All posts by Fiona Russell

New sponsor for GTC race

The club is delighted to welcome Big Bobble Hats as the new headline sponsor for the Bishopbriggs Triathlon for the next three years.

The club will receive funding support from the East Kilbride-based business until 2022.

Ian Hockey, co-founder of Big Bobble Hats, is already a GTC member and is very happy to offer the new sponsorship.

He said: “I know from my own experience that GTC is a great club, with a really friendly and all-inclusive atmosphere.

“I joined the club because I wanted to give open water swimming a go and I have enjoyed being part of GTC ever since.

“Big Bobble Hats is proud to be the sponsor of the ‘Briggs race and an additional sponsor to the club alongside Run4It and Billy Bilsland.”

Ian Hockey.

Club president Sean Webster said: “We are delighted to have Ian and Big Bobble Hats on board as our latest club sponsors. The sponsorship will be be a great support for our club, helping to keep the cost of sessions down and providing some unique momentos for the race.”

Big Bobble Hats

The company was launched in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength. With a team of five employees and further part-time staff, they visit numerous sports events across the UK selling their products.

They also sell their items on-line at Big Bobble Hats.

The Big Bobble Hat is like no other – and many GTC members have enjoyed wearing the club’s branded version.

Big Bobble Hats will also become the club’s supplier of club training kit, including t-shirts, technical tees, hoodies and baseball hats.

Ian said: “Our connection to sport comes through the athletes, as well as the fans and supporters. People wear the Big Bobble Hats and other kit while they are waiting to start a race, or afterwards.

“The supporters also welcome the warm hat and clothes like the hoodies while they are on the sidelines offering cheers and support.

“We are a local business and we are looking forward to being a sponsor of Glasgow Triathlon Club.”

See Big Bobble Hats.

A summer of great cycling with Billy Bilsland Cycles

Are you looking for new cycling kit or perhaps a new bike? Perhaps your bike needs to be serviced or you are having some bike fit or maintenance issues.

Billy Bilsland Cycles is one of GTC’s official sponsors and they are keen to help club cyclists. Many club members have already found the shop staff’s advice invaluable.

Benefits include a 10% discount on bikes, part and accessories in the shop. If you are looking for a carbon bike it’s possible to get one on loan from the shop. Let’s just say there are Cervelo and Ridley bikes to try!

The shop also offers a range of high-quality shallow or deep-section carbon rim wheels for loan, including Mavvic and ENVE; power meters; and hard boxes if you are travelling with you bike.

Bilsland is also Scotland’s only Ship My Tri Bike location.

Aftersales servicing at Billy Bilsland is done by Cytech 3 qualified mechanics and there is a lifetime of free servicing on bikes priced over £2,000 (not disc) and one year on bikes under £2,000.

See Billy Bilsland Cycles.

Enjoy a summer of great value running with Run4It

With summer in full swing, club members might like to be reminded that Run4It is one of GTC’s valued sponsors. The running apparel and accessories store offers a range of benefits to club members.

The main bonus is a 15% discount on footwear and accessories in all Run4It shops (excluding sale products, special offers or Garmins). You can request the discount in store or make use of an on-line code.

Run4It has also been very happy to be part of a special GTC event. The event, which included exclusive offers to GTC members, was well attended and there is a plan for another similar event.

This summer, Run4It is the sponsor of the GTC Training Aquathlons and will be providing vouchers as prizes.

See the Run4It website for details of where the shops are.

GTC athlete of the month: David Hepburn

David Hepburn joined the club around 18 months ago as a way to improve his 10k PB. Since then he has found a passion for duathlons and recently competed in the Pontevedra ITU Age Group Sprint Duathlon World Championships.

David joins GTC

It was after a change of job in 2016 that David, a mechanical engineer within the wind renewables industry, found himself working away from home a lot. Spending a lot of time in hotels, he decided that running would be his best way to break the monotony this style of life.

He then entered the Glasgow 10k in 2017 and ran it in an impressive time of 40.41. David said: “My time was much better than I was expecting. After that I wanted to join a club to get some advice and coaching to achieve a sub 40-minute 10K and, being a cyclist already, GTC seemed the perfect choice.”

