220 Triathlon

TEACHING AN OLD DOG OLD TRICKS

Brunty reminds himself of the rough and tumble of transition – close to home, of course…

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I’m practising transition­s from home. Why, you might ask? You might think it’s down to an impending event or tri withdrawal symptoms after 12 months without a race, but no. The reason is much more worrying than that.

Having run out of shower gel at home I was searching through my swim bag for any stray toiletries when I found a plastic roll-on that mystified me. It was too small to be underarm deodorant and had been in the bag so long that the writing had worn off. I pondered it for a good minute before I realised it was the stuff I rub on my neck to stop my wetsuit from decapitati­ng me. The fact that I’d completely forgotten the existence of this stuff was a concerning sign about my racereadin­ess, so I decided it was high time to do a bit of practice and shake off the shabbiness.

You’ll be pleased to know that I went to great lengths to make my homemade transition as realistic as possible by propping a garden rake across the garage door to hang three of my bikes on in close proximity to each other, one of which I deliberate­ly racked facing the wrong way to replicate the fact that some d**k always does this next to me.

I also propped the rake up at the right height to make my front wheel dangle sideways and ensure it was impossible to leave my helmet upside down on my handlebars without it falling off into the next racking space. Next, I squeezed all of my kit into the tiny gap between two bikes, laying it out on my brightly coloured towel that acts as both a bike identifier and a trip hazard, before glaring with silent hostility at my next door neighbour who was watching, admittedly from his own side of the fence, but who, as far as I was concerned, had invaded my personal racking space.

I included all of my usual pre-race rituals including standing and staring at my kit for several minutes with the sullen expression of a grill chef in a service station as I try to mentally rehearse putting it on, and tinkering with my bike with the sole purpose of making other competitor­s think I know what I’m doing. Finally, I made sure my track pump was nowhere to be seen to replicate the fact that a stranger had asked to borrow it.

The transition practices themselves went largely as expected. For T1 rehearsal my dog Bertie ran around jumping up my legs and generally impeding me to duplicate the normal swim exit experience. It took me the regulation five attempts to snap my race belt on without twisting it, before I retrieved my helmet from the flower bed, squirted gel all over my hands and set off down the drive. Meanwhile, my wife Nicky fulfilled her usual spectating role of barely concealed disinteres­t followed by raucous laughter at the ‘OOF - clatter clatter’ sound as I leapt onto my bike and slalomed off up the lane.

For T2 there was more laughter at my standard dismountin­g method of cocking my leg over my saddle and starting to run while cracking my shin on a pedal and fighting my bike’s sudden desire to tilt over 45° into my knees, after which it was unstick hands from gel covered bars, fling bike onto already crowded rack, helmet off, retrieve glasses which have just gone flying because the arms were over the helmet straps, shout ‘Norman!’ (my other dog) as my cap disappears off up the garden, wedge feet into unyielding running shoes, tip gel all over hands, run off up the road and do about a mile before rememberin­g to turn my race number round to the front!

All in all, I’d say that I’m well and truly ready for the return of racing, and all I need to do now is find out where my socks and running cap have been buried.

“I deliberate­ly rack a bike the wrong way to replicate the d**k who always does it next to me”

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