Solo Father’s Day

Despite being alone on Father’s Day this year, I had such a wonderful week with my children as I travelled from Switzerland to SoCal to celebrate my daughter’s graduation from High School.   To be honest, I wavered between going and not going.  It was a long trip, there were lots of work issues that needed to be addressed, and I wasn’t sure of how much time I would be given.  In the end, it was a great trip and I would not exchange it for anything.

The week started Tuesday morning with a early morning flight to a work event in Brussels.  I learned a ton and the event made me realize how much I enjoy my career.  Much to my surprise, the latest Zwift update launched while I was in Brussels and with some time before my flight to the states on Wednesday, I jumped on the treadmill Wednesday morning and tried out the new London Expansion.  Much to my surprise, there were fans!!!  How fun was that!  I managed a nice run and then needed to head towards the airport.

The travel plan was Brussels to Frankfurt to Los Angeles to San Diego where I jumped on the rental car shuttle and then after a bit of a delay at the AVIS counter, got my car and drove to the hotel in Carlsbad.  It did feel really odd having 1) a rental car in San Diego and 2) staying in a hotel in Carlsbad given it was our home for 7 years.  But, I was tired, and fell asleep straight away looking forward to the morning.

Thursday was graduation day!  But it was in the afternoon….so I embraced the jet lag, had some coffee and drove to Alga Norte to make the 5:45 am morning masters swim session.  I paid my entry and slipped into the water that was my home for so many months.  I felt like a bit of an outsider but soon Sef arrived and we caught up.  I have not been swimming as much as I should have so I brought the paddles and tucked in behind Sef for the main set.  3100 meters later and I called for the handicapped extraction lift…sadly, it never arrived so I hoisted myself out of the pool and dried off.  Next stop, Starbucks!!!
Lucky me…Cody was doing an early morning run so we grabbed breakfast together and then hung out the whole day.  We ran some errands, then had tacos!!!  After a nap we decided it was in our best interest to go see Courtney graduate.  So we jumped in the filthy Honda and arrived at CHS.  I didn’t receive a very warm welcome from the ex and her family so I grabbed a spot on the fence and enjoyed the graduation ceremony solo.  I really could have used J. Lindsay at my side but she was at a work event in Colorado so I made it through.


Once the caps were tossed in the air, I used my speed to jump the fence and find my daughter!!


Next to arrive was my other little ones and we took some nice pictures!


As everyone had plans, I was left to do dinner by myself.  I had something simple and then went to bed.

Friday!!!  Back to the pool and I get to hang out with some more of my friends from the past master’s sessions. I toweled off and next up was breakfast with my new graduate, Courtney!  We talked about her senior year and her year coming up where she will be a attending Purdue.  I was a bit surprised by the midwest selection, but I think that she will fit in and enjoy her time there (assuming she cuts her hair!!!!).  Once my daughter left for Grad Night, I was free to run US errands!!   I got a hair cut, did this, that and the next thing and after a nap, was on the road to Torrey Pines for a run with Markus. We had a nice run, great chat and it is always nice to talk with Markus who is from Switzerland.  I love saying I am from Switzerland and getting the response: “you don’t even have an accent!”

After a quick shower, I head to Encinitas to have dinner with Kendall and Cody.  Kendall has been on my mind each and every day since early in the year.  Every day I reach out to hear and don’t get a response makes me worry.  Fortunately, as I arrive to our dinner spot, I see her smiling and it brings a tear to my eye.  I brush it away and sit down with Kendall and Cody.  They are so excited and want to give me my Father’s Day’s gifts.  I think this is the first year they on their own have gotten me something for Father’s Day.

They each had really nice cards for me 🙂  Julie has really made an impression on them and that makes me so happy.  Next came the gifts, in a very special gift bag.  They were both so excited and it meant the world to me that they took the time to get me something.  The thought was there as well…they know me and know what I would like.  It was the best evening ever!!!  The only negative was that it was not Sunday, and I would be on my own.  But knowing the love I had just experienced, I didn’t need to have any companionship on Sunday, just their love!  I had that and while on a plane for most of the day, I did get in a little swim, bike and run!!!

Switzerland, I am here!!!

Northern California, Southern California, and now Switzerland!!

It wasn’t a planned move, by any stretch of the imagination, but when the opportunity presented itself, I decided a change would be beneficial both professionally and personally.

Let’s just say, packing up and moving from one continent to another is not an easy task!  I am thankful for the support from my company, Edwards Lifesciences for their support in this adventure.  November and December were crazy months as we stepped into and out of escrow before finally locking in on an offer that allowed us to close on our home on Kyanite Place.  I still love the video that Markus, my Team-Zoot teammate and realtor, created to help market our home.  Oh, and Markus is from Switzerland, so we had lots of talks about Switzerland and I introduced him to Alga Norte….North County’s best aquatic center!!

But when the dust settled, we sold the home, packed up our things in a container and took the flight to Geneva!

I must say, the first few weeks were tough.

I was by myself while Julie stayed in California to wrap up her domestic duties with Silk Road Medical.  Her place was much nicer than my toddler IKEA decorated “studio” apartment in Commugny. I had to check in here, sign this, check in there and sign that.

My first check in…Commungy!


It was exhausting and as a result, I bought a new bike!!!

It is a Canyon Cross bike…perfect for the farm roads!


Moving from my own home to the basement of another families house took some getting used to, but I kept busy by running and cycling (and working!).  I even found a few pools to swim in!

After a month of living in 25m2, I found our permanent home!!!

 It is only 10km from work and I can ride my bike to work!!!  Riding home, that is a different story, as we are half-way up the Jura mountains (shhh….a stage of the Tour de France finishes a few kilometers from here 🙂 ).  So, pretty much every activity begins with the up-hill or down-hill debate. Most of the time I choose down-hill and then pay for it later 🙂


That all being said, I couldn’t be happier!!!  The birds wake up early!!!  We get snow on occasion!!!  I live at altitude so my fitness is amazing!


I could not have done this without the amazing support of my bride Julie who when approached with the idea, said “sure”!


While we downsized the house and now try and cook using electric heat, it will only be a manner of time before we embrace the smell of cow and get our shopping done on Saturday as Sunday is “Make Sport” day!


And I get to watch bike races!!!

Well, Hello Whistler!

It is summer time, so what would be better than a family vacation combined with a triathlon!!! In my mind, nothing….so I packed up the bride and three kids and off to Canada we went! Well, they packed themselves…and it is not like I put them in bags and brought them to Canada to dispose of them…you get the picture 🙂  Here is proof they made it alive!

We made it!