He added:“When I joined the club I used to just cycle and run as a way to keep fit and to enjoy the outdoors but since I’ve started racing I am really enjoying the competitive aspect of it all.”

Sport at school and uni

David’s sporting background includes playing football to what he calls a “reasonable level” at school. He said: “I played with Hamilton Accies and the Glasgow Schools team.

“Then, at university, I started mountain biking after being inspired by the first Danny MacAskill video. Although, it didn’t take me long to realise I was much better at going up hills than fast down, so decided to give road cycling a go.

“I also did a bit of running for general fitness and completed a few 10k adventure races but gave that up due to a knee injury.”

Hooked on duathlon

David, who competes in the senior (25 to 29) age category, is yet to do a triathlon although he is a keen duathlete.

He said: “I guess it’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve still not actually done a triathlon, however my first multisport event was the Peebles Duathlon in September 2018. That gave me a bug for duathlons and I have done about eight since then.

“I would never have imagined when I joined GTC that I would be possible to compete at world age group level but I did. The Pontevedra ITU Age Group Sprint Duathlon World Championships was an incredible experience.”

David was 17th in his age group.

Bike love

David also has a bit of an addiction for bikes. He said: “I own six bikes and on a sunny summer’s day there is nothing to beat a few hours on the bike. However, when the winter comes my running mileage definitely increases.”

Running and swimming

Having joined GTC to improve his running time, David also decided to give swimming a go.

He said: “I could barely swim a length of the pool at the start. However, a after a year of regularly attending the Sunday Western Bath sessions, thanks to Duggie Mac’s patience, I’ve learnt how to breathe and stop fighting the water. I just need to sort out my endurance and pace now…

“However, I would say that my biggest improvement has probably been my running. I have taken more than two minutes off my 5k time in the last year and that shows the benefits of the club Monday and Thursday night running sessions.”

David’s goals

David has a few goals in multi-sport. He said: “I would like to improve my swimming and do some open water swims and triathlons. I also hope to qualify for the 2020 ITU or ETU sprint duathlon.

“Maybe one day I will also complete an Ironman. It seems to be the ultimate challenge to do.”

A few tips

Go to the GTC sessions – I’ve seen such an improvement in both my running and swimming because of that.

Learn to understand pacing – This is the best way to achieve PBs and to a horrible final stage of a race.

Sign up to an event – This has kept me a lot more motivated for training over winter, so I would recommend that people enter a race if they are struggling for some training inspiration.

Arlene wins silver at aquathlon world champs

GTC athlete Arlene Lewis was delighted to take the silver medal in the 2019 Pontevedra World Age Group Aquathlon Championships (F45-49) earlier this month.

If you were not aware, to qualify for the ITU Aquathlon World Championships, applicants had to supply evidence of their best aquathlon or triathlon performance at an event achieved between July 2017 and the final registration deadline of 21st December 2018.

If an age group becomes oversubscribed with eligible athletes then results achieved in the previous 12 months will supersede older results.

To be eligible for a qualifying place all athletes will be required to have completed their nominated race within 115% of the winner of their age group, although this does not guarantee you a place.

With world and European triathlon championships, there are qualifying races for each country.

The 2019 Pontevedra World Age Group Aquathlon Championships comprised a 1km swim and a 5km run.

Arlene with her dad and husband.

Arlene’s world aquathlon report

My first experience representing GB at Aquathlon was Ibiza 2018. I had raced age group triathlon for GB and I thought aquathlon could be fun – and a lot easier without the bike.

To be considered for qualification at the Pontevedra aquathlon, I submitted my Ibiza race time and my race at The Bikeless Beastie. I then received that fabulous email saying I was in.

My dad was in right from the start, with my husband needing some gentle coaxing to take time off for a wee trip to Spain. And from then it was a case of focusing on the hard work.

Pre-race nerves

In the lead up to the race I was super tense. I made numerous visits to Achilles Heel for massage and I was constantly bonding with my foam roller.

The day before the race we went to the Expo. I was struggling to let myself enjoy the experience and I was keen to get to the swim familiarisation, which I usually see as an excuse to get more open water swimming in.

