Do you – Run & Ride Dirty Duathlete Style



Pre – Race

I have just signed up for the Dirty Bit Duathlon Sunday June 12, 2011 at 10am.  The course is a 4.2 mile trail run through the Ski Mountains of Holiday Valley followed by a 10 mile single track mountain bike ride. Unfortunately, my training schedule hasn’t lent me the opportunity to make good use of my mountain bike this year. Much of my training has been relegated to strength training, road biking and running.  As a result, I will be force to break one of my most sacred rules. Train before you compete.

Post Race Recap

I made it back alive from the Dirty Duathlon competition in Ellicottville NY.  I’ll be honest with you. My will was tested today. It took every bit of intestinal fortitude for me to get through that competition.  It was certainly a humbling experience.  It’s the kind of experience that makes you realize your shortcomings by smacking it in your face. I encountered an adventure that demonstrated the importance of preparation. It was the kind of experience that dilutes the piss & vinegar so common of adolescents and those pretentious “know it alls”. Today my patience was spoon fed to me whether I wanted it or not.   I was made to realize that age is just a number and sex is just a letter. When participants line up at the start line all that matters is how well you trained and what kind of threshold you have for those H ions building up in your leg as you stride and pedal up that grueling mountain.  Today I was remind that  the word “challenging” can be relative and obstacles exist only when you’re unprepared and  your head is down. To all the competitors in today’s race, I have a profound respect for all of you.  

Today’s challenge was composed of a 4.2 mile trail run with uphill and downhill battles through Holiday valley’s Ski Mountain. In addition, duathlon competitors finished off with a 10 mile single track mountain bike ride fit for intermediate to advance riders. Today marked the 4th year  for the event being held at Holiday Valley  mountain sport center in Ellicottville NY.


Top 10 Lessons I learned from Dirty Duathlon

1.  Be prepared for what you are about to encounter.

  • It doesn’t matter what you are getting yourself to.  Success always lies closer to those who are prepared.  Preparation means:

    • studying the race course before hand

    • Training on the race course or in conditions similar to the race course

    • Understanding and training in weather conditions on race day

    • Checking your equipment prior to the event

    • Understanding how to deal with faulty equipment during competition

    •  Knowing how your body responds to different supplements, foods or beverages during competition

    • Knowing your competition

    • Forming a Strategy

  • Dismissing the aforementioned points can leave you unprepared for your race. Remember success always follows preparation.

2.  Attack the ascent portion of the race.  

  • Remember what goes up must come down

    • Races like these are won during the ascent. Everyone flies down the mountain pretty quick no matter what level they are. Your best chance for improving your position is by attacking the uphill.

    • Keep a cadence

      • Keeping a cadence can make you more aware of your speed as you are running.  Each beat can be the sound of your foot hitting the ground as you move up the hill. Any lost of synchronization between your cadence and the sound of your foot hitting the ground can provide valuable feedback as you encounter an uphill.

    • Include hill running in your training

      • Ultimately no other tips will work better than training. The more you can practice uphill running the better you will fare when you face it during competition.  Include some hill sprints or incline sprints in your training routine.

3.  Focus on the trail below and above.

  • Don’t just focus on the obstacles directly below you. Be sure to pay attention to the trail up ahead.  Preparation is key. Anytime you can spend strategizing for obstacles up ahead gives you an edge over on time and ultimately the competition.  It also limits your chances for disastrous spills.

4.  Keep yourself relax during the transition by practicing.

  • Often times, when I talk to competitors they describe the transitions between two separate events as the most difficult part of their race.  While I understand the change in demands from switching between events can be biomechanically and physiologically challenging. I also believe transitions to be the easiest areas to practice. The transition can be a strategic opportunity for hydration and nutrient replenishment.  Many people take this period for granted. Practice during your training sessions and reap the benefit of experience.

5.  Make sure you have liquids available to you during the competition.

  • If your bike doesn’t have a bottle holder purchase one at your local bike shop. If bottles aren’t your thing consider purchasing a camel back. It’s rare that I see water or Gatorade stations during short competitions like today’s event.  The bike portion of the race can be very taxing be sure to hydrated.

6.  Keep your butt on your seat or stay low.

  • Resist the urge to stand upright on your bike. I wasted a lot of energy as I stood up on my bike during the ascent.  It may seem counterproductive to sit  or to stand low during those uphill  and technical battles but there are many benefits to this strategy.  For instance, anytime you stand on your bike your center of gravity rises resulting in a greater demand for balance and control.  This puts you at greater risk for falling and gives you less control when encountering technical routes or quick turns. If you must stand try shifting up gears to increase speed which will give you the necessary momentum to power through.  Otherwise, as I was told during today’s course “keep you’re your ass on the seat, shift to a lower gear and grind baby grind.

7.  Clipless pedals or clip ins are a must.  

  • Clipless pedals will help you through all stages of the completion from uphill to downhill, provide a strong relationship between you and your bike. This relationship is valuable as you want to prevent weak links from the ground up to your legs.  Clipless pedals provide efficiency and improved control through your ride.

8.  Get comfortable clipping in to your mountain bike.

  • This was easily the most frustrating experience for me. It was clear to me that I hadn’t practice enough with clipless pedals.  There were multiple moments where I hadn’t generated enough momentum on the track causing me to lose balance.  While I’ve used my clipless pedals for several years I took the nature of this event for granted.  The Ice pack on my knees and the bruises on my shins are the price I paid for that mistake.

9.  Be courteous to other riders.

  •  While I didn’t gets a chance to do much “passing” during the event. It was good experience to understand the dynamics of passing competitors on a single track.  Riders behind you will either shout “to your left” or “to your right” indicating the direction they are passing you.  If you hear this being shouted, let go of your ego and get out of the way.

10. Be patient.

  • I’m always thankful when I can find a hobby where patience is pre-requisite.  Judging by today’s event Mountain Biking seems to be no exception. Patience will help enable you to navigate the course efficiently and with less chance for injury. Patience can sometimes give you the opportunity to bypass your competitors. I learned that there’s quite a bit of strategy needed when you are flying down a mountain at speeds nearing 30 miles per hour. Patience and some calculated thinking could be your ticket from dirt in your face.   

11. Bonus Point – Go to events with a friend.

  • Be sure to drive to these competitions with at least 1 friend. Try not to go alone. After a competition like the Dirty Duathlon the last thing you want to do is get behind the wheel of a car for a long distance drive. In addition, in case of an emergency it is always good to have someone you know who can provide help.  If you can’t find anyone willing to make the long haul with you. Make a phone call and be sure to have them call you post – competition.

Gear Recommendations

  • Clipless Pedals (only if you plan on training with them prior to the race)

  • Bottle holder (for quick hydration during the race)

  • Gloves   – (my skin is absolutely raw from the death grip.)

  • Bike chain lubricant (for pre and post race)

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