About eight years ago, Ian Blackburn ('The Apple Watch Triathlete') decided to get into the saddle to keep himself fit and caught the cycling bug. First, he commuted on a hybrid. Then he started really clocking up the miles on a road bike. Next thing he knew he was cycling centuries and was making it across the finish line of the Maastricht Ironman.
He’s already proved that he is made of tough stuff. But one go round the gruelling 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride, 26.2 mile run course has only whet his appetite for more and he’s currently training for the Pembrokeshire Ironman in September 2018.
The coolest thing about all this? He’s Beelining through all of those training miles. We caught up with him this week to find out more.
Ian the Ironman
When we meet at Pret, Ian has his trusty Brompton folded up next to him. A Kent dweller, Ian is often in London and the bike is perfect for nipping around the city. Covering over 30km is not unheard of for a day about town.
As incredible as it would be to complete an Ironman on a Brompton (we've only found evidence of one brave soul completing a Half Ironman on one), it's probably not advisable. So Ian has a couple of other bikes in his repetoire: a Trek hybrid and a Trek Madone 4.9 with a couple of upgrades to the wheels and brakes.
When he's not busy running his own business (Love Clean Streets), Ian trains 8-12 hours each week with two swims, two runs and two rides complemented by some strength and conditioning. He does some turbo sessions but will generally brave whatever the British weather throws at him - cycling in the rain is only really rubbish if you have the wrong clothes. He's a believer in the 'Velominati' rules of riding and number 9 is: 'If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.' Incidentally, when you've got an Ironman in sight, rule number 5 isn't too bad a rule to respect either.
Now a true veteran in the saddle, Ian has cycled in lots of sportives and swum, run, and ridden his way across the line of many triathlons including the Dragon Ride L'Etape Wales and the Leybourne Lakes. His favourite ride so far, though, was the Raid Pyrenées; a 700km ride tracking the Franco-Spanish border, taking in the classic climb of the Col du Tormalet. There is something truly awe-inspiring about emerging above the clouds to the lightly snow-capped peaks of June.
And how did Ian make the leap from sportives and sprint triathlons to an Ironman? With Pembrokeshire's 'Long Course Weekend' which splits the Ironman into a three day challenge: swim day one, bike day two, run day three. His attempts at completing the set were thwarted two years running: first by injury, and the second time when he missed the swim after getting stuck in traffic.
The third time, though, everything worked out perfectly and - completing the marathon day alongside his daughter - Ian had done the triple. The next step was to do all three in the same day, which Ian did in Maastricht in September last year, crossing the line in 15 hours, 24 minutes and 18 seconds. We salute you, Ian.
We ask him is he has any wisdom to impart to budding Ironmen. Ian says 'anyone can do it'. 'It's all about the mental approach and how much you want to do it'. If you want to do it, you will.
A few final questions...
All that remains to ask is the traditional Beeline Ambassador Desert Island Discs questions. What would Ian choose if he were stranded on a desert island? Or in a tent on a long bike tour?
His eight tracks:
His book:Catch 22 - because it’s a classic that I loved when I read it as a teenager, but not read since, and it’s big enough to keep me going for a while!
His luxury item:
Guitar - I was bought one for my 50th birthday and need to learn how to play it!!!