Gaël stands by his own words: Never Give Up!

Choisy au Bac – L distance –  May 15, 2017

by Gaël


Choisy is very close to Compiègne, 80 km north of Paris, a city with a dense and fascinating history, see more on:ègne

Participating for the famous Expatriés club were Antoine, Stéphane, Khalid & I. There were about 400 competitors overall.
The weather was so so, we had all but snow I think. (Brits would say the rain did not dampen the morale:-)  )
Temperature was a nice 15°+/- though.
The format was L distance i.e. 1.9km swim, 90km cycle, 21km run.
The organisation was (for me) quite OK, friendly atmosphere, you don’t get the HIM finisher shirt at the end but you pay about 70€ (compared to those who paid 250€ to get the Aix T-shirt…)


The swim in the Aisne River was quite OK. I feared a bit the usual fight at the start, but was this time mentally (and physically) prepared, thanks Nick for the nasty behaviour at Cergy:-).
So for each blow I got I gave 2 which was enough to clear the way around me. Water temp 14/15° I reckon, so quite OK. We had the help of the current during 2/3rd, then against us during 1/3rd although we felt it was not significant.

The cycle was mainly flat, 2 loops of 45k, with 2 nasty slopes though, and a lot of headwinds during the 1st loop, and some mud at km 35/80, which was very, very slippery after the rain on the second lap. Believe or not I managed not to fall! Open roads but very low traffic, with wardens at every crossing, again well organised.

The run was absolutely flat, 3 loops, nice, the only difficulty was a portion of 1.5 k along the river which very soon became quite muddy due to the rain, so very slippery.
At the end we were looking like having completed an Xterra……..

Antoine & Stéphane had a rather slick race and performed quite well. Khalid got a flat at km 30, and realised that he had left the connector allowing him to spray the puncture sealant in the car……… DNF and pretty disappointed, a shame as he was doing really great on the bike, as usual.

I was doing not too bad….

I was with Stephane up to km 79, feeling  reasonably great and motivated to beat my 6hr target, catching up on few guys, when PAF !!! a « MF » flat !! (on the muddy part).
So I stopped, repaired (my CO² cartridge did not work so (push-pull)^100 and start again, after 1k, Re PAF !!, re « MF » flat !!. Re repair, then I saw a big hernia on the tyre. I managed to re-fit the wheel, and went again then BANG!!, the tyre exploded.

That was no way for me to give up at this point, so I carried the wheel and flat/destroyed tyre, for 3 k when I met a guy who broke his shifter. He proposed to lend me his front wheel, which after 2.5 sec of thinking I gladly accepted (although absolutely forbidden by the rules, I was far enough from the podium for that not to matter). I then flew to T2, driven by frustration.
So I did 6:01 overall, for a target of 6. Based on Stephane’s time for the bike (who I was with up to the 1st flat), I was on for a 5:32!! So both quite pleased and frustrated.

But a lot of pleasure anyway on all the moments of the race, even why my arse was hurting like hell, we were washed by the heavy rain and I slid more than I ran on the mud.

My lessons:
1 – Take tape to reinforce the dossard. No problem this time but last year I lost it during a race and had to go back 300m to pick it up.
2 – Take a plastic crate with a lid for the transition gear. It’s easy to handle, very fast to open and you’ll find the gear dry for the transition, and not soaked.
3 – Check ALL your gear just before the race (even all the fittings and repair kit)
4 – If you have a very small reason to doubt your tyre/tube, check them. I had a flat 10 days ago and I may have damaged the tyre then, hence the blow up.
5 – I started cycling with 2 bottles, but with the Ravito 1 would have been enough, hence carried half a kilo for nothing……..marginal gains, but…..
6 – I fit « prolongateurs » 2 weeks ago, that made a difference for me for the long distance.
7 – Get in the water as early as you can to get used to the temperature and go for few very short/very fast strokes to get the heart to rev up.
8 – Never give up! If there’s a way to carry on of course.