Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Evolve Sprint Triathlon

Saturday, May 19th, 2018 | Sport

After visiting the Blue Lagoon for an open water swim a few weeks ago, I returned to compete in their sprint distance triathlon.

I got there one hour forty-five before the race, which was more than enough time to faff about. Despite warnings of rain, it was gloriously sunny. Too sunny in fact: despite the copious amounts of sport-specific suncream (at £8.50 per bottle) I applied, I still came away with sunburn.

54 of us took part, and I ended up about two-thirds down the rankings in 33rd. The swim went well: the water temperature had risen to a balmy 16.2 degrees C. That still feels really cold when you get in, but once you are swimming it is fine, and my hands were still mostly usable when we came out. I managed to avoid being last in the swim and things only went forward from there.

The bike course was two laps around some local roads. There were very quiet and I barely saw any cars. It’s a pretty flat course with only one real hill and no serious descending, so it suited me well. The run was a bit too warm but otherwise fine.

My official time was:

1:30:51.4

Here is a comparison between my time here and Skipton triathlon.

Stage Evolve Skiption
Swim 12:29 9:36
T1 4:09 5:46
Bike 52:06 53:05
T2 0:50 1:56
Run 21:14 23:40
Total 1:30:51 1:34:02

I put this in more because it looked interesting than that it is of any value. It’s very difficult to compare across venues as they all have different lengths. This was a 500-metre open water swim, vs the 400-metre pool swim at Skipton, but also the distance between getting out of the water and getting to my bike varies massively.

I’m fairly sure the run distance here was less than 5km as I’ve never run a 21:14 before. Skipton was also a lot hillier. But this table isn’t completely pointless. I’m pleased that my T1 time didn’t increase even though I had a wetsuit to take off this time.

It was my first race as a member of Hyde Park Harriers and it was a nice perk to be part of a club rather than hanging around like a total loner. Everyone was very friendly. A big thank you to Graeme for spotting me and Gill for bringing the bacon, and congratulations to Naomi for winning first place in the women’s category.

Next stop, Wetherby triathlon…

Up North Yorkshire sportive

Friday, May 18th, 2018 | Sport

Up North Yorkshire is a sportive organised by Fat Lad At The Back. It starts from Ilkley and goes and out and back route, with a little loop at the top, around Burnsall.

We signed up for the 40 kilometres route (the other routes were loopier) as I didn’t want to take too much out of my legs before the triathlon I had the day after. This route had a modest amount of climbing in, 523 metres, so a lot easier than the Tour de Yorkshire.

The organisation was good. There was no queue to register and toilets and changing facilities at the rugby club. The feed stop was well stocked: sausage rolls, pies, sandwiches, cakes, fruit, and we got a hot hog roast sandwich when we returned.

It took us just over two hours to complete the loop, excluding stopping at the feed station. I enjoyed doing the short route as it wasn’t just me being overtaken by a lot of faster cyclists all of the time; I did my fair share of overtaking, especially on the hills.

This may well be the most beautiful sportive I’ve done. Tour de Yorkshire had some spectacular views, but some boring roads, as well. This was just beautiful rolling hills the whole way around.

I would recommend Fat Lad At The Back events. Of course, so far I have a sample size of one. But it was enjoyable and well put together.

Skipton Parkrun

Thursday, May 17th, 2018 | Sport

I was heading over to Ilkley for a sportive last Saturday but I didn’t want to miss Parkrun. The solution? Find the closest one. The answer turned out to be Skipton Parkrun.

It takes place at Aire Valley Park, which is the same place that hosts Skipton Triathlon. It’s a great venue because the parking is reasonable (50p for one hour) and you can use the leisure centre toilets.

I tried to pace myself for a hard weekend of racing, so I aimed for around 25 minutes. I brought it home in:

24:56

So, I think we can call that a success. One lass was about to get married, so did the run in a wedding dress. Presumably not her actual dress. But she still managed to out-run most of us, including me.

It’s a four-lap course. I did get lapped but only by the front group of two or three. Afterwards, there was free cake. So, all in all, a pretty good run.

How many tags do you need?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018 | Sport

If you’re sick of hearing about the Tour de Yorkshire by this point, don’t worry, this is my last post on the subject. Whenever you do a sportive, the organisers give you some tags to put on you or your bike. But, in the case of TdY, it seems they need to go everywhere.

Here is the first one. It goes on the front of your helmet.

Here is the second one. This one is a timing chip that goes on the side of your helmet.

Number three, this one goes on the front of your bike.

Number four, this one goes on the back of your bike. It is not very well designed as it is almost impossible to fit a saddle bag, reflector and tag on your seat post.

And finally, the race number that goes on the back of your jersey.

Surely there must be a simpler way to do this? It took me nearly five hours to complete the sportive and about the same amount of time to get all of the tags off.