There has been a lot of talk about water temperature (14C) and I struggle with the cold but the sun was out and air temperature was around 22C so I was optimistic. My husband Brendan and I had been in Loch Lomond the previous week at 9 degrees, from which I took comfort.

The swim familiarisation was fine and I wore a neoprene hat, but then I spent the next 24 hours wishing I had tested the water without it. I find that pre-race nerves play havoc with my mind!

Coming out the swim recce, my wetsuit got stuck on my watch, which prompted drastic action. I decided not to wear the watch for racing.

I found the 24 hours before the race was a state of limbo. I tried to behave normally and I looked for any distraction, but I kept slipping back into pre-race nerves mode. My poor support crew tried to please me and talked away about any subject they could think of.

The race was in the afternoon, which makes fuelling easier but also gives more time to go over anything and everything that could go wrong.

After a pre-race coffee and chocolate muffin, and a pep talk from my dad, my brain finally seemed to switch.

Set for racing

Aquathlon is my favourite thing. It’s just swimming and running. I kept telling myself: “It can’t be that hard. The sun’s out. Stop this stressing and just enjoy.”

The swim

In the water I saw a space and secured a good start position. From then on there was nothing else in my mind other than the race; no distractions.

Because of the current, the swim seemed a bit messy with a lot of cross crossing. I tried to hang on to a girl’s feet and ended up being kicked in the eye, but it was worth a shot.

It was so hard to tell how you were racing. The wave before us was five minutes ahead and it all became a big mixing pot once in the river. It was really a case of swimming hard and watching out for others.

From the turn, I kept thinking am I going hard enough? I pushed more and just I decided I would deal with the run when I got to it.

In and out of transition

Glad to get my wetsuit off, transition was a controlled affair. I was surprised to see my target competitor still in transition and I heard Brendan shout: “You’re smashing it.”  I left transition thinking: “It’s going ok.”

The run

On the run I soon caught up with my target and passed her. I thought: “That’s good but let’s keep chasing them down.”

I tried to pick up run speed while keeping my shoulders relaxed and I could hear my dad shouting: “Going well.”

Into the second lap it was warm and so I threw water over my head. Checking calves of the other competitors for their age groups, I become focused on ticking them off. I didn’t know who was in front of me but I thought: “Probably a few Americans!”

At the last turn it was only 3.55k to go. I focused on holding the effort until the blue carpet, then I just put it all out there.  With 300m to go, an F45-er danced past and I tried to go with her but I was trying to dodge two others and I was breaking.

As I reached the finish leg the announcer shouted a new world champ in F45 Richardson. She was 50m in front of me with two others who were not F45. Was it possible? I must be silver…

In the finish area I was waiting and wondering how do I find out? Why has he not announced? Is it possible? It must be, but is it?

Arlene is delighted with her silver place.

Silver, or not?

I met Brendan, who had come to same conclusion. I must be second. But the results took ages and I started to doubt it.  Had I put my wetsuit in the box, was I due a penalty, why was there a delay with  results?

Dad and Brendan needed beer. I think they had raced every metre with me and I tried to cool down . I did anything to pass the time until we got results…

I tried to convince myself it didn’t matter. I was happy with my race. I had raced hard, given everything. But, oh, please let it be true.

I gave in and found dad and Brendan at the bar looking confused at the results on their phones.

They were looking in the wrong place. I scrolled further to my category age F45 to 49.

I had done it.

We had done it!

Dreams of a podium

Honestly, I had dreamed of a medal. I think you have to imagine yourself somewhere if you are going to get there. I think you have to believe.

I started to doubt in the two weeks leading up to the race and I let the dream slip away. But on race day, I thought: “Why not? I’ve done the solid winter training and I’m as good as anyone out there.”

Thoughts on GB racing

The more I race GB, the more I enjoy the level of completion, the standard of event, the friendliness and fun competition, the opportunity to race against different nationalities and, for anyone who knows me well, the opportunity to swim and race in the sun.

If you can take family with you it’s a fantastic experience and a great reward for hard training and long suffering support crews.

