CEPOY Triathlon – S distance / M distance / Bike & Run – 45120 Cepoy (1h30 from Paris) – 30 April 2017
By Fred B
Expats who participated: Caroline, Antoine, Benoît, Chris, Louis, Luis, Philippe & Fred
Racing the M distance last year I thought it will be fun to go to Cepoy with more people. I was looking for an M race to start the season in order to test the material and my condition and this race is really accessible for Parisians (1h30 drive or train form Paris and low entry fees). This year was different after 6 months of training with the club and my being in better condition.
The forecast was very bad following the race as a storm and a lot of rain + wind was foreseen plus the temperatures of the last days reminded me that the swimming part was shortened to 1k the previous year due to the low water temperature. Hard to notice it this Sunday morning as I picked up Luis at the edge of Paris: the sun was shining and the temperature pretty cool. We first planned on going there by RER but a friend of mine lent me his car at the last minute and it really helped at the end of the day.
Driving under the sun we arrived at the camping site where the organization set up a big tent to pick up the numbers and some sweet local specialties (pain d’épice, honey orange biscuit and a honey Madeleine). At the same time, we tried to check if we could see Benoit running the S race with success. As Luis and I were unloading the car, Antoine and his wife passed by followed by Caroline, Chris and Louis directly coming from Montargis RER station 5km away (sun still shining at this moment). Phil took the train after them and we only saw him before our warm up. We all went to the transition area to set the bikes on the racks and prepare our kit.
The area between the start and the lake was closed as was the race finish area. So you guessed it: the race was 1.5k swimming in a cold dark green lake (but pretty clean as I drank some water and my stomach seems to be ok) starting directly in the water, 40k riding around Cepoy with parts in the forest (2 laps for the M distance, D+219m) and running around the lake starting in the village (2 laps also for the Olympic format). The run went through the village and crossed a river and turned around the lake via flat gravel trails and single tracks without almost any cars which is very enjoyable. Once our kit was set at our spot, we checked the bike transition and planned to have a warm up ride. Unfortunately referees didn’t want to let us out with the bike so it’s was a run warm up and we jogged around the lake (sun still shining but some clouds seemed to want to set over the race to watch the start), it’s was now time to get into our wetsuit and walk to the starting line.
The start is directly in the water. After a clapping homage to a member of the organizing club who passed away few days ago we were able to taste the 14°C water. A special space was available for women on the left (the closest to the shore) as the men are water polo style swimming before the go which came quickly in order to not feel the cold for too long. Arms are turning, legs are kicking for a big splash to the first buoy. I am not very good at starts and my strategy is to let the more competitive guys fight together ahead. As the bpm shakes too high, I needed a couple of minutes to find my pace and avoid the swimmers who have chosen a zig zag technique to spend more time in the water.
As we approached the end of the horizontal part of this race, volunteers helped us get out of the lake and we ran through a gravel trail to the transition. I fought with my wetsuit which definitely didn’t want to come off without the help of another volunteer. I remember feeling tipsy last year due to my lack of training and the cold, this year seems different. The sky was now grey so I decide to take a jacket with me and leave the aero benefit in the park to look like a balloon (but I prefer not to be frozen).
I jump on the bike and the legs feel weird… paying more attention to it, it seems my bottom bracket seems weird. Indeed the bearings refuse to help me on this ride and the crank is definitely too tight to spin smoothly. Focusing on this I almost fall as a rider split in the roundabout just in front on me as the rain finally joined the party, it will be a long way back to the transition area.
The situation is: it spins, it’s hard but I can move forward leaving a lot of watts in the operation. The aim is now to finish the first lap as I cannot stand up on the pedals and I have to push seated only, my chain rings out of true is the sign that it’s becoming worse. Caroline passed me in the first half of the first lap as did many others without being able to follow them. I decide to push again for a second lap as the bottom bracket is already dead and I entered the transition park with it as destroyed as it was.
I took time to put my socks on and go for a smooth 10k. The park was pretty full of bikes but then I managed to pass 5 guys before the first feed zone and many more before the end of the first lap. I saw Phil who was on the 2nd lap and accelerated to follow him a little bit but he decided to push and I chose to keep the pace.
Here is the transition area again, sign of the second lap and I can see Luis cleaning his spot and I hear that Caroline is crossing the finish line. Some Expatriés did well today and that boosted me to end this damned 2nd running lap. Finally here came my favorite part: the final feed zone (just after the finish line especially if Beer is part of the choice like in Deauville) before joining the others in the bike park to get back our kit and avoid the storm. We considered having a beer for a while as those who came by train seemed too short on time to catch the next one to Paris but the much awaited storm decide for us: strong wind blows and shake the last bike on the racks a light drizzle looks like a warning side … the warning period was short as the wind sudden stopped replaced by and heavy rain and pushed the train riders to head immediately to the station. Luis and I walked peacefully to the car (it was more like walking exhausted for me) as we were already wet. A warm shower later we drove back to Paris under the strong rain.
Definitely this race is a good test occasion early in the season. The organization is simple but really ok with nice volunteers ready to help and ensure the security when crossing roads and at specific danger zones. There is also a good atmosphere in the transition park as along the race.
It was finally another good experience for me (never repair your bike just before a race) and a good sign of my light improvement since last year. I hope next year we can be more and organize a decent ride to Cepoy, and this time, be able to enjoy a post-race beer together.