Author Archives: Ian

MTB

In June my husband, Ian, suddenly decided that he would like to try mountain biking. I think he just got a bit fed up with being left behind while I was out cycling, yet didn’t fancy doing the long miles on tarmac. I love riding my bike so I assumed that I would also love mountain biking – especially with him.

We hired bikes from our local cycle shop, Bridport Cycles, and went out on a Bridport Cycling Club mountain bike ride.

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Nice wide flat trail with a good firm surface.

Our first club ride was for beginners and although we found it quite difficult and tiring we did enjoy it.

We then went off to our nearest trail centre at Haldon. Again we hired bikes and cycled around the green trail which was very pleasant. Then we tried the light blue trail – more interesting but manageable. We then tried the dark blue trail. Too interesting. I found the steep, stony descents really frightening and couldn’t stay on the bike. There was no point in looking at the red trail, that was way beyond our skill level. We did have a play in the skills park and although I avoided all the drops and stony paved areas, I did think that I had improved.

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Haldon Skills Park

We took advice from a couple of experienced MTB riders at BCC and Ian, being an impulsive sort of guy, just found a couple of good deals online and we bought a full suspension bike each.

The shiny new bikes were both blue and we were very pleased to be out riding in the beautiful countryside in West Dorset where we live.

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First outing on the new bikes

We found routes that were not very technical but managed to find some mud even in the dry summer.

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Mud!

Riding the MTB was really good fun after the serious stuff of the Exmoor 70.3 ironman in the summer. The sole reason for riding the MTB was to have fun.

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Having fun in the sun!

We enjoyed some lovely rides in the summer. We are fortunate to live in a very scenic area close to the sea. Scenic also means there are plenty of hills, of course.

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Scenic Dorset

We returned to Haldon quite regularly and gradually improved. Ian improved more quickly and was much braver on drops and stony descents. We no longer bothered with the green and light blue and were able to ride around the dark blue more quickly.

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Starting the red run.

We ventured onto the red trail. Ian could ride about 50% of it and I couldn’t really manage much of it at all. However I kept trying and pushed my limits in the skills park. We have returned to Haldon regularly and each time there is significant improvement. We can now enjoy riding the red trails. Some intensive sessions on the regulated trails at Haldon have really helped improve our skills and confidence. The next step is to travel to a different trail centre and frighten ourselves there!

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Pushing my limits in the Haldon skills park

Back in West Dorset we became more adventurous and challenged ourselves on more technical routes. At this stage, some of the time I was not having much fun.

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More technical routes

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Making progress on more technical routes

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The Colmers Shute Strava segment! (Ian doesn’t do Strava!)

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Sometimes it was a bit too challenging for me.

We continued to go out on BCC Club rides. Club rides tend to be challenging and hilly but take in some beautiful coastal scenery.

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On Eype Down – Golden Cap the next challenge on the horizon.

We took the bikes with us on a visit to the Gower Peninsular in Wales and found some good routes and had some fun times again.

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Gower Peninsular. Getting up there was a grunt but we had the best fun on the descent.

As the weather changed and the trails became wetter and muddier we faced new challenges. In the summer I would worry about the smallest patches of mud and puddles and really hated the back wheel squirming. I soon had to get used to puddles and lots of mud as well as wearing lots of gear in the cold, wet weather. We even venture out in the dark occasionally which adds another dimension to our riding. Often hilarious.

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Darkness is falling.

I’m pleased to say that I have improved a lot over the last few months and I am enjoying the MTB riding much more. I am much more confident on steep stony descents and am able to ‘stay on my bike’ most of the time. It’s still really hard work and very strenuous –especially with all the mud and puddles, but we usually have a lot of fun on our rides and it’s great that we can enjoy cycling together.

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Muddy winter riding

We are planning some cycling trips away this year as my focus moves away from competing in triathlon back to cycling just for the sheer enjoyment of being out on my bike. I love riding my bike – but riding my bike with my best buddy alongside me is the best!

Sardinia

Sardinia is part of Italy and is the second largest island in the Mediterranean (Sicily is the largest). It has an area of 9,000 square miles making it a little larger than Wales. However, the population of Sardinia is 1.5 million which is half that of Wales. Wales has plenty of open spaces – Sardinia is empty.

