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Triathlon De L Alpe D’Huez « Brandon Marsh's Blog

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Triathlon De L Alpe D’Huez

Yes, a blog is way past due!!

Everytime I sit down to write a blog about a race…aka a ‘race report’, I fear that it may end up sounding the same.  And, invariably, they do end up sounding the same…sometimes down to the result.  That really seems to be the case with 90% of ALL professional triathlete race reports.  In the end as a pro triathlete, one can argue that the result is all that matters.  So, to write another race report that ends with a 12th place finish really kind of pisses me off.  I was stuck at 9th for awhile, and now it seems as if it is 12th.  That is a trend in the wrong direction.  So, while I can end my report there I do not feel that it would give my race, my build up, the race the justice that it deserves.  Nor would it give you, the reader, a small piece of the experience that is the Alp D’Huez Triathlon.  If you are reading this and are from the US, which I suspect many of ‘my’ blog readers are, then the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon is probably NOT on your radar of events to do.  It should be.  It should be because I feel that every triathlete who has the means to, should go do a race in another country, especially Europe.  This race is unlike almost any that you will race.  I will race again in a few weeks in Germany, and while that one will be an ‘Ironman’ branded event, I suspect that the experience will not be what it will be because it is an ‘Ironman’ race, but because it is in Germany.  So, that is the prelude to what will undoubtedly be the longest race report that I have posted here on the TeamTBB website.  And, I hope to have a few pictures for you as well.

I will not dwell on what I called my build up for this race.  It will come across as excuses, which I seem to read in a lot of race reports.  You have to deal with the hand that life deals you.  In mid April and May I was dealt a hand of lemons.  So, here we are roughly 8 weeks later, and I am doing my best of make lemonade out of those lemons.  I’m not quite sure what it means, but another pro remarked that he was focusing on the ‘donut and not the hole.’  So, if that means focusing on the bigger picture, that is what I am doing and what the race in Alpe D’huez was about.  For TeamTBB members, this race has been a bit of a tradition.  A tradition that I missed last year because I was racing Ironman UK.  Apparently that did not stop Aaron this year.  On Sunday morning before the race all those going were given a single sheet of paper that said “Sutto’s Tour de France, Day 1 itinerary”.  We got another one on Monday.  Each day saw a long ride separated by a stay in the posh Etap hotel in Albertville, France.  Everyone was all smiles and chipper on the trip (comments written before reading James’ blog!).  Here we have Amy shortly before the trip…another one of many “Hey Amy what are we doing!?” shots.

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Here is Mr. Stephen Bayliss, soon to be papa Stephen Bayliss at the top of the first climb.  While he does usually wear a lot of clothes while cycling, his apparel choice will give you some kind of idea just how cold and miserable the first day was!

Stephen looking like a Euro Cyclist

The video below was sort of a candid video of MBE as she’s known to her friends, Mary Beth Ellis for everyone else.  She was like a kid in a candy store so to speak.  The video also speaks for itself.  This is our lunch stop on Day 1.  And, there is a picture of MonteBlanc that you can just see peeking above the clouds.

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Monte Blanc through the clouds

The race report wouldn’t be complete without a picture of me, my bike, and part of Dave’s finger at the top of the Col Du Glandon, just so you know that we did indeed ride the climb.

Me, Sign, Bike, Dave's Finger

Nor would a race report be complete without a few pictures of the famous Alpe D’Huez climb.  Unfortunately, I do not have a good picture of all 21 switchbacks, but I think that you’ll get the idea.

A couple of famous switchbacks

Just in Case you lose count, they tell you...all the way to 21

Dutch Corner as it is known

We arrived in Alpe on Monday, Tuesday was an ‘easy’ day, and Wednesday was race day.  Brett said to treat as a bit of training for this point in my season.  To not take too many risks in the race, but in the end it is a race!  I suspect that I lost somewhere around 10-15 minute by being overly cautious on the wet downhills.  It was cold, it was wet, it was windy, it was just about everything that it could have been except for sunny and warm.  I got off the bike and started the run that takes place pretty much at an elevation of 6,000 feet and higher.  I ran really well.  If you want to get down to it, I had the 3rd best run split.  But, having the third best run split, while a bit of a personal victory, does not get the job done when you cross the line in 12th.  12th is still 12th.  And, while it is a good finish on the comeback trail, when the gun went off, what the last 12-16 weeks looked like didn’t really matter.

As mentioned in James’ blog, we were to have a swim the day before and the day after the race.  We had a guest coach on deck in Paddington Bear, but he seemed to have forgotten the red rainboots.

Red Rain Boots Anyone?

The trip there and the race really were just part of the experience.  The day after the race, I put my TeamTBB bike kit back on…after we had a swim…and we rode the flats back to Albertville, France where we stayed again in the posh Etap hotel.  Friday it was back on the bikes for the nearly 180k trip back from Albertville to Leysin.  Unlike the trip on the way to Alpe, I’m pretty sure that the miles and time in the saddle had made everyone pretty well mad at everyone else (comments also written before reading James’ blog!!).  The trip back was certainly not as pleasant as the trip there.  That’s what hard training will do to you.  Here it is on Saturday as I write this blog and we’ve had a solid swim.  I’m sure this will be posted either late Saturday or Sunday.  One thing is for sure, the trip to Alpe was a great one.  Certainly some character (I’ll call it that at least) was built.  Fitness was gained.  A race was run.  Money was won…yes even for 12th money was won.

As I am sure that I wrote last year, if you had asked me 2 or even 10 years ago if I would have raced with a team in Europe and done the triathlon that ended with a trip up the famous Alpe D’Huez climb, I would have answered not in my wildest dreams.  OK, maybe in them, but either way, it has been an experience.  And, that is why I say that if you are a triathlete, and if you have the means, I think that a European race should show up on your calendar.  So, next up will be another European race before heading back to the US to add the sugar to the lemonade that is being made right now.  Wiesbaden, Germany is the next stop.  James tells me that triathletes are like superstars in Germany.  I wonder if those wearing red, white, and blue are superstars there?

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