SAN-SFO-YVR is the plan…and it works!  Well, getting to SAN was a challenge but we made it.  We arrive to Vancouver, manage to get through immigration and cross out fingers that bike, gear and all five checked bags make it.  Luckily they do and we head to the rental car company to pick up our “Full Sized SUV”.  Our offering from Avis was a sporty SUV capable of holding 5 people and maybe 1 bag.  So three jump in to a cab while the boy and I tear apart the car and manage to fit bike plus bags into the vehicle and drive into town.

Cody is in there waving!

 

#SPGLife  View from the Westin Bayshore Vancouver

We had a blast exploring Vancouver and everyone loved the seawall and Stanely park.  And we even had family time that allowed us to practice our “Go Away Coyote” chant!

Totems in Stanley Park

 

Kendall confirming the water is really cold in Vanouver!

 

One of many amazing trails we enjoyed on Family Day in Vancoouver

 

We learned this in Vancouver and tried it in Whistler but for bears.

 

After a few fun filled days in Vancouver we dropped N=2 on the Vancouver-Whistler Express bus and headed up to the mountains.  What a spectacular drive and when we arrived in Whistler, it was so amazing.

Cody, out Olympic hopeful!


Sadly, this trip did not include ATV tours, zip-lining, downhill mountain biking or any other high injury risk sports as I was the one paying and there was a race on Sunday! #meandad

So we did some leisure activities (gondola ride, 1 mile walk, etc.) and got ready for the dance that was to take place on Sunday at 8:45 am.  Wait,…8:45, that is really late…I can sleep in, relax and then head to the race venue.  Nope, the shuttles to the start were primed for the 140.6 athletes and that meant everyone racing had to be at T1 by 6ish.  So race morning comes and I drink coffee, have a bagel and drive down to the bus stop.  Once in transition, I get the tires topped off, cut some electrical tape to secure my pitstop to my top tube (managed to snip my leg in the process…nice one Kevin), arrange my gear 30 times over and sit….stand….wait…wait some more….keep waiting….walk….stand….sit….sit in the grass….stand up….check out the swim start….sit….you get the picture.


And then it is go time!!!  I slip into my Huub Wetsuit and down a Boom Nutrition gel and test the water.  It is nice, mid 60’s but I’m getting a little leakage from my goggles so I make some adjustments and swim back to shore.  I cue up in the 30-35 minute pack and before you know it…cannon fires and the front people go for it!  I wait, and eventually it is my time to jump in the water complements of a rolling start.  I am faced with a rectangular course with three left turns, oh and a dock to try not to run into but try and get as close as I can to optimize my swim distance.


My past four 70.3 swims have all been in the 33 minute range and this one proved no different…33:08 by IM timing…my lowest time aside from the abbreviated NOLA race!  I allow the wetsuit strippers to remove the Huub and I grab my T1 bag and dash into the tent.  I grab my Smith Optics Overtake helmet, then my blue Shimano tri shoes, a few gels complements of Boom Nutrition and busted out of the tent looking for my bike.  I find the BMC TM01 set up with front and rear Zipp 808’s and head to the mount line.

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This was going to be a rough bike.  down, then up, then down and up again.  Here  is what the ride looked like on Strava:


I did have moments of being in the aero bars, so those were fun!

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Anyway, after two Bonk Breaker bars and some delicious Skratch Labs Matcha Tea Hydration I am ready to finish this ride.  You can see the stats of my ride on Strava. The best part about doing the 70.3 when there is a full being run in conjunction is the transitions are all set up for the full IM athletes…and we as the 70.3athletes, get to take advantage of that!  So, I loved being able to pass off my BMC to a bike handler and move on to the run.  Next up…13 miles of running in the woods.

Once on the run, here is what I wanted to look like:

But sadly I am not 20, so things look a little different.  My run was not what I wished for, but it is what it is given my run fitness.  So I took the pain to the finish and decided to capitalize on the finish shoot. I enjoyed many high 5’s and nearing the finish, I checked over my shoulder and launched the Drisko “There is a snake” finish jump!

Once across the line I donated my Team Zoot visor to the crowd, got my medal, took the finisihing shoot shower and hugged the loved ones who sacrifice so much to support me. We had an amazing vacation and I think I sold a few of the little ones on tri life and Canada!

Back to CDA!

The next stop on the KD 70.3 road show was Couer d’Alene where back in 2013 I attempted (and finished) my first full Ironman.  The details of that interesting day can be found here: Ironman Time but for the time being, let’s share a fun picture of that event and move on to 2016!

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Back when I didn’t have a butt.  Oh wait, I still don’t have a butt.

Where were we…oh yeah, #IM703CDA.  We (my bride Julie and I) made it into Spokane a bit later than we anticipated complements of a storm over Denver, a visit to the tarmac of Cheyenne’s airport, and only 1/2 of the checked bags arriving to our destination.  This did allow us to mingle with the United Luggage Assistance personnel and  observe a nervous dog urinate in the terminal, but we can save that for a later chronicle.

Once our time in Spokane was over, we loaded up the gear and made the drive east to Coeur d’Alene.  Um…what is going on?  It’s freezing and raining and the wind is like something out of the Wizard of Oz.  Not the ideal conditions for race day, but it is check in day, so we roll with it, get the infamous orange wrist band and explore the city a bit recalling many of the places we visited back in 2013.

The day before the race I met up with some of the #TeamZoot folks that were either local or racing.  Such a nice group of people and we had the chance to take a dip in the lake which by this time was just being blown to smithereens by some fairly aggressive southerly winds.  Sergio (@triserg) from our SoCal team was also there and his instagram fame hardly needs an introduction.

Race Day

It is the usual early wake up and traditional morning routine.  I nibble on a half bagel with almond butter and a tasty @SkratchLabs hyper hydration pack combined with some @Vega perform in the early am and then we roll out in the rental to the start.  I distribute the goods in my transition spot, top off the wheels to 110 psi and go for a jog.  The legs feel good and essentially it is all systems go!

Swim Time

It is a rolling start so I slot into the 30:00-35:00 group and wait for the start in my @Huubdesign wetsuit and @rokasport goggles.  The fasties take off and eventually, it is my turn so over the timing mat I go!!!!  Despite the buoys being on the left, I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to breath on the right.  I don’t think that was a big issue but  I felt it should be documented.  I plow through the swim at my pedestrian pace (1:36/100yd) and exit the water just a bit under 34 minutes.  Joy!  Now I get to play catch up!

SwimOut

Out of the water!!!  That is me in the green cap and Huub wetsuit.

