Inside the Peleton – A New Experience.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about group riding since completing the Mallorca 312 last Saturday. It’s something most of us long distance triathletes never do and the view from inside the peleton was a new experience.

Once out of the mountains when it got on to the flatter stuff past Palma at about 170k it got particularly interesting because it was the first time I had experienced riding in a really big peloton among some fairly well drilled riders. 

The 3 of us from Black Line who were riding the event (Me, Mel Wasley and Al Maher) ended up in a big group being led by a Mallorcan team from Manacor -who were all in smart matching kit and riding very disciplined. You hear about being sucked along by a peloton but in all honesty until Saturday I thought this was a bit of an exaggeration, however sure enough, once we were in this group we were scooting along at over 40k per hour by just soft tapping and freewheeling. It was an amazing experience but also pretty stressful as you have to concentrate 100% on not getting too close to the wheel in front, touching wheels and causing a massive pile up….making you the most unpopular person in Mallorca.

Continue reading “Inside the Peleton – A New Experience.”

Black Line London Does Ironman Mallorca 70.3

BLL Flag.

Our recent IM south Africa micro reports were so well received, we’ve committed to boring you in fewer words from now on.

The sunshine island of Mallorca recently shat itself when 7 BBL’rs took part in Ironman Mallorca 70.3 there.

Here’s how we got on…..

Mark Shipton (30.04/2.59/1.56) 212st in M40-44
After a panic Friday trying to find a replacement seat-post clamp I felt relieved to be on the start line. First serious race in a while, pre-race nerves never change. Had a confident swim, love the fight. Bike course was beautiful and kept telling myself to enjoy. The climb was honest. Motorway section was a dream. Run was war. The heat assisted the torture. The screams from BLL family where a saviour. Im back next year to sort out that run. 30.04/2.59/1.56 M40-44

Michael Collins (27.00/02:38/1:28 =4:41) 37th in M35-39)

Mallorca, my favourite destination! The plan: treat it as a big brick session, ride 90kms day before, race on tired legs, good plan!? Swim: can’t get any easier. Bike: contain myself and ride the climb controlled.  Run time: fun time, first km sub 4 min, hold back, wobble at 18 kms, recover, red carpet, high five Paul Kaye to his words of, “Black Line London kit is the best looking kit in triathlon” AGREED!

Carel Du Plessis (0:30/ 2:39/1:48) 104th in M30-34.

First ever 70.3. Awesome venue, and great to have BLL as company and support. Swim: Solid. Bike: Above all expectations. Run: Disaster, feet issues. Target: Sub 6hrs – result 5:06, chuffed to bits!

Paul Smernicki (0:29:27/02:40:45/01:39:18=04:57:37) 49th in M40-44

Surrounded by friends and family, in a happy place. PB Swim, solid bike, decent run. Did I leave it all out there? I’m ashamed to say not. PB, so happy. Party was great, drinks were drunk and escaped a hangover. A winning week all round then! Is this the best 70. in the world? Very possibly. See you in 2015 Mallorca.

Ashley Howes (0:30, 2:45, 1:35 = 4:57) 48th in 40-44

Palma airport: late night family pick up. Mosquito drama. Not much sleep. Gun, no clear water. Fantastic bike course. Under hydrated. No run legs. Struggle. Passed by Matt Molloy. 5k to go, find run legs. Catch Matt and Paul. Photo finish. Double up in September. Back next year.

Alastair Maher (0:30/2:34/1:32 = 4:44) 42nd in M35-39

Swam, biked and ran hard. Happy with race execution. New PB. Should buy a TT bike. The @blacklinelondon supporter cheers topped off a great day! @blueseventy @cervelo @asicseurope @oakley @powerbar #whitemilk 

Jane Hansom (26:14/2:49:24/1:34:44=4:56:07) 1st in W45-49

Amazing swim. Massive PB. Must have been mermaids down there helping me.  Bike was solid except chain came off . Kept focus and unusually had better second half. Stayed on during a very fast descent, lost my BLL water bottle – Gutted. Run was a total shocker – hot and horrible from the off. Stopping was not an option so hung on in and tried not to slow down too much. Won my age by 18 mins. Happy days.


