A 55-Year-Old Novice Cyclist Accidentally Joined a Triathlon – and Finished It

The mother of three was out for a leisurely ride when she got “swept up” in the triathlon, and basically just kept riding.

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accidental triathlon

Photo: MEN. Map: Metro UK

Most people train for months to ride a triathlon. The endurance contests are considerable feats of physical strength and stamina, and are not typically approached casually. But Alison Carrick, 55, approached the whole thing in a completely different manner – accidentally.

Carrick, a primary schoolteacher and mother-of-three from Haslingden, England, was out for a leisurely bike ride when she unwittingly joined a group of 250 cyclists competing in the Rossendale Triathlon. As the UK Metro reports, Carrick turned a corner and was more than a bit surprised to find herself in the middle of the peloton. “‘I didn’t have a clue what was happening at the start,” she said after the race. “I realized it was a triathlon when I saw wet cyclists with numbers on their backs. I thought ‘Oh my goodness, what does this mean for me?’

While most people would have quietly slipped back out of the race just as casually as they entered, Carrick decided to “just stick it out.”

Riding a cheap hybrid commuter bike, she ended up riding 18 miles (29 km) to finish the cycling portion of the event. Looking back, she admits she was pretty unaware of just what exactly she had gotten herself into. “‘I kept thinking it can’t be that much further. I don’t think I realized how far the cycling part of it actually was,” she explained.

But every time she thought about leaving the race she never signed up for in the first place, Carrick was encouraged by the cheers of spectators. “The experience was amazing, people were all cheering me on,’ she said. “I wasn’t pretending to be part of it, I didn’t have any of the right gear but people were encouraging me to keep going when I got off and pushed the bike. The stewards kept directing me where to go.”

Carrick, whom organizers have acknowledged was the first “non-competitor” to ever take part in the race, had only planned to ride 4 or 5 miles that day. She had only been cycling again for around two weeks, after not having ridden for years. But it just goes to show that if slow and steady doesn’t win the race, it at least enables you to finish it. “At the time I felt like I should have a basket on front with a baguette in it,” she joked. “I was going that slow.”

When she finally returned home, exhausted, nearly three hours later, Carrick’s husband and three children found the whole thing hilarious. In the end she concluded that her inadvertent participation in the triathlon was “just one of those weird things that happens.”

For their part, the Rossendale Triathlon Club plans to meet with Carrick to offer her a Tri Club membership for next year’s race.

So the next time you hear of anyone say they’re not fit enough to commute by bike, remind them of Carrick, the everyday cyclist’s modern hero. If she can casually ride 18 miles in a competitive sporting event, you can probably make it to work.

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