I arrive to my bike and it is essentially the only one left in the racks.  While being a AWA athlete is nice, it does sometimes make you realize that there are some really solid swimmers out there…but, two minutes on the swim can be easily made up for on the bike!  So, @oakley glasses, @smithoptics helmet, socks and @rideshimano shoes and me and the BMC TM01 make our way to the mount line.  It is the exact same course as the full, with the exception that it is half as long.  That means, a short ~14 mile out and back (flatish) stretch, followed by the longer and hillier 42 mile loop.  I settle in and start the process of passing people who I respect their swimming abilities.

Turn

Nailing the turn!!!

The nutrition plan is to down two 20 oz bottles of @skratchlabs Matcha Green Tea over the course of the ride and supplement that with , an @bonk_breaker bar, and a few @boomnutrition gels.  That rounds off to about 240 calories per hour with the assumption that I can pull of the ride in 2:30.

Packing

Hydration is important!  Use Skratch!

I am excited to be on a new bike this year.  I moved over from the Cannondale Slice which was light and nibble to the @ride_bmc TM01.  This ride is a speed machine that loves to go straight and I love it.  It has taken a while to adjust to the position but I think I have finally nailed the balance between comfort and speed.  To help with the high end speed I am running dual @Zippspeed 808s but with the windy conditions I decided to drop the front to a 404.  In addition to it being my first year on the BMC` it is my first year on sew-ups!

Side

Me going fast!!!

So for 56 miles I just pedal (I actually pedalled for 97.62% of the ride), drink, eat, look around, and play leap frog with some other athletes.  For the most part we do a good job of trying to keep 6 bike lengths but as noted in the picture above, somebody was not very good at keeping that distance.  My Zoot Suit (I love saying that) was fitting great and generated some crisp tan lines per Rule #7 (http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/).

The bike sadly doesn’t last forever, so it comes to an end at T2.  Flying dismount and a long run to the rack.  Based on the number of bikes, I moved up quite a bit on the bike!  I’m now sitting in 15th and have all the dreams of a great run.  But to be honest, the run fitness was “meh” at best.  Work travel and some niggly hamstring issues have put a damper on the run volume.  But that happened last year before Victoria where I had my best run off the bike in a half IM.  So I’m positive and thinking it is time to rock and roll!!

Run start

I’m so looking forward to the next 13 miles!

Those sensations lasted about 200m as my left quadricep decided it was time to cramp up.  It didn’t really cramp up, but it was on the borderline of  cramping so I eased off the pace a bit. I was going a little below 7:00/mile pace and things felt in control.  And then, the hamstring decided it needed to mess things up.  I was 1/4 the way through the run and my body was not happy.  So, I decided to ease off the pace and finish.  It was a hard call mentally as I wanted to do well, but with Canada in less than a month away, I was not going to do anything stupid.

run wrap up

Is it possible I managed to keep my goggle eyes through out the bike and run!

So #267 kept moving.  Keeping cool at the aide stations, topping off the hydration and enjoying coke and the fans of CDA.  If you ever have a chance to do this race, do it!!!  The community support is amazing and I love all the people that come and volunteer!

All done

Final steps!  Yeah, I’m done!

The finish is there!  I make it across the line, see my bride in the the VIP tent.  Next up is a medal and hat, lots of water and a pseudo shower in the shoot.  #IM703CDA is done.  21st in the AG which is a bit of a bummer but I think I represented the team ok.  Let’s see if we can do better in Whistler!

Run finish

Me finishing, My Bride cheering me on!

 

 

Things are evolving. 

It was the first race of the year last weekend, Super Seal, and I could have reported on how I did on the early season Swim, Bike, Run but instead, I decided to write a post on the mental and physical fortitude that is required to achieve this year’s goals. With a schedule as a Team Zoot athlete that includes a few 70.3 and another pass at 140.6, time in the saddle is going to be critical. Prior to last year, I was an always outside rider. The sun, the wind, the rain hardens you. The stop lights of Southern California kill you!  So when Zwift was developed, I jumped on the bandwagon to aid in my training. Last year was stellar and so I figured let’s keep a good thing going. But how long could I really ride on the trainer?  Two years ago, my max would have been an hour. Last year, I think I maxed at 1:30. There was a challenge in front of me…100km. Let’s see if I made it!

Ironically, this was the first big ride using the new Kickr smart trainer. I had previously been using the Kurt Kinetic trainer and so I did not have much appreciation for the rolling nature of the Watopia course.  Using the Kurt, I just pedal at a constant rate and Zwift adjusts my speed given the gradient. Using the Kickr, the course fights back and I had no idea how lumpy the “Flat” course was. 

Regardless, I had a goal, 100km, and by 5am I was saddled up with three full bottles of Skratch Labs Macha, a few Bonk Breaker Bars and a nice sampling of Boom Gels. 

My first hour was essentially solo. Just turning the pedals and pushing the watts 😜. Taking in the sites was a little dull, so I punched it on a few reverse sprint segment and did a little tempo to see if I could grab a few jerseys. BAM!!!  

 

 With the orange in the bag, it was time to focus on the next 50km. Scott Green, who I met at the Chicago ITU race, was about to jump on and we came up with a plan to do some Old School Watopia laps together. Having the double Green/Orange added to the fun!

  

It was great to have the company and before long we were rocking the Green and Orange jerseys!!

  
 

The kilometers rolled by many play lists later, I hit 100km!!  
  

I had fears this was going to be horribly painful but thanks to my @teamzoot kit, it was a comfort session!  The reward at the end was a sodium rich Bloody Mary!!!

To date, I have ridden over 150 hours on Zwift. I’m a mere 15km from level 25 and I think have only one jersey left to unlock. It is the 100 miler. If I am insane enough to get it, I will post it here!  

I decided to add some of my favorite Zwift photos here. Join and #rideon 

   
    
    
 
    
 

I’m behind, and I know it!

Three big races, in three different regions.  I owe you all a detailed update, but for now, here is the short recap…more to come!!

Vichy 70.3…Felt like crap from the gun.

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ITU Chicago…Killed it!  2nd in AG.

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Mission Bay Tri….faster than film..no photos 😦

Details to follow…Rock on TeamZoot!

Vichy…Euro Stop #1

I can’t believe I have not posted since Carlsabad…back in July.  But it was been quite the season and I have much to share.  So here is Segment #1 of Late to Post

The show had been on North American soil to date and so it was time to up the game and go for trans-continental.  You will notice I did not go “international” given the Canadian race, so the bride and I packed up my gear, bike, food, clothes, etc. and her suitcase and set off for Vichy, France.

