Welcome friends, as we dig again into the history books, this week presenting an archival narrative penned some years ago in the pages of the underground fanzine, The SBR Guardian. Many pundits may have heard the stories of the old AIS European HQ, and for those that haven’t, the proceeding text represents but the very small tip of an anecdotal iceberg of titanic proportions. As the ITU scene shifts to Europe this weekend in Madrid, what better way to prepare than with a cursory glance at our much loved European base.
Take care friends,
Aix Les Bains
A long time European base in France, the infamous ‘Les Platanes’ was the home away from home for many generations of Aussie triathletes. Hosted by deceptively bilingual mustached Frenchman Monsieur Doobie, ‘Les Platanes’ was the accommodation of choice, a hotel full of ‘character’, in our much loved Aix Les Bains base. Highlighted with brilliant training facilities, Aix is a splendid place to spend the Euro summer, located a stone’s throw from any Euro races.
Sadly, the long term abode has finally been demolished as of 2010, yet the anecdotes lay firmly entrenched in the minds of all who stayed there. Notes on the notorious ‘Les Platanes’ accommodation include:
• The rooms – Petit, as the French would say, is an apt description of the old facilities. Sharing a room requires OCD-like neatness to maximize room space, while it is not uncommon to roll over in bed, and wake up three rooms down.
• The showers – Preparation is the key. Many athletes choose to start running their shower prior to leaving for a long ride, increasing the chances that hot water will be flowing in time for the post-workout shower. The curtains also possess an anaconda like ability to wrap around your body, and many athletes emerge from the shower deeply cleaned, and lightly throttled.
• The Locks – The infrequently used flats down at Le Grande Port, feature self locking doors. Keep this in mind, as there is apparently no French word for ‘Spare Key’, and locking yourself out requires the services of a locksmith for re-entry. A lengthy process, made less dignified by waiting around in sans-shirt running attire.
• The stairs – Those un/lucky enough to land a third story room could book themselves in for a good season, as the extra fitness gained from climbing the 34 stairs several times a day has been known to provide an supplementary boost in run form. Some negatives include loss of sleep, as athletes have been known to stay at dinner until the late hours of the night, while they summon the enthusiasm for the arduous ascent.
• The Roofs – In mid-2006 it was discovered that the ceilings to the old residences had the rare and remarkable ability to sporadically hold a coin flicked with the appropriate amount of force and dexterity. Thus, the game Roofcoin was born. A complex game combining elements of darts, dodgeball, and Russian Roulette, many a raucous game of Roofcoin passed the idle hours before dinner, and it is estimated that upwards of $100 Euro in loose change was lost with the buildings recent demolition.
• Swim – Cleanest pool in France. Cleaned vigorously and religiously, you could eat off the dive blocks, and perform minor surgery on pool deck. Note: You may require major surgery should you wear shoes on the aforementioned deck, as the staff are passionate about their rules.
Easily the best view in France as well. Take a breath and see the mountains and lake in all their splendor, and can almost take you mind off a heart rate set. Almost.
Take a dip in the lake for an open-water swim set, but try not to attract the ire of the easily irritated ‘marins’ (sailors), ‘pechures’ (fishermen) and especially the ‘gendarmerie’ (police).
• Bike – Brilliant cycling to be had. Lap of the lake is a standard 2 hours, with anything but standard views to be had from the top of the climb. Popular loops include Le grande revard (3 hrs), Annecy Loop (4 hrs), or the Bakery (3 mins).
• Run - Take a cruise along the Boulevard for a recovery run, head to the Hippo for some trails, or take in the new path next to the Lake for some fartlek. Alternatively, drive up to Chambrey for a track session. Known as the hottest track in France, mid-summer sessions are not measured by distance or speed, but by how many eggs have been cooked on the track per effort.
The following represents a few frequently used French phrases, used to communicate with the eclectic ‘Les Platanes’ staff:
• Crepes plus sil vous plait – More crepes please
• Ce poulet est cru – This chicken is raw
• Oiu, crepes encore plus sil vous plait – Yes, even more crepes please
• Ce poulet est trop cuit – This chicken is overcooked
• Ah aller, un autre serie de crepes – ah go on, one more round of crepes
• Se mefier - Beware
• En colere - Angry
• Francais - Frenchman
• Beware of the angry Frenchman – Mefiez-vous des Francais en colere
The following represents seldom used French phrases, i.e, don’t waste your time learning these ones:
• Ce poulet est parfait – This chicken is perfect
• Ce que cela contient de la crème – Does this contain crème? (always yes)
• Crepes de trop nombreux –Too many crepes
• Quoi, ne pas croissants pour le petit dejeuner? – What, no croissants for breakfast?
Despite the ribbing, ‘Les Platanes’ holds a special place in the hearts of all fortunate enough to spend a summer among the welcoming locals, however no great compunction was shown following the change of domiciles to the present, somewhat more luxurious, quarters.