I started duathlon because I was told the grass was greener on the other side.
Being a runner from my early teens, I ran the York half marathon when I was 15, forging my parents' signature on the entry form as I was under age and then trying to explain to my PE teacher at school the following day the reason I could not walk, never mind run, was because I had covered 13 miles the previous day!
In my early 20s I joined the army - the Parachute Regiment - but my career was cut short because of a knee injury and I was released with a medical discharge. On release I was referred to see a physio. A muscle imbalance was diagnosed and I was told the best way to correct the imbalance was to cycle.
After weeks of not being able to do any form of exercise it was a revelation to be told that the way to correct my imbalance was to exercise! I walked straight out of the physio’s and into the nearest bike shop with a smile on my face and bought a mountain bike for £250.
In at the deep end
As I normally do, I went straight in at the deep end - my first ride was 100 miles from York into the Yorkshire Dales and within months I had bought a better mountain bike and started racing. It wasn’t long before I was finishing in the top three in races and I was soon asked to race for Mongoose Mountain Bikes. Everything was going well until on a winter's training ride over the moors with friends my forks collapsed on me, my wheel came out and I was thrown violently over the handlebars.
I spent a week in hospital and not only was I physically battered and bruised, my confidence had suffered a serious mauling too. I didn’t return to mountain biking for a number of years as I had to find something with less risk.
The boys I trained with did the local time trial league - 10 miles, 13 miles and 16 miles as fast as you can, racing against the clock on roads. I won my first race, then my second, then my third and then my fourth. The next step was open time trials, where the race isn't just for club members but anyone outside the promoting club can enter. I was more than pleased with a top ten finish in my first open time trial and then I was on the way to finishing in the top three, setting course and event records.
Time trials were a novelty and doing well gives you that drive. The downside to them were the early starts - 7am on the A1 before the traffic count went beyond the recommended levels and warming up in a layby or side road at 6:30am with generally nothing more than a grunt from fellow riders interpreted as "good morning".
At that time I was coached by Chris Jones, a triathlon coach, but Chris did all the physiological performance testing at Wolverhampton University with Professor Greg White now of TV fame coaching and mentoring celebrities
. While there I mixed with triathletes and duathletes and they told me of their triathlon experiences all over the world - pre-event carb parties and post-event meals and discos, it all sounded like one big party. My event party consisted of a weak cup of tea in a plastic cup on the A1 - I wanted a bit of this!
Click here to see how Colin fared in the world of duathlons
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