Back to back racing is hard, but with sufficient fitness, a good training block and natural ability it is possible to excel at both weekends’ events. Alex had some early chasing to do, but soon worked his way into the lead – where he then stamped his authority on HIS race…
After a quiet period of racing, it came to two back to back weekends. where the Olympic distanced NW champs fell just 7 days after the Nationals at Chester.
After a good race at Chester, everything was looking good, so long as the legs were rested and recovered in time. Leading up to the race, I kept things ticking over with some light rides to work, morning swims and short easy runs on the Wednesday and the Saturday. I then gave myself a full rest day on the Friday.
The Southport course is pretty straightforward, assuming you can count to two. Two laps in the lake around the island, two laps up and down the seafront, then two laps around the lake and into the finish. As some serious winds battered the dunes, it was quickly clear that times were going to be a lot slower than last year. (The amphibia transition bag proved extra useful as a makeshift wind block).
Like last year, the swim start was relatively hassle free, but after turning round the island, the winds made it seriously choppy for lap 2. Initially (after 100-200m), 2-3 of us reached the first buoy together. This then shortly whittled down to myself and one other, with someone else making some ground up ahead. After sitting on feet for a minute or so, the pace felt too slow and I was sure I’d be better off going it alone. It proved to be the right decision and I came into T1 with a clear gap over third, but a chunk of time to make up if I wanted to win the thing.
I was confident I’d make up the gap on the bike, if not the run, but nothings done until it’s done and with a Sprint race also taking place earlier in the morning, I wasn’t quite clear as to who I was chasing. The bike course was a simple straight and flat 10K road (from point to point), with two turnaround points and 2 laps equalling 40k. I enjoy the simplicity of it and the fact that there was no real let up. This also meant that there were no junctions, traffic lights or cars to worry about either. The extreme winds meant you either flew on feeling great, or grinded your way back to the next turn point.
I finished the bike in just over an hour and was confident that so long as there were no serious mechanical issues to the bike or my body, the win would nearly be sewn up. For the first 3-4k, I felt great and cruised along. I’ve been racing with a GPS watch recently and easily held 03:20/km. That was until the route took us back out onto the seafront and those winds ruined any chance of a good time on paper! With a little less pressure to make up any more places, I don’t think I’d push quite as hard as the times when you really know you need to. So, I finished the race in just over 2hrs (02hrs 53s to be precise). Over 6 minutes ahead of Paul Skipper, who came in in 2nd. A decent result and good to retain the NW title. This win also put me in a good light for the Overall NW Senior Series. This year’s time was about 3 mins slower than last year and after being 8 minutes quicker than a previous year last weekend, it just shows that it’s the overall result which really matters.
After two back to back weekends of racing, I’m looking forward to getting back into the training groove again, with the next focus being the British Champs at the end of July. That said, the next 5 weeks of training will be mixed and kept interesting with some lower priority Sprint Triathlons, Time Trials, Aquathlons and all the usual training sessions thrown in there for goog measure too.
A big thank you to our Sponsors for making it happen:
FFWD Wheels – Race Wheels
Huub – Wetsuits
Schwalbe – Cycle Tyres
ISM – Saddles
Lezyne – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
Altura – Triathlon and Cycle Apparel
Fenwicks – Lubrication
Camelbak – Bottles
Tifosi – Sunglasses
Limar – Helmets
Lake – Cycling Footwear
Jagwire – Cables & Housing
Swans – goggles
Shimano – Groupsets
Amphibia – Transition Bags
Stages – Power Meters
Race Ware Direct – Custom Garmin Mounts
Zero Point Compression – Compression wear