July 17, 2024
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Ironman World Championship Nice 2023: Part 11

When I see light through the clouds, I feel God’s presence. (Credit: David Roher)

21 Days To Go (August 17)

I packed up the bike, got into Randy Jerome’s transport van, and checked in at Newark Airport. But this wasn’t the Ironman World Championships.

(It sure sounded like it.)

This was our trip to Canada for the Half Ironman in Mont Tremblant. The “road test” for the Ironman World Championship.

(Why didn’t you drive?)

I wasn’t interested in being behind the wheel for a 10-hour drive.

(That’s it?)

Yup, that’s it. I drive 50 miles a day for work.

(But the road to Mont Tremblant is mostly highway…)

I’ve driven 300 miles to Maine…

(…for a Half Ironman.)

…and I didn’t enjoy being in the car for that long. So, I was not interested in driving 400+ miles when I could take a 50-minute flight and drive the last 90 minutes from the airport to the hotel.

The four Rohers + Ed Lapa, in Canada. (Credit: David Roher)

Besides, this time it wasn’t just the “fpur Rohers.”

A year before I had suggested to my athlete…

(and friend.)

…and friend Ed Lapa that we train for Ironman Mont Tremblant.

When it appeared that I would be competing in two Ironman triathlons, 21 days apart, we both opted for the Half Ironman option…

(…and we know what happened to that race.)

The Half got moved from June to the end of August, the same day as the full Ironman version.

I was not feeling very confident about my ability to climb hills when I did 101 miles of Bike4Chai with Shlomo Rosenzweig … until the last three miles.

(Why then?)

My Garmin said we were climbing at a 4 % incline … which is most of those 13 miles I would have to climb at the World Championships.

Now that we were headed to Canada, I was beginning to think that this could work.


Welcome to Canada! I can’t imagine seeing a sign like this at Newark Airport. (Credit: David Roher)

My plan.

(What plan?)

Road test the hills of the Half Ironman at Mont Tremblant to see if I was ready for the “mostly” 4% climb of those 13 miles into the mountains of France.

(What about the rest of the climb?)

You mean the 9%?

(Yeah, that!)

The fear was still there. My fear was a child. Like the one on the cover picture of Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin’s book, “Sin.a.gogue.” The child was hiding under the table, almost out of sight … but still there.

I was feeling better about the idea of climbing those hills in the south of France, but I was not at ease.

It was going to take more than a 100-mile charity ride for my brain to silence the fears that lived in the recesses of my mind.

(It was going to take more trainer rides and the hills of Canada for you to be sure.)

I had only been to Canada once, for Matt Chase and Rebecca Carman’s wedding, but that didn’t count.

(Did you cross the border?)

Yeah, but we flew in, went to the wedding, flew home. We might as well have flown to Matt’s house in St. Louis for all I knew.

This would be my first “real” trip and I wanted to make the most of it.

(You mean, experience Canada?)

Yeah, ya know, talk to a Mountie, pet a moose, do maple syrup shots.


No! But I did want to do more than race at Mont Tremblant and run straight home. That “experience” mindset started as soon as we landed. We started taking pictures in front of as many signs in the airport as we could. Next, we grabbed our bags and our bikes.

(Which were in bags.)

…and we headed off to the car rental agent.

(We? It was you pushing the oversized bike-bag with Ed and your family in tow.)

I decided to upgrade. For $50 more a day I rented a Mercedes. To me, growing up in the 1970s, a Mercedes was the pinnacle of luxury driving. On TV you could see people riding in Rolls Royce limousines…

(You mean like in the Grey Poupon commercial?)

Yes. The one where one rich guy leans out of his Rolls Royce and asks the other if he has that mustard.

(Is that why you still keep a jar of that mustard in your car?)

Yes … but when I was a child in the 1970s, I actually saw people in my town driving Mercedes Benz autos and I marveled. I had no idea until I was an adult that the car was named for the founder’s daughter.

(Karl Benz’s daughter, Mercedes.)

Mercedes Benz was the first mass produced “gas” powered car.

(Don’t you mean “internal-combustion engine”?)

Yes, but gas-powered sounds better.

(If you say so.)

I do.

The first thing I did when I was handed the keys was to do a video tape a “walk around.”

I wanted it on record that any dents in the car were there when I got the keys.

I scanned that car like an NSTB investigation.

(Don’t they investigate airplane crashes?)

Yep … so maybe not the best analogy, but…

David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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