My First Week in France

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.

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My entire life got a free ride to France

 

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.

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My Friend and Tour Guide, Anne.

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Carl and I at Roland Garros

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.

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How do I get you onto the train?

 

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.

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My Room

 

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.

 

 

 

Where have you been, James?

To say the last few months have been interesting would be an understatement. With that, I took some time to focus on priorities other than blogging about what was happening in my world of triathlon. Thankfully, my time has been productive and I was able to obtain my master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Toledo by successfully defending my thesis entitled “The Effects of Compression Recovery Pants on Cycling Performance.” To finish a project that has been two years in the making was a huge weight off my shoulders and it is safe to say the feeling of freedom has been very welcome. It has also allowed me to tend to the minor details of training and preparing to start my season.

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After a long break with a torn gastrocnemius, my body is starting to feel good heading into the northern summer. Given my inability to run and ride for long periods, I spent my time in the pool working on my obvious weakness. Following countless laps and some stern words from my masters coach, I saw some real progress, and after swimming some good 200 and 400y times, I have the confidence that I am headed in the right direction if I want to be a successful ITU athlete.

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Although my calf still bothers me at times following sessions, it is feeling 100% during run and ride workouts. The relief of being able to train pain free without analyzing every stride and pedal stroke is something that is hard to explain. Given the need to ease my way back into training I have spent the last 6 weeks running and riding aerobically (fairly easily) in what Brian termed “increasing the area under the curve.” Thankfully my body has responded quite well to the training and my power numbers on the bike are much higher than I expected at this point in the year.

With a degree in my back pocket and a few weeks of consistent training under my belt it is almost time for me to head over to Europe and start my season. Selling everything that I own outside of 2 bags and my bikes has been an interesting task but I am extremely thankful to my friends that have been a huge help in getting it accomplished. Six years ago I came to the States with one bag of clothes and my tennis racquets. Traveling again with only the bare essentials brings a sense of deja vu. Having said that, I am proud of the life I have created for myself in the U.S. and I am excited to see what Europe has in store for me.

I am sure to have some ups and downs during my travels but I look forward to sharing them all with you.

Salut!