I had thought The Heb: The Race on the Edge was seven weeks after my Austrian triathlon. In fact, it was four weeks. Now it is less than three weeks away. I have no idea how I got this so wrong but I guess it’s something to do with a busy summer diary.
That has left me with two options a) Carry on as normal and hope I’ll be ok. b) Do some #PanicTraining.
I have chosen “b” although I am under no illusions about the timescale…
It’s the mountain biking that worries me
I think I’m fairly fit but most of this weekend challenge will take place on my mountain bike… And I can’t recall the last time I was on my mountain bike.
Riding a mountain bike is different from riding a road bike. I find it far tougher and my technical ability is rubbish.
When I first looked at the distances for The Heb, which includes trail cycling, running/hiking and kayaking, I read 100km for the first day and 50km for the second day. On closer inspection of the new race briefing the distances are 130km and 70km. Thankfully there are options to make the running, in between the cycling and the kayaking, a bit shorter.
But there is still a lot of mountain biking to do on two consecutive days of racing and the truth is, I have not been doing enough mountain bike training.
After dusting down my 29er bike and checking that the brakes etc were working I headed out last Thursday for a quick ride on local trails. We are lucky to live near the West Highland Way and also Mugdock Country Park.
Thankfully I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the ride. It was only an hour or so but I felt ok on the bike. A mountain bike feels very different from a road bike and I much prefer the smooth cycling of a road bike but the trail ride also felt quite free-ing. It was good to be away from the cars and enjoying routes that were a bit more technical.
I think my back preferred the more upright position of the MTB although I need to remind myself not to hold on so tight to the handlebars. I ended up with sore shoulders after that ride.
On Friday I ran a quick route to see how my legs felt. They felt ok.
Saturday was a very wet day. It took a lot of resolve to go outdoors and a lot of persuasion to get the G-Force (my team mate for The Heb) out on his bike, too. (He has turned into a fairweather climber these days!) (The Olmypics are on and it would have been a joy to sit back down and watch hours of TV.)
However, we got out and got on with it. We managed a longer route of more than two hours and while the G-Force was reluctant, in the end he enjoyed it. I found the riding quite tough in places because MTBs do not go as fast as a road bike and I am not very good at the technical stuff.
I tried to relax and enjoy the outing and, in the end, I was very pleased that I managed to keep going without feeling too tired or weak.
Saturday night we drove to the Lake District for a birthday party ceilidh. I danced for hours and I was surprised that my legs wee not tired from the mountain bike ride. My shoulders were a bit sore because of the new bike position but I was relieved.
Sunday’s weather was a lot better and after driving home from the Lakes I decided to give my legs another mountain bike outing. I wasn’t sure if I would do the same route again, or cut it short. In the end I kept going and repeated Saturday’s ride in a much quicker time.
I am aware that last-minute training is not the best idea but I am simply trying to convert some of my road cycling fitness into off-road cycling endurance.
The mountain bike training has also helped me psychologically.
More about The Heb
The Heb is being held in the amazing Outer Hebrides. If the weather is good it’s is a fantastic location for an event. See my previous blog about The Heb.
The Heb is meant to be a multi-day adventure race that is achievable for lot of people. The organisers of The Heb want to get more people into adventure style racing and there are few opportunities in the UK for multi day events.
The race is for a wide range of people, from those who are already keen racers to those who haven’t tried anything like this before.
Navigation is not a major part of The Heb and there are options to run shorter distances so that everyone can make the race cut-offs and return to the base for the overnight camp.
Camping will be at a base so this means you do not need to carry all your overnight kit with you while racing.
I hope it will be a fun weekend and if I do a bit more mountain bike training I think I’ll feel a lot more prepared. I’ll also need to put in a few hour of race planning but hopefully the G-Force will help with that.
I believe there are still places so if you fancy a go at The Heb why not sign up? You can join me in a bit of #panictraining!