Today marks exactly one week since I touched down on French soil. It’s funny, completely ending my life in the States by selling all my possessions and closing all my accounts left me with little sense of anxiety. Rather, the anxiety stemmed entirely from having to move ~50kg (110lbs) of bags and one 30kg (66lbs) bike box to a different continent all on my own.
My journey got off to a great start with my good friend, Amy driving me up to Toronto to ensure I got the cheapest flight to Paris ($322USD!). The good times kept rolling when the internet service at Iceland Air’s check in was down and I was allowed to check my bags for free. I am sure any athlete that travels with a bike can understand my relief at this.
Unfortunately, that’s where the ease of travel ended. Upon arrival in Paris I took a bus into the city, where I would be staying at a hotel with my former college tennis team mate, Carl. With the help of the driver, loading my bags on the bus was not as difficult as it could have been, but arrival at the train station was an utter nightmare. My earlier plans of trying to walk the 1.8km to the hotel were soon shut down after I realized the difficulty of simply walking the 180m to the taxi line. After trying to fit my gear into two taxis that were obviously too small, the third time was the charm and I was on my way to the hotel.
As luck would have it, we were put on the 4th floor of the hotel. This was no problem when I realized they had an elevator, but later became a problem when I noticed the elevator was designed to hold one less than average sized adult. Trying to fit my bike case in the elevator was an impossible task, so I had a chuckle to myself and began taking the stairs. After 3 trips up and down to get my things, I was drenched in sweat but felt a sense of accomplishment- I had moved my bags and got some training in for the day.
The three days I spent in Paris were a blast. I was lucky enough to be shown around the city by my friend, Anne. I joked with her that she was not a very good tour guide, but the truth is she was great and I was very appreciative to have a local’s input on things. That evening Carl arrived and for the next two days we did a whole lot of exploring Paris on foot.
Come Monday morning I had to face fear in the eyes. The task of getting my bags to Pacé on my own. I was faced with the decision of a €33 Uber ride or a €1.80 metro ride to the train station. Given my new status of unemployed, struggling pro triathlete, and with Carl’s help, I decided to take the metro. Was it worth €31? I’m not sure, but I am certain Carl will tell you it was not. After having my bike bag stuck in a metro door and climbing and descending countless sets of stairs, we made it to the train station once again drenched in sweat and sore all over. I am extremely grateful to have Carl’s help getting to the station as every € saved for me is a great bonus.
After once again struggling with my bags taking them on and off the train, I made it to Rennes where I was greeted at the station by my host, Virginie and my team mate, Florian. The relief of ending that journey with a bike in 100% condition is hard to express in a blog post. I am thankful to have a great host family in Pacé and am settling in to everyday life while working on my French.
I am excited to kick off my season this weekend in Les Sables d’Olonne. With injuries and crashes I have low expectations but my body is feeling OK and having been 7 months since my last race at HyVee, I am eager to get rolling again.
Huge thanks to everyone that helped me get over here.
Until next time.