Triathlon

10 Posts in this category
Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 21st, 2018 In: News Triathlon Uncategorized X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA WORLD CHAMPS MAUI 2018

In 2009 I was a youthful and wide-eyed triathlete, landing in Maui for my first experience of the island (and my 2nd xterra ever). I’d flown in with my steel framed Kona Caldera mountain bike and aluminium wheels (must have weighted about 12 kg at least), and within a couple of days was sent out to climb the mighty Haleakala volcano alongside Julie Dibens, Paul Davis, Llewelyn Holmes and a couple of others. Of course the rear wheel exploded halfway up the climb, and -the rear brake being nonoperational- I crashed heavily on the treacherous lava rocks on the way down, rendering swimming in the Pacific for the following couple of weeks with open wounds into an absolute nightmare. Schooling days!

 

To my surprise however, I managed to blag a 30-34 World title, placing 2nd amateur and 22nd overall. Needless to say, I was hooked.

 

9 years down the line, now a newly-retired-yet-still-part-time triathlete, I still don’t have enough of the island, and so went back to Maui for the 5th time (!). Truth be told, the big aim was the long trip in Kauai afterwards, more precisely the end of the Kalalau trail where Silvia and I lost ourselves to the bowels of Mother Nature back in 2014..

 

Nevertheless I was hoping for a decent showing on race day. Having ‘qualified’ in Romania in August, that gave me two months to try to recover some decent fitness. In fact I’d started to feel like a cyclist again only just a couple of weeks before departure – prior to that, I could still pretend to be a decent swimmer/runner, but my cycling legs never got back anywhere near their vintage years like xterra Pacific islands 2012 – or even IM Barcelona 2017 for that matter. Perfect timing I thought.
Having done this race twice (DNF in 2011, 18th in 2014), I knew what to expect: tons of climbing, some twisty bits during the first and final miles of the bike, but nothing too technical. At least not when it’s dry. However, as for any mtb course, weather conditions will often have a massive influence on its technicality/ridability.
When we got there on the Wednesday, I only had time for a run and the course was already very slippery, though manageable. Doing the whole loop on the Thursday, I was able to ride about 95% of it, having to push the bike on only 2-3 occasions. But already it was a really thin line between making it and having to unclip and push bike. Any more rain and many of those ‘just abouts’ would become ‘no nos’.

 

In the meantime, Friday was an off day so we did the road to Hana, the whole loop, anti clockwise. Long and windy but oh so majestic road trip!

 

 

I didn’t bring any mud tyres with me. The local bike shops had sold all their stock. In any case those same bike shops (sharks) were charging $95 per hour for labour. So fuck that. It did rain every day though, especially at night. On the Saturday, the day before the race, the lower part of the course was absolutely unridable. Imagine having to climb 25% steeped banked hairpins covered in slippery yet sticky mud. And now try to descend that. Total joke. One of the bike mechanics in Paia told me to spray the tyres and the underneath of my bike with some PAM butter to repel the mud, and to carry a knife with me to cut through the mud if it still managed to accumulate nonetheless and prevent the wheels from turning. So that was my plan B.

 

D – 1

 

Secret Weapon?

 

On race day it wasn’t actually raining. Lono, the Hawaiian rain deity had decided to give us a day of respite I guess; however the damage was done! The surf was up and higher than I’d ever seen before on that part of the coast, and the organisers had decided to implement the “plan B” they mentioned in the race briefing: ditch the unridable first 2 miles of uphill switchbacks in the bushes in favour of hard ground golf cart tracks.

 

I’d slept quite well (not a good sign) and wasn’t too stressed considering the scale of the task awaiting us on the slopes of the West Maui mountains. I was eager to get going and excited to try out the Kiwami Aquarush sleeved swinskin for the first time in a race (swimskins are banned in Europe). Things triathletes get excited about…During the warm-up swim, I mistimed a (big) wave on my way back to the shore, found myself tumbling 3-4 times and for a moment unaware of where the surface vs the ground were. When I finally found some air and my bearings, I felt somewhat disorientated and realised I had lost my timing ship in the mayhem. 10 min before the start, this wasn’t the ideal situation…Luckily I saw Trey Garman on the shore, and within 5 min Janet Clark (Xterra director) was calling out my name on the beach with a new chip in hand. Quite efficient on that one guys! I was back smiling.