Tour de Yorkshire 2018 pro finish

Sunday, May 13th, 2018 | Photos, Sport

After finishing the sportive, we went down to watch the pro men’s race finish.

The first man through was Stéphane Rossetto who went on to take the stage win. This was on Burley Road, a few hundred metres from the finish. The chasing pack weren’t too far behind.

Tour de Yorkshire

Friday, May 11th, 2018 | Sport

Last week, I completed the Tour de Yorkshire sportive. The medium route, 84km (90km once I had ridden door-to-door) was not only the longest ride I had ever done, by some 10km, but also included a fierce 1,200 metres of climbing.

It started up at Woodhouse Moor, where they had a small event village and meeting point. Due to the number of people that took part, there was a long queue to get started. It took about 30 minutes from joining the back of it to getting on the road.

Once at the front, we were off. The route took us along Meanwood Road up and up to the ring road, where we crossed and headed up towards Eccup and then on towards Harrogate. We climbed through North Rigton and the rolling road towards Beckwithshaw where the first feed station was located.

It was a pretty crap feed station. There was around a 40-minute queue for water, and the food available consisted of crips, bananas and Jaffa cakes. Certainly not up to the standard of other sportives.

Back on the road, we turned west on Penny Pot Lane and then north again to Menwith Hill before starting the journey homeward via Blubberhouses. The scenery up there is spectacular. Once you get on top of the moors, you can see for miles.

The hills

The road between Blubberhouses and Otley is a hilly one. By this point, the long route had re-joined us and so the road was filled with medium and long route people. Even though these were all cyclists that had chosen a harder option than the short route, people began struggling. Many people got off and pushed their bike up Snowden Bank.

I miscalculated the road we were coming out of Otley on. For some reason, I had gotten it into my head that we were taking the main road. It had Tour de Yorkshire signs all over it, after all. But we didn’t. We went straight out of the back of Otley and up Chevin Bank. 1750 metres at an average gradient of 9.4%. It just kept coming.

And, after all of that, we then went straight back down the hill to Pool in Wharfedale where the second feed stop was located. This one was better, with sausage rolls, pork pies and jelly babies. And, more importantly, reasonable access to water.

The final stretch included another tough climb: Black Hill Road into Arthington. This one was only 1500 metres at an average gradient of 7.2%. But that is deceptive because it starts off shallow and them ramps up the higher you go. The 90-degree bend half way up is rated at an eye-watering 19%. This was probably the hardest climb of the day, although I suspect that was because I already had Chevin Bank in my legs.

The finish

Finishing on The Headrow was amazing. I had enough in my legs to open up my sprint. Maybe I should have savoured the moment, but it felt great to pretend to be a pro racing for the line. Unlike the big runs in Leeds, there weren’t that many people finishing. So, when I raised my arm in victory and everyone cheered, there was a cause and effect thing going on. Thank you to everyone who cheered us home!

Results

My official time clocked in at:

4:42:54

That’s nearly 12 hours ahead of the so-called winner Greg Van Avermaet. Some would argue that doing the medium route of a one-day sportive is a lot easier than the four days of substantially longer routes that the pros did. But he had teammates and a peloton to protect him, I did it all on my own.

My average moving speed was 19.5 kph, although that is door-to-door, not just the sportive. It’s pretty slow compared to the 23.4 kph I managed in York-Leeds-York (and any objective measure), but it was very hilly.

Conclusion

I think the Tour de Yorkshire is my favourite sportive so far. In part, its a number game. They claimed to have 5,000 riders taking part. It certainly was busy and it’s nice to ride with other people. A common problem with sportives is that, even if you have 500 people, when you spread them out over 100km, there are not many of them around. It gets lonley. Here there was none of that. The feed stations were poor, but the finish was excellent. And the scenery was beautiful.

Parkrun #153

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 | Sport

The weather has warmed up. Why did I ask for this again? I hate the warmth. This was a terrible idea.

Fresh from Middleton Woods Parkrun last week, I was determined to run a fast one this week. And luck was on my side. The first Saturday of the month is a pacer month. This month included only three pacers but one of them was perfect for me: the 23-minute man.

In April, I took a minute and a half off my PB but even then, I knew I could go faster. So, I set out following the pacer to see how long I could hold on for.

It turns out the answer was about 2.5 km. Halfway through the second lap, I started to lose touch with him as my legs just wouldn’t keep up the speed. I slowly slipped behind, maybe 5-10 seconds over the next lap. This doesn’t sound like a huge gap now, but it felt like one at the time. I knew if I could just keep him in sight by the 4km mark, I stood a chance.

Once we hit that point I got a second wind and slowly started reeling him in down the back straight. It took the top of the park, too, but as we rounded the final corner onto the finish straight I went around him on the outside.