Not Quite an Ironman Mallorca 70.3 Race Report


When your coach writes your race report quicker and far better than you ever could, it’s a fine thing (Thanks Russ!), but it also allows me to write a slightly different not quite an Ironman Mallorca 70.3 Race Report

This is a fact: When I win the lottery this Saturday, I am buying a house in Mallorca on Sunday. Or probably Monday, as Sunday’s are pretty dead over there.

It’s an incredible island, and great things happen there. Like when our plane crashed and we weren’t sure if it was real or we were all dead.

This was my 3rd year of this event, and each year we’ve got progressively more mob handed. Not only Mrs S and the little man, but both sets of parents and crucially, a whole cortado (for that is the correct collective term) of my Black Line London friends. With 5 of us competing, and the fabulous Trimble’s there to cheer us on, it was strange to think that the whole idea of BLL was just that one year previously – just an idea.

I’m proud of what we’ve done and how far we’ve got, but none of it would have been possible without the great people who make up the collective. Without them, it would just still be me and Troy dreaming up ideas that never happened. And that’s why the best bit of this race was sharing the roads, making plans and relaxing with those guys. Next year, we hope to be there in even greater numbers.

On to the race itself. For the first time, I had a race plan to work to and was most interested in what a bike power plan would mean for my run (especially after a shocker in 2012). As explained perfectly by Russ, it had a positive impact (giving me a run PB to add to the days swim PB) and although I was a few minutes slower than I wanted to be overall I came away feeling that I had followed my plan fairly well, and feeling positive about improving further.

Name Country Swim Bike Run Finish Div. Rank Overall Rank
Smernicki, Paul GBR 00:30:18 02:48:03 01:40:17 05:06:39 87 589

It was also really pleasing to see so many of the BLL guys go so fast – some of those guys are rapid and I got smoked on the run by a couple of them as they blazed past me while they still found time for a word of two of encouragement.

The race was rounded off by two amazing moments that sum up BLL really well. Watching Rich Thorogood complete his first 70.3 in 7 hours and 42 minutes and still attempting to moonwalk over the line was incredible, and finding out later that Troy Squires had qualified for the world champs in Vagas  – at opposite ends of the performance scale, but as epic as one another.

And a final mention to the many friends, old and new, who joined us for the official unofficial post Mallorca 70.3 party. I can’t say much about that because what happens on tour stays on tour. But the drinks flowed, laughs were laughed and headaches were suffered the next day.

And the first thing I did the following morning? Go back to registration and enter for 2014. Maybe we’ll see you there….?




Mallorcan Snow

It’s safe to say that most triathletes are extreme. Why else would we choose to do 3 different sports?

I’m a fan of extremes. It follows my nature. It can be a massive plus but also a huge hindrance. But now’s not the time to discuss my issues.

What got me thinking about extremes was yesterday’s run here in Mallorca. With some storm clouds brewing, we decided to can the planned ride and take to a trail that follows a beautiful little river that normally trickles towards the ocean.

5 minutes into the run, the hail came down. At this point, three quarters of the group turned. Sod this. With a few runners off the front, it fell on me to catch up to them to ask if they wanted to continue. With the hail plummeting my head and face, I reached the group. I was greeted with grimaces but their eyes were alive. I didn’t even have to ask.

By the time we walked back into the villa, the river was a torrent. Crossing a small footbridge, I stopped to soak (no pun intended) it all in. Not many people would be seeing what I could see.

This morning we set off for a ride, which scales an 8km climb. Not long after setting off, we turned a corner, which presented the backdrop of a snow-covered mountain. Our rendezvous point. I spent 90% of the time getting to the foot of the climb staring up at the peak. I was mesmerised.

Cars had been stopped but we were allowed to continue. Slowly but surely the snow lining the road got deeper and deeper. I felt giddy. To see and feel the climb in these new extreme conditions filled me with an unbelievable energy.

The buzz amongst the group at the summit was palpable.

It felt special. We were being treated to something out of the ordinary. Certainly for Joe Average that doesn’t leave the couch. We’d achieved.

Life can’t always be extreme. We wouldn’t survive. But when I happen upon these situations, it’s like having the reset button pushed.

We all need our reset buttons pushed once and a while.