The 2011 GRIM Off-Road Duathlon finished over the weekend. 5 Kms of running 20km of off-road cycling and another 5 kms of the same off road running to complete. Joy.
I like this race. The running bits are on off-road tracks and are quite stoney with a few ups and down. No fells by any means. You’d probably class it as undulating. Cross country spikes might help but the stones knackered some of mine so it’s a borderline call on a dry day like it was.
The bike section too probably is undulating.
However the course is pretty sapping. The bike route has two 10km laps. The second 5km of each lap is the sapping bit (which you do twice). It’s quite sandy a bit up and down and a bit technical in places. A bit muddy in places too. And, in some places, EXTREMELY puddly. I had my pedals splashing through the last ‘puddle’ like a swimmer. It was up to my knees ON THE BIKE. Somehow the second time/lap around I managed to cycle all the way through without getting off.
I’d say that was the trick really, and the bit that I messed up on. Get your gears right and don’t get off the bike. That’ll save you 5-10 minutes overall if you count the tiring factor of pushing your bike 10m up the last steep (but cycleable) part of a muddy hill. Get your tyre pressure right as well. It’s probably best going with quite a bit less pressure than you would do for an undulating stoney/sandy course. I didn’t do that enough and had about 45-50 psi in. Way too much I reckon. Also don’t think (like I stupidly did) that a not-so-knobbly front tyre is a good idea to help you go a bit faster on the rocky bits. You might just fall off when you lose front wheel grip – like I did – again costing a couple of minutes. Then again 45 psi is better than 30 psi over the first 5km of each cycle lap.
Shoe choice? I had XC Spikes with a short front (track) spike and a regular longer rear (ball of foot) xc spike. I used strapped pedals. If you want to use SPDs then you have to factor in coming off your bike and not being able to re-clip with gunge in your cleats. I don’t think that I saved that much time in transition with no shoe change – about 20 seconds? I probably lost that faffing around trying to strap my foot in and being overtaken.
2011 was difficult to compare to 2010. 2010 was much wetter and muddier (from rain). 2009 is a better comparison and the 2011 entrants at the top end seemed to turn in generally better times than in 2009. A top 5 Age Category position is very creditable in the major groups at this event. The event attracts about 400 people from memory – pretty consistent turnout. Lots of new entrants each time with a smattering of return-entrants.
I’m not sure if I will return for yet another GRIM Duathlon in 2012. I’ll have to see. It is a sapping course and I find that my lack of technical bike skills (not lack of bike fitness) means I can’t do myself the justice my fitness might deserve. Having said all that it’s not THAT technical just that I’m rubbish!
But if you haven’t done it is is something I’d definitely recommend doing at least once with some mates! Enjoy