L’Aiguillon, France, is situated in the bay just above La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast, the drive took us about 2 hours from Saint Jean de Monts. Our race did not start until 4pm and arriving at 1pm gave us plenty of time to relax. We enjoyed some down time, picnic style, around the lake with many of our fellow competitors.
With the temperature rising, jumping into the refreshing lake water seemed like the best thing to do. Taking the plunge, the immediate taste of salt water surprised me; but of course, one could easily toss a stone into the bay from here. Feeling like a kid at the park, I swam my warm up.
At the start line I conferred with several officials and competitors as to what route the swim took. Getting three different answers, I asked again and again looking for some conformity or authority. I found it when the motor boat did the course just before we started.
Feeling a little too relaxed I ran into the water with the group but within 100 meters pulled into the lead with one other swimmer. We drag raced side by side to the turn buoy, where I made my move. I love a strong negative split. Speeding up I turned right to head for the finish. Pierre, the other lead swimmer did not follow but some other unlucky swimmer did. Asking the kayaker which way, it became obvious when he shouted and pointed to another buoy. Ouch…I had just swam 25m off course and now had to go back. Now, barely in the top 10, I sprinted to regain some places. Making up some good time with a hard effort put me back in 2nd not too far off Pierre.
Charging onto the bike I made it a point to take the lead before putting my cycling shoes on. I wanted to make the first group hard to get into and so pushed the pace. After 1 kilometer, three riders made the lead pack with another rider looking like he would bridge up. With Adam, my teammate, in the group race tactics favored us.
Having an intense training week did not leave me fresh for this race. Using this race to continue improving my accelerations played out well at each turn around. Getting out of the saddle and sprinting at all three helped develop some speed for the next Grand Prix in Paris.
The group stopped working well together seeing our lead grow to a comfortable margin. Adam and I used this to our advantage. Attacking after Pierre had done some work (with the other guy not ever doing any), Adam held up not wanting to bridge the other three up to a teammate. In the last 3 to 4k my gap grew to between 20 and 30 seconds but I maxed out my legs in the effort. I knew this would be helpful for Adam because this would keep him from having to do any work and force the other two to bridge up.
Having a sizable lead coming into T2, it seemed that I would be running in the lead for a while. Wrong, Adam came up like a freight train, rumbling in behind me almost immediately. He sped off to victory at a superior running tempo and I did my best to hold off the other two. However, Pierre’s swiftness overtook mine. He actually kept Adam honest to the finish while I finished comfortably behind them.
Thanks Hortense for the photos and support. Also thanks to Mom & Dad who had to leave right after the race (and long award ceremony) to drive 5 plus hours back to Paris to catch their plane.