World Triathlon Championships

Jill, Liam and myself just got back from Beijing a few days ago where we were competing in the World Paratriathlon Championships. We went with high hopes of taking the win and retaining the title I won last year with Matt Ellis.

Unfortunately like much of this season things didn’t work out quite as planned…

The race took place on the same course used for the 2008 Beijing Olympic triathlon. The swim was in the spectacular blue waters of the Shisanling reservoir. The Chinese organise’s clearly had put a lot of work into making this event as good possible with an army of volunteers and official on hand to help with anything needed. They even managed to riase the water level in the reservoir by 8m’s for our event!

After a solid swim we exited the water in 12 minutes 30 seconds in second place and just over one minute down on Rodrigo Feola and his guide, a new brazillian pairing who will no doubt be looking towards the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. We had a 2 minutes gap on our fellow countrymen Haseeb Ahmad and Duncan Shee-Simonds in third place.

During transition we took back 8 seconds on the Brazillians before we set off on the technical bike leg that also included one relatively long and quite steep hill on each of the two laps to be completed. The bike course certainly seemed to play to our stenghs as I love any hilly course and Liam’s bike handling is pretty good.

The main hill came just after transition which was probably a shock to the system for many, but we just saw it as an oppounity to gain time on our rivals.  Tandems can be quite hard work when going uphill due the increased weight, but we seemed to climb at a good speed making me feel confident we could put ourselves in a good position before the run.

The flip-side is that tandems go downhill incredibly quickly! After a few corners we came to a left hand bend in the road. On entering the corner everything felt good but then the tandem suddently seemed to pick up speed and we were catapulted to the right-hand side of the road. In the end we just couldn’t make it out of the corner at the speed we were now travelling at. Liam did well to avoid a head on collision with a series of posts, we clipped one with my hand and rear bars before Liam and the tandem headed into a deep concrete drainage ditch (they must get some heavy rain in China!) and I was launched into a wall with metal railings.

Whilst the bike came out of this pretty badly (Smashed front wheel, mangled forks, lots of scraped painwork and perhaps a written off frame), we were lucky to get away with just some road rash, cuts and heavy bruising. This was probably the worst crash I have had in 20 years of cycling so how we didn’t at least break a bone or two I will never know.  Whilst it was certainly disapointing for both of us we were clearly very lucky!

So, race over, all that was left to do was to console each other, cheer on our fellow competitors and take a trip to the local hospital. The Chinese volunteers and medical staff were fantastic to say the least and treated us like some sort of celebreties, which was a little unusual but certainly was a welcome distraction after what had happeed.

Whilst we didn’t achieve what we set out to, we did see a lot of interesting sights and meet so many great people. Hopefully we can be more sucessful at next year’s World Championships in New Zealand!!


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