No sprint finish, just a desperate battle to keep the pace and stay ahead of him. I doubled-over just after the finish line and the volunteers had to shepherd me along to get me out of the way of other runners. But I had done enough.

My new PB was:

22:39

This time, I don’t think I can run any faster. I’ve set a Parkrun PB that reflects the best performance I can give right now. I’m pleased with it. It gives me an age grading of 57%, which still leaves me 3% adrift of my Dad’s best effort.

Here’s an updated graph:

I only remembered to take the obligatory selfie after I had set off running home, hence why it looks so bad.

Open water swimming

Friday, May 4th, 2018 | Sport

In Finland, open water swimming is straightforward: you get drunk and then at midnight, jump in the nearest lake. Some swim, some don’t. But that’s just nature’s way; it’s survival of the fittest. Over in Britain, it seems a little different.

I wanted to get some open water practice in before the triathlon season gets any further. So, I booked into the Blue Lagooners down near Pontefract. Here’s me trying on my wetsuit beforehand.

It was cold. Very, very cold. But not as bad as I imagined. The wetsuit does a great job of keeping you warm. It was only my hands and feet that were frozen. This made for quite a challenge when it came time to get out, as trying to get a wetsuit off is difficult at the best of times, but even harder when your hands are numb.

The venue is nice. They have a 250 metre and a 500-metre course. The changing rooms are just huts on the lakeside. The staff are friendly and provided a lot of useful information on getting the most from the session.

I managed 1,500 metres in the end. Although, for some reason, my Garmin recorded it as 44 metres. I’m looking forward to future events and, more importantly, to the lake warming up a little more.

First 80km ride

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 | Sport

With the Tour De Yorkshire just days away, I set out to complete my first 80km ride. Not only would this be my longest ride yet but it would also involve even more hills than usual. So, the last thing I needed was problems with my gears.

Unfortunately, that’s what I got. I’ve been having problems with my gears for a while and, despite getting it “fixed” by Evans, it hasn’t got any better. In fact, it’s got worse. I couldn’t use first gear at all. So, I had to complete the 1,000 metres of climbing in second or higher.

But while it did slow me down, it didn’t stop me. I headed up through Otley all the way to Blubberhouses, taking in climbs of up to 14%, before heading east to Harrogate and back down to Leeds.

My legs were gone by the end of it. Finishing my ride down the canal towpath I struggled to hold 15 mph on the flat.

Nevertheless, job done. It wasn’t quite a replication of next week: it was 80km rather than 86km, and, more importantly, it was 1,000 metres of climbing rather than 1,200. Still, I feel like I can go into the sportive with a lot more confidence than I had before.

Britain is doing really well at ice hockey right now

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 | Sport

Britain, with its notoriously mild climate, is not a place that you often associated with ice hockey. And you would be right. We’re not great at ice hockey. Leeds doesn’t even have an ice hockey rink. But you might be surprised how well we’re doing.

We actually have a good pedigree at ice hockey. We’re one of only eight countries to have won the world championship, although it has been a while since of more recent, and indeed only, victory in 1936.

More recently, we’ve been out of the top division of world ice hockey. We haven’t been there since 1993, where we came up from the third division (confusing called 1B) in two successive years.

This changed last year when we went unbeaten, dominating famous hockey nations such as Japan and Netherlands.

Things looked a little tougher this year as we entered division 1A. But not so. We kicked off the tournament by beating Slovenia 3-1. We then took a 6-1 drubbing by Kazakhstan, before beating Poland 5-3 and Italy 4-3. Some of these teams are countries that actually care about ice hockey.

Going into the final game, it looked like three teams would end on equal points, and we would miss out on promotion being the third team. Hungary was winning 2-1. The campaign seemed to be all but over.

Then, with just 15 seconds to go, a nightmare for the hosts as Robert Farmer found the back of the net to bring things level.

After a tense overtime period, it fell down to a penalty shoot-out. Three fantastic saves by GB goalkeeper Ben Bowns left Hungary on the losing side of a 3-2 scoreline to skyrocket Britain to the top of the table.

Britain was going up!

Next year we’ll be playing in the championship division against the big four (Russia, Canada, Finland, Sweden) and many other excellent ice hockey teams from around the world. How will we do? Probably not too well. But at least we will be there: punching way above our weight.

Coverage in the UK

Say you did want to follow the ice hockey world championships. How would one do it?

Well, in the UK, the answer is you can’t. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) offers a free video stream of all the games. But the UK is blocked from this because Premier Sports owns the rights. But they don’t show the games. They don’t even show all of the championship games. It is most frustrating.

The best we get is to sit and watch the IIHF ticker.

No wonder nobody cares about ice hockey in the UK.