One moment I was in the thick of a triathlon battle royale, the next I was on the side of the road helping a fellow athlete who had hit the deck hard and was now lying prostrate on a hot and unyielding chip-sealed road in a state of raw unconsciousness. The Vasse Highway had claimed yet another victim. It was here, maybe 12k into the bike leg that my race in Karri Valley effectively ended. The race which had given me cause to hope for some measure of success had in one moment turned me from competitive athlete to an idle lollipop man directing oncoming traffic around, rather than through, the accident scene.
The irony of the situation struck me. I had spent the better part of the day before the race searching desperately for the optimal combination of wheels to use on the challenging course. I had flatted my new tubular earlier in the day and had been unable to find a quick repair at late notice. If successful, my search could give me an advantage measured in seconds at best. But it was a search I was willing to undertake despite my desire to rest before the race. And now I was standing on the road losing the type of time that is best measured in minutes, not seconds. Fancy carbon fibre wheels are not much good when your bike is lying on the gravel shoulder next to the road.
I have replayed events through my head many times since Saturday. First I questioned whether what I did was right. The devil inside me told me that such actions are not appropriate for a professional athlete. It reasoned that triathlon is now my life and it is not an easy life at that. It is not going to do me any good if I start living like some kind of modern day Florence Nightingale. I started to wonder if I lacked the ruthless competitiveness of a top-rate athlete.
But each time I thought like this the more human part of me fought back. There are bike crashes and then there are BIKE CRASHES. From what I could see this was a BIKE CRASH. The person I attended to looked to be in very serious trouble. And as I think back I realise that I did not even give a moment of thought to my decision to stop and help. It was purely instinctive thing done in the moment. This fact is probably as good an argument as any that I made a fair decision.
After directing traffic for some time (I have no idea how long) an age grouper approached me and told me that he would relieve my traffic control post. He said that I should get going as I was racing in the open division. Being caught up in everything going I did not take the time to find out who this person was – but I thank you very much for your consideration.
By this stage I knew that it was pretty much all over for me. I contemplated rolling back to town and pulling out but I had come this far. My objective became simply to pick off as many people off as I could.
By the end of the day I had managed to claw my way back to fourth place – a satisfying result given events of the day. I am really pleased with my swim and run form. I still think my biking needs a bit of work but this is ok. Perth’s hot summer has passed now so I can get on and log some good bike kilometres in the next few weeks. I can also use the time to nail down my position on the new and devastatingly fast Scott Plasma.
So when all is said and done, would I make the same decision again? Yes I would.
The fact that some people are too caught up in their own race-fuelled egos to appreciate the help and sacrifices of others does not change my opinion of this. We are all humans first and athletes second. Perhaps there are some triathletes who may need reminding of this from time to time. But these people never stick around for too long. Triathlon is a beast that tends to rip one’s soul to pieces, leaving it bare and exposed for all to see. Those without the inner strength to live with the continued humbling that this sport delivers will eventually find some reason to give it away. And if you ask me this is not a bad thing.
Thanks to my wonderful sponsors (Break Your Limits, Hornet Juice, K-Swiss, Extreme Endurance and Scott and Avanti Bicycles). I wanted to deliver you with a better result but hope that you are happy with the trade-off I made – I guess I have a sporting good result instead of a potential great result.
There will be other races to come.
Europe, Asia, Australia
Last 6 years always I escaped from the bad winter weather in the Netherlands to warm places with a lot of sun. So it has been a while that I saw the winter in the months of January and February. But this year I decided to stay in the northern part of Europe. In January we moved to Compiegne, a small city 70 km above Paris. It’s a lovely place with a big forest. So a perfect training location for a triathlete!
My last race was IM Arizona the end of November. I took a break in December and after we settled our selves in France I picked up the training again. So I started with my preparation for coming season in the “cold”. Luckily we didn’t have snow, so I could do most of my training sessions outside. Of course a lot of bike sessions have to be done inside, but it makes you mentally very strong. And thanks to Vital 40 I didn’t get sick.
An example. A week ago it was raining and it was really cold. I had to bike for 3 and a half hours and as a brick training 1 hour of a tempo run afterwards. I decided to do the bike on my tacx. I knew it is very boring, but I took in mind my goals where I’m doing it for. So I started my training with in every hour 15 minutes on 210 Watt. After 2 and a half hours I was completely soaked and decided to do first my 1 hour run and then another 1 hour on the tacx. And so I did. The next day I had a long ride of 5 hours on my schedule. The sun was shining, but there was a lot of wind and the temperature was about 7 degrees. During my ride I was thinking that I was riding on Lanzarote. The conditions were the same, only the temperature. But it made me smile.
In this period I’m doing some preparation races for upcoming season. So two weeks ago I did a 10 km run, next two weekends I will do some short distance run bike runs. And of course I’m taking every day my Xendurance. My first big race will be European Championship Powerman Horst. And in May I go to Mallorca for the new 70.3.
Hope this will be again a year with a lot of good races and a lot of fun!
All the best to everyone and take in mind: “enjoy every day of life!”
Heleen Bij De Vaate
Heidi Jesberger training in Lanzarote
“Your extreme endurance wonderstuff, in action!”
Here I am rising through the mist! It was the Author Cup, a series of hill climb and time trial events in Taiwan, featuring the country’s elite riders. i set a new record for the 5km 4% average course, 9:15, beating the previous best of 10:15.
After a winter of indoor rowing, using and I achieved some results I never thought were possible. Back in 2003-2004 I rowed hard, raced hard and trained hard. As a twenty something at my peak, I thought I was a great lightweight rower. However, this winter, I could achieve far more than ever before and all at 6 kilos lighter. Which is a lot more in indoor rowing.
On 13th Feb, I achieved a target I never thought possible. It took me 3 attempts, but I rowed 8704 metres in 30 minutes. An average of 1.43.4, which is the fastest in the world this year for a lightweight. Not bad for a 5″9 triathlete.
Not having ridden a bike for 3 months, it took about two weeks to get back on the turbo and start knocking out PBs on the Imagic, Another week later and it was PBs on the road. Running is a new ball game though and the first hard run of the season was always going to hurt, however, thanks the Extreme Endurance, the pace hurt, but the day after did not so I am able to back up training 2-3 days in a row with no soreness.
Great product and looking forward to the tri season.