When I raced the European Championships in Ibiza in 2018 I spent ages analysing the results (as we do). I was amazed by how fast the girls swim. I said to Crawford, Project3, they were 2.30mins ahead of me and I need to change that. And he did.

At his suggestion, I joined GTC in November, slipping quietly into the Tuesday upper master lane. Thank you to the guys in that lane. You know who you are and I look forward to smashing out some more Tuesday swims through the year.

Thank you to Crawford P3 and all the P3ers who understatedly led me to this point, an age group medallist! Thank you for the opportunity. And to Brendan who has done everything to make this possible for me. He put up with training, screaming, stretching, crying and even joined me at Wednesday morning P3 circuits and Loch Lomond swims.

If you are thinking about age group, I’d say, get out there, do it and enjoy the journey.

Also read: Amy takes gold in aquathlon world champs.

Another great club race: Briggs Tri 2019

Bishopbriggs Triathlon 2019 was hailed another great success by organisers and participants alike.

More than 300 adults and 100 children came from across the country – some from as far afield as Arran, Mull and Shetland – to take part in a series of races, including:

  • Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run)
  • Novice Triathlon (400m swim, 10km cycle, 3km run)
  • Youth Triathlon (15-16 yrs, 400m swim, 10km cycle, 3km run)
  • Tristars 3 Triathlon (13-14 yrs, 300m swim, 5km cycle, 2km run)
  • Tristars 2 Triathlon (11-12 yrs, 200m swim, 5km cycle, 2km run).

The race also offered the opportunity for para-athletes to compete. More than a dozen from Leonard Cheshire athletes took part in the novice and sprint races.

First places

Sprint triathlon

Andrew Rolland (Junior B) of Edinburgh#3 in 1:01:23
Joanna Paterson (senior) Fusion 1:10:49

Novice triathlon

Tobias Weis in 42:43
Lynda Macdonald of GTC in 49:45

Youth race

Daniel Saunders H30 Racing 34:52
Anna Hedley 37:56

Tristar 3

Fergus Currie Fusion 22:31
Johanna Mackenzie 24:47

Tristar 2

Rory Treharne of GTC 23:45
Mirren Stewart of Grangemouth Tri Club 24:56.

See full results.

Fantastic volunteer support

The sell-out race would not be possible without the help and support of club members, as well as family and friends, too. Some 90 people turned out to help with the race.

A great deal of hard work goes into organising the event behind the scenes, both leading up to the race day and on the day itself.

Race director Duggie Mac said: “We had another great day of racing with enthusiastic participation from all athletes, encouraged by a great team of volunteers.

“I want to mention the team who are involved in preparations for this event. They are Bob Newton who is a rock and font of all knowledge on organising triathlons.

“Russell Snowden who is Mr Entries, swim heat organiser, link to the timing guys etc etc.

“Then there’s Susan Gallagher who did a fantastic job encouraging folks to volunteer for this event.

“Hopefully, for everyone who did volunteer it was a rewarding day of giving back to this sport and helping you to get to know some fellow club members, too.”

Bob added is praise to the club members who helped to make the race “run like clockwork”.

He said: “Given all the positive feedback we’ve received, the competitors really appreciated the friendly approach and encouragement they received throughout their races.”

The weather was also described as perfect.

Bob said: “It was dry, calm and slightly cool with some cloud cover as well as the sun making the occasional appearance. This is just what you want for hard cycling and running.”

The now famous cake stall

The GTC cake stall is now a legendary feature of club races. Club members generously donated cakes to the stall, which went on to raise more than £500 for the junior section of the club.

Amy wins gold at Aquathlon World Champs

GTC member Amy Ritchie (age group 20 to 24) triumphed in the 2019 Pontevedra ITU Aquathlon Age Group World Championships in Spain this month. Another club member Arlene Lewis (45 to 49) took silver.

Amy finished the 1km open water swim and 5km run in 37:14. She won gold more than than a minute and a half ahead of the second placed female.

Arlene was just 11 seconds behind the gold medal winner in her age category and finished in 39:18 to take silver.

The GB age group finished with a total of 25 medals, including 10 golds, in Pontevedra.

