section less than a quarter mile from the start/finish line, I unpacked and went for a run to check out the course. The run was a straight out and back course, up to the top of a hill and back down (2.5K per lap). The first run was 4 laps for 10K and the second run 2 laps for 5K. Each run lap had 136 feet of climbing, nothing too difficult but this would wear on you during the race especially in the second run.
After completing the run I built up my road bike and went for a short ride on the bike course. The race was conducted in Holyrood Park on narrow one way roads. The bike race was run in opposite direction to traffic so you could only ride the course backwards prior to the race with the exception of the night before the race when they closed the roads. The bike course was run around an extinct volcano and had 417 feet of climbing per lap with 5 laps in the 41.6K race added up to 2085 feet of total climbing. The bike worked fine and the bike course was a challenge as you were constantly going up or down with only a short flat section around the start/finish/transition area. After the ride my wife and I went to dinner at a local pub and had a traditional meal of mash and sausage with a bland Scottish ale.
Race day - 2
The next morning I again revisited the bike course on a run going around the course in the proper direction only running. I met one of my teammates on the run Jimmy Little and befriended him for the rest of the trip. After the run we had breakfast with Jimmy and his wife Sandy. After breakfast I picketed up my race number at registration and visited the team mechanic to get a CO2 cartridge (you can’t bring them on the plane with you). Later that day there was a team bus tour of the city. The last stop was Edinburgh castle very impressive. That night we attended the Pasta dinner party for all of the athletes. You have no idea how much pasta 800 athletes can eat!
Race Day -1
Today was team meeting and then opening ceremonies. The team meeting was very stressful as we went over the course and all of the rules. If you were assessed a penalty you needed to stop at the penalty box or be disqualified. Also there was concern about high winds on race day and it was threatened that disk wheels and wheels with less than 12 spokes would be banned from the race. A call would be made 1 hour prior to race time if disks would be permitted; the problem was that you had to have your bike racked in transition 1 hour before the race also. This was not a problem for me as had my ksyrium wheels, but many other athletes were scrambling to borrow wheels. After the meeting we did a team picture, there were 250 athletes from the USA.
To start opening ceremonies all of the teams lined up and paraded to Scottish parliament (Just like in the Olympics). In front of the parliament building they had bagpipes, drums, and dancers to entertain us. The head of parliament gave a nice welcoming speech to all of the athletes. The rest of the day was time to relax. That evening the bike course was open to pre-ride. I rode a few easy laps around the course focusing on the climb and decent. Going up the hill I was ascending at 12 mph so it did not seem too bad of a climb. While going up the hill the Belgium team went by me like I was standing still and I thought man I hope they are not in my race. It turns out they were part of the Pro team. More about the Belgium riders later.
Race Day conditions were ideal warm, sunny, and little wind. In fact it was the warmest day of the Scottish summer the temperature was in the high 60’s. My race was at 2 PM so there was lots of time to get a good breakfast and get my bike into transition. Prior to the race I tried to situate myself in the middle of the pack so as not to get drawn into a world record pace in the first run. My goals for the race was twofold finish and beat someone. The gun fired and we were off. The course was narrow 1 lane for the 1st half mile then it narrowed to two abreast. With the narrow course you just got pulled along at the pace of the athlete in front of you. This caused me to go out faster than I might have wanted to, but there was not much of a choice. The first two laps I felt good then I began to slow a little but not too much. Throughout the race you could hear lots of people cheering for you GO USA!!! This was really cool to have all of the encouragement to race hard. I finished the 10K run in 40:29. Not a world record but considering there were 544 feet of climbing, not too bad. After a quick transition I approached the bike mount line. There were 2 athletes in front of me so I ran by them and jumped on my bike. Well let me back up a moment. My tri-suit fit snugly and I had experienced a little chaffing on training rides so I gobbed on the chamois anti friction cream onto my pants and crotch to prevent any problems during the race. Well it worked a little too well, I had no chaffing problem, but when I went to do a cycle cross flying mount I went sliding off the saddle and onto the ground. “F@#%&!K” was the first word out of my mouth as I landed on the ground. Then I thought there is an official 2 feet from me who going to DQ me for cursing. I heard someone ask me if I was ok, got up said “Sorry” and jumped on my bike and I was off. I had a few minor scrapes but I was OK. The first time I got to the hill it seemed to get a lot steeper than when going up in practice as the top speed I could muster was 7 mph. It turns out that it’s a lot easier to go up hill in training when you’re just dilly dallying along and not having run a hard 10K prior. Needless to say I was now suffering big time. The fans were still cheering Go USA and saying things like “you’re looking great”. I had no idea what they were talking about since it hurt. I could never find my rhythm on the bike as the course profile was constantly changing. It was just a matter of counting the laps and waiting for it to be over to get to the last run. Off the bike and into my sneakers I was finally on the last run. The run hill now all of a sudden seemed to get a lot steeper. The second time up I just got into a zone saying to myself just keep those legs turning over. It was relief to get to the top of the last hill and head down. I passed a few competitors who were really dying and felt good going down the hill into the finishing straight. I picked up a USA flag from my wife and crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. I had met my goal of finishing and beating 19 others in my age group in the process. Overall I finished 405th place out 800.
Day After the Race
The next day the Pro/Elite races were held. In the morning we went shopping for souvenirs. We bought a nice bottle of Scottish whiskey and some other trinkets. In the afternoon we watched the men’s race. The pro race was draft legal. Normally this means that the race is run in a big pack until the final run. However in this race the initial climbs on the first run broke things up right from the start. A Russian bloke pushed the pace on the first run. Starting the bike portion there were 8-10 athletes left in the lead group, including 3 from Belgium. The guys from Belgium worked over the others in the lead group until they were the only ones left and then it was a team time trial for the rest of the bike leg. It was quite amazing to watch. Belgium team finished 1-2-3, and they did not seem to care who took first or second, great team work in a sport normally known for individual performances.
In the evening there was big party for all the athletes. It included beverages (Whiskey & Soda) and lots of food. I tried the Haggis, not bad. Talking to other athletes at the party and more than one said that this was the most difficult Worlds course that they had ever done, including some who had participated for the last 20 years. My time bore this out; I had estimated I would finish the race in 2:05 – 2:10 and my final time was 2 hours 35 minutes. If I had done my projected time I would have won the race. One tradition I was not aware is that athletes trade their team gear after the race. One of the guys from the South African team traded me his sweat jacket. I think I got the better end of the bargain as the South Africa jacket was of higher quality and more colorful than the USA jacket. Later that night they had a huge fireworks display shot from the castle. That was a nice finishing touch, but the choreography was not the best. That’s it the next day we had breakfast and got our flight back home. Next year the National qualifier is in Arizona and the Worlds are in Spain. Based on my experience this year I plan to be in Arizona next April to try to qualify for TEAM USA again.
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