La Tour Genève Triathlon

Let’s be honest, I’m a triathlon training-aholic, I love pushing the limits of pain and I love coffee outings, but I’ve never been an aficionado of putting on a bib every weekend. Why? I don’t know if there’s one reason that’s more important than another, but mainly I don’t like planning and reserving my life for the next 6 months…

I’ve lived in Switzerland for a few years now, and I’m always told: “What are you doing with your life?” when I try to spontaneously organise a coffee or dinner after work! People seem to have a serious penchant for booking themselves weeks in advance… where’s the room for spontaneity, for freedom, for wild ideas and last-minute excitement?

But let’s get back to the subject (my apologies, I was getting a bit carried away already)… I don’t shop that much because you have to sign up months in advance… and I don’t want to be booked… except maybe for a once-in-a-lifetime experience… yes, we all need exceptions from time to time.

That's how one thing led to another and I found myself on the start line of the La Tour Geneva triathlon.

In fact, I’d like to run more, because at the end of the day, I train hard, I run for KOM Strava and I kick myself in the backside to try and fight day after day… So why not stand at the start line, show up from time to time, blow up a peloton, try to break away, launch a late attack or elbow your way into a final sprint?

The triathlon concept

I met with the OC Sport girls in Lausanne earlier this year to discuss the Haute Route des Alpes – more on that soon – and it was there that they mentioned that I was also welcome to take part in the Geneva Triathlon.

So I thought it would be cool! Then I remembered that this has been an incredibly exciting and busy year for me for a variety of reasons, and as a result swimming – that hard, unforgiving, brutal water sport that I’m not very good at…. – was the first activity to go in the bin: a total of 10km of swimming training in the last 4 months… Damn, the first stage could be a little embarrassing…!

So here I am on the 15th of July, standing like an idiot on the beach with 200 other triathletes, all looking like stranded penguins in wetsuits that are too tight.

Underneath mine is my old triathlon suit… Yes, the one that’s a size too big, because I was a bit bigger a few years ago – so now I look like a Michelin Man who’s shrunk but hasn’t changed his suit. I’ll leave you to imagine.

The race

I was put in the first wave, I don’t know why… But there’s no time to think, here we go! Beeeeeeep, the horn sounds… baaam, we’re in the water, it’s time for the washing machine, you’re entitled to a painful full-body massage for 1.5 km, but it’s free! I’m making my way to relative safety at the back of the pack… yes, I’m leading from the back, yes, I’ve been overtaken by a guy doing the breaststroke BUT I’m not panicking… There’s a bike course coming up, and my fighter jet is going to smash the clock.

Here’s the T1: it’s easy to spot my bike, the huge TT rocket is one of the last to hang on the rack. I’m pretty sure it’s smiling at me, mocking me: “Mate, that was a slow, shitty swim”, then winking: “Get your slippers on, we’re going to tear this place apart”!

The Garmin is on – Strava proves it – and I’m shifting down the gears; my 11-speed sprocket refuses to join the party, but it doesn’t matter. I’m a cyclist and my legs can turn twice as fast as the average triathlete…

My Garmin is on board too: 44, 47, 51 km/h – off we go!

My bike and I cover the five laps of a mostly flat course. The climb is a bitch, I would have been faster on my Foil road bike, but I speed down the left side of the road and leave most of the other guys panting on the right. I suppose being last out of the swim has its advantages, all I do is overtake.

Friends shouting along the route, the atmosphere is cool! Great, I feel fast… Damn, I’m fast…

The 40 kilometres were just an hour long when I arrived at T2. Heyyyy I seem to have plenty of space to store my bike! I’m still in race mode… Without a helmet, with the runners… Oh yes, running… I’d forgotten that was part of the triathlon…

Still struggling with a toe injury, I’m trying not to get too excited. I’m starting to run at a speed of 4’/km… Take it easy, it’s really hot… I gulped down some water and smiled at the photographers, and suddenly the finish line appeared… 25th place! A swim that’s a little longer than necessary, a funky bike and a sensible run. Not bad for a first this year, and SUPER FUN!

Next time, I promise, I’ll be back with 10 kilometres of swimming a week and a fit foot! Stay tuned… the next one will be seriously serious!

Yes, that means I’ll be doing another triathlon race very soon…