Both Amy and Arlene also competed in the 2018 Glasgow ETU Triathlon European Championships last year. Amy was 12th in her age cat while Arlene was 24th.

Last year, Arlene also qualified for the 2018 Ibiza ETU Aquathlon European Championships coming 5th.  In 2017, she was 22nd in the Düsseldorf ETU Sprint Triathlon European Champs.

Amy’s bid for qualification

Amy qualified to race at the world champs in February. She competed in Porto in Portugal as part of a holiday with her parents. Amy said: “I enticed my parents with  the idea of good food, wine and weather, rather than the racing. We ended having a week’s holiday and I qualified for the world champs, too.”

Amy with her mum and dad.

Racing in the world champs

The world champs race took place on May 3. Arriving in Spain on May 1 gave Amy enough time to recce the swim course, which was a 1km loop swimming against the current, turning around two buoys at the far end and swimming back down to transition with the current.

Amy said: “The water temperature was around 14C, which I felt was warm after the 6C of Neptune Steps in Glasgow in March. I don’t think the Australian competitors agreed with me though!”

Amy had been suffering with a cold the week before the event and had been unable to run for much of March so she said she wasn’t expecting to do too well.

The race start

Amy’s age category started the race with five other female age groups. She said: “This meant it was pretty choppy in the water with lots of accidental punching and kicking.

“My main aim in the swim was to find space, which I did by about the turn point, and then power it back to transition.”

She described the run course as “fairly crowded”. She said: “This meant I had very little idea where I was placed, but I felt strong and I was pleasantly surprised with my run time.”

Amy’s podium delight.

Amy wins gold

Amy had no idea that she had won her age group until her boyfriend, who was checking the results at home, texted. He wrote: “DID YOU JUST WIN?! OH MY GOD, YOU’VE WON!”

Amy said: “Overall, it was a great experience of racing abroad, topped off with a World AG gold medal. It also happened on what would have been my gran’s 100th birthday, which made it even more special.

“All of the other athletes were incredibly friendly and supportive, and it was great to have my parents there to watch me win.

“This time last year having only done two triathlons, I definitely didn’t think I could even qualify for Age Group World and European events, so I can’t thank the GTC coaches and training pals enough for helping me to believe in myself. I couldn’t have done it without you all.”

Also read: Arlene wins silver at aquathlon world champs.

GTC athlete of the month: Fiona Roberts

Fiona has been a regular at GTC since 2016 when she joined up with her daughter Lucy. However, she did come along to the club between 2010 and 2012, but found it difficult to make sessions because of childcare difficulties.

Her first triathlon was the Durty off-road, which at the time was held at St Mary’s Loch in the Scottish Borders. Fiona says: “In 2010, a judo friend suggested I give this race a try. I had done no open water swimming in cold water and virtually no mountain biking, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Fiona’s main sport from childhood until her 30s was judo. Unfortunately, she was abruptly forced to give this up after an injury in 2001.

Fiona and daughter Lucy at the Dundee Aquathlon.

She also started running in 1996 after a year working in Chicago “because I didn’t have a car”.

She says: “That year, I did my first women’s 10k at the beginning of the summer and the Glasgow Half Marathon at the end of the summer.

“I have done both every year since, apart from 2000 when I was pregnant and I missed one half marathon due to illness.

“I ran the last two 10ks with my daughter Lucy. They were her first two 10ks.

“I’m totally gutted the women’s 10km has been canned this year.”

Fiona, left, and friends at the Glencoe Open Water Swim.

I like two out of three sports

Fiona was initially attracted to triathlon because she likes swimming and running. She is still not sure about the cycling!

She says: “I really enjoy the swimming and running. I like them equally I think. I also like open water swimming and I did a Glencoe swim and a Corran Narrows swim with some old judo friends last year.

“The part of triathlon that I still struggle to like is cycling, which unfortunately, as I have now learned, is the key component.

“However, there is to it than that for me. I like training and racing – I prefer aquathlons for obvious reasons! – with a mixed group of ages. Other than moving between hospitals, my job as a histopathologist, is relatively sedentary so triathlon is a good way to keep moving.

“I am always happiest when I am exercising outdoors and I think the post training and race endorphins are highest when the weather is the most challenging.”

