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Tue 23rd Jul 2019
The Big Weekender report: Bath
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Thursday 10th December 2009

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Athlete and coach Jim McConnel reports in on the fun (?!) everyone had in surviving the wind, rain and cold at the first of the Big Weekender training camps of the winter held recently in Bath. As someone wise once said, "if it was easy, everyone would do it..."

The truth is out - Driven To Tri Big Weekender - from Bath.

It's the time of year to be getting the base miles in and honing techniques, whilst enduring the conditions of the British winter. And so, a group of hardy, fresh faced athletes met in Bath for a weekend of wet, sweat and tears!

"What a mess. I cannot describe complete and total disorganisation I was exposed to every time I entered the room .. Really devastated... Driven To Tri coaches; Harry Wiltshire, Pete Freedman and Tri Monkey Rich Brady have no concept when it comes to ... keeping Youth Hostel bedrooms tidy! Thank my lucky stars they know what they're doing when it comes to swimming drills, running and biking!" (Anon.)

Of course, the weather could have been ordered in special. A Big Weekender is not to be underestimated, but made way harder when the elements are against you too! From the moment of arrival on Friday afternoon everyone started the wet/dry cycle. The first getting wet was planned with a sweet swim session held in the legendary Bath University Sports Complex. Every swimmer was videoed and had three sets of eyes helping to point out areas for stroke improvement and coaxing them through a fairly big set.

From then on it came out of the sky, like a permaleak from heaven, the rain just didn't stop. The run ‘lap of Bath’ tempo outing in the drizzle on Friday evening had everyone kicking on strongly to make it back for an awesome lasagne and salad (thanks to Harry's mum – as if Harry could prepare such a feast!)

In the morning, the 'undulating' (yeah why not just call it hilly ...??!) Cheddar Gorge ride commenced. Riders with mudguards were praised as geeky gods with dry bums, although it wasn't long before the rain had got in everywhere, and the cold wind just made it harder. At the far side of the gorge there’s only two hours to go home (brilliant, so happy about that..) and so the pace quickened as riders motivated themselves from the depths. Good skills. Getting home after four hours meant Plymouth Steve and a couple others took up the gauntlet to join local coach Toby Jameson for a few more hills, as the rest headed off to replace brake blocks, wring out gloves and overshoes and drink lots of Jim's 'Mulligomato with added chicken and broccoli' hot soup. Big points go to Alistair for doing the whole ride in shorts and fingerless gloves. Rock hard and slightly crazy. Day two saw him adorned in neon Pertex and big waterproof gloves source from the friendly team at TFB.

And so that was the schedule for the rest of the weekend .. out to smash training sessions, then home to shower and get dry, only to warm up and eat, rest, review and chat. Then don more dry stuff to go out and face the conditions again.

Hence the state of the coach room, an over adorned radiator covered in dripping overshoes and Driven to Tri gilets.

The evening technique run was interesting as running legend Pete showed us something akin to moon walking. Athletes strived to hop, skip and bound like rabbits in an effort to develop a faster running style. Fast feet, weight forward, it all makes sense.

Sunday morning dawned grey and cold .. and run reps before break - the best time as it is often 'the hungry fox that hunts best' (a phrase I nicked from some 'fairly' impressive female XTERRA and 1/2 IM champ.) .. so warm up from the YHA, then eight big hills with jog recovery. Breakfast provided a welcome respite to be followed by the 5 Hills Challenge on the bikes, Brass Knocker, Ralph Allen and Bathwick to name but three .. a great time and notable use of that 39/25 as we thrashed around the outskirts of Bath til the legs and lungs screamed STOP!

Hot showers, coffee, soup and sandwiches, plus lots of chat at the Uni sports café and then the survivors of the Driven To Tri Big Weekend did massive high fives, some whoops and headed home, tired but happy with the weekend's efforts.

The radiators are now loaded with clean kit, drying gently as the first frosts of winter hit.

In the run up to Christmas, why not think about a present for a loved one ... a mere 175 quid will send your loved one away for three days and ensure you get the house quiet for the weekend, followed by the return of a thankful and motivated person (if slightly smashed!). Take your pick below:

The Dartmoor Big Weekender (19th – 21st March 2010)
A chance to explore the heights of Dartmoor National Park and test yourself on some of the harshest yet most picturesque bike and run routes in the Country.

The Purbeck Big Weekender (23rd – 25th April 2010)
Training based around Dorset's world famous heritage coastline with riding over Creech Grange and running on the coastal paths around Lulworth Cove. We'll even throw in a sea swim for good measure if you're brave enough!

Click Here for more info on signing up to the legendary Driven To Tri Camps.

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