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The Race Force Tour experience
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 22nd June 2016


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We test out the Race Force Tour experience and remove the stress from overseas racing

In the lead up to IRONMAN Mallorca 70.3 earlier this year, Paul Hayward reported on his personal build up and experience of the race (you can revisit his blogs here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3).

Paul's journey to Mallorca utilised what is becoming an increasingly popular service provided to triathletes - a separate bike/equipment service provider taking away the stresses of travelling with a bike by aeroplane.

Here, Paul reviews his experiences of using Race Force (www.raceforce.co.uk), and in this case their 'Tour' option which also provided a host of additional services and support alongside the bike transport aspect.


The Race Force Tour experience: IRONMAN 70.3 Mallorca 2016

Racing outside of the United Kingdom always sounds fantastic, with the promise of better weather and a real chance of some sun, but sadly the dream can be much better than the reality as soon as we hit that enter button. We are already privileged with a sport that requires us to remember three different sets of kit; including a bike, and a nutrition programme. Therefore the thought of being outside the United Kingdom can only surely add another level of unnecessary complexity?

On making the decision to sign up to Ironman Mallorca 70.3, with the promise of 35 degree sunshine everyday swaying the permission slip from the wife to be, I had three options. Firstly, I could transport most of my kit myself and hire a bike from one of the many impressive bike shops Alcudia has. But, this did not really seem a good idea as it was not the bike that I had trained on and I knew it just did not feel right, despite sounding attractive logistically. Thus, the second option of buying a bike box and taking the bike as luggage on an EasyJet flight became quite attractive.

That was until I looked into the logistics of it all and realised that I could barely change a tyre, let alone strip a bike and put it all back together. In addition I was also a little concerned as to how the bike would be handled by the porters and I soon became a little stressed at the thought of all of this. However there was one final option; to let a company take my bike (and kit), for me and I would collect it in Spain, all built and ready for the race.

The Race Force experienceGiven all the previous options (and the headaches that ensued), this really did seem the option that made sense. The question was who to go with? I was aware that Nirvana had recently teamed up with Ship my Tri Bike and offered a host of options that looked attractive. But on seeing the “Tour” option with Race Force - I was instantly attracted. The difference being that Race Force not only shipped your bike out there (which was also a standalone option), but also offered an experience package whereby they did everything with you from some swim practices to making sure your family / friends knew the course and vantage points to ensure you had the best possible experience.

Race Force even arranged a team hotel metres from the start and finish line for you to stay in. The “Tour package” just seemed to tick all the right boxes for me and with work being crazy in the build up to the event, it was a welcome reprieve and entailed that all of the stress was suddenly removed from worrying about bike boxes, luggage allowances and transport issues.

Despite the regular emails / texts from Race Force with regard to when my bike was being collected and details of the hotel / transfers , I (pleasingly) did not really give it another thought until they came to my house a week before Ironman Mallorca 70.3 to collect my bike. I was really concerned about how they would deal with my bike given the bike fit etc, however I needn’t have been as they taped it all up and made sure all my measurements were protected and catered for. The van itself, which transports the bikes via ferry to Calais, was a thing of beauty with the racking inside and an assortment of TT bikes and road bikes. It quickly made me realise that out of the 12 bikes - I must have had the cheapest one there!

After noting the contents of my bag, and slipping in three books for the other half (no complaints from Race Force), with my kit and nutrition, Race Force were off down further south to get some more of “the team”, as they referred to them as, before making the journey. I would not see my bike for another week, but when I did I was chuffed to see her sparkling and serviced in the special Race Force “hub” outside our hotel.

The Race Force experience

I was quite glad to see my bike in one piece to be honest after the EasyJet flight to Mallorca, whereby I got to witness the bike boxes being stacked up and thrown on the small lorry to be loaded. I do not have a hugely expensive bike, but I could not afford to replace it and had it been there being thrown about then I would have probably cried. No doubt the boxes are protecting the bikes, but even so there was no care in the way they were loading them - it was just another bit of luggage. I would highly recommend hard-case bike boxes after seeing this!

When we arrived at our hotel I must say it was quite exciting to see the “race hub” with all the bikes being built, serviced and checked according to arrivals (so you would be free to get some cycling in). On speaking to Mike and Ian, they clearly had their work cut out with 45 bikes to build, service and check before race day, in addition to people from our hotel and passers by all asking for some help. However they were only too keen to chat about your bike and reassure you that you could come back at any time should you not be happy.

The Race Force experience

Although Ironman do have a “bike doctor” at the expo, the reassurance that you had your own mechanic there that not only checked the bike but was happy to help with any niggles until bike check-in was completely reassuring and took the stress out of having your bike in another country. On taking some time to look at the other bikes and meet some of their owners, it was clear that Race Force attracted everyone from Pro athletes (Brennan Townshend) to novices like me, and we were all treated the same.

The added value did not stop there though, and much like a “family holiday”, there were activities every day in the lead up to race day including swim practice, a guided tour of the bike leg by car (which with the mountain would have been invaluable), to assistance to and at the race briefing. This not only gave you some comfort, as you could take the worry out of all factors of the race, but it also allowed you to meet new people and form new friendships as you cycled some of the route, chilled out in the car or even walked round transition sharing previous experiences or even first time worries.

On taking on the swim practice I got talking to another chap on the beach in full Ironman Wales tri kit. It turned out that he had shipped his bike over by another company. Sadly he had to drop his bike off at a bike shop and they had confirmed to him that his bike had been mislaid when he went to collect it in Alcudia. He had received no communication from the company with regard to the transport of his bike and two days before, he had no bike. It made me grateful that Race Force had let me know each step of the way where my bike was and when they had arrived. Fortunately his bike was found the day before the race, but this stress alone was unfair and certainly could have ruined his race preparation.

The Race Force experience

I can appreciate that some of the features of the Race Force “tour” can sound like too much, given the stress of racing and some athletes needing some down time, however this was as inclusive as you wanted. The main aim was to get you to the start line stress free and ready. Race Force certainly did that and although race morning had all the normal worries, the fact I was racing in a different country did not register as I knew I had my bike, my nutrition and I knew some of the course and all of this was thanks to the team at Race Force.

It also opened my eyes to just how difficult it can be racing abroad, with the increased stress levels, but fortunately Race Force took the edge of this completely and let you focus on the main thing, you as an athlete. They go further, should you want it, than just shipping your bike and the whole experience from start to finish was fantastic. Their tag line is “together we race” and I do not think you could describe the experience better; there was togetherness but more importantly they offer you an option, as an individual or a family, to concentrate on what is important - stress free.

Further information on Race Force and their race schedule can be found here: http://www.raceforce.co.uk/

The Race Force experience


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