François et co under the Salagou sunshine


Salagou Triathlon (Montpellier) – M and L distances – June 10 & 11

 

Race reporter: François

 

Participants: M distance:  Luca, Hilary, Djil Eduardo & François   L distance: Phil & Caroline

 

The adventure

How to explain and describe one of the most exciting triathlon races I have ever been involved in?! Do you think this is because of the most amazing, surprising, and challenging M triathlon on earth? You are probably right, but it is also because it was my first M distance, and in addition, what could be better than doing it in your home region, with a real hot and bloody sunny summer time like you cannot find anywhere else in France? You think about going to Guadeloupe to find harder weather conditions with our beautiful French overseas territories? NO WAY!!!! Take the newly called “InOUI” (don’t laugh please) TGV for only about 3h20 from Paris, and then you’re in the great region of Montpellier, home of Pic Saint-Loup, a famous AOC Languedoc wine, where people speak with an “e” (or two…) at the end of each words and say “Putain” as a coma and / or “En****” For a dot at each sentences…

 

This is inspired by Marcel Pagnol’s charm books and movies, which I recommend to learn about the Provence spirit, i.e. Jean de Florette, Manon des Sources.

 

The Pre-race and Week-end

 

My family still lives in this region. More than that I wanted to celebrate my birthday, at least a little bit, so it was a good opportunity to take my Friday off. Because I am responsible and reasonable, I declined a tasting event in Pic Saint-Loup on Saturday afternoon with some old friends, it would have been a real trap for sure. Instead of that, on Friday evening, I went to visit my cousin who is an “apéro professional competitor”, with years of experience (César trust me, come down here and try to compete. You will remember it for life!). So I had to accommodate her to not hear for the next decade such words as “ahh putain de merde, now you are really a Parisian, incapable of taking a small apéro…”, and we finished by eating some tapas at a Grande-Motte Marina’s restaurant, with one bottle of white wine… each. The white one from my region is clearly harmless, no worries.

 

 

 

On Saturday, after a good birthday lunch celebration with my parents (cannot bullshit by telling you that I only drunk water…) I went to Palavas and picked-up Grace who I had never seen before! Easy to spot actually: look in the shade on the beach (at 32°C) for a girl with a white Irish skin and a hooded sweatshirt… After a quick dip in the sea, we headed to Port Camargue to join Luca and his friend Jerome who invited us to sail on his fantastic boat at the end of the afternoon. What a wonderful way to finish that day, with an inimitable sunset, a white wine apéro and a delicious dinner prepared by our captain. First rabbit experience for Grace… still alive, not the rabbit but Grace yes 😉

 

 

 

 

The Race(s)

While some of us were preparing in the most serious and dedicated manner for this M Triathlon, others were up for a nice, cool and easy L distance on Saturday… Ask them, they will tell you so… Am I right??!!

Okay… Not at all! Caroline and Philippe had to suffer very difficult weather conditions. Not like in Paris during Half-marathon in March, but one of those that my region can prepare in a pre-summer period like June, with nearly 32°C under a hot sun – which was already up at 9 am and no wind at all in that basin created by typical hills made of red soil saturated with Iron, as if you were in Africa.
Because of my hard preparation on Friday evening and Saturday with all my clan and staff, I wasn’t there to admire the achievement of our strong triathlon Expatries club members Caroline and Philippe!

So I can’t comment much, but I can tell you what local newspaper so called “Midi Libre*” wrote about it in its special edition. Yes “Libre” as we always want to be free in the south, but we are too lazy to claim our independence. However we are nothing compared to those crazy Corsicans or Basques, not to mention the Bretons. As I am a Southern man, for me the north of France begins at Lyon.

That being said, because I took so much time writing the stupid things just above, I’m going to get straight to the point to describe the race I did not see on Saturday. I wanted like to be on time for the swim session (6h10)==> I wanted to be on time for the swim session (8:49):

Caroline and Philippe were unbelievable. Short enough?!

If you don’t believe me, just look at the Caroline’s pic where she is bravely standing on the 1st place step of the podium in her category (Philippe pro-cam all Copyright Reserved). Yes! Even an Irish woman can manage our climate and produce the best results! I told you, we always welcome people from abroad in our Montpellier area. Shutttt, in fact, don’t tell Caroline, but as I know some girls down there in Montpellier, I asked them to slow down because there was a friend of mine in my Expatries club…she does not feel entirely welcome in our region…blablabla… and they agreed for a good amount of money to listen to me… always money… arrgh!!

If you don’t trust me, you’re right, I prefer spending my money on that marvellous elixir called Pic Saint-Loup red wine or Château de Flaugergues, cuvée Colbert with 24 months barrel….

 

Thanks to Philippe who supported us on Sunday and took some pics of us racing the M. I had some feedback from his race and he recognized that it was hard with this hot weather, a real “fournaise” or “soufrière”, take your pick. He took time to breathe and rest a little at food supply tables and he managed his race with aplomb, well done Philippe!

