X-terra

10 Posts in this category
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?

 

(Silvia says it’s the last one!)

 

Joking aside, this is NOT a come back. The motivation behind this race is mainly to qualify to Maui and have a good excuse for another escapade in Kauaï, after the World Champs. Silvia and I had the time of our life out there 4 years ago, and we want to relive the dream.

 

I am not so fit any more, not racing fit anyway, as I took most of the winter off, focusing on nights out and missed sleep instead. And the only training I’ve done on the bike this past year is…commuting in the city…

 

When I had this epiphany about returning to Hawaii a couple months ago, I looked at the calendar and the first weekend of August was the only one I found myself free from any gigs. Direction Romania then, a country I’d never been before and was quite curious to discover, if only for a few days. The race happened in the heart of Transylvania in Targu Mures, a biggish city some 500+ km north of Bucharest and nearly 2 hours drive from Cluj where we flew in.

 

The first surprise was…the rain! After the driest UK summer in history (barely a drop of rain since early June) we were welcomed in Cluj by a proper shower, the kind we’d forgotten about! The drive across the rolling Transylvania countryside was great, passing by medieval villages lined with plum trees everywhere, locals chilling by the road side, women selling their garden harvest and local craft; more women of all ages in traditional gypsy outfits, men on cart horses, saxon churches at every corner…nicely unfamiliar. Arriving in Targu Mures at night wasn’t that great though, but once we got settled in our airbnb flat in a building reminiscent of the communist era and found a nice local restaurant, we felt very much at ease. The food there is all about meat(s), goulash, polenta and some nice wine too. Not very triathlete friendly, but quite good anyway.

 

 

The next day I left Silvia to her studies at the (spectacular) local library, and went to check out the bike and run courses. Being an urban race this is not as wild as I’d imagined, but still they have a nice park on top of a hill overlooking the city, where you can find multiple trails, a tartan circuit (!), a zoo (!) and all kind of family activities. Nico Lebrun certainly did find some hills when he came here to design the courses earlier in the year. Not the most technical bike course, but challenging nonetheless with about 600m+ of elevation in total, and nicely muddy too. In fact Peter Klocz the race director told me it’d been raining non stop the past week and he was very close to cancel the race – the course was pretty much unridable on the Monday! I had brought only summer tyres with no spares, so perfect…

 

 

 

The swim would take place in an artificial lake in town some 3.5 km down from T2. No pre race swim allowed (Nico said I wouldn’t want to anyway) except in the massive leisure complex next to it, boasting several pools of all sizes, toboggans, local families on holiday eating fried stuff and drinking beer by 30ºC in the shade, some euro trash music blasting on the speakers…needless to say I didn’t last very long!

 

 

We also had time for an escapade to Sighisoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting ancient churches, a walled town center, thousands of years of history. Also the birth place of Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula. Well worth a visit!

 

 

The evening before the race, we skipped the meat fest of the local restaurants and opted for a loved and trusted pasta meal cooked by Silvia. It’s been 10 months since my/our last pre race evening, which is long and short at the same time depending on how you look at it, and even though some nerves were present I felt surprisingly relaxed and eager to roll.

Finally, as we were about to wrap up for the night, out of nowhere came the dreaded and instantly recognisable sound of a slow puncture…pssssss…We both laughed as this was a déjà vu situation (see Xterra Greece), 10pm pre race and a little bit of unnecessary stress but it almost felt like a relief! I had no spare so just pumped the tyre and spun the wheel hoping the preventive liquid inside would do its job and seal the hole overnight…

 

Somehow n the morning the tyre was still pumped. Phew. We headed to T2, had a laugh in the playground (!) before I cycled down to T1 (which served me as a warm-up plus reverse course recon at same time). The forest was eerily beautiful at that time, seemingly unaware of the battlefield it would become less than an hour later.

 

 

 

The start went a bit like this:

 

 

With Ben Allen on my right on the start line I knew who was going to lead out the swim…I managed to stay on the leaders’ feet for 3-4 minutes, but then gradually lost contact and found myself on my own in between 2 groups. I never got into a comfortable rhythm actually, which isn’t surprising after having done virtually no intensity in the pool in almost a year. The swim was short though ( I came out 7th in 16:10!) and I quickly found myself caught in T1 and starting the ride with female leader Brigitta Poor and Ciprian Balanescu of Romania. I put the hammer down as soon as we started the climb, put a gap instantly and felt great. However as we reached the first descent I got a bit carried away and crashed on a tight slippery corner.  I was also already quite in the red by that point. Balanescu came back from behind alongside mountain bike specialist Pierric Brochet. I kept these guys in sight for a while, but also understood that I needed to ride at my own pace. My head wanted to race and fight but my body reminded me I hadn’t been kind to it this past year! On the 3rd lap however I started to feel better and  I was surprised to arrive in T2 only a few seconds behind the Romanian rider. From that point on I just wanted to enjoy the run ahead, despite a tender Achilles and some killer steep climbs Nico Lebrun style.

 

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As planned I didn’t push the run, breathing heavily on the climbs and suffering on the descents but enjoying the (rare) moments of relief in between (sic). I crossed the line a happy man in 8th, some 16 min behind the winner Arthur Serrieres!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick massage, BIG lunch, short nap and off we went, back on the road to Cluj where I was invited by the club/record shop/balearic DJ terrace Collectiva Gazette to DJ with them on that very same night! It was great to meet up and connect with the underground Romanian scene. Quite niche obviously (especially at a time when the city is literally invaded by hordes of kids for the EDM festival Untold…Armin Van Burren and co…ouch!) but they are pretty active and an oasis of culture. Much recommended if you’re in Cluj!

