A few of Team Bedford’s Austria 2007 Ironman competitors and I, along with partners, have just returned from a weekend away in the Peak District. The main purpose was to do some quality hill work. Saturday took us on an 80 mile circular route on the bikes whilst Sunday’s plan was to run 13 miles off road from Matlock to Dovedale following the Limestone Way.I was completely out on my estimated arrival times on both days for several reasons, Saturday it was pretty windy and of course the route took in every hill we could find, so the going was quite slow. In addition, we had a couple of mechanical failures and punctures which all take time to overcome. However, the biggest time eater was probably navigating. I should remember that if one stops to check the current position and next direction, two minutes pass really quickly and if this is repeated 30 times over an 80 mile route, which is quite possible, then an hour has automatically been added to the time away from base.
I was also reminded of the need to take as many precautions as possible to prevent an aborted ride. Although regardless of how many spares are available the chances are that at some point in time the problem won’t be fixable. Saturday’s can’t fix problem was that one of the guys’ seat bolt sheared. Something we couldn’t repair and so Mark’s ride was aborted and we had to find a pub to drop him off at whilst our recovery team travelled to meet him. The recovery team was Leigh plus Zac’s wife Tara who had to be dragged away from coffee and shopping to come to Mark’s assistance. Top birds!
All in all though it was a good tough ride and I have to thank Simon for organising the weekend and the routes on both days.
Sunday’s run was supposed to follow the Limestone Way Trail. Unfortunately, it wasn’t terribly well signed, in fact it was appallingly signed and the weather was atrocious. We had to run into horizontal hail at times and to cut a quite lengthy tail short we ended up doing some road sections and covering just short of 17 miles in order to keep out of the worst of the weather. Regardless of coming off the hilly pathway we still managed to find hilly road sections and keep the training aim fulfilled.
The weekend was a success in that no-one was injured and we had some good quality cycling and running. We also had a good time socially and plenty of food to boot. I guess if anyone was to ask what you feed a team of Ironmen in training, the answer is anything that isn’t moving. We ate some mighty fine meals on Friday and Saturday night and did a good job on Sunday’s full English breakfast. Marvellous!
Thinking about the weekend and lessons learnt, or at least lessons I was reminded of, in inaccessible areas and areas of changeable weather always take plenty of clothing and food & drink. It also doesn’t hurt to pop a survival bag in your kit as if anyone had turned their ankle or worse, the situation could very quickly turn into an emergency. It is amazing how quickly body temperature drops and hyperthermia can set in.
Also, let people know where you are going and your expected arrival time and don’t rely on mobile phones for assistance, as we found in many areas there just isn’t a signal.
When planning your routes you need to consider “escape routes”, plan ways you can cut the session short if need be and don’t leave it to chance. Also try to plan meeting points for support crew if possible. You should also try to establish an accurate arrival time. Do not base your arrival time on your normal training rides as terrain makes a huge difference. Try to factor in pace changes due to the local conditions of terrain, surface conditions and weather etc.
Make sure you have more than one map with the group as if you need to split up you will need at least two maps. Also ensure the map is detailed enough and that there are at least two people who can read a map competently.
Try to get the entire group to familiarise themselves with the route planned and possible escape routes and meeting points should there be a need to use them.