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2016-08-19 10:28 PM

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Subject: American doing IM abroad
I did IMWI in 2015. Thinking about my next big adventure.

I was thinking about doing Barcelona IM in 2018 when I turn 50. Wife and I would travel there and take 2 weeks to hang out (a little before and then at least a week after).

While I have traveled to Europe several times, I don't have a clue what it would be like to travel internationally to do an IM.

Any feedback on this big crazy idea?


2016-08-19 11:10 PM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
I guess it isn't actually "abroad" if one lives there ten months of the year, but I've done IM Vietnam 70.3 twice. Also raced in Canada and will do so in Australia in two weeks. Most of my racing is in Singapore, which I guess IS "abroad" as it's neither my passport country nor my country of residence. Also raced in Indonesia and Cambodia several times and, once (as a runner, long ago) in Germany. Basically, no big deal. Just be prepared to pay more for bike transport and the like, and factor in the length of the flight and effect of jet lag on your sleep and performance when planning your trip. I would plan to arrive several days before the race, if at all possible, to give yourself time to recover from jet lag and sitting on the flight, plus have some leeway in case there are any issues with the bike (late arrival, damaged or missing part, etc.) Also, try not to fly out the day after an iron-distance event if you don't want to suffer very sore legs and butt and put yourself at elevated risk of blood clots. Give yourself a few days to rest up, rehydrate, refuel, and deal with your bike first.

Logistics:

*Bring anything you MUST have for the race, like your favorite nutrition and hydration products. These aren't universally available, and different countries' athletes have quite different customs about what/when they eat and drink in a race. I lost a chance to podium at World University Games marathon (at 20 in Germany) because I couldn't get/keep down what they were serving on the course, and I wasn't carrying my own drinks and nutrition. (Hot and humid conditions; got so dehydrated I barely finished.) I generally try to be self-sufficient for my races in Asia, as they serve some pretty odd "sports drinks" that often don't sit well with me (for one Oly, it was only Red Bull on the run!) Another race in Cambodia serves only water in small bottles, no foods or electrolyte drinks, despite temps that often reach 90--dangerous not to carry your own stuff.

*Don't ever assume you can buy any particular product locally at the last minute. The exception would be CO2 canisters--you can't take them on the plane. IM brand races or others in developed countries "should" have them available at the race site or at bike shops.

*Check when you register to see if you need to register or pay for insurance with the country's national triathlon or sports federation--USAT membership sometimes doesn't count.

*I would avoid countries that require a signed physical to participate in a race. Some do as it is cheap and convenient for locals. (China used to for the Beijing Marathon, for example, not sure now.) Okay if you are from China where this kind of checkup is super-cheap, or have a nice doctor on your Chinese running club or are from another country with socialized medicine and can get the appointment in time. But their requirements, including an EKG, would have been prohibitively expensive for a lot of foreigners.

*Most races that attract a lot of foreigners, and IM brand races, will have a race briefing at some point in English. Find out when it is and attend.

*Don't get too adventurous about eating before the race (save that for after). Even French or Italian food can play havoc with your system if you're not used to the real thing. Stick with the familiar the day before the race.

*Take some time to figure out the local traffic regulations before you hit the road on your bike. I do about half of my racing in right-hand drive countries and half in left-hand drive ones. That tends to lead to this moment of blind panic heading out of transition. My brain knows what to do, but my body just kind of pulls a blank for a second. Ride right, pass left? Or ride left, pass right? Will never forget the look of shock on a Singaporean's face when I yelled, "On your left!" Errr....no....that's on your right! The ocean was on our left!
2016-08-20 8:22 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
I did Barcelona last year and it is a great race. You can check my race report. Travel: lots of advice on here about flying with a bike. I have a Ruster Armored Hen House case which is nice because it will easily fit in the small cars in Europe. You'll probably want a rental car for that race because it is in Calella, which is up the coast a bit. Also, if you plan on bouncing around to more than one place, get a public storage unit for your bike. If you need details for any of this, feel free to pm me.
2016-08-20 8:24 AM
in reply to: spudone

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Also, particular to Spain, you'll need to get an international driving permit, check with your local AAA office.
2016-08-20 8:44 AM
in reply to: spudone

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Awesome info.

