Monday, 9 February 2015

Captain Virgo and the Mediocre Stoker

One thing usually needs to another.

Although the closest I have got to doing a triathlon is a slightly drunken promise to my daughter that I would train with her and enter with her at some point in the future, I am now actually signed up to take part in a rather special triathlon with my husband.

What's special about this particular triathlon is it's a Tandem Triathlon.

You enter as a team. One person completes a 1 kilometre swim, both ride 35 kilometres on a tandem bicycle and the non swimming team member finishes with a 10 kilometre run through a forest.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the event. When the event was little more than an idea in an enthusiast's mind, I would have been at University. I would have already met the man that many years later would become my husband. Had he been a little braver and more forward... or had the scales fallen from my eyes earlier... we may have become a couple then and our lives could have taken a quite different path. I have few regrets about the journey I took to arrive at the happy place I am now but I do  sometimes wonder about the 'what ifs' and taking part in this anniversary event provides, for me, an opportunity for reflection.

It also provides an opportunity to learn to ride a tandem.

As I have yet to prove myself capable of swimming 1km in any sort of time that would mean the race marshals would not have packed up and gone home, my husband volunteered to take the swimming role. That leaves me with the 10k run. I know I can run 10K and the forest trail sort of route is probably my most favourite kind of running but I have never attempted to run after having dismounted a bike - a bike of any sort, let alone a tandem. I am very definitely stepping into the unknown with that.

My husband is a man of action. Once he decides to do something he does not mess around. Within a couple of days of me expressing a willingness to do this with him, he came home with a second-hand tandem and has spent much of his available free time tinkering with it and ordering spare parts to get it running a smoothly as possible. I, in the meantime, thought it might be wise to do a little research into the practicalities of two people pedalling one contraption.

I found out that the person on the front is known as the Captain and the person on the back is the Stoker. I have tried to imagine myself executing the procedure for starting and stopping. I'm sure it will all make perfect sense once we actually get on the thing.

In order to enter the Trialthlon, we needed a team name. I did joke with my daughters (who bearing in mind are already quite embarrassed by the idea of their parents riding a tandem around the town where they live and know people) that we call ourselves Team S&M and ditch the cycling shorts for some leather bondage gear. I'm not sure the cycling shorts are that much less embarrassing anyway! I came up with a few ideas but we opted for one that acknowledges my husband's nautical background and my contentment to be just OK at things as long as I'm enjoy them. Thus the team Captain Virgo and the Mediocre Stoker was born.

We had a nice meal together to celebrate and toasted our new partnership with a carefully chosen beer.

Obviously we are hoping the our maiden voyage will as far removed from ill-fated Titanic's as possible.

Our place has now been booked. The tandem should be ready to go in time for half term. Let the training commence!

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