This blog is coming live to you from a Catalan café. There are certainly worse places to report on an entirely lackluster race campaign than arguably the hub of European triathlon. I use the word lackluster purely from a performance perspective... after all, it is Summer, Spain and Sangria*.
I won’t dwell too much on the racing side of things as that’s not fun for anyone…especially me. In short, I think I had fitness just not a clean bill of health after rushing back from a Thai virus. That was Ironman Zurich, Embrunman was a differrent story. A silly shoe change days before the race which was enough to flare up my achilles (sheath) and cripple me. In my heart of hearts, had it not been for the achilles in Embrunman, I fear potentially only mediocrity was awaiting me at the finish line anyway. My intention is not to sound dreary here, but it was always going to be a stretch to go from zero to hero in a matter of 2 weeks.
Was the 10hr train/car ride to Embrun a waste, well, ask yourselves if croissants, baguettes, cheese and red wine sound like a waste. On top of all these are the Haute Alpes (pun intended). I got to some course reconnaissance before the race which included summiting the iconic Col D’Izoard. This is a Hors Categorie climb (beyond classification) that both the Giro D’Italia and Le Tour de France frequent. Aside from the 15th August every year (Embrunman race day), seldom does a time trial bike venture to these heights and I had the strange looks from fellow cyclists to prove it. It’s pretty incredible being at 2300+ metres elevation where the atmosphere is too thin for vegetation to survive. It was also too cold and windy for me to survive any longer than 250ml of energy drink. To think that this is but a small portion of the Embrunman triathlon is just mind boggling and the reason I am desperate to return next year.
On race day, I hobbled into transition and made the difficult but also simple decision not too start. My attention then turned to supporting Freddie (triathlon’s smiliest pro) and trying to get my bike out of transition as this was to be my only means of transport for the day. As it turned out, this was far easier said than done, even before the race or during the swim where I wouldn’t be interfering. After getting the runaround from a few commisaires, being the consummate thug I am, I decided to attempt to steal my own bike. After cagily standing by my bike for a few minutes under the cloak of darkness, I swiftly whisked it from the racks and headed for the exit. At this time, I’m sure many spectators were questioning why this person, who had been pacing up and down the transition area for 15 minutes, had just collected one of the pro bikes (while they were swimming) and was now hurriedly limping toward the exit. I kept my head down and made it through 2 levels of volunteers, one security guard and a scattering of gendarmerie. It was rather exhilarating! I am still yet to receive a call to inform me of the Ocean’s Eleven-esque theft that was performed on my bike.
I am now back in Girona for a week. I’ve learnt since being here that this place is well deserving of the hype it gets from pro cyclists and triathletes alike. It’s a beautiful medieval town, surrounded by hills, mountains and quiet roads with motorists that would sooner run themselves off the road and into a ditch trying to avoid a cyclist than demand a bike tax is invented.
Anyway it’s 6pm and I’m about to go for a pre-dinner bike ride #becausegirona.
Thanks for reading.
*Not really sangria, it just sounded catchy.