• Nikki Bartlett

Double bounce – Bilbao Half 20th May, Challenge Salou 28th May


The two back-to-back races went a little like this:

-Tuesday 16th. Ooooft this 3week block is killer killer chicken dinner. Must make these next 4 days, head down. Focus. Then an easy week into Salou. Oh how I was wrong..

-Wednesday 17th. These new race watts on the bike hurt. I’m itching to race after not performing where I felt I should be 6 weeks previous in IMSA.

-Rob: Wedsnesday 17th (3days before race day). ‘Why don’t we do both Bilbao and Salou’. Me ‘haha very funny the race is in three days’. 5mins later realise he’s not joking.

-Event organizers were incredible, Thursday morning we were all booked up to race, with Eneko being absolutely fantastic, putting Bex and I up in a lush 5* hotel. Admittedly I've never stayed in one before, and this really made our stay very special. They looked after us very well, so from both of us, a massive thank you.


-Funny that, booking two days before a race, there was only one flight option.

-Quick Thursday and Friday easy training day (literally my legs were burning just sitting down at this point)

-Friday (yes the day before the race). Leave Scotland at 12pm, Bex drove us to Manchester, arrived there 5pm. Flight 7pm, arrive at our hotel in Bilbao at 12.10pm.

Sat 21st May – race day. Woke up feeling uber chilled. Really didn’t have much time to get nervous as we woke up, ate, racked (luckily race was at 12.45pm). Which considering I haven’t done a race past 7/8am for about 3 years, felt pretty chilled, but totally unsure how to manage food up to the start of the race.

Race:

This race reminded me how important pre race prep can be – I had no idea about the course (other than it was apparently stunning), and I’ve quite clearly taken for granted, that all race briefs / signs are in English. No idea what the signs said, and what the briefing was about.


-JEEEEEZ who switched the ice tap on. COLD. Maybe spoilt in SA with the warm (er) sea. The swim was pretty tough – about 500m downstream, then 1.4k up stream. All I could think about was ‘I’m freezing, get me out’.

-Out I came, to be immediately pushed back in. Oooops wrong exit.

-Out of T1 into short little incline to realise how tired my legs were (yes the tiny incline in the picture to the right).

-Quite quickly realized how brill the bike course was – stunning. But oh my days it's hilly. ‘How long is this hill going on for’ – think it was around 18mins long. Which we needed to do twice.

-Taking corners pretty chilled

-Came off the bike in 2nd, pleased with that considering no tapering leg tiredness

-Emma Bilham came past me on the run, held 90sec gap

-3rd Pro into the finish, happy days!

-First 70.3 training race ticked

-Bex, Hannah (Drewett) and I had a fab Sunday taking in the beautiful sites of Bilbao


The organisation, race location and pure ease of Bilbao was absolutely spot on. I couldn't recommend it enough.

We travelled back on Sunday 22nd, aiming to tick over in training, leading into Challenge Salou in 8 days time.

-Thursday 25th I travelled back out to Spain with housemate Catherine

-Luckily learnt our lesson in Barcelona 70.3, don’t book too cheap at certain race venues.

-Mega nice hotel, probably youngest in the hotel by 40 years

-Really chilled lead up to the race

-Mentally ready to race, felt like the back-to-back racing was a lot easier than Rob’s heavy training load


Challenge Salou Race day:

-Unfortunately they had to change the bike course to a technical 4x loops. After finding this out just a few weeks before the race, we/I new it would be an ‘interesting’ race. Say no more. The organizers did do an ace job getting things into place with such short notice to Government changes for the bike course

Race:

-I was pretty disappointed that the Pro Men had a separate start, where as the Pro Women had to do a mass start with the other female age groupers. I'm not sure why we couldn't have our own start too, even 2-3 minutes??!

-Anyway, had a good swim sitting on Sara Loher’s feet (eventual winner). The organizers did a fab job putting balloons on the swim buoys. So simple, so effective


-Out we went onto the bike course. I was a bit worried how this was going to go. We entered this race to do a slightly different race plan, but given the circumstances this wasn’t really going to happen.

-Solid bike, coming out of T2 in 2nd place

-The lead changed a few times, but I ultimately ‘held’ my position, finishing up in my highest place as a Pro. Which given the circumstances, I’m mega pleased with. I had a year of 3rds in 2016, 3rd at Bilbao, so was ace to move up a step on the podium here.

Doing back-to-back races was great fun, and I really did (at the time) feel the effects of gaining fitness doing this. Travelling around and exploring new places through racing as a Pro is definitely up there in winning at life. It's even better when you share it with people you care a lot for. Fully appreciate Bex and Catherine coming out to both races, sharing some new experiences with them. For now, I'm looking forward to the UK races coming up.

Thanks to everyone who's a part of this.

Sponsors:

The Financial Fitness Group, Skechers Performance, Tri4Life - Guerciotti, Rolf Prima Wheels, Fusion Sports UK, Blueseventy, Saddleback - Rotor






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