 

The ensuing swim didn’t feel too difficult in comparison. I mostly led the 2nd big pack around, used the waves a lot more to my advantage (except going back IN for the 2nd lap, which felt like one step forward 2 step backward for a little while. Also diving under a wave and having to stay underwater for 10-15 seconds while already out of breath was borderline scary!). When I reached the shore for the 2nd time and was on my way up to T2, I found myself next to Josiah Middaugh and Melanie McQuaid (both ex Xterra World Champs), exactly like I did back in 2009 for my first time here. Shows that when it comes to swimming, once you reach a certain level, you don’t really improve much, but you don’t lose much either! I’m guessing I could still swim at that pace in 10 years time (what with a few months training obviously).

 

All smiles with Konstantinos Koumargialis, 30 min from the start.

 

 

SWIM START – with my mate Rife Hilgartner

 

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM START

 

XTERRA 2018 SWIM START

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 SWIM EXIT

 

XTERRA 2018 SWIM EXIT First Lap

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM EXIT – ONTO T1

 

Onto T1 then. My Achilles’ been sore for months, even more so right after coming out of the water, so I just cruised to T1, the legs feeling rather good otherwise. I lost my usual 30 seconds on pretty much everyone, and when I jumped on my bike I could see both Lesley Peterson and Brigitta Poor now in front of me. Luckily, as I mentioned earlier the first 2 miles were all uphill and on tarmac, my terrain of predilection!

 

 

Great pic by Silvia Gin. INTO THE LIGHT!

 

By the time we reached the lake, I had overtaken a good dozen riders and was in 20th position overall. Unfortunately this is where we hit the trails and what was bound to happen did happen, though even earlier than I expected: on pretty much the first couple of bends I was already skidding all over the place, unable to get a grip on this Maui mud. I understood right there, 10 min into the bike, that this race was already over for me (for those interested, I had a Nobby Nic as a front tyre, and a Racing Ralph at the rear. These are not mud tyres by any means. Mind you, even with mud tyres, you’d still have to get off the bike a lot on this course in these conditions, even for the most skilled riders. But without, you can’t even try.)

 

There was a crazy scene on the long uphill stretch that leads to the trademark ridge which marks the summit of this course. A file of riders were following each others, pushing bikes, sliding back, trying to step back on the saddle but inevitably failing to pedal more than a couple meters and falling over again. In some places the gradients were so steep and the mud so slippery that even pushing bike was a nightmare and you could see riders and bikes sliding backwards with a bunch of expletives as the soundtrack. One step forward, 2 steps…once again. Even the cameramen on their powerful motorbikes got stuck on some of these portions. Comical scenes for any outsider watching for sure (I hope everyone following the race on TV had a laugh), but in the heat of it, believe me, it was no fun at all. All the bits that were “just about” ridable 3 days previously were absolutely not today, and there are lots!
Only on the more exposed part of the course was it possible to ride a bit and feel part of a bike race, but as soon as we hit the (mostly man made) twisty loops of the last 5 miles of the lower slopes, it became a joke again. By that time, the wheels were not turning, gears not shifting, cables not moving, brakes not braking…a pleasure.
Somehow though, Silvia managed to hide in the bushes and catch me smiling and ON the bike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I would stop minutes at a time trying to remove manually the deadly mix of mud and cane leaves that forced the bike to a standstill. I must have crashed at least 10 times, including once on camera (see the video at the end of this article), and once into a tree.
Exiting this mess and reaching T2 felt like a deliverance. I had no idea of my position any more (I knew I was far), but was all too glad to finally be able to drop this bike!

 

Once on 2 feet it felt more like a race, even though there were times were the only way to move forward was to pull yourself from trees and branches and whatever you could grab. The best off road shoes were slipping like on ice, but I’m sure a good old pair of cross country spikes (15mm) would have been a massive advantage on this course – I believe only Bradley Weiss (2nd place finisher and fastest runner on the day by 2 minutes) had the idea/luck to wear some. I must have overtaken a dozen guys or so on that run, without especially trying hard as I wasn’t really in it mentally, but still I felt like I finished on a good note, with even a sprint finish to boot (!).

 

Glad it’s over?

