Mia qualifies for ETU Sprint Champs 2020

It was only 15-year-old Mia Padmanabhan’s second sprint distance triathlon, yet she came first and won a qualifier place for next year’s Malmo ETU Sprint Distance Age Group Triathlon Championships in Sweden.

Mia crossed the line in 1:12:25, just a second ahead of the runner up in the female under-20 age group at the Eton Sprints Weekend in Berkshire in May.

She said:”It was a great experience and I was very pleased to win.”

Mia was one of the first in her age group to exit the open water swim. She enjoyed the “fast and flat” bike section, which was draft legal.

As she headed into the run, Mia knew the other girls would be on her heels. She said: “It was a flat out-and-back run course and I was aware of others close behind me. When we turned and I had the last 2.5km to run I gave it all I had.

“I was happy to win and I am excited about racing in the European Championships wearing the Team GB kit.”

Another young club member Callum Miller also had a great race at the Eton Sprints. He came ninth in a very competitive male under-20 age group in a time of 1:04:14.

GTC athlete of the month: Amy Ritchie

Our athlete of the month is Amy Ritchie, who was delighted last month to win the Aquathlon World Age Group Championships in Pontevedra.

Amy races in the senior age category and has been taking part in triathlons for a couple of years. She joined GTC just after entering her first triathlon.

She says: “I had just moved to Glasgow for my job and I had always wanted to enter a triathlon but never got around to it, so it seemed like a really good opportunity to train with a new club and meet new people.”

Swimming was my first love

Although she came to triathlon as an adult, sport and the great outdoors have been a part of Amy’s life for as long as she can remember. She says: “My parents are very outdoorsy, so we were always going on walks and bike rides etc.

“I tried a lot of sports over the years but I joined a swimming club when I was eight and that was the one that stuck. I loved it and swam to national level. I was in a junior national squad for a couple of years.

“Sadly, I suffered from an eating disorder between the ages of around 15 to18, so essentially I had to give up competing and didn’t have a particularly healthy relationship with sport during that time.”

Amy taking part in a running race.

Running club at uni

At university, Amy joined the running club. She says: “I had done the odd bit of cross country running in school. It seemed to come quite naturally because of my swimming background so when I went to university the running club felt like a good choice.

“I didn’t ever train particularly hard but I did quite a few cross country, road and hill races and met lots of friends through the club.

“I also love hill walking – I head out to the hills whenever I can – and I enjoy doing the odd bit of other sports such as rock climbing.”

Amy enjoys a range of sports as well as triathlon, including hill walking.

Then came triathlon

Triathlon appealed to Amy because she was already familiar with two of the sports.

She says: “I was attracted to the challenge and, as someone who is always trying to do a million things at once, the idea that you could have fun with three sports rather than one appealed.

“I had never really cycled but everyone I spoke to told me it would be fairly easy. I took this quite literally and didn’t train on the bike at first. In my first triathlon, my parents told me afterwards that they were worried I had fallen off because I took so long on the bike section.

“Joining the GTC was great though because it showed me that no matter your age or ability, literally anyone can do it, especially if you’re in such a friendly and supportive environment.”

Amy with triathlon friends.

Great friends and gaining confidence

Amy particularly enjoys the camaraderie of being in a club. She says: “Even though in GTC everyone has their own goals and interests, you all have this shared experience and love for sport.

“I also enjoy the fact that there’s always something to improve on and to challenge you.

“Last summer, I focused on my cycling for the first time and I saw huge improvements. When I joined GTC I wasn’t very confident on a bike and it was really rewarding to see how my times and confidence have improved.

“Then, over the winter, I focused on running and I am really seeing the benefits now. Taking part in GTC Thursday runs and Crawford’s Monday night run sessions have really helped my speed.

“Maybe, most importantly, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my self-belief. Having had a rocky relationship with sport in my teens, when I joined GTC I didn’t think I’d ever do anything special and I just wanted to get round a triathlon.

“I’ve proved to myself I can so much more and GTC has definitely played a huge part in that.

“I think that self-belief had spread into other aspects of my life and it really shows how much sport – and a supportive group of people – can do for you.”

Any, left, on the podium with Glasgow Tri Club pals.

On the podium

Amy has certainly enjoyed some great results in triathlon. She qualified for the ETU European Sprint Distance championships in Glasgow last summer. It was only her third triathlon.

In May, she won the Aquathlon World AG Champs in Pontevedra.

Now she is looking forward to doing her first standard distance race and she has several more sprint triathlons lined up this summer.

She says: “I want to spend more time on my bike, having just bought a shiny new one.

“I also want to enter a few more running races. I’d like to beat my half marathon PB and maybe do a couple of hill and trail races for fun.

“I’ll be happy as long as I’m improving at something and enjoying myself.”

Amy is keen to improve her cycling – and to see more of the world on her bike.

Triathlon goals

Amy also has aspirations to be as “healthy, happy and to continue to do sport for as long as possible”.

She says: “In the international Age Group races I’ve done, it’s the 70 and 80 year olds that get the biggest cheer. I’d like that to be me one day!

“I would also like to do some longer races that require more specific preparation eventually, too.

“And I would like to go on a cycling trip abroad in the next few years and use sport as a way to see the world.”

Amy’s tips for triathlon

Just enter a race. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Join a club and don’t be shy. Being part of a club can really help you structure your training, especially if you’re a beginner. Triathletes are a friendly bunch and it makes the training much more enjoyable.

Enjoy the ride (or the run, or the swim). You should do triathlon because YOU want to, and it should fit around your lifestyle, goals and ambitions.  I’ve met lots of really good friends through sport and been to some amazing places. There’s no better feeling than being out on your bike or running with your pals on a sunny day, so enjoy it.

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.