Having taken part in The Outlaw Triathlon last year I jumped at the chance to come along and experience a course recce of the ‘southern route’, a new addition to the bike course for 2012. Race organizers, One Step Beyond recently found out that they had been able to secure Channel Four coverage of the event, which led them to make the decision to include some wider roads with improved surfaces, making the course an entirely different one to that which I experienced last year. Looking through the course profile I was able to see that the changes straight away. The course only takes in one lap of the initial course before heading out and following a much flatter 26 mile loop, where competitors will take in two laps before heading back over the A46 and back towards the Holme Pierreport Centre.
We all met at ‘The Royal Oak’ pub in a small village called Car Colston, which is located towards the southern most tip of the new route. Six of us arrived with our bikes and full range of kit for the day and some of the group had travelled for as much as five hours to get there. We all introduced ourselves, some of us were racing and some simply intrigued to discover what the new route had in store for athletes after having experienced the race in previous years.
Starting out on the new route, it was instantly striking how good the roads were. Flat and fast, they were smooth and straight which made for some quick cycling even from the outset. There were many sections whereby the road continued on in a flat plain for as far as the eye could see, which enabled us to get up a good degree of speed and ride at a very fast average pace throughout. It was also possible to spend a great deal of time down in our tri-bars, which made for some comfortable, and ‘tidy’ cycling.
Perhaps the main point of consideration for those taking part in ‘The Outlaw’ on July 1st would be the wind that the course experiences. Being so flat, the course is left relatively open to the elements and there were certainly times when you were able to feel the wind from all directions. Generally, it did not slow us down too much, as there was a tailwind more than there was a headwind, but I was warned that conditions are undoubtedly set to vary on the day.
We completed two laps, stopping for a customary coffee half way around. We had made the decision to take in the second lap at a ‘steady’ pace, but unfortunately this did not happen and we steamed through quicker than we had done the first one. This is testament to the course, and I would not be surprised if the same thing happens on the day, instilling confidence in those taking part.
The next day, I went back to cycle the full course, taking in both the Northern and Southern sections of the route. Doing the original ‘Northern section’ again brought back memories from 2011. This part of the course is still just as fast, although it does feature a few more climbs than in the ride from the previous day –past competitors will specifically remember the 12% incline at Oxton Bank. This year it will only be necessary to climb this once, and it comes within the first 25 miles of the course, meaning that it is tackled on relatively fresh legs. Even then, Oxton Bank represents no more than two to three minutes of hard effort before the reward of a six mile descent into Southwell. making it achievable to even those athletes that have not managed to get in as much hill training as they would have liked.
I am excited about returning to The Outlaw for a second year, and am looking forward to finding out how the new bike course influences my time on the day. My tips for those that have not been able to get out there to see the course would be to prepare for lots of time spent in your tri-bars and ensure that you are well familiar with the course profile by accessing the maps and profiles online. It truly is a fantastic course and is going to make for some competitive times in just over three weeks time!
For more information about The Outlaw Triathlon visit www.onestepbeyond.org.uk/the-outlaw-triathlon.