 

 

Bikes in T2

 

 

 

RACE HIGHLIGHTS (check out my skills at 3:15!):

 

 

RESULTS

 

That would be 39th then. By far the furthest I’ve ever finished, not only in Maui, but in any triathlon! Not that it mattered too much, the most important was to finish, in one piece. What really mattered was…the Kauai holiday afterwards. And that didn’t happen! We flew there the morning after the race. Perfect sunny day in Maui, the best we’d had so far. Less than one hour flight to neighbouring Kauai and it’s pouring down and overcast like crazy. As we collected our hire car, we learned that the road to Haena (not Hana), where the trailhead to the Kalalau trail (the very reason why we came here in the first place) had been closed since April due to heavy flooding, and only opened for residents…Furthermore the weather forecast was heavy rain and flash floods for the next week. Not ideal when our plan was to camp here the whole time…It took us only a couple of hours to decide to switch plans and head off to dry and sunny California instead…Kauai we’ll have to come back!

 

Badwater Basin, Death Valley…as far from the rain as can be!

 

Zabriskie Point!

 

San Francisco!

 

Golden Gate

 

California Style

 

Big Sur

 

Dream Car, Santa Cruz

 

Big Sur

 

Big Trees! (Sequoia National Park)

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A Car Road/Whoops/A Road Trip in California and Maui with @cedwoo and John. Soundtrack by Percy Mayfield

A post shared by Silvia Gin (@ginsilvia) on

Posted By: Cedric On: Aug 23rd, 2018 In: Blog News Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA ROMANIA 2018

Yes yes, as you can see, this is a race report, despite the fact that I officially retired from racing last September, that I have barely trained in the meantime, that…well there were countless good reasons to stop (tired body, better things to do etc), but surely there has to be a ‘come-back’ before calling it quits for real? + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Oct 15th, 2017 In: Blog News Triathlon Comments: 5

IRONMAN BARCELONA – ONE LAST HURRAH

Exactly 2 weeks on post IM Barcelona and having done no exercise whatsoever since I crossed that finish line, I find myself watching the World Champs in Kona in a  rather emotional state. Of course I can totally feel the pre race nerves on these athletes, the anticipation of a great battle ahead, but mainly I can’t help seeing MYSELF there. Thinking, as they start exiting the water and I recognise some athletes I usually swim with, I would have been in that group, I would have done this and that…but I am NOT in Kona. I will never get to race that race. Not only that, but I will not be racing in the pro ranks anymore at all. This is a decision I took at the beginning of the season and it’s been a long time coming, but it seems like I had somehow buried this thought in the back of my brain up until this point. And now, as the athletes reach the turn around point at Hawi the realisation is finally hitting me and it’s a tough one… + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Sep 25th, 2017 In: Blog News Triathlon Uncategorized Comments: 1

70.3 Weymouth – Part II

Being on the start line of the Weymouth 70.3 race, 3 months and a bit after my last race and only a month after announcing my imminent retirement, was already a victory in itself. Not that I expected much, having had only a few pain free runs and a training regime somewhat chaotic what with a summer filled with festivals and gigs (and ensuing sleep deprived week-ends) every single week. In fact I hadn’t had a week-end off partying since Japan in early June! But, having teamed up at the last minute with my mate and 70.3 novice Evgeny, here I was back on the Jurassic coast nonetheless, planning to use this race as a good training day that would hit the reset button on and turn me into a triathlete again, albeit for a short amount of time. Because yes, Ironman Barcelona is only 2 weeks away, and as previously explained this will be my last race as a professional athlete. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: May 23rd, 2017 In: Blog News Triathlon Comments: 0

Ironman Lanzarote 2017

Having declared in my race recap post Lanza 2015 how glad I was to have finished because that meant I wouldn’t have to do it again…well here I was toeing the start line one more time 2 years later. DNF in 2013, 9th in 2015, what would 2017 bring? A hard race that is a certainty, but what else, and why the change of mind? + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Mar 15th, 2017 In: Blog News Triathlon Comments: 3

IRONMAN NEW ZEALAND – A FIASCO

I missed a turn…

 

 

One thing I get asked repeatedly by a lot of people (namely my mum and my girlfriend) is to explain the motivations behind this triathlon malarkey – when will I stop ? It’s a tough one to answer really as any endurance athlete can find new goals and challenges pretty much ad vitam aeternam. I think though the main reason I am still sweating buckets going nowhere in my living room in order to compete at pro level having now just turned 40 and despite having arguably a better career to focus on (phew, breathe here!), is because I know I still haven’t reached my full potential. And I want to (reach it). As per customary with elite sport, I went through as many highs as lows over the years, but somehow I tend to dwell on those missed opportunities a lot more than on the successes. As a runner I always seemed to get injured while at the peak of my form, and hence never got the times/results I knew I could have had. When I tore my Achilles in the final of the U23 french national championship, 300m for the finish line, that was one injury too many and I stopped my running career right there. I was in the shape of my life that day and fighting for glory and a definite PB when injury stroke again. This was a pivotal time in my life as I then took a 180º turn away from competitive sport, but the feeling of unfinished business never left me.