The flight plan was SAN-ORD-FRA-LYN.  It would take us 3 days and 3 flights (simple math I know) but we would find ourselves in France on Wednesday with a race days set for Saturday.  Zero complaints on the travel to France as we were upgraded to 1st class on Lufthansa to Frankfurt and enjoyed the experience to the max…some, more than others, but that was fine as one was racing and the other was in charge of relaxing!!!

We pulled into Vichy mid-day on Wednesday and grabbed some really good food at our circa 1983 hotel.  The town grew on us, but our initial impression was that not much had changed from when they invested a lot to create the infamous spa town.  Regardless, we were very happy with our accommodations and the proximity to the race venue.  It is hard to complain when you can see the swim course from your room and the run loops past your place twice!


I took off for a shake out ride on Wednesday and loved the terrain!  Flats into the wind, then some rolling hills and a fast decent into town.

https://www.strava.com/activities/377908836

Our plan to drive the course was thwarted by a flat tire on the rental car but I think I got the gist of things once we arrived.

French food is sooooo good given your goal is to add weight.  As a pre-race build-up, not so good.  And to compound that was the fact that we were off schedule and constantly missing the opening hours of lunch.  Don’t get me wrong…each bit of food was amazing, but the timing and construction of the meals did not align with my race preparation.  Despite that, we had a great time walking around the town which was covered in Ironman flags and banners.  I have never seen anything like this in the US, and really think that in Europe they do such an incredible job captivating the host city in supporting the event.  It feels so much more like a festival, rather than an inconvenience.

I was able to check in and was surprised to be assigned #18.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty close to pro, but WTH?  I guess one of the perks of being IM AWA was that they sort of seeded you.  That was quite a lofty target, but I guess I was all in to do my best.

They hosted an amazing athlete dinner on Friday and the bride and I made our way there in out hatchback rental (now with repaired tire).  I would have been happy with the salad round but then there was pasta as well as desert!  We had a great time watching the inspirational videos, eating, drinking and just kicking back.  At the end of it all, we made our way to the IM sign…I have never seen this in the US, and then back to the hotel where we made sure everything was all prepped for show time!.


Beep, beep, beep….alarm time!!!  It is race day and I feel meh!  I did my best to have some food early, topped off with some coffee.  I grabbed our rental and we loaded the last few items into the car.  Once at the race venue, I made some final adjustments to my gear, heard the choir sing out “wesuit legal”, made a quick change into my Team Zoot Speed Suit and got ready to race!

I make my way out into the mosquito water which looked much cleaner from afar.  But no worries, this was race day and the plan is not to drink the water, but race in it.  There were three waves and I was in wave #1 which meant a lot of bodies.  I originally placed myself in the front row, but was soon pushed back a row or two by the time the gun/cannon/horn went off.  Right from the start I felt like a sloth…why!!!!  Anyway, I pondered why I do this for the next ten minutes while I swam.  I finally pulled myself together and got down to business.  The swim was fine.  Against the current out, the with it back.  I surfaced and emerged from the water with a respectable time.

Swim is done!

Vichy Swim Done

I’m taller that ATCC Guy and like to show off my swank HUUB Wetsuit!!!

This was such a well organized race….out of the water, grab that T1 bag, enter the steam chamber (aka, changing tent) and blitz out to find my bike.  I grab my Cannondale Slice, strapped on my Smith helmet, slipped into my new/dap Shimano Tri shoes and did that dance to the mount line.

Finally, on the open French road…oh wait, we need to first navigate the forest trail path with roots penetrating the surface…whoa that was bumpy!!!  Hold on everyone, this is going to be a wild ride!!!

Vichy Bottle toss

Flashy Shimano shoes and getting my Garmin started…Time to kick ass and take names!!! Smith Optics lid is the bomb!

But let’s not dwell on that portion of the course…because the rest of the course was spectacular!  After leaving town (which required a few hills, up and down, and some technical turns) the course opened up and it was time to deliver!!!  I felt like I was shot out of a cannon on the first part of the course.  It played to my strengths by being slightly uphill.  I was rolling along at 24 mph taking in all the sites and beautiful countryside.  I hit a short hill and was swarmed by a big group and let this get to my head.  I’m not sure why, but I was discouraged that I consider I myself as good climber but I did not want to go that hard at that point on the course.  Passing through the first aid station was amazing!!  The town we passed through was out cheering us on and the line to get into the penalty tent was a mile long…so long suckers!!!

Vichy Bike

Corn…been there, done that…France…yeah, you rock!!! #18 #cannondale #Smithoptics #Shimano #Zootsports

Through mile 42 I was still rolling at 24 mph but knew we had the hill.  I got caught up in a few draft packs but did my best to navigate those and keep my own effort.  The last 14 miles were either up or down, and not by a percent here or there, but by significant numbers.  So I fixated on my power meter and just did my job.  I got yelled at in french for cutting off another athlete by a referee, but since he didn’t go down, I motored on.  Sadly, our last fun downhill as speed restricted so I could not really enjoy it.  After navigating a few technical turns and poles in the road I hit the rough return to the finish.  The course was a little long, but I really enjoyed it!  Time to dismount and hit the run!!!!

https://www.strava.com/activities/379938418

I had a quick T2 (my specialty) and hit the road…13 miles and this baby was wrapped up!

Mile 1 – Smoking!!!!

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No pictures please…I have some business to take care of.

Mile 2 – 5 – ok

Mile 6 – uh oh

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When you are half way through, who would not want to just lick their lips and go for more!!!

Mile 7-11 – ouch…just call me la douche! Water everywhere I don’t care where it comes from!  Hose -fine, sponge -fine, bucket – ideal!!!  KEVEN (the french pronunciation of my name) coming through!!!

Despite popping at mile 6, the crowd support was great.  At brief moments I hydrated the plants rather than myself (not the way you are thinking).  If I ever slowed, the crowd was there to push me!!  I can not thank all of the local volunteers!!!  They kept me going when I wanted to quit and die.  Through town I got a second wind!  So I slowed just a bit through the next two aid stations but motored to the finish!!  And what an amazing finish it was!!  Stadium!!!  Bleachers!!! Crowds!!  MC!!!  Me and the race clock!!!!

Vichy Wrap

This bad ass is done!!!!!

https://www.strava.com/activities/379938390

Did it!!!  #18 #TeamZoot put that race in the bag!!!  Food tent, shower tent, Euro vacation!!!!  #Beerme!!!

I can not thank my fantastic sponsors enough!!!  They are the best and help me achieve each and every goal!!!  So thank you Zoot, Huub and Skratch Labs!!!  You are the best!!! My coach Grant Burwash keeps me focused and on task.  Accountability is so critical in this sport so thank you for believing in me and continuing to push me to new levels!  And my team’s corporate sponsors!!!  You are the best!  Garmin, CarbBoom, Smith!  You deliver me in style (like that was an issue!!!)