 

 

On the Sunday we managed to eat some more meat (!), hike around the (touristy!) Turda gorge, bath in a natural salty lake, enjoy more meat…all in all a very memorable first taste of Romania!

 

 

 

 

 

And on this note, expect to see me on the start line in Maui come late October!!!

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: 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

Posted By: cedric On: Nov 12th, 2014 In: Blog Photos X-terra Comments: 0

Xterra Maui 2014

I may have done only one xterra this year (not very successful at that, see my report on xterra Italy) but thanks to some AA flight vouchers I’ve known since February that come October I’d be back in Maui to give this race a (possibly last) shot. My last attempt was in 2011 when I took a wrong turn on the bike and went off course, never to reappear…Someone’s got some unfinished business you see. Admittedly the appeal of a return to Kauai and especially to the majestic Kalalau trail has helped equally to keep my motivation levels pretty (very) high.

 

This time the plan was to stay a week on Maui, to be followed by a week on Kauai straight after the race. I aimed to arrive on race day as relaxed as I could without getting caught up into some unnecessary pressure, and this involved not staying or hanging out with my fellow triathletes. I chose instead to be all cozy with my girlfriend and acclimatise nicely to the tropics, while showing her some of the best spots of the island along the way. Easy. + more

Posted By: cedric On: Aug 2nd, 2014 In: Blog News Photos Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTerra Italy 2014

Although I entered the race in January, I still wasn’t sure to be on the start line 10 days prior to the event. A couple of encounters with the tarmac resulting in a few broken bones and a stressed body had put me out of xterra Portugal and IM Nice already. However as I was finally starting to recover some fitness and motivation along the way, I thought I’d give the race a go as I’d heard raving reports from last year’s inaugural event.



Scanno is a couple of hours drive away from Rome, tucked away in the Abruzzo region. The meandering road to get there is stunning, the lago is rather inviting, and sitting at 1000m altitude this is mountain territory with not an inch of flat in sight. Typical authentic Italian village where a lot of life is concentrated around the main piazza, which conveniently enough is where my accommodation Albergo Centrale happens to be.

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Posted By: Cedric On: Sep 20th, 2013 In: Blog News Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA ENGLAND 2013

The 3 weeks between xterra Germany and xterra England weren’t the most exciting part of the year – I got the shingles (!) pretty much as soon as I got back to London, which meant a week of antiviral drugs followed by a week of antibiotics as one of the wounds got infected, together with a mix of ibuprofen and paracetamol every 3 hours or so for a good 3 weeks, and a few antidepressants thrown in for good measure (supposedly to kill the nerve pain, but these only succeeded in killing my brain…). The pain experienced from the shingles is debilitating, I’d forgotten how much pain one could endure for such a long time…I am yet to find out what triggered the virus, but it is likely to be a mix of general tiredness and a weak immune system…I didn’t know what the shingles were before, but I will make sure I won’t get them ever again ! + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Aug 24th, 2013 In: Blog News Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA CZECH / GERMANY

The original plan of racing XTERRA Italy didn’t happen because of my old grumpy friend Achilles, and instead of a nice week-end in the Abruzzes I was now in for an extended 10 day trip between Prachatice in eastern Czech Republic and Zittau at the corner of Germany, Czech and Poland. Not quite the same vibe. However this meant 10 days of living the high life of a pro triathlete (sic), which hadn’t happened since my SE Asia tour of 2012…so while not quite the same vibe still, why not…Fellow pro superstar Nienke Oostra would join me on this glamorous tour, along with the usual suspects of the xterra gang. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Jul 20th, 2013 In: Blog Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA FRANCE 2013

This was my 4th year in a row competing in Xonrupt, the land of the Charbonnier family, organisers of excellence. I’ve seen the race grow from superb to fantastic, in conditions ranging from extreme heat to mud fest to a mix of both. The race has now 850 starters, and that’s not counting the xterra lite and the kids races. It’s a mini festival of of its own. And of course it still is the toughest course out there, with a 2 hour + mtb and a run course even longer than previously. And we all love it ! The smell of the Vosgian earth is worth the travel alone, these are enchanted, magical woods. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Jul 10th, 2013 In: Blog News Triathlon X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA SWITZERLAND

I wasn’t sure whether to do that one or not, having been ignored and then denied an entry by the organisers (i for one believe that the least they should do is to give free registration to the pros – not being a princess here, it’s hard enough financially as it is…) but still i went as a last minute decision. Ideally i’d like to do 6 out of 8 races on the European circuit to be able to have a ranking, and since I’ll most likely give Czech and Germany a miss i had not much choice. + more

Posted By: cedric On: Jun 26th, 2013 In: Photos X-terra Comments: 2

XTerra Spain / Greece

After 4 races in 2013, 2 DNFs and 2 poor results, a debilitating achilles’ injury and some mysteriously missing bike legs meant I was seriously questioning myself. I am already not totally able to fully answer the question “what’s the point of all this ?” when I’m going well, so after being out of shape for such a long period the idea of quitting the sport altogether seemed to pop up on a regular basis. I know there are lots of non triathlon projects currently on stand-by which I would be happy to tackle if time suddenly became available…. + more