Since joining the club more recently, Fiona has seen an improvement in her  swimming. She says: “Last year, I knocked a minute off my 750m swim time, although then I added 30 seconds back on at the Glasgow University Aquathlon last month.

“It’s still a 30 second gain overall though and I do really enjoy the new swim squad sessions.

“My running has also improved, although perhaps not so much in speed but in strength and stamina.

“Last year, I did the Berlin Marathon and I was amazed that I was pretty much back to normal within a week. I feel like I push myself much harder at GTC sessions than I would if I went out for a run on my own.”

Fiona’s favourite GTC session is the winter rugged runs.  She says: “These are always worth getting up on a Saturday for – and they are even better since I have been bringing our dog Lilly. She seems to really enjoy them, too.”

Fiona assists with the guide running at the club. She says: “It is great that our visually impaired runners can join in with the group. It’s a new challenge for me because you have to be alert and pay constant attention to your surroundings.

“I would like to guide a full triathlon at some point but I will need to improve my cycling first.”

Fiona, who races in the supervet category, was third lady vet (vet and supervet combined) at the GU Sprint Aquathlon.

Sporting achievements and goals

Fiona reveals her best achievement in sport is representing Scotland in judo at the Commonwealth Tournament in 1994.

She was also ranked third by Triathlon Scotland for off road triathlon in 2012.

She says: I was surprised and amused to be ranked third by Triathlon Scotland for off road triathlon that year. I entered three events and I think I was almost last in all of them.

“Anybody that has seen my mountain biking would find this hilarious. The message is clear – you’ve got to be in it to win it.”

She started this season with a podium, too. She was third vet in the GU Sprint Aquathlon.

Fiona’s main goal for the coming season is to improve her cycling. She says: “I have been going to a spin class and I do a longer outdoor cycle once a week, as well as commuter cycling. I am also looking forward to the track sessions starting. Now that’s in writing, I will have to go regularly!”

She plans to do the Five Ferries Cycle Route with her sister next month and a couple of sprint triathlons, one with Lucy, plus the Bikeless Beastie (an aquathlon).

She says: “In addition, I have entered some open water swims with my friends from judo and then I’ll do the Knockburn Standard Distance Triathlon in September. I haven’t done a standard distance for six years.”

When it comes to lifetime aspirations, Fiona says she is inspired by older people still taking part in sport. She says: “At one of my first duathlons, I was chatting to a lady beforehand. I thought that she might have been in her late 50s. She was 75!

“I also met an 89-year-old skier on holiday this year who was still taking black runs at speed. My lifetime aspiration is to enjoy sport and triathlon as long as I can.”

Mum and daughter take part in the Glasgow Women’s 10k race.

Fiona’s tips for triathlon

Add some strength training to your workouts. It will help to stop you getting injured, especially as you get older.

Never think you can’t do anything (within reason). Just work out how you can do it

Sign up for training sessions well in advance. That way, it’s part of a plan and you have to go. You will enjoy it when you get there and reap the benefits.

A test: TT bike vs road bike with TT set-up

Club member Alastair Macnaughton has carried out an in-depth test to compare a TT bike against a road bike in a TT configuration.

While some people swear by the pure time trial (TT) bike for speed, others reckon you can gain as much advantage with a road bike set up like a TT bike. Alastair decided to put two bikes to the test.

He writes: In an attempt to shave a few seconds off the bike leg of my triathlon races, I decided to buy a full blown TT bike for season 2018. Up to this point I did what many other triathletes do, I “aero’d” my road bike as much as possible.

My initial hope was to save off around 40 seconds in a sprint triathlon and 60 to 80 seconds in a standard distance triathlon using a dedicated TT bike.

However, having bought the TT bike and taken part in club time trials and triathlons I had the distinct feeling I wasn’t any faster.

In fact, it appeared I was slightly lower.

The two bikes.

I initially put this down to one, or a combination, of the following:

  1. I was a year older (VO2 Max can drop circa  0.5-1% per annum)
  2. My bike fit was poorer on the TT bike
  3. I wasn’t technically capable of riding the TT bike and less confident.

