Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekend in Lafayette, LA

Friday 10 September 2010
So... Friday I was able to hit the road just before lunch as I headed out with my truck loaded down with all my gear for the CajunMan Triathlon in Lafayette, LA... about a 6 hour drive if you set the cruise +5 from the posted speed limit. The plan was to meet up with my Brother Brad at the Days Inn in Lafayette which is walking distance to the event site. I got there a little after 5 pm with him having arrived about an hour prior... he mentioned that he walked over to check out the swim area and wanted to know if I wanted to check it out... so off we were...

As luck would have it... we arrive to see a guy running one of those big street sweeping machines and a guy scurrying around putting up flags and cones and such... we were able to get his attention and as luck would have it... Rusty... as it turns out is the event coordinator! We introduce ourselves and tell him that this is our first triathlon... and that we don't really know what to expect... BAM... today was our lucky day as Rusty had just climbed out of the lake from a swim and began to give us the 101 on the swim portion of the event. Those precious 15 mins we spent with him set the conditions for what would be our success on Sunday... THANK YOU RUSTY!

Now relieved about our first real open water swim we head off to find some "real" Cajun food for dinner. After a quick Google search on reviews we decide on Prejean's ( I can only say this... if you find yourself in Lafayette you NEED to make time for a meal there... here's the run down...

Appetizer- Fried Green Tomatoes... Fresh green tomatoes lightly breaded and deep fried and then smothered with sautéed crawfish and shrimp in a Sherry cream sauce

Me- Etouffee of course... Three time Gold Medal Winner crawfish Etouffee served with a plump homemade crawfish pie and steamed white rice... HOLY CRAP was that good... and spicy!

Brad- Pepper Jack Shrimp... Four large shrimp stuffed with pepper jack cheese and Tasso, wrapped with apple wood-smoked bacon then fried golden and set atop Crawfish Cardinal sauce served with rice dressing and corn macque choux... our waitress recommended it and she nailed it!

***** review from both of us!

Now.... let's get back to reality and talk about the Days Inn in Lafayette... it was convenient which will earn them 1/2 of a star... leaving them a grand total of NEGATIVE ONE stars... if we make this an annual event, which we plan to do, we will stay someplace else and forego the convenience... that is all I have to say about that!

Saturday 11 September 2010
We get up on Saturday morning with an agenda... first we seek out some good coffee... did I mention the hotel sucked? and so again... after a Google Map search we head out for Starbucks... the first thing I will mention about today is that the folks in Lafayette are aggressive drivers.. but we find Starbucks and all is right in the world again!

Having our coffee in hand we head out to drive the 20 mile bike course... it starts out paralleling HWY 90 right in front of our hotel... did I mention that the hotel sucked?... on a feeder road and then jets out into the oncoming lane which was blocked off my the local police with traffic rerouted... very nice! About 2 miles down there is a hard left hand turn that sends you out into the country for a big loop on some beautiful back roads... the roads are not in the best condition but they are well marked by the race coordinators with bright orange paint on the pot holes and cracks with big white "CAUTION" painted on the road before hand... as well as mile markers painted on the right hand side! We take in the subtle uphill sections and note the conditions on the turns... there is plenty to look at and some absolutely beautiful houses along the route... as my Brother says... "You got this!"... it is relatively flat compared to all of my training rides and I hope that pays off on Sunday!

We finish the loop which exits back out onto HWY 90 and into the Lafayette Regional Airport... right in front of the Days Inn... did I mention how back that hotel sucked? Anyway... we finish the bike course and head off to pick up our race packets. The pick up point was the Smoothie Factory... we get our packets (rules- this will be a humorous point later, race numbers, maps, etc) and a goody bag... we were both pleasantly surprised at the great stuff in the bag... cycling socks, high tech t-shirt, performance running visor, racing belt, water bottle, koozy, plastic cup, coupons and such... WAY COOL! They also have a table set up and are selling stuff... we both pick up a black high tech t-shirt with the CajunMan logo on the front and "Drafting is for Architects NOT Triathletes" on the back... Brad also gets a Powershot of Wheat Grass... so good that they give you Pineapple juice to wash it down!

Having our goods... we head off to one of the local triathlon stores because my tri shorts had not arrived by the time I left on Friday... I score a great deal on a pair of Pearl Izumi race shorts and they are giving away free triathlon stickers... awesome!

Now that we have everything we need for the race... we head South on HWY 90... destination??? Avery Island, LA... home of Tabasco Pepper Sauce ( ... what a great unplanned treat. We make our
way to Avery Island and head to the factory for a tour... amazing that it takes more than 3 years to make a bottle of Tabasco but even more amazing that they make ice cream using it. Following the tour we hit the Country Store where you can try all of the products they sell... including stuff not found in the USA... Tabasco Worchestire Sauce, Tabasco Soy Sauce, Sweet and Spicy Tabasco, etc... we try the chili, the pickles, the ketchup, the mustard, the salsa, the ice cream... we are flat out hungry now.. so we pick up some things to take back to the family and head over to the food wagon for some red beans and rice with Boudin sausage. Now... of course we have to try all 8 of the Tabasco sauces on the beans.... which eventually leads to almost as much sweat as we would produce on race day. After the beans we drove to every legal boundary on the island and took in the beauty that Avery Island has to offer... what a day!

Following our Tabasco endeavor... we head back to Lafayette... with a planned stop at the grocery store to pick up some bottled water, chocolate milk (my choice of recovery drink), crawfish tails to take home to the family and end up picking up some Gatorade Prime Pre-Game Fuel... breaking Rule #1 of triathlons... DON'T TRY SOMETHING NEW ON RACE DAY... one of many rules we will break but more on that later! We arrive back at the crappiest hotel I have ever stayed in and decide it is time for dinner... and pizza sounds good to both of us... so we again put our trust in Google and head out to Pizza Village based on the reviews... and they did not disappoint... we both had an amazing salad with homemade italian dressing and 8" pizzas.. mine with green olives and pepperoni and Brad's had sausage and mushroom... neither one of us could finish after the salads... but the pizza was outstanding!

We head back to our cave... otherwise known as the Days Inn... to pack, unpack, repack then unpack and repack again... our backpacks for race day. While we are getting everything together... I am putting my race number on my bike and my Brother says... "All the cool guys cut their numbers"... to make them as small as possible... me being a cool guy at least in my mind.. decide I want to be cool and proceed to cut my number down and staple it on the edges to make it sleek... it looks awesome... holy crap I am going to be racing in the morning... too cool! So... Brad ends up doing the same only making his even smalller as he has experience in cycling races. With full bellies and bags packed... there is nothing left to do but nervously kill time watching college football and the clock... now at some point Brad decides to read the information provided in our race packets... only to find a sectioned titled.. "The most commonly broken rules of triathlons"... and there it is... Rule #9... "race numbers shall not be altered in any manner"... OH CRAP... can we tape the excess paper cut off back on it? will anyone notice? oh well.. too late know... turns out the list of rules most commonly broken is kind of a checklist for us... how many can we break... hilarious! Back to drinking water...

We end our evening with a phone call to our Grandmother who turned 91... she had apparently worn everyone else out but had a wonderful day... she is going strong at 91... we love you Nana Banana!

Alright... it is 10 pm... race gates open at 0530... time for some restless sleep in my hammock... which the Days Inn refers to as a bed...

Attitude trumps pain!

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