A week after the Swashbuckler, I was entered in this sprint distance to rack up some points for ESC D3 Triathletes in the London league. Crystal Palace is notorious for one thing: it’s Hill. 9 laps of the bike means 9 times up the hill and 9 times down, plus another 2 on the run for good measure.
Unlike the Swashbuckler, this race was on the calendar for a long time and I was ready :) I had however a big question left to answer a few days before the race: TT bike or road bike?
Having chatted with a few people who raced there and who live in the area, and with some google street-view checks, I decided on the full TT package, although the Aero helmet was probably a bit too much in hindsight. There were indeed 9 laps of a 2.25Km lap, so that was a lot more criterium style riding on a TT bike!
I was there early and the transition side I was directed to was pretty empty.
Swim was in the 50m pool, and competitors had to get under the ropes after two lengths in the same lane. THe only time I had to do this was Thames Turbo race 1 last year and at the time I still didn’t tumble turn, so this time I could practice this in a race and it all went pretty well. The only thing I completely missed was warm up. Usually in open water I can do a bit of warm up in the water before the start, but for some reason I didn’t click at CPT. So I started all cold… Meehhhhh I still managed 13’42″ which isn’t too bad for me, although I’m sure I can go a little faster.
Transition over there is fairly long as you have to go around the pool, through the indoor track and all the way to your bike. I managed to almost end my race as soon as I exited the water with a water slide that only handrails saved… Finally in transition I had opted to put some layers on, to be sure I wouldn’t repeat the previous week-end’s mistakes. I’m now sure one layer only would have been enough, but hey, at least I was warm!
The bike went very well. The climb was steep and killing the legs, but I managed to maintain a constant lap time without fading towards the end, which gave me the 5th overall bike time at only 2 min from the course record . I had to shout quite a lot though for slower riders around the course, much to the annoyance of a few. Sorry about that, but I race, I don’t plod around!
Kudos however to the brompton rider and even more to the guy on the boris bike!!! Going up that hill with this heavy weight 9 times is quite an achievement!
T2 was uneventful and I removed one layer. The astroturf was covered in sand though, and that went everywhere. I had opted for my super-light Saucony fastwitch without socks. It went alright, but I could feel the sand in my shoes at some point. I managed a good pace, finishing at 20’18″ for a tad more than 5K, bang on 4 min/K pace. Considering this included the steep bit of the hill twice, I’m happy with it!
I finished 20th overall and 15th in my category, inside 9% of race winning time so I’m happy with my race. After the rain and wind in California (which wasn’t too badd a race after all) and the catastrophic bike leg in the Swashbuckler, this race brings back a good feeling!
This is also a race to do absolutely! Friendly marshals, no over the top organisation and keep-it cool attitude is brilliant. The place gives you a good workout with the hill and is very enjoyable overall.
Results and data