I've been here three weeks and have spoken little about where I am here in Leysin, the encampment for TeamTBB. I was sick during the rainy first week and a half here. Since then, I've gotten a chance to ride south to catch a stage Tour of Switzerland, and southeast along the valleyfor another ride, as well as do some trail running up here in the mountain.
And yesterday, I had a chance to ride north for a flat tempo ride along Lake Geneva. I rode down the mountain for a 60-mile spin with Donna, Erika Csomor, Rebecca Preston, Marilyn McDonald and soon-to-be Beijing Olympian Mariana Ohata to Lausanne and back. Well, closer to 70 for Donna, Mariana and Erika, who met up with Belinda Granger and Chrissie Wellington to ride back up the hill as I joined the McDonald (who's back is recovering steadily from a bike spill) and Preston, who still had Ironman France in her legs for the train ride back up the hill.
We hoped, hoped, hoped the operator wouldn't come back to collect the $14 for the one-way trip with our bikes up to Leysin (And Marilyn hoped the back door of the car wouldn't pop open, pouring her out the back as the train ascended at about a 30 degree angle). Of course, the ticket collector came, and out came the Swiss Francs. Anytime you can get away without having to pay the toll is a victory, but they're few and far between. Regardless, Saturday's ride was probably the nicest since I've been here; it was flat, it wasn't windy, and I could just tag to the back of these swiftly-moving girls and take a scenic tow. And we stopped for pastries and soda once in Lausanne. Donna recalled that we were at the same spot where she did ITU Worlds as an age grouper... and Mariana did it that same year, as a pro.
I took my camera along on the run and at the end of one trail, the trees opened up to the sight below: the valley just north of Aigle, looking toward Montreaux and Lake Geneva. I ran into Belinda on her run out there, continued on a bit more, found some fun old fireroad switchback up to even more gorgeous vistas, then discovered a sweet, rooty, rocky singletrack that bombed straight downhill. So much fun.
On the way back, I spied two foxes on the road ahead, both dashing up the embankment to the hillside above. While one bailed, the other stopped to have a look. It was the first time I'd seen a fox. Not as imposing as a coyote, but equally as skittery. I wonder if there's bears in these hills...
Tomorrow or Tuesday, I'll explore some more on my own, riding the southern edge of Lake Geneva across the French border toward Evian, home of that infamous water company. After seeing the glacial waters cascade off the mountains around here and the crystal blue color of the lake, I can see why this water can demand top dollar.
The weather (for now): epic. Sunny, 73 degrees F. Down in the valley, it can get into the mid 80s. It's idyllic. Of course, as I finish this, the rain has started this evening. Hopefully it blows out.
Mid-week, Morgan Nicol of Oval Concepts will be swinging by to pick me up for a drive clear across France to the Brest region to catch the first stage of the Tour de France. I'm looking forward to getting my first glance at this event, and will share some insights. After that, I'll jump on a bullet train back across to Switzerland to do a bit more work, then join Donna as she gets ready to do Ironman Switzerland on July 13. Then I have just a couple days in Zurich.. and head back to San Diego, leaving Donna behind to do another month of training in the mountains before she heads back stateside.
In the meantime, there's a big race this coming weekend, with Ironman Germany on the docket, the race featuring both Ironman world champs. Chrissie Wellington hopes to make it four-for-four in Ironman wins. And the men's field, headed by Chris McCormack, has the German contingent of Normann Stadler, Faris Al Sultan, defending race champ Timo Bracht, as well as former race winner Cam Brown.
I wondered how Ze Germans would see Macca this time, now with an Ironman world title added to his impressive race palmares. So a little chat with him runs here, at the newly-launched Road Bike Action website. Knowing Macca, it's an interesting read. While it seems things are settled between he and Normann, it's not the case with Faris.
Next update will probably be from France...