As the season went on I was able to address all of the above and eliminate them as possibilities

  1. My VO2 was very similar to the previous year and some of the TT times were around 4% slower. This accounted for higher then the typical degradation for age. My FTP had also improved by 5% from the previous year.
  2. I had a professionally conducted bike fit on the new TT bike. In general, the TT bike position was more aero and felt more comfortable than my aero’d road bike that I’d set up myself.
  3. It was true at the start of the season that I wasn’t technically capable on my new TT bike, but as I rode it more I was able to race at full gas, especially on straight flat courses
The power pedals.

Many more variables

I was aware, too, that there were many more variables associated with comparing a new bike from its predecessor a year apart. Even on similar courses, weather conditions, training load etc play a big part.

So, I took the decision to try yo run a trial of one bike against the other on the same morning. What follows is an account of those findings, not scientific, but potentially enough to make an informed decision for my specific situation.

The test

The plan was to do a number of pieces (three or four) on a course that would hopefully reflect a typical “real- world” scenario. The plan would be for me to swap bikes between each piece and to record as much data as possible (Garmin 735XT plus Assiamo Power Pedal).

The plan was also for me to try to maintain a similar effort for each piece. I left it at three or four as I wasn’t sure if fatigue would start to play a significant part.

The course.

The Course

I used part of a locally recognised 10-mile TT course (along the A77) for the trial. It is undulating with slight bends and one U-turn at the halfway point. It is 5.4 miles (8.67km) in length with 33 metres of elevation. I thought this was enough variability to present a “real world” environment.

The cyclists

My daughter’s boyfriend, Frank Murray, joined me for the trial, in part to provide someone to chase and to also provide some invaluable input.

I’ve been taking part in triathlon for seven years and I could probably be best described as an aspiring age grouper.

Frank had just recently moved into cycling in the previous four months from performance rowing and he had never been on a TT bike before or tried a time trial.

We are also the same height and weight and so he could use my setup on both bikes.  

Cyclist comparisons.
Bike comparisons.

The following data was gathered from my rides on the different bikes.

The results.

My results

The road bike ride was the fastest overall with a slightly lower pulse, slightly higher power and slightly higher cadence, although all the results are probably within a margin error that would indicate little difference.

So, for me, it would indicate no significant difference between the two bikes and therefore no benefit for the expense of owning a TT bike.

As our initial plan was that Frank would be involved as a motivating factor, we only had limited recording of his data, namely the time taken, the average speed and heart rate. 

What was interesting, however, was that Frank was significantly faster (by more than 30 seconds) on the TT bike than the road bike.

Frank’s results

In trying to understand this, the only conclusion we could come up with was that Frank’s additional speed was having a bigger impact on the marginal aero advantages of the TT bike.

This was further confirmed when breaking down my own splits per km as shown below and looking at the gradient of each section.

This seemed to confirm our findings in that the downhill sections were faster on the TT bike, when the speed was higher and the aero effect maximised.

TT vs road bike: The conclusions

  • The benefits that I had been looking for in a dedicated TT bike versus a TT’d up Road bike only occur if the rider is capable of speeds averaging between 40-50 KPH (or an FTP of 300W plus).
  • I discounted any lack of flexibility on my part, in that the power output for both bikes were comparable and within the margin of error.
  • I concluded that I was better off selling my TT bike and going back to the flexibility of my road bike that can be configured into a TT bike when needed.

And Frank? He is now the proud owner of shiny new TT bike.

Podiums for GTC trio at Glasgow Uni Aquathlon

Nineteen GTC athletes participated in an early season race this month. The  Glasgow University Aquathlon returned for the third year to Ballahouston Park with two events:

  • Sprint Aquathlon: 750m pool swim and a 5k run.
  • GoTri: 400m pool swim and 2.5k run

The weather was testing with cold temperatures, heavy rain and hailstones.

GU Sprint Aquathlon podiums

The club scored three podium places, two in the GU Sprint and one in the GoTri.

Amy races to a first place.

Amy is first female

Amy Ritchie was the first female and fifth overall in the GU Sprint in a time of 32:25. She races as a senior.