The coasts of Sardinia (1,849 kilometres long) are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, rias, and many inlets. There are various smaller islands off the coast.

The Sardinian coast

The Sardinian coast

Sardinia, unlike mainland Italy, is not earthquake prone which we were pleased about as Italy has suffered an unusual amount of seismic activity in 2016. Away from the sea the island is quite mountainous. The highest peak is Punta La Marmora at 1834m. Sardinia has few major rivers. There are 54 artificial lakes and dams which supply water and electricity and there is just one natural fresh water lake.

The island has a Mediterranean climate along the coastal plains and lower hills and a continental climate in the mountainous interior.

The island has a long and intriguing history, and is dotted with interesting archaeological sites. In the Bronze Age the island was populated by an enigmatic people who built nuraghi – stone towers – across the island, along with palaces, sacred wells and other structures. Many remain, as ruins, and the importance of these sites is recognised with a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

A nuraghe

A nuraghe

As Sardinia is on Mediterranean trading routes, various subsequent civilisations colonised or conquered the coastal areas, including the Phoenicians, Romans and Byzantines. Later the island was for some time under Spanish domination. A version of Catalan is still spoken in Alghero. The mountains inland, difficult to conquer and offering little to invaders, have a reputation as untouched pockets of ancient culture and tradition.

Today, some 7,000 Nuraghes dot the Sardinian landscape.

Nuraghe number 6,978

Nuraghe number 6,978

Taken as a whole, Sardinia’s economic conditions are such that the island is in the best position among Italian regions located south of Rome. The Sardinian economy is, however, constrained due to the high costs of the transportation of goods and electricity, which is twice that of the continental Italian regions, and triple that of the EU average.

The economy is centred on service industries such as hotels, restaurants, transport and telecommunications. The traditional industries of farming and fishing now make a relatively small contribution to the economy.

There are still a few goats and sheep around

There are still a few goats and sheep around

Today all Sardinia’s major urban centres are located near the coasts, because of seaside tourism, while the island’s interior is very sparsely populated. The main centre of population is Cagliari in the south where 25% of Sardes live.

The island has many beaches and stretches of coast which are largely unspoiled and plenty of down-to-earth towns and resorts. Lagoon, island and mountain habitats all feature among the region’s nature reserves.

One of the many beaches. This one had some low key development.

One of the many beaches. This one had some low key development.

It seems that Sardinia is a very popular destination for mainland Italians but they all come in August. Compared to other Mediterranean Islands, outside of August Sardinia is quiet.

We do not like crowds or cities so Sardinia seemed like a good choice for us. We decided to travel in September and planned a mix of mountain walks, sea kayaking, and some sightseeing. We avoided the cities and the glitzy Costa Smeralda.

There are no motorways on Sardinia but dual carriageways connect the main cities and the roads are quiet. However, once away from the main roads we had some interesting road trips especially on the steep, narrow, twisting mountain roads.

Some of the roads in the mountains were quite interesting!

Some of the roads in the mountains were quite interesting!

From Oblia airport we headed straight for the mountains. We spent a couple of days walking in the Ulassai area characterised by massive limestone cliffs. There were no other tourists here and in the 3 days we were out in the mountains the only people we met were two German tourists on mountain bikes.img_1493

Massive limestone cliffs around Ulassai

Massive limestone cliffs around Ulassai

We stopped off for a walk up Perda Liana as we travelled North to the Gennargentu.

A lovely walk around Perda Liana.

A lovely walk around Perda Liana.

In the Gennargentu area we stayed at Fonni for a few days. We experienced some cool weather there and some spectacular thunderstorms. We also quickly found out that there were no other tourists, no one speaks English and it is impossible to buy a postcard. The only food we could find was pizza.

Fonni is the highest town in Sardinia at 1000m. Surprisingly Fonni is a winter sports centre with a ski lift to Monte Spada and Bruncu Spina. There are also some paved access roads to the rather limited skiing infrastructure which we were able use.

Monte Spada 1595m

Monte Spada 1595m

We did not come across any other tourists while we were there and did not meet any other people walking in the mountains. Our B&B provided cake for breakfast and some local unleavened bread which we found inedible. They didn’t speak any English and our Italian is not up to much so we made no progress on what we would prefer to eat at breakfast. We resorted to fortifying ourselves with Birra Ichnusa, the popular Sardinian-made beer; at 70 cents a can we found no reason to limit our consumption. We had to get our calories from somewhere.

