Here is the new episode of this altitude adventure, at 1350m high, where I am going to stay for 38 days. Training is going as planned. The good thing is that even when I’m at home, grocery shopping, or watching the European Athletics, the lack of oxygen makes me feel like my body is training.
Alright here’s for you, the best of those 38 days:
Friday 8th – Day 1
Everywhere on Earth, there are roads. Therefore, when you plan a training camp in altitude, the one and only question is: Where are you gonna swim?
Here is my answer 🙂
It’s called an organic pool. Did you know about it? There are only 6 in France and this one is only 500m away from my place. It’s called « organic » because the basin is surrounded with plants absorb the CO2 or something like that. The water is not really hot but the setting is ve-ry nice 🙂
Saturday 9th – Day 2
« Find a hill ». Easy, I think. « And go run for 10 to 14 kilometer », says my Coach.
My place is 20 meters away from the bottom of the slopes. I take the first trail and go up and up and up for 10,88km. After 1h45, I reach the summit at 2469m. The landscape is amazing. The mountains are so beautiful. I am face to face with the mountains on the other side of the valley. The atmosphere is crispy cold. It reminds me of when I lived in Canmore, in the Canadian Rockies.
Monday 11th – Day 4
80km bike ride today. I am excited to go for my first peak. After looking at the map, I choose « le Col du Lautaret » at 2058m high. It takes 26km to reach the top. Then there are 14km of downhill. U-turn. 14km uphill again. Summit again and 26km downhill again.
On the other side of the peak, the slope is crazy. In just 14km, I go back down to 1300m. As soon as my bike computer shows 40k and 5 meters, I hit the brakes and turn back. On that side, the toughest hill is 7%. It is not scary yet but it’s starting to be solid.
I reach the summit. Take a photo break. Ignore the left turn to the « Col du Galibier ». Put on some warm gear and go off for 26km of downhill.
The scenery is just awesome. I would have to stop every 500m to take all the pictures I want. For the first time in my life, my bike computer shows 62km/h. Going that fast on a bike is insane. But mastering this speed gives you an incredible feeling.
Tuesday 12th – Day 5
It happened today. I don’t know if it ever did before in my life, in all the sports I played or in all the practice sessions I’ve been into.
10x400m in the pool. 25x400m on the track. Here’s the program. Nothing too crazy, uh?
But after the 4th 400m, I stop. My sensations are average. I am cold. I get out of the pool. Dry myself. Change clothes. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m not in the moment. Mentally, I am elsewhere. Where? I don’t know. I don’t want to suffer. I am not motivated. I don’t know what’s going on. I am elsewhere 😦
Rather than trying to analyze me, I put on my shorts, my tank top, my shoes and head to the track. More of my element. I must run each 400 in 1’40. I feel super easy and eat up each laps in 1’33. But I stop after the 7th. I’m not here. Mentally, I am elsewhere. Where? Somewhere where I am lazy, where I don’t want to suffer, where I want to give up, where I think all of this is too hard, where I don’t understand why I do all this 😦
I say it to my Coach. « Take a day off tomorrow and start over on Thursday ».
Thursday 14th – Day 7
My day off was weird. Food and TV. All day long. Not in the mood 😦
But this morning, after waking-up, some meditation, a cup of hot tea and some music…don’t ask me why or how but my mojo came back home again and I suddenly remembered why I love this sport, to suffer, to lead this triathlete life and to qualify for the Olympics.
I am packing up my stuff. Get on my bike. The sun is shining high. Head to the pool. Swim 10×400. Run 25×400. No biggie. That’s what I do 🙂
Friday 15th – Day 8
Confident again, I decide to climb the « Col du Galibier » at 2659m.
I just left home and that’s enough for me to make a mistake. I check the wind direction and see that it’s all in my face. I feel like biking in the opposite way towards easier roads but my ego tells me to keep going.
To reach the Galibier, you must first summit the Lautaret (2058m) then turn right.
I still have 8km before reaching the top of the Lautaret. I know this hill and it doesn’t scare me anymore. But the wind is starting to freeze me. And you know what? I didn’t even want to take my wind jacket. I took a hat and a scarf but no compression tights. Several times I want to stop and go back…but no, not today. How proud this Greg ! 😉
At last, I get to the top of the Lautaret. I look to the right « Col du Galibier 8km ». I look up. See the road going way up, until disappearing in the clouds. 10 meters from where I stand, the sign from the Tour de France says that during the next kilometer, the average hill is 7.4%.
As usual, I first stop to take a picture. I am cold but the two sessions from Tuesday where I gave up are still on my mind. And this time, I refuse to give up that easily. So I put my foot on the pedal and it takes an amazing strength just to reach 10km/h.
I follow the road and head for the clouds. Suddenly, there isn’t any car anymore. There isn’t even any security barriers on the side of the road. It would be so easy to stop. But I motivate myself saying « Only real men get to the top ». Very soon, the next sign of the Tour de France is here to potentially reassure me. The average hill of the next kilometer is still 7.4%.
Yeah, I am scared.
I find the (inner) way to reach 2400m of altitude. But I am still 5km away from the top. Okay, I am going to be wise this time. My teeth are chattering. My toes and fingers are frozen. My wind jacket is useless. I put my right foot down and turn back. Yeah, only real men get to the top…but only those dressed warmly enough! 😉
Sunday 17th – Day 10
5h bike adventure today. I prepare my bottles and this time, I promise I will dress warm enough 🙂 Before I used to think « Mmm, should I really wear this long-sleeve shirt? ». Now I am thinking « Yeah! Wear it! And wear an extra layer too! ».
Today’s target is the «Col d’Izoard» at 2360m. Once again the scenery is worthy of video game on Play Station 4. Once again, the hill is hard. 8% average. It’s a real mountain road with plenty of switchbacks. Lastly, once again, nobody rides faster than me uphill 🙂
At the top, there are tens of motorbike and bike riders. Everybody takes pictures. There is a gift shop and a candy shop that’s 10 meters wide! I got 2 euros in my pocket and just for the show, I am tempted 🙂
I left home 2h ago. Not time to turn back yet. So I ride down the other side of the mountain. I am in the Queyras Valley. The view is so beautiful. I pilot towards the Italian border but after 2h30, I must stop because…a bakery is on my right ! 😉 But on Sunday at 1 :45pm, it’s closed.
I am going back home now and I make another mistake. I naively imagine that I will be able to climb this peak at the same pace as I did the first time. My quads are rock hard and on that side, the average slope is 8.9%.
It’s so hard that I sometimes turn right and left where the road is flat and where other people live, just to give my thighs a 10 second break.
But it’s not enough and for the first time in my life, I put my foot down and walk up the hill for a few minutes with my bike on my side.
I never saw anyone walking up a hill with a bike. Not even the slowest riders. I am the first one. But I am not ashamed.
For 30 minutes, I walk and ride. Then walk and ride again. I get to the top and I am relieved. I put on all the warm gear I have, go downhill and for the first time in my life…I overtake other riders!! 🙂
Get out of your home. Do what scares you. Your potential is outside.
Outside your comfort zone.