Not sure I can be gone from the kids for 2 weeks, but it seems like it would be a fun adventure. IM site says bike course is flat and fast (which is great for me).
2016-08-20 11:51 PM
in reply to: #5195915


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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
no need to get an intl license. i spent 4 weeks in europe last year doing netherlands and copenhagen - and lots of driving around europe. this year did the same hitting im switzerland and frankfurt. no trouble renting car without international license -- also, note, what you get from AA is NOT an international license, it is a permit. huge difference. i got one before going to live in austria two years .... found out it was a silly waste.

i rented a car both times and did not need a storage unit even with two others along. the trick is to get the gps ... you need it anyway, and they give you the free upgrade because the rinky dink cars dont have gps built in.

zero trouble flying with the bike. i have a thule hardcase

i suggest airbnb for accomodations.any hotel reservation done online will tell you there is a $1-3 fee per night extra for local taxes but it was consistenly $7.50 per person per night (delta wont tell you this if you book through them, but get to the hotel - surprise!) which gets pretty pricey. airbnb doesnt pull the hidden fees gig


2016-08-21 6:58 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
It's great fun. I did my first Ironman in France followed by a family vacation. Vacation always after in my house because I'm too much of a buzz kill before the big event.

quick thoughts that might help:

Check for different international tri federation rules. I needed a medical clearance form for France. Not a big deal and they had people on site to pay if I hadn't known but still it saved me standing in a huge line that I prepared in advance.

I took my bike over with me on the plane and then shipped it home using a company called Luggage First so that I didn't have to lug the box around with us during our travels.

We used booking.com to find our apartments. Worked pretty well.

We did not rent a car while we were there but it is something you want to investigate. I don't think the issue is in getting the rental the issue is if for any reason you get a ticket while you are there. I heard a very expensive story about getting a ticket in Italy because a license wasn't translated. I have no personal experience but asking around couldn't hurt.
2016-09-13 8:56 AM
in reply to: miamiamy

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
So I was watching some YouTube videos of the Barcelona race. I was surprised that there were virtually no spectators. When I did IMWI I loved all the people lining the course. It helped me carry on.

Is this typical for non-US courses to have very few spectators? Or was IMWI the outlyer cause the cheese-heads like to have a reason to stand outside and cheer people on.
2016-09-13 9:00 AM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

Originally posted by scottficek So I was watching some YouTube videos of the Barcelona race. I was surprised that there were virtually no spectators. When I did IMWI I loved all the people lining the course. It helped me carry on. Is this typical for non-US courses to have very few spectators? Or was IMWI the outlyer cause the cheese-heads like to have a reason to stand outside and cheer people on.

I have raced quite a few European IMs and most have big crowds (especial the likes of Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands) - how-ever the bike rides often go through open country where there is no one to spectate



Edited by WildWill 2016-09-13 9:00 AM
2016-09-13 9:01 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

Depends on what part of the course you're lookin at. Switzerland and Sweden go through some secluded countryside so you'll only see a few spectators for miles and miles at a time, but then the run course is loaded the whole way because both are in city centers

2016-09-13 9:14 AM
in reply to: trijamie

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
That makes sense.

Any other strange/different customs at a European IM that an American would not expect?