The highest peak is Punta La Marmora (Perdas Carpìas in Sardinian language) at 1834m was an obvious target. Unfortunately we had some mist when we were approaching the summit.

Mist on Punta La Marmora

Mist on Punta La Marmora

But it improved while we were up there…

The summit cross of Punta La Marmora

The summit cross of Punta La Marmora

…to give us far reaching views which clearly show the emptiness of inland Sardinia.

Thde view from Punta La Marmora

The view from Punta La Marmora

We left the mountains and drove to the North East of the Island close to Alghero and joined Sea Kayak Sardinia for a few days paddling.

Paddling with Sea Kayak Sardinia

Paddling with Sea Kayak Sardinia

The weather was very windy while we were there and we had joined a ‘no experience necessary’ group so although we were quite limited in where we could go we still enjoyed some excellent paddling on the spectacular coast.

Lunch break on the Sardinian coast

Lunch break on the Sardinian coast

After a few days near Alghero we travelled the length of the island and explored the South West Coast .

We visited the famous Cala Domestica – once a port built to export minerals from local mining. There is some spectacular cliff scenery here and some low key tourist infrastructure. In September there were very few tourists – and no other Brits.

Cala Domestica

Cala Domestica

We continued to the Island of San Antioco. We took the ferry to San Pietro and suffering from withdrawal symptoms we hired some bikes and took a spin around this remarkably unspoilt island.

Taking the hired bikes to San Pietro

Taking the hired bikes to San Pietro

San Antioco had other hidden joys including our very own cove. This beautiful rocky bay was a few minutes’ walk from our Hotel at which we enjoyed for a day.

'Our cove' on San Antioco

‘Our cove’ on San Antioco

Reluctant to leave this idyll and promising ourselves we will return we headed up the coast to Cala Gonone. Until recently this beautiful area was only accessible by boat. It has become quite a busy little resort and we were pleased to be staying up in the mountains.

Cala Gonone – not very busy by Mediterranean resort standards

Cala Gonone – not very busy by Mediterranean resort standards

Gola di Gorruppu, Sardinias most spectacular gorge, was close at hand so we decided to explore. We parked about 15km up the Rio Flumineddu from Dorgali. We then had a scenic two hour walk along a marked trail with interesting ever changing views. At the mouth of the gorge we were surprised to find an entrance booth and a rudimentary explanation about the gorge – in English. (We also had to pay 5 euro each). This was the biggest concentration of tourists we had seen in the three weeks we had been in Sardinia.

The gorge is flanked by limestone walls towering up to 400m in height. After 500m you reach the narrowest point, just 4m wide, and the formidable Hotel Supramonte, a tough 8b multipitch climb up a vertical 400m rock face.

This is me NOT on the Hotel Supramonte

This is me NOT on the Hotel Supramonte

The next day we were back at the airport, rather sad to leave after a very successful exploration of the Island. It is a wonderful place with so much to see and do. We loved the emptiness of it all and the lack of other tourists.

Sardinia...we will be back.

Sardinia…we will be back.

Up, up and away

My daughter Jenna gave Ian and I a hot air balloon ride voucher for Christmas. I was pretty horrified and put the voucher out of sight and the whole idea out of mind.

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I have rather an odd fear of heights. I am perfectly happy on natural structures like mountains and rocks. I am also good on ladders. However, I am irrationally fearful of man-made structures like piers and bridges. For example – walking across the Golden Gate Bridge defeated me once I got out above the water. Ian is no good on rocks or ladders but is fine on piers and bridges. So between us – this was going to be a challenge.

Towards the end of August and with a strong application of Rule 5 we went on the Aerosaurus website to book a flight.

Since a hot air balloon has no direct means of steerage or control the weather is an all important factor when deciding whether or not to fly. We were lucky on our 3rd attempt.

Our 3rd booking meant travelling from Dorset to Launceston, but we were so pleased that this happened as it meant that our pilot was Arthur Street who is an absolute legend in the ballooning world. Arthur counts his balloon flights in tens of thousands after 25 years of piloting.

