Triathlon

Some highlights from France

There were so many great moments:

Our group early on in the camp (Titch, Jen, Louis, Stef). A lot of fun. Watching Louis disappear off over the final climb to Embrun on his own was pretty inspirational:

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A lot of laughs with Stef across many hours of cycling. I nearly fell off my bike a few times I was laughing that hard. Here we are getting close to arriving in La Grave, in a depleted haze:

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Riding up the Galibier wih Julian, Iain and Stef. Jules gave us an impromptu Tour de France history lesson, followed by a lesson in descending:

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Watching Iain tough it out over many, many climbs:

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He’s even had time to set up camp here while waiting for us:

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Our chalets for the last week (Sainte Foy Tarentaise, Grand Bornard & Morzine). The common areas gave us a chance to chill, watch le Tour & recover:

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Fellow Endurance Corner athletes Rob Mohr and Walter McCormack. Rob is a gazelle in running shoes, and Walter is an AXE on the bike (and quite handy to draft behind in open water – like being behind a mid-sized boat). Good blokes. Here they are analysing the day’s events (sponsored by Apple):

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Riding through part of the 2016 Tour route. It was nice to know that even the TDF is not immune to the force of the French unions. Road surfacing has been affected by striking recently (we didn’t notice it until we hit a 7km climb which had a half-finished gravel surface). Hopefully they will have caught up by 22 July:

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Running with Rob and Stef in Morzine. It was great listening to their views & philiosophies on nutrition and training. I am going to add some different foods into my diet for gut health. An hour went by incredibly quickly around this lake:

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The “gravestones” at each kilometre mark of the major climbs. An easy way to create a series of short-term goals:

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I am pretty good at home when it comes to getting my training done, but quite often it takes a conversation with myself (and a bit of mental energy) to get out the door, or get on the trainer, or get to the pool. This didn’t happen once in France – that is the real power of these camps. The training was definitely tiring, but motivation was easy.

Triathlon

The Pain Train

I have been leaving early each morning with the “Grupetto”. It’s a lot more of a mellow ride than waiting for the Pain Train to leave. That group has been cranking out the watts all week.

The Kiwis have been an integral part of the Pain Train. Here, John is seen showing off the Yellow Jersey; Murray is in Red (for leading Vet) and Phil is modelling a nice blue Rapha number:

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Pete has an unbelievable capacity to bounce back from hard efforts. He seems unaffected from the week in this picture:

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Ian has spent some time with the Grupetto, but then hammered away up the climbs when he got bored of talking to Stef and I. This picture shows him soon after a tri race, contemplating the rib he cracked by coughing too hard:

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Triathlon

Inspirations

I’ve tried to create as many mental images as possible from the last week of riding. You could stop every few minutes to take another picture.

Louis and I have spent a fair bit of time cycling and running together. He is a great inspiration – amazingly strong and able to keep ticking away each day.

Lou has only taken one photo on the camp so here are a couple more mate, just to refresh your memory……

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Triathlon

Alpinsime

I’ve just finished a tub of chamois cream in 7 days. Some cycling numbers from the first week:

* 850 km
* 41.5 hours
* 18,500 m of climbing (over double the height of Everest)

It’s been an AMAZING route. Lots of classic climbs. Continuous photo opportunities.

Mt Blanc is in the background here…..

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Triathlon

Happy Birthday John

John is spending his 40th birthday training all day. He started with a 36 minute 10km run and then went to the pool in Morzine for 100 x 100m (long course metres).

About 10 of us started out with him. Rob gave us another example of fatigue by beginning with 200m (he forgot the pool was 50m rather than the 25m he usually trains in).

I had no intention of doing the whole 10km, but my thoughts changed a bit as it went on:

2km – “I am going to bail at 3km”

3km – “Might as well go to 4km now” (we did it in sets of 20 x 100m)

4km – “6km is pretty close now” (you get extra points for a 6km swim)

6km – “Just an Ironman swim left now”

8km – “No point in stopping now”.

Another amazing pool to swim in – a great way to spend 3.5 hours.

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Triathlon

Treated like a Pro

One of the best things about this camp is the care you get given by the support crew. It makes training totally different when you can just get your training gear ready and roll out for a swim, bike or run. No other worries – what food you’re going to eat, washing your gear, packing up the van and moving on. Without any fuss, everyone’s bag magically turns up at the next destination.

Ian and Julie work tirelessly all day to keep everyone fed and watered. Somehow they manage to keep smiling as well. Julie even rolls by in her van with 90’s tunes playing. I wasn’t sure about some of her singing to start with but it’s actually starting to sound good now. Ian is always there with a description of the next climb or descent, and has put a few bikes back together for people.

There’s also Tim – doing his morning physio and health checks, plus EVIL massages that put you back together.

Ollie keeps everyone up along the route each day, picks up supplies, and provides local knowledge from his years living here.

Tim and Ollie have also taken a load of brilliant photos.

They have MADE the camp.

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Triathlon

First Day

We had a 5.30 a.m. meet before driving to do a swim race in the Mediterranean off Carry-le-Rouet. It was definitely wetsuit conditions – Adam’s wetsuit hadn’t arrived and 2 strokes in his speedos was enough before turning around and calling it a day.

I feel pretty confident in water and have done a fair bit of ocean swimming but was soon struggling to breathe properly (a mixture of crappy sleep and travel may have caught up with me). About 400 metres from shore I started to have a full-on panic attack (the first I can ever remember having in water) and I was glad that Louis and Rob were swimming near me. I’m not sure why I felt more confident following someone who had been rerouted from London to Marseilles via Madrid (Louis), but it seemed to settle me down. I worked bloody hard to stay with them for the next lap and a half.

A quick breakfast and we were off to Vaison la Romaine via Mont Ventoux (167km with 3,100 m of climbing). John wanted the group to stay together for as long as possible and he set the tempo at the front for the first hour or so. I was right at the back of our group of about 15, yo-yoing up and back with my heart rate still jacked up from the swim. This wasn’t the controlled start I had planned, so dropped off the back after our first stop and made friends with Louis. We had a much more relaxed ride to the bottom of Mt Ventoux, chatting about his adventures and experiences from previous Epic Camps.

Ventoux took me about 2 hours to climb, ticking along just below ironman effort. The final 16km have an average gradient of 8.9%, and when you’re riding them it’s difficult to comprehend the 60-minute ascents of Tour riders. A quick photo at the top and then it was a great descent to our hotel. I didn’t hit the speeds of the 90-100 kph descenders in our group (Phil, John, Julian) but reached 70 kph a few times.

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After reaching the hotel I noticed the sting on my arm had blown up during the day. It now looked like I had been doing curls on my right arm only for about 6 months. Tim, our resident physio and medical advisor, recommended a visit to the hospital after dinner. Despite having been on the go all-day looking after us, Ian and Julie still drove me down there to get checked out.

Tim had been worried about a bacterial infection in my arm and I used a mixture of my best pigeon French, pigeon Spanish and shouting to explain what had happened to the doctor (“YOU KNOW – BUZZZZZZZZ”). “Non, non, non, non, non” was his reply to my suggestion about “bactérien”. It was an allergic reaction apparently and so our first day of Alpine cycling ended for me in an appropriate way – with a drip of antihistamine in my arm for 30 minutes.