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Posted By: cedric On: Aug 23rd, 2016 In: Blog Photos Triathlon Comments: 0

Norseman 2016

Un résumé de la course en français se trouve ici sur le site de Trimes:

 

My whole 2016 season has been shaped around this AA race. The preparation started at the beginning of November, when the list of selected athletes was announced. I must have read the race manual at least a dozen times to make sure I was ready come race day with every technical, physical and logistic aspects of this mythical race. That leaves plenty of time (9 months) to have recurring dreams about one of the most renowned and most coveted finish lines in the world of triathlon. The summit of the G.A.U.S.T.A.T.O.P.P.E.N.

 

Norseman means support team. You don’t race on your own like in a regular triathlon. Nobody will get DQed for outside assistance here. In fact this is compulsory, as the only 2 aid stations are at K25 and K32.5 of the run, some 8 hours + into the race. The team that follows us throughout the day is there to feed us, dress/undress us, calm our nerves, shout at us, encourage us, etc. This is one of the key aspects that makes this race so special. Then of course you have the course (unique and magical nordic landscape, cold fjords, 5 ‘cols’ on the bike for a total elevation of 3360m, and last but not least possibly the hardest run of any iron event with the 12K of Zombie Hill averaging 10% followed by 5K of fell ‘running’ (scrambling really) to reach the finish line, at an altitude of 1883m). Add to this a rather hostile and unpredictable weather, and that gives you a never ending yet unforgettable day out ! + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Apr 8th, 2016 In: Blog News Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA MALTA

In early March I was in the best shape I’ve been at that time of the year. To validate all the hard labor I took part of the Mudman duathlon, which I hadn’t done since 2009 (then my first ever duathlon) when I finished 2nd behind a certain Sam Gardner. I remember not being able to walk for a couple days afterwards. Up and down and up and down and repeat ad infinitum; nothing technical just a hard and honest race. The preps for Norseman started here. After a prudent start I slowly but surely ran past everyone and entered T1 with a 15sec lead, feeling easy. After 3/4 of the bike I was 1:30 ahead and just had to cruise home. Then somehow a rock (I believe, as this all happended underwater – yes we had to ride (and run) knee deep for about 100m each lap) hit my rear mech which got caught in the wheel and destroyed as a result. Frame got cracked too. Game over that was. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Dec 11th, 2015 In: Blog News Triathlon Uncategorized Comments: 2

IM Malaysia 2015

 

The (very last minute) idea behind ironman Malaysia was to make one last use of my 2015 pro license, and depending on the result to decide afterwards whether to pursue the Kona dream and KPR race in 2016. Or not.

 

Obviously having never been to Malaysia the prospect of 10 days in the tropics in the middle of November was also a big bonus, and with my mum coming along it really was a no brainer. The big unknowns were my fitness level (what with 2 weeks off post xterra Japan in September then 1 week off sick in October and barely any running due to a micro tear in my left calf) and my ability to race long in extremely hot and humid conditions.

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Posted By: Cedric On: Sep 25th, 2015 In: Blog News Triathlon Uncategorized X-terra Comments: 1

XTERRA JAPAN 2015

When I first heard a year ago about a new location for xterra Japan, I had the perfect excuse to plan another extended visit to one of my favorite destinations in the world. This was my 6th trip in the country in 4 years, and despite an embarrassing lack of progress in Japanese, I do feel like I have a second home here. And once again the trip lived up to and even beyond my expectations.

 

After spending the first half of the year preparing for and racing on the IM circuit, it was a welcome relief to be back on fat tyres and playing up and down muddy trails. I must have ridden my mtb 4 times max since Maui 10 months prior but I knew I had the fitness after a decent result at IM Kalmar.

In 2012 the race was in Marunuma, in the Gunma prefecture just a few hours outside of Tokyo, and it felt as remote as can be, with even a bear attack to add authenticity. This year it took place in and around Lake Kanayama, about 3 hours drive from Sapporo, Hokkaido. It didn’t look as stunning nor as remote as Marunuma, but still we had a nice enough background to play with. + more