As mentioned in my last blog post, I was not 100% sure whether I was going to even make the start line of IM France, but on the morning of my flight the French released news that the strike had been cancelled, just in time! In the end our flight departed around 15 minutes late, perfect!
I arrived in Nice early morning welcomed by sunshine, some cloud cover and a temperature of around 23 degrees, amazing IM weather!
My family and I headed down to the race start and I decided to get registration out of the way on the Thursday whilst there were no queues.
I had forgotten to bring my BTF license and in previous Ironman’s and other triathlons this has not been an issue, a day license is usually given with no questions, however, the French triathlon rules are completely different, if the participant does not have a home nation license they must purchase a day license for 30 Euros, but this license cannot be bought without presenting a medical certificate signed by a doctor, as I did not have a medical cert I would be required to come back on the Saturday, pay 100 Euros and queue to see a doctor and be signed off.
I expressed to the women at registration that I had no idea of these requirements due to having never encountered them before and as I had listed my license number on my original entry form, thankfully the women allowed me to register with no cost! Although I overheard another British guy being told to come back on Saturday… Lesson learnt.... always carry your BTF license.
Race Force were at IM Austria this year which was on the same day as IM France, therefore I borrowed a soft bike box from a friend and my bike was transported with me on the flight, to be set up by myself on arrival.
I put the bike set up off for the first day and decided to do it on the Friday, when completed I headed out for a test ride/ no goal cycle to loosen off my legs.
I proceeded to shift between the gears, test the breaks etc to ensure all was ok, but when I reached the top gear my derailleur shifted hard into my wheel spokes and the noise caused me to halt immediately.
I got off the bike to assess what had happened and to my shock the derailleur was bent so far in that it was sitting in my wheel spokes, having only a basic knowledge of bike maintenance I had no clue what had happened but luckily it happened 50 meters from the IM Expo so I carried my bike to one of the mechanic stalls, got the attention of one of the guys and my heart sunk when he bent down, looked at the bike and said out load “Merde”...
The derailleur hanger was bent to a near 90 degree angle, which I only assume to have been caused during transit.
The mechanic and 4 of his colleagues kindly proceeded to leave the bikes that they were working on and attend to mine, they managed to bend the hanger as straight as possible but it was stressing under the pressure and could not be bent completely straight at the risk of it snapping, the mechanic also had to fit a new derailleur, however these fixes did not eliminate the issue, they just got the bike to a working order, I needed a new hanger as so I taxied around to 3 bike shops in Nice and used the taxi driver as my translator to enquire as to whether they had a new hanger I could buy, but no luck!
I went on a test ride and it was completely knackered, any pressure applied to the peddles caused the chain to jump off the chain ring due to the derailleur being out of alignment.
I was in panic mode now, IM France’s bike course is notoriously hilly and I my bike, in its current state would not hold on the hills, I even started looking at hire bikes until I received a call from Grant, the mechanic from Race Force and he gave some good reassurance and advice on what to ask the mechanics to do, but I couldn’t get back to the Expo as by that time it was closing.
Luckily when my friend arrived on the Friday evening and him being very knowledgeable of bikes, he looked at the hanger and found that it had also threaded, so he rethreaded it, reattached and I headed out again for a test, IT WORKED!! Well it made it better than it was, I was still unable to be too aggressive but it would get me to the end.
I headed to bed on the Friday evening early, stressing all day had taken it out of me!
Saturday morning and I went to the beach to swim on course, pressed the power button on my Garmin on and lo and behold, it wouldn’t switch on! Could this trip possibly throw any more spanners in the works! I continued with my swim as usual and swam for around 20 minutes to loosen off.
When I got back to the apartment I tried to plug my Garmin in to see if that would fix it but it was completely dead!
I train and race using heart rate and therefore racing without a watch was out of the question, I had to buy a new one, IM Expo to the rescue again, the guys even gave me 10% discount, I have a new love for French people after this trip!
I spent the rest of Saturday chilling in the hotel room out of the sun and off my feet, drank plenty of water and had the odd nap.
My bike racking time slot was between 6 and 7pm, I always make sure that I eat before 6pm the night before a race to allow for proper digestion and avoid anything that would require intense digestion like creamy foods etc, so a bowl of tomato based pasta and I went off to get my bike racked, I deflated my tyres to avoid them popping in the heat and handed in my transition bags, after that I went back to the hotel, had a hot bath and done some stretches before getting an early night, ready for my 4am alarm.