In 2008 I enjoyed a short period of unemployment. It was great but not long enough. The European School had opened down the road and I strolled in one day to drop off my CV. It was October and I was hoping to re-start work the following September. The head asked me if I could start the next day. I've been there ever since.
However, I did have enough free time to head off to Pyrenees Multisport. I joined the 4 day Camp Kia Kaha organised by the hosts of the popular podcast Ironman Talk. Everything was amazing. Ian and Julie's place, the food, the surrounding training options, John and Bevan's organisation, the other campers. Everything.
The year before I'd done a season in the French Grand Prix Division 2. Injuries, unwillingness to travel around France and a lack of competitive juices meant that I'd already decided to retire from hard racing. I had entered Challenge Roth however and the camp helped me get fit enough to enjoy the day.
John also runs Epic Camp. They offer the camper "Everything But Mercy". High level food, accommodation and on-the-road van support. I was envious of the athletes that could go on these camps but also thought the complete opposite style of camp could also be attractive. Something cheap and super-basic.
After Camp Kia Kaha I jotted down and then typed up how I thought these adventures might go and threw together a website. My notes are below. I've never really developed the project fully but have had some fun times testing the concept. Read about that here and the tour I'm planning in 2017 here.
Bike Tours For Triathletes
Five Sticker Rides is based out of Strasbourg in the east of France. Our bike tours take triathlon training back to nature and simplicity. We pack light, carry all our equipment in rear panniers and the camping format keeps camaraderie high and costs low. Enjoy steady riding days, lake swims, trail runs and the opportunity to toe the line at a local event.
The Anti-Training Camp
We aim to combine the relaxed style of bike touring with some steady triathlon training in nature. Take your time to stop for coffee, read, write, sleep or take photos. All campers also dig in and share the various tour tasks. Making and striking camp. Supplying foodstuffs. Cooking. Watching the bikes in camp or staying on shore to keep an eye on swimmers.
First Self Supported Bike Tour?
Don’t worry! We’ll start out slowly on the first day and help you with loading your bike, on the road mechanics and basic camp craft.
Nearly Car Free Riding
We prioritize riding on dedicated bike paths, quiet back-roads hard packed forest single track and smooth gravel paths to make tours as traffic-free as possible. Riding together is fun but feel free to strike out alone. Daily riding distances are kept to an average of 100 km or less. After checking in to camp there's always the opportunity to ride some more.
Improve Your French
If you have any energy left at the end of the day I’ll run a French conversation session. Start preparing with these online resources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/
Camping On Tour
On an FSR tour we camp every night. We choose campsites carefully. Mainly lakeside locations with access to running trails and not far from a village or town. It could rain but the appeal of bike touring is also the challenge of aligning the equipment, technique and mindset to deal with all weather conditions.
Experience Racing in France
We get you to the cheap, uncrowded triathlons that are still organised by clubs and small towns. An FSR tour is also more about your race day experience than your race day result. Liked what you saw? Why not choose an event from this list of races to come back rested and with your best bike. Then you'll really see how you stack up against the French!
Eating On Tour
Strasbourg has a great local food movement. Producers only markets, farm shops and vegetable distribution associations. Rather than gels and sugary snacks we fuel our tour by picking up fresh, local lunch and breakfast material. The aim is to be self-sufficient sourcing, carrying and cooking all of our food. However, if there's a convenient, chilled-out restaurant with a terrace or beer garden we might not be able to resist.
Safety On Tour
Exchange mobile numbers with other riders. Have the Emergency Services as contacts in your phone. Take care descending and negotiating junctions on the bike. Always stop at red lights. In general drivers in France respect cyclists. Share the road and keep your cool. Never swim alone. Take your phone when jogging.
Strasbourg has more bike paths than any other French city and an extensive public transport system. For athletes there are three 50m pools, city lakes, parks, canal paths and easily accessible forest trails. There is also Roman to 20th century history to uncover and the European Institutions to visit.
- Get up with the sun or sleep as late as you need to. We’ll make coffee and tea and then swim before breakfast. Sessions are planned to incorporate all speeds and technical abilities.
- A party can be dispatched to a boulangerie while the rest of us take down the tents and prepare a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, salad, yoghurt and fruit. Over breakfast I’ll brief everybody concerning the bike route.
- We aim to be on the road by 08:00 and the plan is to ride together as much as possible or break into small groups if necessary. Use your map if you'd rather get from A to B alone. We can set meeting points throughout the day or keep in contact by phone.
- Runs are planned for every afternoon on forest trails or lake-side loops. Run for as little or long as you like. Courses will be easy to follow to allow all runners to stride out and enjoy.
- Finish the day with strength and mobility work, barefoot jogging, touch rugby or take a dip in the lake to cool off the quads. Evening meals are planned for about 20:00.