To say that in 2018 I climbed alot is a slight understatement… but there is more to this story than the mere art of going uphill on my bike.
For around 3 years my winter preparation has included the intensely satisfying sport of Biathlon.
As a complement to my classic winter cycling base-build period that includes riding with my valued clientele during their French Riviera Cycling Tours, Biathlon has found a place in my heart. Breathing and concentrating to shoot perfect targets after lung-bursting ski efforts feels heroic when surrounded by the mountains of the Le Boréon valley and I found myself wanting more.
My imagination has blissfully conjured up images of myself skiing gracefully on the piste while controlling my heart-rate and breathing so as to perform a perfect 5-for-5 on the shooting range. Fourcade brothers or not, winter here I come.
I don’t come from a ski or snow background, far from it. Beach and BMX is my Australian sporting background (BMX Bandits anybody?) with running around the bush and lumps of road-cycling, climbing and cycling mixed in. On coming to France nearly 15 years ago I switched to full-time road cycling and racing while extending some reach into the Alps. I did like the look of those Biathlon rifles though, surely this Cross-Country ski lark on nice, flat race courses is a done deal for a ‘sportif’ like me?
Well… the rub in this winter training program is the essential fact that our Biathlon station is not flat like classic Cross-Country Ski stations… It is either up (with percentages of up to and over 8%) or down, with no gentle sliding in-between.
And what the brochure doesn’t tell you is that Cross-Country skiing (or Ski de Fond) is hard. Like f***ing hard. You grow weird muscles on the front of your shin and hips and your underpants don’t fit anymore. You eat incessantly and find yourself roller-skiing late at night trying to perfect your ‘glisssssse monsieur’. Oh, and you grow a six-pack overnight.
I finished winter 2018 with crazy abs of vintage steel. Which was just as well because 2018 turned out differently to what I expected. Really.