Monday, 29 April 2013

What's it like?

Amongst many questions such as ‘are you insane?’, ‘what does Mich think?’, ‘are your kids ok with it?’ I often get asked ‘what’s it like?’ to run or ride or swim or just casually chill out in a Morphsuit. I’ve covered the running in a few posts before and the disaster that was the swim is well documented. A jaunt on the bike however was a new experience.
My main fear was that unlike when running, if something goes wrong on a bike the repercussions can be more serious both for me and fellow competitors. When running if I miss a pothole or raised area and stumble or I only spot a fellow runner at the last minute the worst that can happen is a bit of a fall at a relatively slow speed. Likely outcome being damaged pride as much as anything else. However, on a bike even I can reach speeds of 30 mph which brings with it a massively reduced reaction time and massively increased damage potential.
Normal Vision

Morph Vision!
I had put off the Morph cycle experience for long enough so I arranged a 3 hour jaunt with Carl at 6am the other Sunday. I opted for the trusty 2XU tri shorts and a long sleeved skin under the Morphsuit. I don’t have contact lenses but my glasses are pretty fixed when on so I was confident I wouldn’t have to add to the risks by riding completely blind! I checked my bike over, checked myself over and wheeled the Merida onto the drive. I zipped the hood up completely, popped the helmet on and secured my glasses. I took a deep breath, clipped in and off I went. I only had to cycle a mile or two up the road to meet Carl and so only had to negotiate 3 islands, 1 crossroads and a T junction. It was at the third island Carl (who can only have come from the opposite direction) caught me up and made me jump out of my skin with a ‘Good Morning’. It was a worry that I hadn’t seen or heard him approach at all! We cycled on to a safe spot and pulled over to sort the route and for me to get a pic!

So, ‘what’s it like?’. Well, if you imagine a bank robber with a stocking on his head it feels much like I expect that to! My nose is pressed flat against my face; the suit is tight across the nose, eyes and mouth. Breathing is harder, peripheral vision is massively restricted, forward vision is reduced, looking behind over the shoulder is pointless and hearing is reduced. The body bit is great. Legs, arms and torso all neatly held in and it is probably quite aerodynamic as a result. Unfortunately the senses take a battering in addition to the annoyance of my eyelashes scraping on the inside of the suit. I can drink through it while riding but the intake is reduced by about 70%. I quickly had to make a few facial adjustments when breathing. Breathing in has to be through the mouth to get a reasonable intake but if I breathe out normally the warm breath air stays close to the face and steams up my glasses. To combat this I have to breathe out using the ‘make a whistley noise by blowing over the top of a beer bottle face’ to try and blow down to keep it off my face! This is an annoying additional face ache I had not previously considered.
We covered 46 miles that day and I stayed fully suited throughout. While the sun came up ahead of me I could see next to nothing as the sun just lights up the inside of my suit. I made a slight helmet adjustment to bring the small peak on the helmet down slightly to give a bit of shadow from the sun but I may need to wear a peaked cap under the helmet for Outlaw. When the sun was behind me I felt much happier! I was reluctant to take the lead as I was comforted by focusing on Carl’s rear light to keep my bearings on the road. I also went much slower than I usually would on descents! It is as claustrophobic as ever but I can deal with that as mentally I will be prepared for 8 hours on the bike in it. It does hold sweat though! Coupled with the fact that I produce a shed load of the stuff this may be a problem. The back of my neck and middle of my shoulders were definitely feeling the moisture build up and associated cold and this became very uncomfortable toward the end. I also had to keep stretching my arms, hands and shoulders as the constant ‘pull’ of the suit can get quite uncomfortable. Having to stop and de-hood to eat will be a pain but there is no way around it.
We averaged 15mph which I was really pleased with for a first Morph cycle outing. It was quite scary but great fun. As we passed through various villages a few of the locals probably gave me a strange look as I shouted ‘good morning’ but to be honest I couldn’t really see their faces to tell you!
The best thing was that I had survived and with a few kit and body adjustments I am sure I can do the Outlaw ride. My one and only Morph run will be this Sunday at the Lichfield Half Marathon when I am running my first race with Mrs B.
It was a confidence boost and it removed the final ‘unknown’ from this challenge. There is no doubt now in my mind I will be tackling Outlaw fully Morphed and I am relatively confident I won’t die!

1 comment:

  1. Good to go then. Brilliant glad you're more confident