One last shout out to my bride!!!  Best travel partner, cheerleader, sherpa, and bland pasta enjoyer the world ever created!!!!

 

Next up Chicago!!!  ITU Worlds!

Carlsbad Tri with the Zoot Gang

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The Finish at the Carlsbad Triathlon…Coastal Bliss!!!

Local races are the best!  Am I not right?  No travel, sleep in your own bed, no early mornings…whoops…this is triathlon, every race is always a hideous early morning.  Regardless, it was Carlsbad triathlon time and I was ready to participate.  I think this race has been held for almost 30 years and they put on a wonderful race.  The community support is fantastic, no short of volunteers and the weather is always perfect (it’s Carlsbad!!!)  All that being said, it is a fairly small race, but all the locals all come out to play (including some pretty good pros) and  the course never really leaves the pacific coast so what is not to like?

Race morning!!!  Early alarm and I am set to hit the venue.  Typical pre-race stuff….coffee, some food, you know.  I navigate my way to a parking spot and unload the bike and gear.  A short roll to the transition is next, followed by getting the gear set up.  I was by no means there early, so I did the best I could with racking and set up shop.  The race is one of those that you walk the length of the swim from the transition to the swim start so I slipped on the Huub in transition up to the waist and then made my way north along the seawall.  I popped a Carb Boom gel (compliments of our Team Zoot Sponsor) and zipped up my Huub wetsuit.  The incoming waves were not “minor” so I decided to do some practice entries.  Luckily I got out between sets and actually commented to another competitor: “that was not too bad.”  Oops…bad move and karma was swinging around to get me!

I was in wave 5, 6 or something like that.  Wave 1 got worked by the waves and I felt bad for them.  The next few waves fared a little better and they actually were able to make forward progress.  It was my turn.  I lined up on the frontish (not really the front, but pretty close) and when the horn sounded I trotted out to the water all the while trying to assess if I was going to be beat on, or just cruise through.  Luckily, it was the later and I managed to get past the break without being pushed back to shore (Huge Accomplishment!!!)

The rest of the swim was that ho-hum we all experience while swimming in a race.  You know…”should I go for those feet?”  “Wait, those look better.” “Yikes the buoy is coming up, will I get beat down on?”  “Will this ever end?”  “Holy crap, was that a shark or some kelp?”  “Why is nobody around me?”  “Am I that bad of a swimmer?” “Oh, there is somebody…thanks for the foot to the face!”  “Last turn, home free!!!”  “I survived another one of these!!!”

It was somewhere between the “Home Free” and “I survived another one of these” that I turned to look behind me and noticed a very large wave approaching.  I honestly have no idea what you are suppose to do so I just said “Giddy Up” and got pummelled!  I finally surfaced complements to my body fat and my beloved Huub wetsuit and realized my goggles were no longer on my face.  Not only were they not on my face, they were not on my head, neck, torso or any part of my body…they were gone! So I took a peak behind me and in came wave #2.  It was essentially a repeat of the previous wave and once I finally surfaced I told myself to get my ass to shore.  I will admit, I think I tried to touch the sandy beach about 500 times before I actually made it, so the swim time was a little pathetic.  Good news is that I am in the market for some new goggles!!!  My gift to the Pacific I guess!  Oh, and I was still alive!

Anyway, it is time to bike, but first, a trodge through the sand to get to transition.  Would it be that hard to at least make that run downhill?  I mean, come on, uphill in the soft sand after swimming…geez!!  Made it past the sand and got onto the proper surface…road!  And finally a picture!!!

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Running to T1 is so much easier without goggles! Thanks Pacific Ocean. #Huub #Zoot

So I made my way to transition and assessed the number of flaccid wetsuits lying around my spot and thought “damn…you got worked and now you have work to do!  Learn to swim Kevin!!!”  Given that discussion, I got to the task at hand and jumped on the bike and bolted up the hill out of T1.

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Bam! Full Zoot Gear! #SmithOptics #Garmin #Zoot #Skratchonboard

I ride this course all the time as it is along PCH, oh and I live here!  So I knew what to expect and put the hammer down!  I was making up time on everyone!  Tucking in and hammering pays off!!!  I got to the far turn around, made a cheeky move and passed a few guys I was targeting!!! #sorryboys!

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Carving!!! Bike handling skills pay dividends!! #154

They were not impressed and passed me back and I made the decision to just sit back and watch how they held up.  One was strong and the other sat on while I sipped my Skratch Matcha drink.  I figured I could take them on the run so I just continued to watch.  Don’t get me wrong, we were going, but just not full throttle.  With a few miles to go I made my move and passed them both.  I am happy to report that I never saw them again!  Yay!!!

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Bike data compliments of Training Peaks!

I drop into T2 and heard the main volunteer cheering me on saying “It is my favorite helmet guy!!!”  I agree!  The Smith Optics Overtake is a sweet helmet!  Super bright, so you stay safe and so comfy!!!  It is my goto for races now!  I do a quick survey of the bikes and there are two others in racked meaning I am in 3rd.  One guy is just heading out and I have no idea about the other guy.  So I do the quick T2 and bolt for the run out.

I do the seawall bit, then that nasty climb up to PCH.  I tried to keep the HR pretty steady.  At the top of the hill I see #2 and quickly dispose of him out the back.  So, according to my calculations, there is one more guy somewhere up the road.  So I up the pace and go deep into that place we don’t like to go.  The body was screaming “NO” but my mind was saying “YES”.  Mind over body, so off I went!!!

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#154 on the run! Go #TeamZoot!!! #Inthehurtlocker #rippedquads

I kept passing people and had no idea if it was enough.  So I never gave up and powered through the finish!

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That’s a wrap! #154 is done! Time to barf 😉

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We call this course “Death X2” If the sharp kicker wasn’t enough, the grind home will take out the weak!

I saw some familiar faces…you know, those guys in your AG that you battle each weekend.  So I was kind of down assuming I miscounted in T2 or something like that.  I got my finisher medal, my water, a banana and worked my way to my bike.  I packed up my gear, searched for my wetsuit and realized I was not super tidy in transition…sorry boys!  I dropped my stuff off at the car and then jogged back the race to cheer on my Team Zoot teammates.

As it turns out, the local kids kicked some ass!!!  Sean and I won our age-groups!  Natalie grabbed 2nd and our fearless leader Diana scored 3rd!  It was a huge day for Team Zoot in Carlsbad!!!  We will be back for more bling so look out!!!

Everything is starting to click!!

