Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

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Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Bendy Ben » 18 Jun 2014 10:58

What: Windsor
Where: Windsor
Organiser: Human Race
Distance: Swim 1500m (Thames), Bike 42km , Run 10km
Marshalling: Kayaks; people stopping traffic on the bike route; inept draught busting fool on a motorbike
Facilities: Below par expo ( B70, wiggle) massage tables, a greasy spoon van and some vomit inducing portaloos
Technical: Chip timing, swim hat
Freebies: Black technical T.

Right. There a bit of a problem ..... I had such a stunning experience in Poland I'm finding I'm comparing all other events to that. Unfair ? Probably. Can you blame me? Hell no.

So here goes. I hadn't entered Windsor. I've raced it three time ( once with Ewan) and I've always had a great time. Windsor itself is a beautiful place and I love the vibe there.

I knew a couple of BCTTTers were planning on racing and after chatting with Jon Elliot I resigned myself to getting up at stupid o clock and driving there to watch. Poland had kind of re kindled something in me and I was almost gutted as I couldn't enter - this race sells out in minutes year after year.

A friend of mine sent me a text the week before asking if I was entered. This is how the conversation went.

Him " you racing Windsor?"
Me " no - sold out"
Him " do you want to race?"
Me " it's sold out though!"
Him " you're in. See you there"

And that was that. Shit.

A free entry which saved me the £120 for an OD. More on that later.

I had done absolutely nothing post Poland apart from meeting scibby and Didds at Sheperton for a very very easy 1200m mooch and one 10km PB run. Seriously.

Being back to work was a real pisser. I had a month off before Poland which was a godsend or that would have been a disaster and I was about as prepared for Windsor as I normally am.

So I racked my bike the day before.... WAT was working so I took Olivia to a friends house as she was going on a Go Ape party and Sam's mum was collecting her and I took Ewan to Challengers ( a Saturday scene where he plays sports, does cooking, bouncy castle, makes music and gains some semblance of independence with an individual specialist - he stays from 0930-1600hrs)

Now that sounds like loads of time..... You'd have thought so.

Kids dumped I headed off in the car. M25 - very slow. Some inept fool decided it would be a good idea to crash so one lane closed and of course the delays that comes with idiots slowing down meant my journey to Windsor was over 2 hrs !!!

I arrived, got the bike sorted ( put the pedals on - thank god I remembered them) and headed off to register. I met brother Bopomofo there and it was great to see him, got a lot of time for Gary and we had a chat as I eyed up his new bike. Lush. Saw Ade there too looking in good shape with his mate who was racing his fist OD.

Bikes left on racking outside the registration tent and Gary and I slipped inside ( the tent Kev) and I got stopped almost immediately.

I let my BTF licence expire. So when they tried to fleece me for £6 for a day I offered £5 and said that's all the cash I had. That'll do said the cute lady and I shot her a smouldering gaze that clearly melted her heart and got her rather excited. I'm sure she fell in love with me right there and then. I've still got it. :lol:

Quickly registered A they have got this down very very wel indeed. Moving through race pack, hat and chip stations in under 2 mins I was out the exit and chatting to the chaps again.

Off we went to rack in transition...... This year they decided you could rack in waves rather than by race number so I made my way to the wave 6 rack which was going off at 0635!!!!! JESUS. That's going to mean a very early alarm. Still - I can't complain. I was dead excited and ready for the next day to kick off.

The biggest change I have made in the last year of so is probably the simplest one I could have . Enjoy myself. Screw what times others are posting, don't try and chase down everyone on the bike and blow up, forget what others are doing and have fun. I used this wisely two weeks before in Poland and had a riot. This was the plan again.

Bike racked and air let out of the tyres so they didn't explode - it was noon so didn't want the afternoon sun to cause me problem at stupid o clock the next day. Then cluster number 1.

I'd left my saddle bag with CO2 and spares inner tubes at home. Twat. Must remember that for tomorrow.

Off I trotted feeling the air of excitement that I'm loving having back. I made my excuses and knew I had to make strides to leave to make sure I would make it back to get Ewan.

Dived in the car. Zoomed out of the car park ( an extra £10 that covers both days) and headed for the M4.

Traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. Shit. To cut a long story short I was worried I wasn't going to make it in time to collect Ewan so I was trying to ring round to see who could collect him. No one, there was no one at all. Bollocks.

On the M4... A second twat had crashed so they closed two lanes again and had traffic stationary 12 miles ahead of me. Diversion was in place so I opted for that. Big mistake. M4 onto the A4 into London :twisted:

I was going to hit the flyover, drop down to the river, over a bridge and then down through Putney, to the A3 and south to get the Ironkid.

2 hrs later I'd done 4 miles. I was seriously worried. Somehow and with an expected £100 bus lane fine I cut my way through the traffic..... And eventually made it to collect him with 5 mins to spare. Phew.

Race day morning came round and my alarm at 4;30am wasn't welcomed. A good nights sleep of about 5 hrs was welcomed though and I was really looking forward to the race.

Porridge and a coffee and banana and I was away in the car to race start at 5am.

My wave started at 0635 remember........ At 6 o clock I was stationary in traffic in the slip road leading down to the car park on the playing fields of a boys school. I was a little anxious. Cock up number 2 . Leave earlier.

After much cocking about from people who clearly shouldn't be driving I tore into the grassy car park and pounced on a space that was exactly where I wanted to be. With the finesse of a Scandinavian rally expert I slotted myself in the gap and had 20 mins to kill before race start. Jogged to transition. And then I realised my tires were flat, I hadn't set up my saddle bag, no nutrition and hadn't made up my drinks. Cock up number 3.

Saw My mate so nicked his track pump ( broke mine 4 days previously) and proceeded to put in 110psi. I was soaking up the atmosphere but honestly they could learn a lot from The organisers of the polish race with regards to getting everyone pumped up. They had one bloke who sounded like a drunk David Dickinson on the PA.

Lars shouted over from the next rack " what time you off again"
"Six thirty five mate" as I fiddled with my x lab bag.
" well it's six thirty one and I don't see you in a wetsuit"


I have never moved so fast at a race before, abandoned my bike, only filled up one bottle and simply emptied my rucksack I got in Poland on the floor, sunglasses, gels and body glide fell onto the floor. Grabbed hat, goggles and body glide ( that I had to buy not a few mins before)
Picked up the wetsuit and realised I had trainers on, shirts, a t shirt and a hoodie.

Cluster number 3

I got undressed right there and then, threw my legs into rubber and legged it the few hundred metres to swim start.

Here comes cluster number 4. The sprint waves had gone off earlier. There was a crossing point that narrow to a section two persons wide. Iron gates corralled people into that tiny opening. I'd timed it so as I wanted to cross the course to get to swim start, those in the sprint race were running through. I was stopped. ARGH. Putting my arms in the wetsuit I struggled to not punch people gathering around me to watch swim start. Lots of swearing and eventually simply ducking unde the rope and between the officials I thought they a) won't run after me to stop me and b) I didn't have a race number in show.

Then I heard it. An air horn. I knew it was my wave. Shit. Excusing myself as I gently moved people out of my way I looked left and saw the yellow hats swimming up stream and I ran in the opposite direction.

Running down the sharp bumpy concrete path alongside the water. I spotted the official in an orange bib vest. I put my yellow hat on and she simply said " oops, you should have been in the water 10 mins ago". :shock:

Goggles on I heard her say " well you can't go in the next wave so I suggest you jump in and catch them up"

I duly dived into the water literally and as I rose from the murky water I knew this was going to hurt.

I set off like Stannard and soon I was in the middle of the river. The current was strong. Very strong. My HR was redlining and I knew I couldn't keep this up. Arms on fire as I tried to get amongst it for a draft. I'm finding swimming enjoyable at the moment and I picked off a few really slow swimmers. Then I headed right to hug the bank and the flow was very strong. The kayak chap was having to paddle to remain stationary. It's shallow near the bank and I was making great progress.

I wanted to swim 28 mins but soon a quick glance at the watch told me that was going to be tough. Then cluster number 4. I swam into someone standing up. WTF. I felt the gravel on the bottom of the river with my hand! These people were walking!!!! In a race. GET OUT THE WAY I shouted as the looked around - they all looked ruined. I stood up and dived back in the water and headed left into the middle of the river. I knew this was a mistake but there was so many BS and walkers I wanted to be clear of them. I was soon red lining myself again. Shit.