We met at Homeleigh Garden Centre near Launceston at 06:30 along with 12 other passengers. The ground crew, Matt and Marianne (Little and Large) dealt with everything in a very professional manner, but also somehow very relaxed and reassuring. It was all very workaday and routine for them. There was obviously no reason for any anxiety.

We travelled in the Aerosaurus vehicles to the launch site near North Petherwin with the basket and envelope on a trailer.

Arriving at the launch site with the balloon (known as the envelope) and basket on the trailer

Arriving at the launch site with the balloon (known as the envelope) and basket on the trailer

The ‘envelope’ is huge – much larger than we expected. The passengers all help to get it inflated on the ground.

Inflating the envelope with cold air to begin with

Inflating the envelope with cold air to begin with

The fans blow cold air in. The scale of the envelope is clear if you can spot Marianne walking around inside!

The fans blow cold air in. The scale of the envelope is clear if you can spot Marianne walking around inside!

Two strong men were hanging onto a rope to stop the envelope rolling around

Two strong men were hanging onto a rope to stop the envelope rolling around

Eventually the envelope comes upright and the basket with it

Eventually the envelope comes upright and the basket with it

The air in the balloon must be heated now to allow it to be airborne. It is tethered to the landrover

The air in the balloon must be heated now to allow it to be airborne. It is tethered to the landrover

At this point I asked myself whether I would be disappointed if I was going to be a spectator rather than a passenger. The answer was yes. It was very exciting!

Arthur gave a comprehensive briefing – and informed us that the most difficult thing we would face would be climbing into the basket. (There is an option of being in the basket while it is on its side and being gently scooped up if physical disability prevents a passenger from clambering in). So that was alright then.

Clambering into the basket

Clambering into the basket while Arthur continues to heat the air in the envelope

The basket is actually a steel cage with rollbars and a solid floor. The wicker work is really just for aesthetics.

Once in the basket Arthur continued to heat up the air in the envelope using the burners powered by propane gas. We smiled bravely for the ‘on the ground’ photo opportunity!

Once in the basket Arthur continued to heat up the air in the envelope using the burners powered by propane gas. We smiled bravely for the ‘on the ground’ photo opportunity!

Once inflated and heated up (quite noisy) the tether from the land rover was released and we were off – up, up and away. We gained height extermely quickly.

We gained height very quickly. The land rover got very small very quickly

We gained height very quickly. The land rover got very small very quickly

There were a few moments of ‘wow this is quite high’ – but that was all. We just really enjoyed being up there. Arthur was fantastic and gave us 360 degree panoramic views and information about what we could see. We had total confidence in him.

Arthur opening the champagne

Arthur opening the champagne

Early on in the flight the champagne was opened which Jenna had thoughtfully included in our voucher. I’m sure this helped to contribute to the relaxed convivial atmosphere on board.

Cheers!

Cheers!

We went up to 3,200 feet and could see the North Cornwall Coast

We went up to 3,200 feet and could see the North Cornwall Coast

Arthur controlled the height of the envelope by heating up the air with the burners

Arthur controlled the height of the envelope by heating up the air with the burners

The main landmark was Roadford Lake

The main landmark was Roadford Lake

As we descended preparing to land we could see the ground crew who had been following our progress.

As we descended preparing to land we could see the ground crew who had been following our progress.

The A30

The A30

Arthur negotiated the obstacles of the A30 and Roadford Lake with great skill – but it did mean we had a few extra minutes up in the air. The landing was gentle with just a slight bump.

Marianne and Matt had tracked us from the ground and were there to help with packing up. The farmer was very cooperative and helped us all out of the slightly boggy field we had landed in.

The huge envelope gradually deflated as the air cooled down and we helped to guide it so that it could be folded up again.

Patrick – the youngest passenger tried to get the air out of the envelope

Patrick – the youngest passenger tried to get the air out of the envelope

But he needed help

But he needed help

It was amazing just how quickly that huge envelope was packed back into the bag and stowed back on the trailer with the basket.

The envelope was tucked back into its bag ready for the next flight.

The envelope was tucked back into its bag ready for the next flight.

We even got a certificate to prove we had done it!

We even got a certificate to prove we had done it!

Highly recommended. It is not at all scary and just a wonderful experience.