Victoria was the venue for my next attempt at 70.3 miles, compliments of Ironman.  A relatively new race to the Ironman circuit (year #2) the location and timing was ideal for us so we planed a trip up north.  My bike and swim were looking strong.  Hitting the pool 3-4 times a week and getting in those quality rides.  I can not thank Zwift enough for providing a distraction during the dedicated trainer sessions as well as the fantastic weather in Carlsbad to encourage long rides on the weekends.  The run was question mark as a hamstring issue left me with barely any running in the previous month.  Doing a 10k on limited running is fine.  13 miles (or 12.9 in this case) seemed like a recipe for disaster…but that is for a few paragraphs later.

Here I am in tip top shape ready to tackle tough bike course (picture compliments of the San Diego Century):

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One week prior to Victoria at the San Diego Century – Only did 45 miles

So, I fly into Victoria with my bride and mom (I know, what am I thinking!!)  It is going to be a fun weekend and we land, wait, wait, wait for all of our bags, bust through customs and immigration, grab our rental car and head off to the race venue!  A few laps around the potential parking spots lands us in the grass lot adjacent to the TriBike Transport Crew.  We need to hit them up later, so we power into the venue and try and figure out where to go.  About 4 lines later we are at the VIP tent and we get the goods!!!

I assessed the venue and the course looked ideal!  Smooth as glass lake, amazingly scenic ride and a trail run!!!!  I’m coming back for sure!  Here is the swim venue.

Checking out the swim venue.

We took off to our hotel, stopped at the store for some food where I saw this and it made me wonder, I have heard of cookie butter, but have never tried it.

Nice find in the local grocery store.

Could this be the magic sauce for IM victory???  I figured it was not, but wondered if it was, anyway we made our way to the Westin Bear Mountain and called it a night. A chill day was coming to a close and so far, everything was going according to plan!

MORNING!!!!

Beautiful morning in Victoria

I was up super early.  The plan was to do a swim and bike and then kick it.

Clear blue water & the Huub

The swim was great, my Mom came with me and hung out while I swam out and back. The water was perfect and there was no plan for the conditions to change for race day.  I did a little bike course preview and quickly realized the course was really lumpy.  Time to race smart, not fast!

Since the swim and bike were done for the day, I got to rack my bike.  Thanks to some pretty good results last year, I obtained AWA status and had a primo transition spot.  I was right on the end of one of the racks very close to the swim venue.  So the bike all slicked out with a set of Zipp’s, was ready to hibernate for the night.

And what better way for me to kick it, then to hit up the Fairmont and have some tea!!!  Not the best place to let the Zoot kit color’s shine through, but I got all fancied up and had a really fun time with Mom and Julie.

There was a bit of a debate around dinner but we eventually landed at the hotel and enjoyed a good meal.  Everything was all set for the morning, so we just called it an early evening knowing that the alarm would be going off early.

Despite having a nice suite, my initial morning actives of making coffee and making  more coffee disrupted the support team and before I knew it, everybody was up and about with huge enthusiastic smiles on their faces 😉  I whipped up a Vega protein shake and had half a bagel while I was getting ready with some pretty bland almond butter on it.  I have really grown to appreciate what just a hint of sugar can do for the taste of things.  And I know there is the whole avoid refined sugar philosophy, but I’m sorry, it actually makes it taste like food.

We had a bit of a drive to the race start (about 20 minutes) and there was also a required shuttle bus trip so out the door we went at 4 something and made our way down to Elk Lake.  We pulled into the parking lot and trudged up the hill to the awaiting school buses.  School buses were really roomy as a kid, but now being a bit taller, they are quite cramped.  I had a banana on the bus and despite having to wait in a left turn lane for what seemed like forever, it was a pretty easy trip.

I got to my bike, aired up the tires to 110 psi, laid out my gear and took off for a quick warm up run.  I did a little bit of the run course and quickly realized that it was a pretty narrow trail on the way to the finish.  I’m not sure what exactly I meant to do with that bit of information, but I logged it into the back of the brain and made my way back to my gear.  I was so glad the hamstring was being cooperative!  About 30 minutes leading up to the swim I had my Skratch Hyper Hydration mix along with a Vega Perform packet.  I find this has given me a pretty good dose of energy through the swim and into the early part of the bike where I start to eat a little more as conditions allow.  I had the luxury of putting my wetsuit on twice as I forgot to reconnect the quick release zipper.  It is a great function that allows you to activate the breakaway zipper but requires a little bit of common sense before putting it on again and on race morning, my capacity for common sense is pretty limited.  So off it came, a quick connect and back on again.  The beauty of the Huub wetsuit is that in addition to fitting like a glove, getting into it is a piece of cake.  So I grabbed my goggles and swim cap, topped of the pre-race nutrition with a quick Boom gel and made my way down to the water.

I was one of the later waves and so I had the pleasure of watching some of the other waves start and then jumped in for a quick warm up.  I was not much of a warm up but more of a get wet and float in the water session.  The water felt good.  Definitely not cold, and not too warm so I just hung out and relaxed in the water until is was time for me to line up.

So while not a great swimmer, I am getting better.  NOLA was a fast swim, mostly because of the distance, but I have developed a bit more confidence in the water.  That was a time trial start with 8 athletes jumping off a dock at 3-5 second intervals.  Victoria you start about waist deep which was also a little different.  I can’t think of how else they can start you given I have done the run in swims as well as the tread water for 20 minutes prior scenario.  So I went to the front but towards the middle of the line-up.  My thought process was that by avoiding the far left where all the buoys would be, I would avoid having to be run into if I was slower than I thought and swimming into a foot fest if I was faster than those in front of me.  I could see all the other AWA athletes to my left and started to question my choice, but oh well, we were 30 seconds to start and not much I could do about it at this point.

Air horn!!!!    Push off with the legs, dive in and go.  My little plan worked like a charm.  Nobody in my way, nobody swimming over me!!!!  I was doing pretty good, noticing a few groups starting to form around me most noticeably those boys on the left, but also one on my right.  I had to make a call and started making the merge left.  If I am going to be faster, I need a little help.  By the time I got far enough over to line up behind the fast kids, they were gone. Lesson learned, maybe a few kicks in the face are not that bad after all because I have learned to appreciate the benefit of swimming in the draft at my morning master’s swims.  From this point I was kind of on my own.  There were a few others around me so I would jump on their feet and then move along after a short break.  Find a new set and keep moving up through those who were tiring out.  The swim course was straight out, left turn, about 150m, left turn and then head back.  I started to pick up some earlier wave traffic and was getting pretty far left for turn number one.  It looked nice and clear and so I took the turn and looked for the next buoy.  I couldn’t really see anything due to the sun, so I just peeked every once in a while for flailing arms ahead of me.  The next turn came pretty quick and was a little more congested but I made it through unscathed and looked up for the finish.  It was a long way away and so I just focused on keeping the sighting buoys close by.  At this point I started to get warm.  I am guessing it was the sun warming my back but it was not the most pleasant feeling and one I had not experienced in any of my other races.  Regardless, I kept going and hit the finally buoy, made an odd little jog to the left and swam my way into the beach.

