Dunkerque French Grand Prix

Dunkerque- French Grand Prix 1- Tri Val de Gray

Spending a week in Gray, east of France, to nothing more than 7 degrees and rain, I had the opportunity to meet my French team.  The week leading up to Dunkerque after long travel from Florida, it was time to adjust to the time zone or my way was wake up at 9.30 everyday and wondering where my day had gone. French was a whole new language that was very hard to catch on to with me half the time speaking my little knowledge of Spanish. I got some solid training in with the pool being minutes away, the roads being quiet for rides and finding trails in the fields just behind my French teams house. We drove to Dunkerque on Saturday, a long 6 hour drive, where the sun was out and I was ready to race.

My team, Tri Val de Gray considering of Barbara Riveros, , Sandrine Fariello, , Marie-Clémence Prat, Fabienne Hébert and myself,  were maybe not the strongest team but Barbara let me know the important values and I suppose our race tactics- fast swim to the first 200m buoy and basically on the rivet from there. I had no idea what to expect but from what everyone was telling me. The morning of the race, it was cold, wet and windy! Reminded me of Beijing take 2. Beanie, gloves, multiple layers of clothing and a freezing cold wind chill, the race was not going to go anywhere.

 I decided not to do a swim warm up as the water was a fresh 12 degrees and the outside not much warmer. I did dry land exercises to stimulate swimming processes. We were the last team on the pontoon, having no choice where to stand. Barbara spoke to me as using this to our advantage. Before I knew it and even think about diving into cold water, the gun went off. I put my head down and swam straight across the field, trying to get infront of them before the battle at the first buoy. I got a few knocks to the head but nothing like I expected. The next part of the swim I was trying just to follow feet and keep my stroke rate high. Before I knew it, I could see the blue carpet to get into transition. Coming out in the first few girls,  I could not feel my feet or hands but wanted to keep with the main pack of girls!

From Huatuclo, I knew there was no time to muck around. The ride was technical with corners and 180 degree turns. The ride seemed to be okay- it had its intense moments especially into the tail wind and other times it seemed to be just rolling the legs. We had about 15 girls in our pack, trying to keep near the front to avoid trouble as the road was wet and girls skills levels were dodgey. Being quiet tall, especially into the head wind, the many small girls did not give me any benefit being behind them with the strong winds! After 5 fast laps and plenty of accelerations, I got off my bike near the front. Being near the end of transition, I had to dodge lots of girls running out. Coming out, top 6 out of transition I tried to get good pace early as my feet still were so numb! Within the first 500m, Emma Jackson and a few other girls went past me. Felt like I was running on the spot! The running had many corners and accelerations, making it also interesting. The first 2.5km felt very fast. Going around for lap 2, I felt like I lost some rhythm with 2 more girls going past me. That was probably the most disappointing moment of the race. Coming down the last 500m, it was all or nothing. Finishing in 11th place, was exciting and I look forward to racing more as it was a lot different from ITU racing.

The word I learnt the most in french was froid (cold)- even with multiple layers, I felt like an ice berg. Thinking about the cold was second to me with a lot of other processes coming into play before that in my mind were more important. Thank you to my French team, Tri Val de Gray for looking after me so well and I look forward to more racing to come.



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