Monthly Archives: January 2011

French Fitness Profile

Yep.  It is amazing what living in France for 5-6 weeks can do to a guys fitness.

As you know, we hatched a plan a long time ago to spend a bunch of time in France over Xmas holiday.  That was because our oldest daughter is going to school in Madrid.  And yes, you would be right in saying “Madrid is not in France.”  But, we have a philosophy at our house that Xmas should be spent somewhere with snow on the ground.  Madrid does not have snow.  French Alps do, so duh…

That trip turned into spending 3+ more weeks in Europe.  I had plenty of work to do while there, and I could travel back to France each weekend to see the family.  So that launched the French Family Vadeboncoeur adventure.  We have spent time in France, gone down to Italy for the day, skied when the snow is good, sung Juli Andrews songs etc…  It has been a good time.  Too much of a good time.

What does French Fitness Profile have to do with any of that, you might be asking now?  Well, my phone has a little app that tells me when key events are that are coming up.  Right now, it is telling me:

– 40 days till the National Enduro in SC.

– 81 days till the Citizen Paris Roubaix race.  (In Northern France, 148k of nasty windblown, rain on cobbles.  I will probably break my collarbone.)

– 103 days till the first D16 Harescrambles race.

– 138 days till the Perry Mountain 24hr challenge.  That is the big race that Scott and I signed up for.  2 man team, 24 hours of rip roaring HS racing.

So given the above schedule, I am a little bit freaked out about just how bad my fitness is right now.

Too much of this lately. I am in France, afterall. Hard to avoid.

Way to much of this also.

This weekend marks the end of the French Family Vadeboncoeur adventure.  It has been fun.   But, my phone app tells me that it is time to get back to preseason prep.

Time to overhaul my fitness and get rid of my French Fitness Profile.

Yipp yippee.


Good Coffee Smile

Good Coffee Smile!

Everyone thinks something about coffee in the USA, and they think something about coffee in Europe. Depends who you are and what your history with coffee is. You might think that coffee is just right in the USA and too strong in Europe. Or, you might think that coffee is generally too week in the USA and just right in Europe. Either way, you would be wrong.

I generally like my coffee strong. I usually do not do coffee in the USA as it is just too week. I tend to prefer an espresso in the USA. I find that is about the only way to get strong enough coffee. I know what you are thinking, get over yourself Joe. I would be also. But, we all have our things. Mine is coffee. I have slays been the one that thought coffee was always better in Europe (the UK is not Europe, btw, because damn… That coffee sucks).

But, being halfway through this extended stint here in Europe, I can tell you that European coffee is not all created equal. They serve it up like it is something special. But, sometimes it just looks the part. I have generally had crummy coffee in Chatel. Chatel is one of my favorite places in all of Europe, but it is not for the coffee.  Mountains, skiing, people, scenery – all.  Coffee, no.


The usual coffee at a restaurant in Chatel.

I have tried 3-4 places here in Chatel.  I will try more.  They can do a good cup of hot chocolate pretty well at Le Perriere, but I think the espresso is just ok.  Others have told me the Grissly pub was the ticket, but I did not think it so great.

I did finally have s great little espresso at the Italian restaurant that Salva took me to near our office in Zurich.  It was at an Italian place, and it was an excellent cup of coffee.  Go figure, eh…  Italians and coffee.

So, I am continuing to look for the best coffee/espresso in Chatel.  I’ve got next weekend, then a few days the following week.  That is my quest.

So I do not really know what the UCC Good Coffee Smile logo is all about.  It is Japanese, and lots of times those translations really do not work so well.  But, you would think that someone would have done some research and discovered that it did not really make sense.

Good Coffee Smile

More Baguettes!!!

Week 2 of the French Family Vadeboncoeur Adventure.  Chatel France, they have not kicked us out yet.  We ARE having a fantastic time.

The view out my office window these days.

Chatel is about 4000 people on a regular full time basis.  But, this week is Christmas week, and there has to be more like 20,000 people here now.  It is crowded.  I think that all of France is off right now, and here in Chatel trying to ski.  I did not imagine that you could fit that many people on a ski run.  As a result, we have not done nearly as much skiing as we had hoped.  The weather is warm also, around 35 for the high that last few days, with no new snow.  As you can imagine, that is not the Family Vadeboncoeur mode of skiing.  We usually are the powder seeking family.

One day this week, we did go up to Pre-La-Joux and ski, with what Ali refers to as the human avalanche.  I think that maybe Europeans do not have the same personal space characteristics as Americans.  I do not think that I like standing amidst as many people as I have seen skiing on a ski run here.  It is amazing.  Probably would not be as bad if there was a bunch of fresh snow, people would get spread out.  Wow.

The bus ride down from the hill is always amazing.  There are guys outside the bus that are there just to push the last few people into the bus.  You are literally packed in there like Sardines.  There is probably seating capacity for about 40, then there are at least another 40 people packed into the aisles, all with their skis and poles with them.  In the USA, a ski area bus would have your skis at least put on the outside of the bus.  Here, all that stuff is in the bus with you.  People in ski clothing, with their ski boots on, trying to manage their skis and poles and everything else, while the bus tears down a mountain road.  It is a gong show.

On the bus. One of the bad days. Took 1.5 hours jammed in like this.

Last night was New Years Eve.  We made it out until midnight – woohoo!  I feel like such a kid.  Liz and I have not made it up for midnight for a long time.  It is usually not that important.  It was fun last night though.  We met up with Lloyd and Louise at the Avalanche Bar and then over to L’Escalier.  Feels like we have become locals (not really).  But, we have been allowed to get into places that Lloyd and Louise have brought us into.  It has really been fun.

Waiting for Pizza at Hors Piste. Thanks Eddy.

We had Pizza at Hors Piste again last night.  Eddy is the owner there and he has befriended us along the way.  When we first came in the door, his head waitress told us that “No tables”, Eddy found us a place and served us up some pizza then sent us out so that he could get his tables turning on that important night.  Seems that most places are completely booked and you have to make reservations well in advance on New Years.

That is one of the things that is different in America vs. France.  In the US, even if a restaurant is booked, they take your name and say come back in an hour and we will see what we can do.  Here, they put a sign on the door that says booked, deterring anyone one from coming in that does not have a reservation.  Just one of those subtle differences between America and France.

My image of France now

One of the things that is truly great about France is the baguette.  The baguette is a simple unassuming bread that goes with just about everything.  You eat sandwiches on them, you have them with your pasta or soup, you crumble them up on salad when they get hard, etc…  You cannot have enough baguette bread.

Our table in the evening

But, the baguette symbolizes something else.  Europeans live in small places, Americans live in large places.  Our cars are big, our houses are big, are grocery stores are big, our kitchen storage and refrigerators are large, etc…  Here, everything is small.  So small, that there is no space for anything.  You must go to the market almost every day.  The refrigerator holds only a small amount of stuff.  You go to the store to buy that days meals.  You do not buy extra, as there is just no where to keep it.

You also must bring your own bags to the grocery store.  They do not provide them.  That is not such a big deal, as you are only taking 2 bags home with you anyway – no space remember.  You get used to this.

The baguette doesn’t keep.  You really only want to eat them the day you buy them.  They get too hard and crunchy, fast.  So, you go to the bakery every day and get more baguettes.  More baguettes.

This kid is here in Chatel.