A few months ago I got a note from Mark Miller who owns Precision Bikes in Lafayette, LA inviting me out for a few days before the New Orleans 70.3.
Mark and I met at Ironman Arizona last November and I was excited to see some new part of Louisiana, get to know Mark, check out his shop and enjoy some Southern hospitality.
Chris and I flew out early last week and were treated above and beyond by Mark and his crew. Instantly we were both big fans of Lafayette. Its a lot like the size of Missoula, but what I was impressed with was how great the people there were. Just like Missoulian’s, they were laid back, outgoing, humble, genuine, and easy to talk to.
Unlike other visits I have made to triathlon clubs, this one was unique. There wasn’t any presentations, Q & A, slide show, or give aways. Mark just wanted me to get to know some of his clientele. I actually prefer this hands-on type of situation much more. We shared some training sessions, some great meals, and got to hang out at Marks great shop. One of my favorite things about being a professional triathlete is the interaction with the age-group athletes. Triathlon wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the 2,000+ age group athletes starting behind us every weekend we race. That’s what makes the race! I get a ton of energy from those around and behind me (and sometimes in front, hee hee) - so I really enjoy sharing tips, exchanging stories & experiences and motivating others. The other unique thing about our sport is that we all go through the same thing. Its not that often that you can start on the same line as a professional athlete, compare yourself to them, use there equipment, and share a laugh about your experiences. It truly is what makes Ironman, a family.
Mark did not let us down - and we were treated with top-notch Southern hospitality. Beer on ice in our room, my first taste of red fish, the use of Red Lerille’s health club (highly recommended), massage with the great Ruud, great cycling with the local community, one of the best home-cooked Italian meals ever, and Chris got his share of Edi’s biscuits that he is still talking about.
So, a big thanks to everyone in Lafayette for making us feel welcome. I got the chance to talk to Kona qualifiers, IMTX participants, and those gearing up for there very first sprint distance: the CrawfishMan in May. Best of luck to all of you!! We had a great visit and it set me up for a solid performance at the New Orleans 70.3 which you can read about in a write-up I did for Lava Magazine.