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Victoria 70.3 Swim Map

I had no sense of my swim time, whether it was fast or slow so I was curious to see my time when I surfaced.  It felt long, so I was preparing myself for another 35 minute swim.  Once up and off with the goggles, I hit the lap button on my Garmin and……..33:11….Yay!!!!  A little party took place right there, and gave me some extra encouragement to get to transition (of course the official time was a little longer due to the location of the timing mats – 33:53, 21st place in my AG).

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Huub wetsuit looking good inside out!

The Huub was down at the waist in no time and I made the decision to forgo the short sleeve jersey I was planning on wearing on the bike.  In no time I was at my bike, I had my wetsuit off and the socks and shoes were on in a flash.  I grabbed my Bonk Breaker bar and an extra Boom gel, put on my quick to fog up glasses and my brand new Smith Overtake helmet!  I made quick work navigating the swimmers extracting themselves out of their wetsuits and got to the mount line, jumped on, clicked in and was off…T1 was 1:38!

Bike out Victoria

And off I go…

There was some confusion about the course length, some websites had it listed as 90km, others shorter, so I was not sure what to expect.  We take off down a wooded road towards the loop.  For the 70.3 distance, the loop is done twice before heading back into town.  I had seen bits and pieces of the loop from driving and riding earlier but for the most part, I was going in without a lot of knowledge on the course.  So the plan was to race the course, not attack the hills (which is always so tempting).

Here is the data you have all been screaming before…first public release!!!

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All the colors of the rainbow!

I know that is a lot of garbled up lines, but the bottom line was that I went out a little hard, lap #1 was very consistent thanks to a light load of traffic, while lap #2 saw some others infiltrate my zone.  When I get in the zone, I want nobody around….I want open roads, and nobody interfering with my ability to ride my pace.  Sure, I don’t mind an Everyman Jack guy passing me, but when I play leapfrog, it drives me crazy.  Anyway, nutrition has been great this year and today was no different.  A good balance of Boom gels, Bonk Breaker bars and Skratch Labs.  Boom is a Team Zoot sponsor and their gels are easy on the stomach and give you just the right kick to continue down the road.  Skratch is my hydration/electrolyte supplier of choice and with 90 calories per 8 oz, they provide a quick means to some good calories.  Currently, I am hooked on the Matcha & Lemons flavor!!!. 
I was excited to hear some cheering from Julie and my Mom as I passed through on the start of the second loop.  I did not expect to see them and it gave me a little push on the start of the next lap.

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Rockin n Rollin the Team Zoot Kit and Smith lid!!!

While I was a little more variable on lap 2, I was excited to see a VI of 1.04 and an IF of 0.83.  Signs that it was a steady, hard effort.  All that being said, I probably should have gone a little harder but rolled into T2 having moved up a significant number of places in my AG (now sitting in 10th!) and grabbing 7th overall on the Strava half ironman loop segment!…All the while, the crowd was going wild!!!

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Dang I’m good….even the toes of my socks match!!! Dismount approaching in 3, 2, 1!!!

I flew through T2 much to the disappointment of my mother, but sorry Mom, that is how I roll.  Bike was racked, helmet off, Zoot Carlsbad (my home town!) shoes on, grab the race belt and the Fuel Belt and bam, out I go!!! T2 in 1:07, I will take that.

If the bike course was unknown to me, the run course was a total mystery given I had seen maybe half a mile of it this morning.  I head out, reach back for my drink bottle and notice that one of the two is missing….Noooo!!!!  I decide I can manage and settle into a nice pace.  The course is spectacular!  Trails in the shade!  Such a contrast to NOLA where it was concrete in the sun.  I found a nice pace and settled in.  I always wonder if I have paced myself sufficiently in earlier parts of the race to have a good run and I was about to find out.  As I mentioned earlier, I have not been running much in the last months, and so the plan was go out solid for the first 10k loop and see what happens in the second loop.  I think the language shared by my coach Grant was “My guess is the legs will really start to hurt after about 10k….”  I can not say that was not in the back of my mind but as the miles (or km) clicked by, I was feeling better and better.

Forest Run

Loving the cool temps and shade!!! Bring loop #2!!!

As I approached the second of two laps, I decided, it is time to go!!!  And go I did!  I was feeling great.  No longer was I dodging the sprint athletes making their way back towards me on their run but I was blowing past runner’s on their run.  I passed the EMJ guy and appreciated the words of encouragement he gave me and started really giving it all I had.  The HR was up, the pace was up and I was feeling good.

Enter km 15 into the fold…the exact point I told myself if I started to break down, I could deal with it.  I knew that meant 3 miles to the end.  There was the last mile which I could storm, and the two lumpy miles just preceding that last mile.  I was in pain…so much pain that putting one foot in front of the other was torture.  I hit the point in the course where they send you on a hilly out and back and figured this was the death of me.  I did surprisingly well, much to my surprise.  Yeah, the pain was still there in the legs, but the body just kept moving.  So I hit the downhill and though to myself, just make it to the meadow and you are home free.  The meadow came and I kicked it in.  I think it was just about a mile, but while I finished at 7:16/mile pace, this last mile was at 6:30/mile pace and I was picking off people left and right.  I hit the bridge I saw during my warm-up and lap one and new it was good day.  I charged home and crossed the line!  Not my fastests 70.3 at 4:43 but clearly, the best all around effort.

Run Finish Victoria

Finish line just ahead!!! Thank God!! 4:43!!!

I was excited to see Julie and my mom at the finish.  Sweaty hugs were a given along with some post race food…well, I had an orange and passed on the chili???  Kind of an odd choice.  I took some time to reflect on my race, saw my placing in my AG (8th) and decided I had enjoyed Victoria enough.  So I smiled for a picture, grabbed my gear and we headed to a proper lunch where I had a beer and a burger!!!


Next up was a nap, some pool time, where we made some friends and talked to some other racers.  We wrapped up the night and all crashed after a long day.  We had big plans for the morning, so no time to just sit around.

This year, we are exploring more around the race venues and so our goal on Monday was Butchart Gardens for some natural beauty, a lunch along the coast and then a nice dinner downtown.  The garden’s were amazing!  The variety of horticulture was vast and the colors spectacular!!!  Pictures do not do this place justice one bit!


