Castlegregory Seven Frogs Triathlon
Castlegregory is a village on the Northern Side of the Dingle Peninsula in Co.Kerry. There is a small peninsula north of it usually referred to as the Magharees (from the islands off it. Magharee = Machairí (same word as Machair in Scots Gaelic) and means plain, prairie etc). At the tip there's a village called Fahamore (big lawn in Irish). This area is flat. Brandon Bay with its 10 mile beach is, according to Scott Mackeown, my daughter's brother-in-law, the best surfing place in Europe. Not only is it stunningly beautiful but it attracts surfers from all over Europe. There were English, French, Dutch and other surfers there at the weekend, where by orders of Lizzie my daughter, I was to perform the 25mile cycling leg of an Olympic length triathlon. She was to do the swim, but as she decided to do the Cork Mini-Marathon on the following day, she got a more than able substitute, Chris Mintern, a local schoolboy who's a triathlon sensation. As a runner she had a club-member, Dave Comber. Dave is I suppose 28, Chris is 16 and I'm 60.
Above you see Brandon Bay
I was not happy about this. When you're 60 you are reluctant to push yourself really hard, for obvious reasons. I've been very fit since Lejog and indeed was tired from cycling a lot recently, so I did what I used to always do before a hard cycle in the old days. I took three days completely off. Tapering they call this, except most athletes feel that three days completely off is not a good idea. I experimented on myself for much longer than most athletes' careers, and I can tell them that they're wrong!
We were in a rented house for the weekend, about a mile from the start. I cycled to the start, parked my bike, and about 20 minutes from the start decided to check it. Front puncture!!! Fortunately I had two spare tubes in my pocket so I changed it. Small hole in tyre and tube, no glass , etc. Must've been a thorn.
The swimmers headed for the quay. Young Chris who's a super lad told me. "I'll be back in 18 minutes with at least 3 minutes over the next chap". As I was waiting for his appearance I asked an official. "How much is gone?". I was told and said, "My man will be back in 18 mins". "No way," says he. "1.5 km"
But he was. I put on the chip thingy on my ankle and trotted to the road and headed off on my carbon fibre Ridley Orion. No tribars or fancy helmet, but a good light bike. I had a three minute lead on the second chap who was one of the better triathletes in Ireland. A bit of pressure, that!
I blasted off on the slightly winding flat road to Castlegregory, breathing hard, slight pain in the legs. Saddle position which I had experimented with during the week was perfect. Brooks Professional saddle. I don't get on with synthetic ones. Glanced at my speedo now and again. Doing about 22mph. That's strong for me, but I felt really strong, which I usually am after a three day rest following a lot of cycling. I never warm-up. It's just using glycogen.
The temperature was about 12c.
At Castlegregory there was a right turn to Stradbally and then onto the main road. I powered on, keeping the pressure on, sometimes easing up as I was breathing too hard. Ideally you should have a pulse-meter for this but I didn't have one in working order at the time.
The road gently undulated out as far as near Cloghane where I took a left fork and headed towards the Conner Pass. Fortunately we were not to go up this beast, but there was a gentle climb of maybe 2% up this for, I estimate, 2 miles. I was able to power up this, standing at stages. No evidence of another cyclist yet. Then there was a right turn and a good downhill ride to near Cloghane. I hit about 35 or so going down this, then a right turn with a sharp climb of maybe 300 yards. I eased back on this and used my smaller front ring. You mustn't blow up or you won't recover. I opened up again at the top and hammered away along the coast until I was again on the main road. At this stage my chaser, the 3 minute man overtook me. I had a chat with him, told him my age and that I had no intention of dying. He rode away, and as an experiment I reeled him in to see if I could. I could but I would not push myself that hard all the way back.
At Stradbally I merged with the cyclists who were doing the sprint triathlon (half the length) but did not ride with any of them. In the distance I could see three minute man.
Eventually reached the transition.
I had told the lads that I would expect to do 17mph, maybe 18. I actually did 19.5. I was doubly pleased. First for being alive, and second for doing quite well for someone who is NOT an athlete, unlike my daughter and my wife.
Dave headed off. Three minute man had a 1 min 5 second advantage. Dave caught him in 2 km and we won the relay comfortably. Lizzie was delighted.
Granddaughters watching the triathlon.
Lizzie, me (doing the fool), Dave and Chris.
Kenmare Triathlon Club. Three minute man on the left.
I'm not doing any more of these.