For the second Ironman 70.3 of 2016, I headed out to the lovely location of Vancouver Island, BC Canada. Not the closest Ironman event to home, but a location chosen because my friend Gary Martin of Pemberton, BC was also racing.
Arriving at Heathrow airport on Friday evening, I always knew it would be a tight schedule to get to Victoria in time for race day on Sunday. Many thanks goes out to my work colleagues who ensured that I arrived on time in Vancouver with bags and bike!
Waiting for me at the airport was my usual race partner David Martin. He had flown in from a business trip in Las Vegas (at least thats what he called it!). With the amount of luggage that he was carrying, I think he had been there for a month. Packing light is not one of his strong points!
We headed off to the ferry port and made the last ferry across to Vancouver Island. We had a 30 minute or so drive the other end to get to our hotel in the centre of Victoria. For those that didn’t know (and me being one), Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and home to the Parliamentary State Building.
Gary and Zoe Martin were there to greet us at the hotel when we arrived at 1100pm. Just enough time to say hello, exchange a bit of abuse and then head off to bed. To say it had been a long day would be an understatement. Not the best lead up to a race, but I am sure a nice chilled out Saturday would sort me out.
Saturday morning consisted of breakfast, building of bikes and then a quick ride out to make sure that the bikes were built correctly. Not that I don’t have faith in my bike maintenance skills, but its always good to be sure. Especially as it was the first time that I would been racing on my new Cervelo P3. At last, I have a grown-ups bike!! The roads in Canada are a whole lot smoother than the UK, so I could already tell that there was potential for a quick bike segment.
We head up to Beaver Lake in the afternoon, just north of Victoria. This is to be the venue for Ironman 70.3 Victoria. An amazing lake, surrounded by lots of trees and endless trails. With bikes all ready to go, we register. Myself and Dave, being two of only five people representing the United Kingdom. We truly were outnumbered but welcomed by the locals who were amazed that we had travelled so far to race. Not sure whether they thought we were brave or stupid!
The setup was slightly different to any 70.3 that I have raced so far. Transition areas seemed a lot smaller and everything a lot more compact. Something that you wouldn’t expect from a North American race. With bikes racked, we headed back to the hotel to chill out. When I say chill out, I meant snooze, as the time zone change was getting to me.
Gary and Zoe hosted us for the evening and prepared Spaghetti Bolognese, a meal that Gary always has before a race. He likes his rituals! Being away from home and without the usual support network around us, we were a long way from any of our own rituals. Still, we embraced the madness of being so far away, headed off to bed and hoped for sleep as the alarm clock would be ringing at 3am…… although I have no clue what time that was on my body clock!!
Time to race…..