Let’s call this a transition year…or maybe an adjustment year. After tapping out three 70.3 races per year for the last 4-5 years, doing just two sprints was quite an adjustment. But I have excuses, and I think they are valid. That being said, next year is ‘game on” year!!!
What was Race #2 you ask? I will tell you 🙂
After the season starting catastrophe in Nyon, the venue moved to France….Chantilly, to be specific. I know what you are thinking…Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face, but no, different Chantilly. This was a small town north of Paris with a huge history of horses, not to mention some spectacular French Revolution history. The race was part of the Castle Triathlon Series and who would not want to go swim in a castle moat, ride the country-side and then top it off with a run around the stately grounds!! I was game, so lets get to the action!!!
No triathlon would be complete without some good travel miscues along the way and this was no exception. Travel was booked on SwissAir, but not really, it turned out to be Air France and they have this odd policy that you need to secure a spot for your bike ahead of the flight. Shame I figured that bit out the day before, but luckily, we scored a spot for the bike all securely tucked away in its Scion bike bag. After a short flight we arrived in Paris and waited the delivery my gear. After 40 minutes, out hobbled my bike bag, oddly missing one of the four wheels that makes it super easy to navigate an airport. With one wheel gone, the challenge was on and let me tell you, steering that thing was quite the core workout!!
We (Julie and I) made our way to the rental car center and grabbed what appeared to be a lorrie of sorts. The car was enormous!!! Getting the bike in the back was a piece of cake except for the fact that the car was backed up against a pole 🙂 Car loaded and off we go!!! Next up, like all good Euro car rentals,….the low tire pressure light comes on. This is not the first time this has happened (reference our last trip to France) but we pull over, check the tires and carry on!
We roll into town and it is stunning!!!
So pretty, great accommodations (Hotel Auberge du Jeu Paume Chantilly) just a few meters from the venue but it is great! A nice check in, and we explore the city looking for lunch albeit it at 11:30 am. After a nice long walk, we find a Italian place 🙂 We have some nice food, a spirit or two and head back to the hotel for a bit of a nap given we had an early flight.
Next up was venue scouting…but sadly, we could not access the true castle grounds that day so we just walked the perimeter and noticed not only the odd water color, but also some interesting ripples in the water. Here I thought I would be free of sea monsters, but no, they were so abundant that they were essentially an attraction! And the water…ugh, bile looks cleaner that that stuff!
Oh well, not much I can do about that so we head back to the hotel and have a lovely dinner. Good thing my race is a bit later in the day (not 5:30 am lke in the states) so on race morning, we head to breakfast, enjoy the good food and then walk to the race venue. Seems like the security at the venue is a bit tight so all 4000 athletes cue up and eventually I make my way to transition. I find my spot, lay out my gear, have a snack and then take only the swim gear with me to the start area!
Holy cow…its like a half mile walk in gravel. My poor feet!! But I make it and approach the true swim venue which thankfully was not what I saw the day before….actually, it was worse. I about vomitted at the sight of the water. Who doesn’t like a swim in swan feathers, algea, swan poop, ugh…why!!!!!
After the race briefing in French and partial English, we all sink into the muck. It was revolting and I was on the verge of throwing up. Up to my knees in God knows what and not wanting to stir anything up from the bottom of the “lake?” Boom…gun goes off and I cant see shit. I guess this will be one of those swims where I concentrate on breathing out of the water. It is a simple course…200m out, a turn at a bouy, and 200m back. I played it safe but thought I was well positioned. Out of the muck I emerge and up to T1 I go!
T1 was not just a simple jog. We had a long run, with multiple sets of stairs and varied terrain. I enter transition, see the Slice, dump the goggles and wetsuit, jump into my Shimano shoes and out I go!! It was a speedy T1 and I approached the mount line at full speed with the crowd cheering all around me!!!
The path out of transition was a unique one. A few hundred meters of pavement and then boom, dirt. Who knew! Not me, that is for sure. But since I love dirt, gravel, what ever, I dropped the hammer. We were on the left side of the road and given this was a UK race series, I decided that passing on the right was legal. So off I went, me, my Slice, my race wheels and the dirt!!! The glasses fogged up so I dispositioned them and made the turn on to the tarmac.
We had the pleasure of returning on the dirt so I decided to channel my inner Paris-Roubaix and just slam it home! That was fun!!!!
T2 approaches, flying dismount, crowd cheer (the usualy) and then find my spot in tranistion. I was quick here as well and took a deviated path which sadly got me caught up with some outbownd cyclists. That over with, onto the run course!
Hmmm….grass for the first mile, then cobblestones, and the last bit in a garden. Granted it was beautiful, I was not prepared for that in my Zoot shoes but my inner-self was shinning brightly and I was able to push onward, and ruin the first female’s finish….sorry!!!
In the end, after a piss poor swim I managed to bag a 2nd AG spot and a sweet knitted cap from the organizers. Better yet, the bride and I spent the afternoon touring the castle grounds and then had one of the best meals ever at the hotel.
Sunday was a chill day. We toured the countryside, stumbled across a chateau and made it home 🙂