The Ruffian Duathlon Series.

Snippits of wisdom in these difficult times.

17th April 2020

Malpas, Falmouth, UK 50 14.00 N 5 01.11 W

Everyone has their favourite activities. Some collect stamps, some spot trains, some like cycling, running and swimming. Some people like to combine activities such as those who collect stamps of trains and those who partake in triathlons. On Ruffian we like sailing, running and cycling. With sailing off the agenda we’ve taken to our own style of duathlon.

In preparation for the inaugural ’Ruffian Duathlon’ we felt we ought to do some road bike training and so out came the trusty Bromptons. Iain has been used to satisfying his mid-life crisis by riding a Carbon Fibre Synapse 105, which weighs about as much as a grape and matches his Lycra kit to complete the middle-aged man in Lycra look. Fiona takes a slightly different approach to cycling where elegance and finesse top the bill, and she’d happily pedal along with a wicker basket out front and ribbons streaming in her hair.

With this slightly different approach to cycling off they went. Iain powered up every hill, tucking on the downs and standing in the pedals to coax the Brompton into the red. Fiona on the other had was having a lovely time listening to the birds, gazing at the ever-changing views as they swept past, waving at the very occasional car, and spotting rainbows posted up in windows.

Hearing a car approach from behind Iain decided he ought to whip to his Brompton into the red zone of its performance. Down went the power, up Iain rose on the pedals and then off went the chain.  The Brompton bucked and Iain lurched off to the right, totally out of control and into the path of the approaching car. Thankfully it stopped and waited for Iain to pick himself up, but the Brompton had bitten and Iain was now the one seeing red; dripping down his elbow, knee and wrist. The limit of the Brompton had been found.

As the riding continued, now with the Brompton’s limits being respected, we explored the more exclusive corners of Falmouth. We passed house after house where it seemed obligatory to have an SUV and 2-seater sports car parked outside and walls of glass making the uninterrupted views of the empty bay go on forever. The houses were devoid of people and no life could be seen anywhere; maybe they were out training too?

The following day dawned and it was now time for the big ‘Ruffian Duathlon’. The plan was to cross the river on the ferry, climb some of the big hills in to the east of Falmouth, hike to a point and cross the finish line at the ferry. The hills proved to be beyond the Bromptons and their rider’s capabilities; The Bromptons really enjoyed the push to the tops, Iain and Fiona less so. Once at the top, the views extended over the bay to the west and across to the channel in the east, in the sunshine England really is a green and pleasant land. With the first activity complete it was time for the hike.

In true Iain fashion, where walks usually consist of delights such as yellow fever cemeteries, local dumps and beaches covered in rotting seaweed (among notable favourites), it came as no surprise that we walked around fields devoid of any vegetation and through forests where the all the trees had been recently removed. This desolation did however lead to the most amazing shoreline where gentle waves lapped onto the rocks that were covered in oysters, whelks, mussels and cockles. A perfect place to rest mid duathlon for a grapefruit, absorb some sun and feel truly removed from the current Covid crisis.

The duathlon finish line was now calling, however this was a finish line with a twist, the finish line was for the final ferry of the day. If we missed the ferry, we’d either have a 30 mile bike ride (which neither of our bottoms could happily handle) or a swim across the river to Brock (which wasn’t on the agenda as this wasn’t a Triathlon). We’d loitered too long, tried to escape for too long and we’d whiled away too many precious moments.

Driving the Bromptons to theirlimits, but having been warned not to cross them, we careered down the final hill to the noise of chain being drawn through the ferry. Was this it arriving or leaving? Turning the final corner we heard the clang of the ramp hitting our side of the river and we scooted on in the nick of time. All however was not well.

In our haste at the beach Iain had neglected to pick up all our belongings. He’d left behind his brand new Gerber, at the low water mark, being touched by the lapping waves and caressed by the tiny stones that made up the beach. The next day he vowed to return and search for it.

The search and rescue mission gave rise to a duathlon rematch, but would the Gerber be present on our return or buried by stones or washed out to sea. Once again walking our bikes up the hills and walking through the fields of desolation our timing was perfect. There down on the beach, just as the tide was starting to come in, with wavelets gently lapping against the hard metal was Iain’s beloved Gerber. Lady luck was smiling on us. With aching legs and bruised bottoms the duathlons were a huge success and we can see a full series occurring. However, with the weather turning wet and windy we’re pleased that there are some lay days in-front of us.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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