  
  

Bucket list item – CHECK!!!

Ever since I started following cycling, which would have been in high school, I have dreamed of riding in France.  Way back then, it was Laurent Fignon, Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond and my favorite, Charly Mottet.  At the time, he was riding for the System-U team in France and they had the most amazing TT bikes of the era.  I think they even used a cable to connect themselves to the frame so they would not sit up and compromise their aero position.  Oh, and they raced with Rudy Project glasses…those were the best!!  I’m going to spare you a picture of me in a pair. 

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Charly Mottet rocking the Rudy’s

Anyway, I stray off topic.  So when a work event in Paris got cancelled, and changing travel was cost prohibitive, I started to think, would this be the year I get to ride in France.  Now, I have ridden the Paris city bikes (even down the famed Champs Elysees), but I wanted to ride through the countryside on a real bike.

So, I did some research, and found Paris Bike Company, a company in Paris, that rents high end road bikes.  So just a few days prior to my arrival, I reserved a Cannondale.  It was super simple! Click, pull down, select, click, click, click, enter PayPal info and done!  Sweet road bike on the books with my name attached to it.  Within a few hours I was contacted by the owner of Paris Bike Company,Sam.  He wanted to get dimensions off my bike and make sure I had pedals, helmets, etc.  He was extremely responsive and answered each of my never ending questions. I highly recommend them if you ever are in a similar situation. 

Timing could not have been better as just before I left for France, Strava (www.strava.com) came out with their Strava Local feature.  It is great!  They have assembled several routes, of various distances, in several main cycling hubs worldwide.  Luckily, Paris was on their list, so I scanned through their rides debating on which one to try.  I finally landed on one that went out to the east and back via Versailles.  At first I figured I would do something in the 60 mile range, but upped it a bit for this one to 85 miles. 🙂

  

I arrived into Paris Saturday morning and opted to have Sam drop the bike off at my hotel since he was delivering a bike for another client.  I met him outside the hotel and he attached my pedals, passed over my helmet and we had a chance to chat a bit.  While chatting a nice local holding three beer cans, two full, one partially full, said something in french along with “Lance Armstrong”.  I’m not exactly sure what he said, but I am guessing that in his state, he equated either Sam or I (I finally got beat out on the gaunt face look) to Lance.  Sam reassured him all was good and eventually he moved on.  My bike was all set!  Time to eat some dinner and go to bed as it was going to be an early morning!  I was so damn excited!!!  It was like Christmas!

Steed for the day!!

Sunday morning comes and I take a peek out the window….sunny!!!!  Fantastic…it is going to be a great day!  I head to the lobby for some coffee and juice, then have some breakfast.  By 8:00 I was all kitted out in the Team Zoot gear and my Strava vest.  While it was sunny, it was by no means warm, and so the vest was a great add.

All kitted out for the big ride!!

I take the bike downstairs, wait for two GPS devices to sync up and click in…I’m off!!  First up is the cobbles in front of the Louvre and I have a significant appreciation for anyone who rides those!  Not only are they bumpy, but there are dips, holes, bumps and anything else you can think of affiliated with them.  Once over the Seine, I turn right.  Next stop is the Eiffel Tower, I turn right here and head back over the Seine.  I take in my surroundings and tell myself, you will be back here later in the day and can snap a photo then. So I hit the base of the Palais de Chaillot and swing left.  I have run here before so the roads seem vaguely familiar.  Next up is the last stop on the familiarity route, Bois de Boulogne, before I hit unfamiliar territory and go only by GPS guidance on a 1″ x 1″ screen on my bars. Sadly, the tabs on the underside of my garmin broke off so it is not super secure. Here is my final bar mount configuration consisting of zip ties and tape.

No problem is too big for zip-ties!

I cross the Seine again and up I go leaving Paris behind me. Then it is left, right, left, right, followed by up, down, up down.  I am so glad I ditched the cue sheet and am so thankful for the preprogrammed route in my garmin.  I’m not sure how somebody came up with this portion of the route as it seemed like a more direct route would have worked, but, hey, it is an experience!

I get out of the city and am suppose to make a right turn, but the right turn is on some path…I pass it once, then double back and take it.  Much to my surprise, it quickly transitions into a beautiful tree lined road.  It was stunning!

Amazing forest road…one of many!

A short way into the forest, the road opened up and an incredible view of the city below presented itself to me.  I could not help but take a photo.

City hard to see, but a cute dog!

The forest road continued for quite a while but then swung left and BAM!!!!  French countryside!  It was beautiful.  Green fields, rolling hills, the smell of farm land….I was in my element.

Apparently I was pretty close to the center line

The farmland continued for miles.  Car traffic was extremely light with more cyclists than cars.  It seemed like most of the cyclists were going in a different direction than I was, but I caught quite a few and there was nothing more enjoyable than exchanging an enthusiastic “bonjour” with each one. 

The kilometers rolled by and after a short climb into Saint-Rémy-L’Honoré it was time for a cafe stop. I grabbed a liter of water from the convenience store and chatted in Spanish with the little boy that was helping man (?) the front counter. Then I clicked on over to the cafe which was conveniently located next door.  I decided to break the rules and order a cappuccino. The rules would state that I should only enjoy an espresso, maybe a double, but I figured, I’m going all in. And in a few minutes, Out comes a pile of whip cream topping a mild espresso. To be honest, it was delicious!!!!

Mmmm, whipped cream!!!

It had warmed up a bit, so it was time to neatly tuck my Strava vest into my middle pocket and finish up my ride. Back in the saddle and I was greeted by some favorable wind as well as a few more Cotés!!!  My climbing legs were energized and I rode them like a boss!!!

Before I knew it, I was in Versailles. I didn’t know exactly where I was headed in relation to the Palace, but as I rode down a wide boulevard, I noticed hoards of tour buses in the distance. My GPS was telling me to turn right, but the palace was looming on the horizon.  Besides, at this poor, what was a little extra mileage. So, I made my way up towards the Palace and it was impressive from the roadway. If time permits, I would love to walk around the grounds… but not in my kit, so all you get is an ok street side photo. 
  
As Paris neared I debated with myself, head straight to the hotel and eat everything in sight, or add some additional miles. I went with option B and made two loops around the hippodrome, motored passed the Eiffel Tower (took a picture this time) and rolled down to Notre Dame where I played nice guy and took a picture of a couple trying to figure out their newly purchased selfie stick. 

   
 

Soon, I was back at my hotel, my journey over.   In total it was just under 94 miles with 4400 feet of climbing and pretty much took the whole day. But honestly, I will remember this experience for a lifetime. 

My ride on Strava