2008 Nicko in Europe

15 September, 2008

Hello Everyone, 

For the past four weeks I have been flat out with races and training.  Eager to finish off the european season on a high note.  It started with a non drafting race in Nevers which felt like an half ironman.  I felt good all day and ended up 10th just outside the money but a good start.  The next weekend was a sprint distance in Parthenay.  Again non drafting which I thought would be good strength work for important races.  This time I finished in 8th picking up a bit of cash and happy with the progress.

The weekend after was back to the Irontour but this time only two days of racing.  The weekend consisted of 250m swim/7.5km bike/1.6km run team relay on the saturday afternoon.  Sunday was a sprint distance (750/20/5) in the morning followed by 100m swim/2.5km ride/600m run.  This was a tough weekend.  You where just on the limit every race.  You couldn’t relax for a second because every second counted in every race for the overall results.  After the weekend I was in a disappointing 29th against a red hot field.  I was exhausted and still had 7 hours of travelling to get home.

The whole next week I was a mess and a little unsure if i had pushed the body too hard too soon.  The important race for the club in Bordeaux was next weekend and I had to be ready!  Bordeaux is a beautiful city and is the 5th largest city in France. Bordeaux is built on the Garonne river and is situated in the south east of France.  I was excited to come here as i have never been in this area of France before.  We arrived and the weather was looking bleak.  I was hoping for better the following day.

We rode to the race start as a team and prepared for the day.  The race was in the morning this time and the female athletes where up first.  We had to swim in the river Garonne which connects to the atlantic ocean not to far away.  This river was crazy!  The current was going so fast that they made the swim 1400 meters instead of the usual 750 meters.  Also the organisers could not get the pontoon out because the water was moving too fast.  The female athletes refused to do the swim so they turned their race into a durathlon (Run/Ride/Run.)  Our race was still undecided whether we would swim or not.  Finally we where given the go ahead that the swim was still on.  We were all bussed to the start and told that everyone had to wear a wetsuit. 

Finally the officals put us on the pontoon but it was facing sidewards so the first team would dive in and have a handy 50 meter start on the last team.  As we where 3rd last on the pontoon we where well back.  Once in, this was no river.  It was like swimming in rapids and the water was so muddy that it was like swimming with your eyes closed.  We had certain buoys to pass on the way but I didnt see a thing.  I was just trying to follow the splash in front of me.  I found out later that the organisers where worried about athletes being swept down the river as the current was so strong with the debre in the water.  I also didn’t know there was sunken ships just below the surface which can be seen at low tide.  I got to the end of the swim and found myself still in contention. 

After a good transition there was a huge group of athletes just ahead which was the 1st group but with many athletes around me i though catching them would be no trouble.  Forgetting most guys don’t like going near the front to take a turn a small gap opened up and I knew a good result was gone.  Being frustrated I tried to go alone but with no success.

Once off the bike I ran my guts out to finish up 50th and 1st finisher in my team.  It was a good improvement form the other races but a bad day for the team.  All the other boys struggled and we finished 15th.

My training this week has been going great and I’m in high spirits for the final race in La Baule next weekend.
Stephen Nicholson

30 May, 2008
‘Nicko’ Begins His Season in Europe…

Hi Everyone… 
Round 1 of the French Grand Prix series was held at Dunkerque in the North of France.  Dunkerque is the third biggest port in France and notorious for bad weather!  The team made the 5 hour drive the day before and the weather was not looking good.  I was unsure about my fitness leading into this race as I was diagnosed with glandular fever a week before leaving Australia.  Come race day the clouds had lightened up and the day was looking good.  With a strong team of 5 athletes we were looking for a good result.  This race was sprint distance. (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run)  The nerves kicked in as we all stood on the pontoon waiting for the starter’s gun.

With the first buoy only 200 metres away it was one of the hardest swim starts I’ve encountered.  I exited the water 3/4 of the way back but with many athletes around me.  I thought I was still in with a chance.  When you enter the transition in these French GP races you must place everything into a small box.  This includes wetsuit, cap and goggles and your helmet after the ride.  Failing to do so can get you disqualified or a stop/go penalty.  I got through transition fine and was riding hard to stay with a small group that had broken off the main pack.  They were just up the road and I thought I could help the group bridge the gap.  At this point I knew my race fitness was lacking and decided to take cover behind the other athletes in the bunch.  I was so tired that I sat last wheel for the rest of the ride.  We had missed the main group.  They had put a lot of time into us by the end of the ride.

Onto the run – I was hoping for good legs but had the opposite.  The run felt like a marathon and couldn’t wait to see that finish line.  I finished in 72nd position and very disappointed in how things went.  I knew there and then that this style of racing was go hard, ask questions later!  The team finished 11th out of 16.  This was a good start for us with 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th all very close on points.
I have taken some advice to rest for some time to recover from this virus.  I will have to miss some smaller French races but should be on the start line for round 2 of the French GP in Paris.  

Stephen Nicholson


One Response to 2008 Nicko in Europe

  1. Nicho – Keep those race reports (and photos) coming. Get Well – and Good Luck…

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