Hoping they don't require me to wear a Speedo or drink beer on the course


2016-09-13 9:57 AM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

Only difference I can think of is: Some of the European races have tighter cut-offs IMDE (Germany) being the tightest 



Edited by WildWill 2016-09-13 10:00 AM
2016-09-13 10:36 AM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

Originally posted by Dutchcrush no need to get an intl license. i spent 4 weeks in europe last year doing netherlands and copenhagen - and lots of driving around europe. this year did the same hitting im switzerland and frankfurt. no trouble renting car without international license -- also, note, what you get from AA is NOT an international license, it is a permit. huge difference. i got one before going to live in austria two years .... found out it was a silly waste. i rented a car both times and did not need a storage unit even with two others along. the trick is to get the gps ... you need it anyway, and they give you the free upgrade because the rinky dink cars dont have gps built in. zero trouble flying with the bike. i have a thule hardcase i suggest airbnb for accomodations.any hotel reservation done online will tell you there is a $1-3 fee per night extra for local taxes but it was consistenly $7.50 per person per night (delta wont tell you this if you book through them, but get to the hotel - surprise!) which gets pretty pricey. airbnb doesnt pull the hidden fees gig

That may be true but those places are not Spain.  The law there says police can fine you if they pull you over without the international permit.

Of course you're *probably* not going to get pulled over.  I just think of it as insurance.

Bike storage: depends on what you do on your trip.  I flew to Portugal for a few days and then took a train back.  Didn't want to deal with it during that time.  I think I used City Self Storage which has many locations (check early if you want to reserve something near the airport, though).

 

@OP: for the race, there are not many spectators along the bike course, but I believe they are extending it farther in the Barcelona direction next year so you might see more folks at the far end.  Run course there were a decent amount of people.  Keep in mind Calella is a resort town and most people have finished their vacationing by the time the race happens.

You should take a day to drive up to see the home / museum of Salvador Dali, if that interests you.  It is maybe 2 hours from Calella.



Edited by spudone 2016-09-13 10:39 AM
2016-09-13 10:44 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

Originally posted by scottficek That makes sense. Any other strange/different customs at a European IM that an American would not expect? Hoping they don't require me to wear a Speedo or drink beer on the course

Expect more relaxed nudity

2016-09-14 8:12 AM
in reply to: trijamie

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Any recommendations on shipping my bike?

In a perfect world, I would love to give my bike to someone, have them pack it, ship it to a bike shop over there (or hotel) and then get it assembled. Additionally, we were going to stay another week or so after the race so I would again prefer to pack it up and ship it (and probably a bunch of my gear-wetsuit, shoes, etc) home.

Don't really want to deal with this in the airport.

2016-09-14 12:08 PM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad

www.bikeflights.com

... is one option.  But international shipping will be expensive.  If you fly with the bike, 99% of the time you won't pay baggage fees flying outside the U.S.  And my storage for a couple weeks was only like 60 euros.


You could also check into www.nirvanaeurope.com which is an event travel company that covers most of the European races.  They'll handle a lot of the logistics for you (ground transport, bike storage, mechanic stuff, etc...) much like Ken Glah's business here in the U.S.  Not sure on their pricing structure.

I'd also recommend at least investigating the latter option if you're not a strong Spanish speaker.  Many businesses around Barcelona have no problem with English, but some (like the storage unit) required some level of Spanish.  WTC had the race event itself covered with about 5 languages - Catalan, Spanish, English, French and Italian - so that was superb.



Edited by spudone 2016-09-14 12:12 PM


2016-09-15 11:54 AM
in reply to: #5195915

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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Couple thoughts. I've done 2 in Europe (Switzerland and Austria). Both times I used Luggage Forward to ship my bike since we were traveling afterward and I didn't want to haul it around. Really good experience with them both times. Also, both times I used Endurance Sports Travel to book hotels and get a race registration. They do a tremendous job, so much so that I wouldn't do a foreign race without using them. Finally, be prepared for some strong competition - the Europeans are fast!

Best of luck and enjoy the experience.
2016-09-15 11:54 AM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Accidental double post.

Edited by Patrick E 2016-09-15 11:58 AM
2016-09-15 11:54 AM
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Subject: RE: American doing IM abroad
Triple post.

Edited by Patrick E 2016-09-15 11:58 AM
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