 

What is Ironman?

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An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a subsidiary of the Chinese Wanda Group, consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.16 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one day sporting events in the world.

Wanda bought Ironman Races for $650 million dollars in August 2015 and estimates it will bring in $185 a year. Ironman hosts 200 events in 27 countries and has approximately 250,000 registered athletes.

Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race. Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon within these timings becomes an Ironman.

Athletes range from 18 to over 80 and from all different walks of life and athletic backgrounds. The mind is a powerful element of triathlon and mental strength is vital. An Ironman triathlon is arguably the most difficult one-day sporting event in the world, but if you have an open mind and the drive, you can do it. Anything is possible!

The name “Ironman Triathlon” is also associated with the original Ironman triathlon which is now the Ironman World Championship. Held in Kailua-Kona, the world championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982) and is preceded by a series of qualifying Ironman events. The Ironman World Championships have become known for their gruelling length and harsh race conditions,

Other races exist that are of the same distance as an Ironman triathlon but are not produced, owned, or licensed by the World Triathlon Corporation. Such races include The Challenge Family series, Challenge Roth and many other long course events that are now established as part of the racing calendar such as Race New Forest, Brutal Triathlons, Castle Triathlon, The Outlaw and Xtreme. The main rival to Ironman has been the Challenge Family. They organise 44 full and half distance triathlons worldwide. They are a smaller family company based in Roth, Germany.

So Ironman is a worldwide profit making company. It is an international brand. Your entry fee – (typically £240 for a 70.3 event and £450 for a full Ironman) is set at a commercial rate to make money for this company. Ironman also attracts sponsors. This year Sketchers are their shoe sponsor and Arena are their swim sponsor.

Nutrition is provided by PowerBar.

Powerbar are the nutrition sponsor

PowerBar are the nutrition sponsor

I think Fyffes must also be involved judging by the number of bananas that are given out.

So why is Ironman so successful? What does this brand do at their events that have athletes desperate to part with their hard earned cash to participate? Some popular events, which tend to be the easier flatter courses, sell out within 24 hours.

I have done quite a few triathlons mostly non Ironman events. The full distance event I did last September – i.e. Ironman distance in Weymouth was organised by Challenge. Compared to the experiences I have had as a competitor and spectator at Ironman events the Challenge Weymouth event was quite inferior in many ways. Ironman have now taken over the Weymouth full distance event so on September 11th 2016 it is Ironman Weymouth and Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. ( It will cost you £415 for the full Ironman and £249 for the 70.3. ) and I expect that the many problems with the 2015 event will be rectified.

So what do you get for your money? In short – a grand day out.

Ironman organisation is flawless. They are very experienced in putting on the events and have a depth of experienced personnel. Most employees are Ironmen! Many events have been going for several years so rolling it out every year is easier. Exmoor 70.3 in 2016 was it’s 11th year. All teething problems are long gone. There is attention to every detail to ensure that the athletes experience is as good as it can be. They aim to give every athlete a great day regardless of their time. At an Ironman event athletes can be fairly confident that basics like the courses being the correct distance are taken care of.

From the moment of registration Ironman takes care of everything. Once they have your money – they look after you and in my experience there are few problems. Information is accurate and available readily. They send you messages which have some individuality (computer generated I’m sure) but make you feel valued. Leading up to the event more information is sent and email from the race director is aimed to make the athlete feel involved. Car parking is taken care of (advance charge of £10 at Exmoor) and information is given to help your logistical planning on how to get to the venue and accommodation etc. Information on the bike and run routes and advice on the likely weather and road conditions together with the equipment you will need are given.

There is an online Athletes Guide, which contains many pages of information about the event. Everything you could possibly need to know is in there. There is also an extensive list of rules and the penalties that are incurred if the rules are broken. The rules are there to enhance safety and to make the race fair for everyone. Triathlon is an individual race and must be completed without any outside assistance.

In the sporting world the Ironman logo is immediately recognisable. At an Ironman event you enter a corporate world of red and black.

It's all about the brand.

It’s all about the brand.