For us on the M distance it was another story, as you can imagine. The day started early. I was afraid of running late and I needed some equipment from a friend who has a well-known Triathlon shop called Zerod at the Salagou tri village. By the way, that village was pretty big and well organized with shops and food trucks and a nice podium too (Wasn’t it Caroline?!). But I only have Super Sprint and Versailles to compare it to as my tri experience is very recent. Thanks to good road knowledge in that region, I was there at 7am (or thanks to the accelerator, I don’t really remember, that’s also what I said to the policeman…) and surprised to be on time. This said, it did not prevent me being the last out of the bike park with Eduardo for the beginning of the race! I had the chance to see Eduardo, Luca and his friend Philippe just before the race and on the starting line in the lake. It gave me the perfect additional friendship energy!

More than that, seeing that red soil, those typical flavours of “Garrigue” mixed with thyme, oak-tree and specific rocks made me feel at home, full of happiness and energy, ready to compete!

Actually, in the water, there was no longer a thyme flavour… but trust me, the water was super clean, there was some nice “Lakeweeds” at the starting and finish area but nothing disgusting. The swim part was good; I was on the inside part (I think, not sure I swam really straight…) and it was not a big battle like it had been very packed at Versailles. Here I had clearly more space around me and I really appreciated it. My mistake while getting out of the lake was getting my trisuit strip stuck in the wetsuit zip. Thankfully I finished by unlocking it before arriving at my bike, but I was a bit afraid of biking with my swimsuit in that weather… finally everything went well and now I know I have to put that strip inside my trisuit, I’m still a beginner…

I am really a beginner; you already know it but no doubt after letting you in on the details of my race. In the bike park, I wanted to piss (sorry this is the rude part of the report, no body under 18 or 21 years, depending of your home country (6 for “Montpellierains”)) but I did not do it before the race, and forgot to do it after the bike park. I said to Luca I would probably do it during the swim (he definitely reconsidered drafting next to me…), but I did not. The lake was too clean for that! During the bike race, at the end of the biggest hill of the track, I stopped to pee because I really could not wait any longer. (Hilary, does it remind you of something? I’m not going to tell much more in this report about this as keeping secrets is more fun!) Suffice to say that I had to take off my trisuit which added more time than just pissing quickly on the top of the hill. What a perfect spot to do it with that exceptional landscape!

During this bike experience, I also discovered that I was not the best climber that France has produced. I did not want to burn all my leg energy in order to be able to run properly, and hopefully I did because it was the hardest part of that triathlon). People were passing me one after the other on the climbing side. However, while going down, I was literally bloody good and regained my place or even better all the while having pissed at the top! As discussed with Julien, probably my motorbike skills helped me as I really liked going fast on that part of the track. I had just avoid one crash with a guy who did not heard me shouting “A GAUCHE” in the inside part of a hard curve, and I also discovered that bikes slipped pretty easily when you touch breaks, people on the side of the road were really afraid of us but nothing bad happened, I will shout louder next time…

Then, the trail part… Oh sorry the run part! Actually, a real trail section! A hard running session on the red soil, starting very quickly with climbing and many up and down sections, as we say in France a track which “casse les jambes”! I even spotted a cactus on the side of the path.

So, I managed not to walk during that short run of 9km but I did like Philippe the day before, taking my time at the food supply tables, putting a lot of water on my head, shoulder and shoes, drinking a lot of water (not wine this time!).

I crossed the finish line with a short acceleration at the very end, completely exhausted. I had a little bit of dizziness for 5 minutes after the race. I found Luca drinking as much juice and water as he could! A mermaid hosed us with fresh water and we went back to her many times to cool down. She confessed being proposed to at least 5x by people she was hosing… probably the nurse effect during a war period, or Montpellier fever…

The after race was been an exciting moment where we could share our different race experiences. Djil’s tire unfortunately burst twice. Actually it burst first and then it blew up when using his spare inner tube with his CO2 canister. He thought of giving up but a friendly competitor (after a while) gave him another inner tube and he was able to finish his race. Good on you Djil!

Luca and Edouardo did a great race too and were both happy to finish it, agreeing that the running part was very trying. Luca swam at almost the same pace as me. He probably took the risky decision of drafting next to me, regardless of the danger to which he was exposed… But not sure of that actually, because he had to go under a buoy, so I suspected he took a short cut during the swim… perhaps some unknown beard tricks or hiding tools inside it, it will remain one of those race mysteries…

I don’t know much about Hilary’s race, hard / hot / good / finish for sure, but she didn’t share the details. I heard yesterday that she was punched into the nose during the swim! Truly? She looked good on the train on our way back.

Then the best part, -rest moment- there with the Expatries team! Short but sweet, Luca and I went back in the lake for a swim and then all met for lunch; For Djil and me, a light burger, French fries and draft beer (to change a little) that we grabbed at the tri-village. We spent lunchtime in the shade with loud music watching a spectacular four fire-fighting plane ballet, something that is also famous in that region.

* Don’t try to search for a Midi Libre special edition, they have only printed it for the editor-in-chief.

** Be kind, I wrote that report at 5am on Tuesday… it might have some crazy sentences… but you can trust me, this report was written 100% alcohol, smoke and drug-free. It can be classified as kind of a Bio report and actually as I plan to carbon compensated the laptop electric energy consumption by refreshing my body with a swim session this morning (if I’m not running late like most of the time and especially by writing that “******” de report!! ==> finally this day, hope so…), reading this report is absolutely without any negative consequences for the planet.

 

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