My first BaRTT – lessons learnt

Earlier this week I did my first BaRTT (Bike and Run Time Trial) with OxfordTri. This consisted of 1 lap of a mile long run course, 3 laps of a 4ish mile bike, then 3 more laps of the run. It didn’t all go quite as planned but was a great learning experience and the run, bike, run format reminded me of the joys of triathlon racing. Here are a few things I learnt, or remembered last night:

1. Other commuters look at you strangely when you’re in your trisuit on the train

I got changed into my brand new tri suit in my favourite transition area on the way home from work so that I could get to Bletchingdon Green on time. Got some odd looks when I emerged into the train carriage, but it definitely was a good use of my 20 min train journey.

2. A spare shoe lace works well as a substitute race belt

I arrived an hour early, only to discover that I had forgotten to bring a race belt, despite having a few floating around at home! I wasn’t keen to put pins in the new tri suit, but had time to come up with another solution making the most of keeping a spare pair of shoes in my car. The converse lace race belt with a nice bow worked just fine!

3. It’s best to check out the route before running or cycling somewhere new

I hadn’t realised that Oxford Tri’s BaRTT session involves everyone setting off at 1 minute intervals – rather worrying when you are as good at getting lost as I am! The newbies had some quick directions before the start and I didn’t feel much clearer so am quite proud of myself for only getting lost once, taking a scenic route around the church on the first run lap. Ah well – I’ll know better next time!

4. Make sure your bike is ready to go before you start the event

I set off enthusiastically onto the bike section, only to find that my front brakes must have got knocked in the car en route and were rubbing. They didn’t take long to fix but it’s something I’ll bear in mind for this weekend’s race and will have a look at my clunky years!

5. All the training is worth it

Despite slightly clunky gear changes, I felt pretty confident on the bike. I ‘whizzed’ down unfamiliar hills and worked hard to keep my cadence up on the way back up again. It seems a world away from how I felt on the bike even a few months ago.

6. Ducking behind a bush for a wee mid-event sometimes is the best option

I had been desperate for the loo since I’d arrived in Bletchingdon but there didn’t seem to be any available. By the first lap of the second run it was really starting to hinder my running, so I decided that leaping of the course into the bushes was the best bet. At least I know now that I’ve got an option in the races over the summer! After that my running really sped up, making up the time to bring my pace up to 8:05min/mile with a final lap at 7:30min/mile.

So it didn’t all go to plan, but I finished elated, excited about the season ahead and ready to put what I’d learnt into practice!

Oo one extra thing I discovered:

7. I can now find my way home to Didcot without my satnav or phone

The satnav gave up before I’d even left Didcot so I had to rely on Google’s spoken instructions to get to BaRTT. By the time we finished I only had 9% battery left so turned off my phone and set out for a, thankfully successful, adventure back to Didcot where Dan and dinner were waiting. What an achievement!

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