The organisation is meticulous. Every minuscule detail has been thought about in advance and is sorted. The event schedule tells you clearly what you need to do on the day and when it has to be done. By 4pm on the day before Exmoor 70.3 every athlete had to have their bike racked in transition and their red run bag and blue bike bag on the numbered racks in the transition tent. You are encouraged to attend a race briefing. There is a separate more detailed briefing for 70.3 Ironman virgins.

To keep the party rolling, Ironman for the first time this year at Exmoor, organised IronKids races. There are races which range in length from 2km for Year 9 to 500m for the under 5’s. This takes place on Saturday afternoon and with all the music and razzmatazz that goes with Ironman. The IronKids event was fabulous and I’m sure it will continue and grow. The children had the experience of racing in front of a crowd and ran down the red carpet to finish just like the grown- ups. Cost £12 per child – rewards – t shirt, medal and a great experience.

As in all organised events the bottom line is everyone must be kept safe – athletes and spectators.Security is also very important.  Each athlete will bring with them thousands of pounds worth of kit. My bike is down towards the lower end of the range and is worth £2k. So security is vital.  Ironman have very strict security. Athletes can feel confident that their stuff is safe.

Transition – you won’t get past this guy without your wrist band!

Transition – you won’t get past this guy without your wrist band!

Many of the strict rules that athletes have to follow enhance  safety. Ironman are strict about their rules and disqualification is a real threat if rules are infringed. At Exmoor 70.3 in 2016, 7 athletes were disqualified – all for dangerous bike riding.

There is some tangible stuff that each athlete receives for their entry fee. All items strongly reinforce the Ironman brand. On registration each athlete gets a rucksack and their swim cap.

Race goodies

Race goodies

On completion each athlete gets a medal

Finisher's medal

Finisher’s medal

and a rather good finisher t shirt which is sponsored by Craft.

Finisher's t-shirt

Finisher’s t-shirt

Food and drink is copious at the aid stations on the bike and run and there is also lots of food after the finish – unlimited. For those who win their category there is a trophy –  25cm of plastic – re-emphasising the Ironman Brand.

Category winner's trophy

Category winner’s trophy

Overall my experience of Ironman is that although it is expensive – if I going to spend months training for an event, I would rather pay more money and participate in an event which is a safe as it can be with flawless organisation and lots of fun .

For non-athletes I can see why there is some incredulity that people pay £400 to suffer for a day.

Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor

My result. Click or tap the picture for more detail (Bib number 385)

My result. Click or tap the picture for more detail (Bib number 385)

I entered the Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor event not long after I had completed the Challenge Weymouth ironman last September. The last 9 months of my life have been focused on training for this event. I did the London Marathon, some Audax rides and other events in between but the 26th June 2016 is the date I have been training for. Most weeks my training log shows about 17 hours. This is just the training time – I spend a lot of time faffing about doing at stuff to do with training. I enjoy the training mostly. I have a training plan which I invent based mostly on my own experience but sometimes I do what I fancy whether it is on the plan or not. Usually I end up doing more than the plan suggests. I’m not very good at rest days. My bottom line is that it has to be fun. If it is not fun it is not sustainable. I am very fortunate that by training sensibly and listening to my body when bits inevitably start niggling, that I have not developed any injuries that have stopped me from training during this 9 month period.
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West Bay Triathlon

2016 was the inaugural running of the West Bay Triathlon. It was organised by a local fledgling company Beyond Events.

West Bay is a perfect venue for sports events. It is in beautiful rural Dorset and on the spectacular Jurassic Coast.

West Bay from Thorncombe Beacon

West Bay from Thorncombe Beacon

Beyond Events are very keen to encourage inexperienced athletes to have a go and push their limits. There were 2 distances – Sprint and Olympic. The Sprint course was very flat and aimed at newcomers to triathlon. The Olympic distance course had a challenging bike and a very challenging run and all though there were some athletes who took this on as their first triathlon the majority were more experienced.
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Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) is a registered charity to provide relief from sickness and injury to the people of Dorset and Somerset by provision of an Air Ambulance. There is no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery and they rely totally on the generosity of the public to run the service.

The service was launched in 2000, and since then over 11,000 missions have been flown. The helicopter can be at any point in Somerset or Dorset from its airbase at Henstridge in less than 20 minutes and then at any one of the major trauma centres in the South West within a further 20 minutes.

Operational costs exceed £2 million a year with each with mission costing £2,500.
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