She said: “I was pleased to win and I’m hoping it’s a sign that I’m in good shape for my other upcoming races.

“I knew there were a few girls who had potentially faster swim times than me but I had a pretty solid swim and I was out of transition first, so knew I just needed to hold on for the run.

“The weather was pretty awful – character building? – and I’d also been struggling with a recurring Achilles problem the week before, so it wasn’t my best run but it was okay given the conditions.

“Having Brian and Craig B to give me a cheer at the lap mark and at the finish definitely helped. It’s always nice to race with other club members and to see them doing well.”

Next on Amy’s race schedule is Red Bull Neptune’s Steps, the Alloa Half Marathon and then the World AG Aquathlon champs in Spain in May.

Fiona smiles despite the cold.

Fiona’s is third vet

In third place in the female 40-plus age category in a time of 43.36 was Fiona Roberts. She says: “It was a nice surprise especially as it was an amalgamated category of 40s and 50s and I am over 50. Also, there were more than three people in our category!

“My expectations were low going into the race and I had a terrible swim with two young men who kept overtaking then pulling on the brakes instead of just doing the work for me. I am joking!

“The first lap of run went okay but during the second lap I felt like I had borderline hypothermia. I guess I should have run faster! The hailstones were sore, too.

“My times were slower than my last aquathlon but it’s the first of the year so there is room for improvement.”

Fiona was also pleased to see all the other GTC competitors and her daughter Lucy, who is now racing for Dundee Uni.

She says: “The Glasgow Uni team were great and stood out in that miserable weather for a long time but still cheered us on. It was a great event.”

Fiona’s next race is the Monikie Sprint Triathlon in July.

Lynda was delighted with a GoTri first place.

Lynda’s GoTri triumph

Lynda MacDonald made a return to a multi-sport racing for the first time since being 14. “That’s 34 years if you must know,” she says. She picked up first place in the GoTri event in a time of 22.26.

She says: “I’d entered the novice race because I felt that doing a multiple-sport event once every three decades didn’t qualify me as experienced.

“It is a long time since I swam competitively, too. I last swam at a decent level when I was 17.”

A fractured shin bone last summer saw Lynda return to the pool because she had a ban from all other sports.

Lynda took her transition preparation seriously. She said: “On arrival at Bellahouston, I carefully laid out my running shoes, with half a bottle of talc inside them, along with a big man’s fleece. This was the only top that went on easily when I’d practised wet out of the shower at home.

“I had my race number belt in a carrier bag to keep it dry and noted that the person next to me had a personalised towel and I immediately felt inadequate.”

Lynda says she does not have much recollection of the swim. “It was all a bit of a blur,” she says. “I’m guessing that my technique went to pot and that I used the turns as a chance to gulp in air instead of an efficient turnaround.

“I’m guessing this because my time for the 400m was a full minute and half slower than I’d done in a timed practice in the pool a week before.

“I came out the pool at the same time as ‘personalised towel Mary’ and we ran off together. At this point I realised I was still wearing my swimming cap and had a woolly bunnet over the top.”

Margaret MacIntosh also raced the GoTri event.

The run was also a bit of a blur for Lynda. She says: “I’d been advised on good authority to just sprint it – so I did. To be fair, I didn’t notice the horizontal sleet or 1C wind – probably because of the rubber and wool hat combo – and it was quickly just me and the cyclist route guide.

“When we reached the hill I looked behind me and couldn’t see a soul so I decided to just walk for a bit. I’ve never done that in any running event but I was suddenly a bit spaced out and my breathing was erratic to say the least.

“Once we got to the top of the hill I ran the rest of the way and I was delighted to see a familiar face – Ray – at the finish line.

“I was pleased to win, of course, but it all happened so quickly and when I was asked at the time if I enjoyed it I wasn’t quite sure, but looking back now I think I did.”

Lynda’s next race is the club’s own Bishopbriggs Tri in May.

GTC race GUAquathlon

Rose takes on the sprint aquathlon.
Jane Grant was happy to be racing, even in in the tough conditions.
Another race for Brian Kelly.

Congratulations to everyone from GTC who raced. Here are the results.

Scores in the GTC champs league