Moving slowly last them I ducked back into the bank and kicked a pipe hidden beneath the waters surface. Brilliant. I made the turn 1km upstream, had a mini ruck with a twat who had kept reverting to BS every time I touched his feet and squeezed him into the bottom of the yellow bouy.

Coming down stream was a joy. It felt like when you step off an airport walking belt thing onto the normal floor. Effortless. Soon I was struggling to turn right to make the exit. Full kicks to help me and I clambered out the water, the swim Marshall texting as I found the lowest step..... " thanks" I said as it got myself out the water. In Poland they almost threw you onto dry land. Here they didn't give a monkeys.

Swim 32:55. Tbh not bad considering. Can't grumble.

The run to T1 was long. Much much longer than I remember. My bike was close to the bike exit but that meant a long ru n to get there. I was knackered. The pictures show me. I was tired, the upstream fight had done me in. I'm not used to that.

Got the the bike, wetsuit off in quick time. Then cluster number 5.

Bike shoes done up & not on the pedals, nutrition scattered all over the place. Only half the amount of fluids I'd have liked - well done Ben. So I tidied up. :lol:

Left T1 after 2:35. Again - I wanted to be quicker but I wasn't ready. Can't be upset with that.

Bike, gelt ok, legs tired from all that extra kicking in the swim. Went out at 19mph. Soon was struggling. Couldn't decide what gear I wanted, had a gel and a drink, settled in to my position, the more I ride it the better it feels, needs tweeking a bit though. Don't feel as though I can put down everything I want.

The bike route is ok to be fair. What wasn't ok was the surface of the roads. Shocking!!! I'm not comparing this to Poland now. The was gravel and pot holes everywhere, I was actually cycling around them. Not great.

Saw someone ahead and decided if I wanted a good bike split then I needed to stop thinking about the cock ups , they were done and dusted, on I pushed.

Round a corner and then pop. Puncture, rear as well - terrific. :cry:

Pulled over and set about changing it. Dammed horizontal drop outs don't make it simple. Cost me 4 mins I'd say. Back I the bike and it all went well ish, legs hurting and I certainly wasn't as fast as I'd have liked.

Massive peletons drafting just pissed me off tbh. The draft buster in his motorbike didn't seem bothered in the slightest. Being passed quite a lot but was also picking people off. Kinda wasn't trying as hard as I should have. Don't know why.

Drift road came and went on on the turn I giggled and on of those crafting simply fell off as he tried to go round the cone. It's narrow there and if you arrived in a group there time to be lost so I sat up, let the fools in front of me cock it up and zipped down the inside. Thank you very much .

Power down and coming back down the road was great fun. I'm so aero I'm sure I get some "free speed" here. Picking people off left right and centre. I really was pushing hard. Bike done in 1:21:55. Crap. I'm good for a 1:15. Next time

Cluster number 6 ( I've lost count) I arrived at the dismount line in a group of 20. Then I queued to get into transition. Fucks sake. These idiots wouldn't get out of the way. Walking like it was a stroll after a Sunday roast! There is a gate you have to walk through that only one person sized. Less than happy. Tried to run past people in the carpet all the way down the side of transition to enter it to run all the way back to my racking point. Pissed off.

In and out as quickly as I could. Cluster number 7 - I'd not drunk anymore than 200mls. Oops. Quick swig, a gel in one hand and new racing flats on I was away in a pathetic 3:03!!!!!! Whoops

The run. I'll surmise this. It hurts. 3 laps , 3 ascents of a hill which isn't that bad tbh - coming down the hill I pulled something in my right quad. Stopped and poked it. Ouch. Stretched. Ouch.

Oh dear. Still - it was a low grade pain and I wasn't stopping so on a trotted. Cluster number 8 was wearing these trainers. I si hadn't have done it. They are only good for me for 5km at the most. My feet were killing me. My knee was sore and my back hurting. This was a disaster.

I was thirsty - way too late to rehydrate, the damage was done. I drunk two cups of water and they very nearly came back up again. Two more over the head and I just tried to hold on. Shamefully I walked twice. Not for long but just so the pain in my quad would stop. Saw Clare looking good and Gary looking shit on the run course and I wanted to finish.

