Armidale CC Race, 4th January 2014

With two weeks off the tandem over Christmas, owing to my going to visit in-laws in Brisbane, we’d only managed to have one ride together before this race. I’d put in another hour on the trainer as well. So we’re not currently near regular performance.

The plan was for a Paired Teams Race along Long Swamp Road. A 5km Time Trial and a short handicap race with combined times of both bikes determining the winner. Young Sam Jenner joked that Dave and I already had our pair, though I’m not sure it would really work that way. However, as is often the case in Armidale during January, there weren’t enough people to take on this kind of race.

With eight (I think) people on seven bikes, it just wasn’t going to happen. So it was decided given the low numbers and the 32 degree heat that we’d do an impromptu 7.5 km Time Trial to the end of the bitumen and take an easy ride back to town.

Photo of tandem

Riding on Long Swamp Road, photo: Armidale Express

Starting at 1 minute intervals, Dave and I were third out. Long Swamp Road starts with a decent, and often starting in a bunch the tandem gets caught in the middle, forcing us to break. This time we were on our own, and we rapidly picked up speed on the descent, keeping our momentum across the flatter section that follows.

Long Swamp Road is fairly exposed, and with a WSW wind gusting to 39km/hr, we were getting some tail wind, but also cross wind to make it just a bit harder. My legs were complaining already, though I wouldn’t understand why until later. We hit the first of the climbs, and I kept pushing as our speed dropped off.

Tandems suffer on the climbs, and we more than most I think, being two older guys weighing a bit more than we should. Still we kept up the pace, and it wasn’t until after we started the second climb towards the state forest that the first rider behind, Rob Tindale, passed us. One you hit the top of the initial climb, it keeps going, much more gently. Along here Andrew Swan and Sam Jenner passed us, though they weren’t going that much faster. At this point I was feeling much better, the legs seemed to have settled in.

We hit the top of the climb, and went down the other side, with a bit of relief for the legs. Then began the long slow drag to the finish. Again we were exposed to the cross wind. Personally I find this last section the most demoralising. The cross wind blew us about a bit, and the drag set in. We finally crossed the line.

As a surprise, my wife and son had shown up to cheer us on, which was great.

Running the Strava GPX file through my Perl Scipt (which gives me some more non-graphical information), and trimming the wait at the start, we get an average speed of 30.6km/hr. The bit that surprised me was my heart rate, averaging 177bpm for the race, peaking at 186bpm. I’m pretty sure my heart rate shouldn’t be getting that high.

Now things are starting to get back in order in the new year, we hope to settle in to a more regular training program.

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