Bilbao triathlon

Bilbao triathlon


They say time goes quicker as you get older. If that is true then I sure as hell don’t want to be 60: I’m half that and I don’t seem to have any notion of time left already. And it seems my blog writing is suffering… I will shamelessly put that down to the disappearing hours rather than my laziness.


As usual I’ll spare you the boring details and stick to the juicy parts of the races I’ve taken part in over the last month and a half – i.e. the times Emma nearly drowns, almost comes off her bike or makes a bit of an idiot of herself.


Not even a week after my surprise win in Aix-en-Provence, I got on a train to Bilbao. Well, in fact I got on three trains between Avignon and Biarritz (the French rail system boosted their statistics by not striking or being late), and spent another hour and a half stuffed into a corner of a Range Rover with two bike bags on top of me. There’s less space in those things than in your average Corsa.

Having said that Bilbao was not at all what I expected: a cool, buzzy little city with incredible urban infrastructure nestled at the bottom of a green valley, it was absolutely charming, as were all the people organising the event and making my life easier. Thanks Eneko & crew!


Obligatory pre race tourist photo


We got a Spanish-style midday start and dived into the brown, freezing, swift-flowing estuary (against the current, naturally). The noise from the hyped-up crowd totally made up for the uncomfortable swim. I hopped onto my bike, negotiated the first bump out of transition and settled into my bars for the next 20km of flat road.


Running in to grab my bike


The course rose over a motorway bridge and without getting out of my aero tuck I lifted my bum from the saddle and stomped down on the pedals. With no warning whatsoever aside from a very unhealthy noise emanating from the rear mechanics, my back wheel locked up and I was flung forward as the bike bronco-bucked beneath me, careering sideways across the road. I still have no idea how I stayed on. Safely sitting again, I rolled cautiously forward and peered between my legs. Nothing seemed out of place. I risked standing up again to get some speed going: my back wheel shrieked in protest and blocked once again but this time I was ready for it.

I spent the next 50km – including the 15% incline section on the hill – resisting the urge to stand up and trying to ignore the gradually-worsening grinding, clicking and wobbling coming from the back of my machine. Why it took me so long to stop I have no idea, but after a very unsafe descent at 65km/h I decided I didn’t want to die that day.

I pulled over, dismounted with as much elegance as I could muster and crouched down behind my bike. My quick release wasn’t just loose, it was open. i.e My back wheel was held onto my bike by nothing more than the tension in the chain.

#blondmoment #crapmechanic


Obviously on the second lap by now – photo © Susanna Extebarria


I’d lost a lot of time but kept calm, limited my losses on the second lap and ran my way into second on the scenic run course. Way better than a kick in the teeth, and well done to Judith and Nikki for 1st and 3rd!


Girls’ podium in Bilbao, photo from the organisers


I unfortunately had no time to enjoy Bilbao as I was bussing and training my way back to France early the next morning. That was an adventure in itself but as I’m desperately trying to keep this race-related and short, you can read about that particular event here.

If you ARE looking for a slightly different and exotic triathlon, I can highly recommend the superbly run Bilbao event: the atmosphere is great, the course is interesting and the city is well-worth the detour. Whatever you do, just don’t call tapas, tapas. Apparently they’re pinchos here!


The estuary with the event location on the right





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