TFL figures seem to suggest that only around 6% of incidents were the fault of the cyclist. Even the leader of the Met is saying that large vehicles are the problem - lorries make up around 5% of the London traffic but around 50% of cyclist deaths have involved lorries.
In terms of safety, I have some sympathy with the LCC 'smart roads' plan where busy roads would have a separated (or partially separated) cycle path, not just some painted section, which is frequently ignored by drivers.
I've heard all the stuff about irresponsible cyclists (red-light jumpers, riding on pavements, etc.) and it's not that helpful. I'm not a driver but I would guess that most of them have occasionally broken the Highway Code and way too many pedestrians cross the road without looking properly so no-one clearly has the moral high ground here.
Sadly this isn't a problem that is going to go away any time soon.
- Vichy is a lovely town to visit for a few days & easily accessible
- Race HQ in the town itself so easy to get to for those of us without cars
- The organisation was superb, flexible and friendly
- If the weather is with you, this would be a fast & easy course
- From what I’ve heard, relatively cheap at 300 Euro entry fee
Cons of the race
- Cars. This was not a closed-road race (despite being advertised as such) and there were loads on the 2nd lap including 1 that I had to swerve to avoid as the driver came into my lane to overtake
- Some of the marshals on the 2nd lap of the bike course weren’t paying attention so I had to ask which way to go more than once. I know it’s a long day for many of them but the guys at the back deserve as much respect & attention as the ones at the front
- I wasn’t particularly happy with the lack of signage after the food tent. It was dark at this stage and trying to get your stuff back was confusing (for me, anyway).
My initial plan was to get onto the run at around 8 hours but the wind put paid to that and it was closer to 8:30 when I finished. I overtook Crashie near the end but that’s another story that he can write about! I was looking forward to the run as
- I’m a better runner than I am swimmer or cyclist
- I’ve been running quite well and felt fine in my brick sessions
- There was nothing mechanical that could go wrong here, it was just me against the course against the clock
The 8 hour plan was part of the overall plan to finish in around 12 hours which I hadn’t told many people apart from Shirlee and a mate in Hawaii who is also doing his 1st this year and we agreed that 12 hours was a competent time for us. That might annoy some people but I don’t really see the point in just finishing ahead of the cut-off time.
As I was going to be nowhere near that, I decided to just run a bit slower than my usual pace & walk through the aid stations. That means running around 8:30 pace for me but walking when drinking/ eating and I was happy on the 1st 2 laps to get to halfway around 1:58 or thereabouts. On lap 3 I saw Crashie and walked with him for a bit. I wasn’t bothered about my time at this stage, deciding that I would be easily inside 13 hours and walked a lot of this lap to conserve energy. Crashie was in good spirits bizarrely and he was convinced (quite rightly) that he would finish inside the cut-off by just walking as running was too painful.
Left Crashie on that lap and carried on my run – walk strategy onto the final lap. I was still enjoying myself and running within what I could do, making sure that I was taking on water & fuel as frequently as I needed. I finished in 4:19 which I didn’t remotely care about at the time & still don’t but finished relatively strongly & happily. The run was 4 laps of 10.5km and quite easy – 1 set of steps which everyone walked up but it was flat with a mix of road, grass & trail. Aid stations every 2km or so which were well-stocked & enough room to overtake when necessary.
Once inside the food tent I had a couple of wobbles of dizziness & light-headedness so had to see the medics. I had a lie-down, had some food & drink and started to feel a bit better. At this point I decided that it would have been a good idea to have my phone in my finish line bag to tell Shirlee what was happening but hindsight is 20:20. Final time of 12h 45min – bit to work on but I won’t be doing an ironman until at least 2015 so rush there.