Sometimes you’re the hammer…

May 16th, 2012 By Mike Murphy

“Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail”

I love that quote, and it was so appropriate on May 12 at the Barley Mill Pub Bare Bones Duathlon in Penticton.

Let me back up a couple days first though. About the middle of last week I decided that racing a duathlon (on the road) was a more appropriate event to take part in this weekend, rather than the Ore Crusher mountain bike race. The fact that i have a Half Ironman event coming up on June 3, got me thinking that some time on my TT bike wouldn’t be a bad thing. Of course, i had set up my TT bike on the trainer a few times in the previous few days, but it hadn’t seen the actual road since last summer. Here comes the foreshadowing: as most people know, TT bike positions take some time to adapt to, especially when coming from a mtb position.

So Friday afternoon rolls along, and seeing as my mom was in town to help with the girls, my wife lets me sneak away to Penticton for the Saturday duathlon. I grabbed a motel room, had something to eat, and was sound asleep by 9. Up at 3am, i had a few hours to kill before the 2pm start time. By the time 7am rolled along, i was more than ready to head out for a spin on my bike. I wanted to both pre-ride the course, and test out my bike position. Pretty much right out of the gate, i knew i was in a bit of trouble. My left glute/hamstring insertion was really tight. I was tempted to overhaul my position right there at the side of the road, but my common sense stepped in and said not to make any last minute position changes (even though i really hadn’t adapted to the position yet anyway). As a positioning starting point, i had basically just transferred my mtb measurements over to my TT bike. Obviously this wasn’t ideal, but i had to start somewhere.

For the rest of my morning pre-ride, i did my best to stay relaxed and not strain my left leg any more. Once i got back to the hotel (with a lot of time to kill before the start) i did a lot of light stretching and tried to stay relaxed. Thankfully, the Giro was on tv, and i had something to occupy my brain with while i waited. Did i mention that the race start was set for 2pm? I am definitely a morning racer/trainer, and  2pm is usually when my body is in a real down time. It’s tough to gauge your nutrition for an afternoon race, but i had think i managed it fairly well. An extra big-breakfast at 11, and by noon i was feeling good and headed over to the registration to get set up.

Attach my bike number, do a run warm up, and fast forward to the gun going off.

Right off the bat, as expected, 2 guys went off the front; one of them being Jeff Symonds, so no surprise there. The 5k run was three laps (same course for both 5k runs). After the first lap, Scott Trembley, myself, and Graham Hood had formed the second pack. I wasn’t wearing a watch, so i just went by feel. We didn’t hammer the run, and i felt within myself as we hit T1. I was kind of excited to see how my mtb fitness would transfer over today. I had a great Cyclocross-style flying mount out of T1, and just slipped ahead of Scott….for maybe a few seconds. He blew past me in no time, and Graham wasn’t far behind him.

As i watched those two guys cruise away from me on the bike, i did my best to just race my own race. I felt powerless and uncomfortable on my TT bike, but i knew that i needed to relax a bit and just let them go (not that i had a choice really). My left side was really tight, and i had to soft pedal to be at all comfortable. After about another 10km, a few more guys went past me, and my legs still hadn’t come around. The strong headwind wasn’t helping my cause, especially since my front race wheel is a really deep HED Stinger 9. I was getting blown all over the road, and even had to ride on the pursuit bars for a couple sections. When we hit OK Falls and started the climb up McLean creek (opposite direction to IMC) i was actually a bit relieved. Now I could sit up and stand up, and give my tight glutes a bit of relief. A couple more racers went past me on the flat section that followed the climb, and right around then i started to feel some power coming back. I managed to put a solid effort in back to Penticton, and wasn’t falling backwards anymore.


Right out of T2 i put the hammer down. I moved up a couple positions right away, but then i sort of ran out of people that i could see to chase after. Add in a bad diaphragm stitch, and my laps 2 and 3 were nothing to brag about. I did my best to keep my effort honest at the end, but i felt like a bag of crap for most of run 2. If i heard Steve King correctly, i finished in 8th position. Which, in all honesty, was where i deserved to be. I just didn’t have it on the bike, and i was definitely the nail today.


The silver lining from the race though, is that my TT position can only get better. Which, if my math is correct, means i will go faster. If only riding my TT bike was as fun as riding my mtb…