Arrival in Marseilles

A 48-hour journey from Chester to Marseilles (courtesy of a British Airways flight cancellation) was perfect preparation for making a horrible mistake soon after arriving. Smugly, I thought I was mentally prepared for this and told myself that I would not do anything stupid on the first day.

John recommended a 40km loop from the hotel and this seemed perfect to check the bike was in one piece. I was soon admiring the scenery from high up over town. As I looked back at the road a manhole cover raised about 6 inches off the ground rushed towards me. A nice skid narrowly avoided disaster – mistake 1.

The roads here are a reddish-brown colour (or my eyes think they are anyway). What I didn’t realise was that that the speed bumps in Aix are also dark red-brown, with no white lines to help you distinguish them. I’m a bit colour blind at the best of times and so I didn’t notice an evil bump at the bottom of a hill. Some late braking and a jump saved the bike and me – mistake 2.

I thought it was time to slow down a bit and potter back to the hotel. There was one more surprise left though, as a large buzzing insect flew into my arm and left half its’ backside there. It had a decent sting and it must have looked like I was having a minor fit as I flapped around trying to get it off my arm. Weaving down the road wasn’t the best way to potter home – mistake 3.

I’m glad I was prepared for not doing anything stupid on day 1 anyway.


Warming up

It feels a bit odd to be travelling to an Epic Camp after following the exploits of John, Gordo, Molina, Steven Lord, Russell Cox and others over the last 10 years. This year’s edition, across the French Alps, definitely fulfils the Epic mantra of “train in great locations”.

I was one of the final people, if not the last, to sign up in January. I was listening to an episode of IM Talk while packing up our home in Sydney for a move back to the UK. John mentioned there were “one or two spaces available” and a few hours later I had sent him a message hoping to take one of them.

After a 15-month break from ‘proper’ triathlon training, John warned I “would need to get back on the bike”. With around 1,000 km of cycling in front of us over the next 10 days, he wasn’t joking.

Getting out on the roads around Chester has actually been easier and more appealing than dealing with the traffic and drivers in Sydney. I’ve worn more layers than at any time during the last 8 years but the country lanes of Cheshire and North Wales are much more relaxed than the Harbour City.

Cheshire is pretty flat though, so I’ve returned to the indoor trainer for more specific “hilly” sessions in the last 4-6 weeks. My recent training venue:


will be replaced by this on Monday:


I can’t wait.