Eventually I did in a shameful 57:05. I was gutted, I know I can run a 52 off the bike. Not comfortably but I can.

Total time an embarrassing 2:57:34. Less than impressive. WTF happened. :lol:

Oh well. My race was done. I picked up my. Medal and waited for the others.

Windsor has had it day. It's a great course but it too busy, they'll either have to have it over two days or reduce the numbers cos there is always someone in your way. It's s Shame really cos it is iconic. I dint think ill race it again tbh..... Unless I get a free entry again then I'm in :D
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Bendy Ben » 18 Jun 2014 11:27




Training ? Pah! Overrated
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Kevy427 » 18 Jun 2014 12:20

Bendy Ben wrote:Saw Ade there too looking in good shape

You mean sober?

Good to hear you're 'racing' again and enjoy it Bendy. Well done on all the clusters! :lol:
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Sir Jibbenstein » 18 Jun 2014 12:23

Man that is a lot of clusters in one race. See what happens when you take so long out the sport!

Great report. Hope you had more fun than the pictures lead you to believe. What next?
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby jonathon.e » 18 Jun 2014 12:42

At least you enjoyed it :D
Nice report, but,
"A free entry which saved me the £120 for an OD. More on that later. "
Enlighten me, unless I missed that bit, between, you getting a date with the registration lady, and receiving a medal.!

Well done, get more races, TTs, park runs entered, you know you are capable, the more you race the better you get.
Forget the big races, when you do the Sundowner, it will show you that cheap and cheerful, is the way forward :D
Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Bendy Ben » 18 Jun 2014 13:07

Oooo yes sorry

£120 - it's a rip off. No way doesn't that price warrant that race.
£85 yes... £95 even but as soon as you go over the £100 mark it really had to be special. It's just not special enough in my mind. It's good, don't get me wrong but £120 good..... No for me.

What next ?

Determined to enter a local TT - they do a 10 and 25. Not interested in the 25 at the moment.
Ride London 100 ( un officially)
Pool Sprint in Redhill ( 8 mile away)
Portsmouth sprint

That's enough for a first season back.

Cost is an issue too. Agreed with WAT I have a tri budget if I'm coming back.... Entirely right so I have an allowance each month. :lol:

I did have fun but disappointed the clusters slowed me up. Didn't eat other than one gel and so little fluid I was tired and on the way to it getting messy
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby CCS » 18 Jun 2014 13:29

:lol: :lol: :lol:
You are a walking disaster area - but well done!

You probably didn't miss a lot being late for your start - the start was mega congested, and not a lot of fun... by bypassing it, you probably got a much clearer run at the river!

I know what you mean re the horizontal drop outs being a pain - I curse them every time I take the bike off the turbo, and again every time I put it back - though getting much better at changing the wheel now!

Bendy Ben wrote:£120 - it's a rip off. No way doesn't that price warrant that race.

Know what you mean - I am still pondering next season. It is expensive - was thinking of trying the Dambuster instead... but by the time I have added in petrol /hotel etc, then other races end up being far more expensive with all those other costs thrown in.
Still undecided....
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby jonathon.e » 18 Jun 2014 13:50

I see what you mean.
The cost of the race is how you value that race yourself, in wanting to race it.
At least the BTF try to keep the AG qualifying races away from the big events now ( watch this change ).
As for races and budget, best way to go, small steps, big gains. :D
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby Bendy Ben » 18 Jun 2014 13:56

Poland next year will be my A race I think..... then like you say some smaller more local races.... Really want to have a crack at the monster middle in Ely too.

I've also been offered free accommodation for IM Western Aus when ever I like it. There may well be a 2 year plan here - if I think I'm capable of an IM that is.

Enjoying myself & glad to be back.

New bike arrives in 2 weeks give or take so gotta get that built for hiller races / events / sportives.
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Re: Windsor OD - a race of clusters!

Postby kfjatek » 18 Jun 2014 14:06

Blimey, sounds like all the clusters that DIDN'T happen for you in Sieraków (where everyone had expected they would) decided to come back with a vengeance!

Well done for sticking to it and crossing the line regardless - I'm glad that PL has awakened the love of tri in you again :-)

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30/05 Sieraków Triathlon
21/06 Dambuster Triathlon
29/08 Club Relays
27/09 Hever Triathlon
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