‘Done’ is the new Perfect

I met a lovely makeup artist today who quoted this to me when I blamed my current lack of time + blogger’s block as the reason why my blog has been un-updated since last year. So here I am, going for “done”.

(The person she was quoting, BTW, was a Danish model. Who is 19 years old. )

The lack of time is rather legit: inspired by the solo biking exploits described in Suze, Cycling (who likes to bike up steep mountains in the south of France), I decided it’s time to actually get back in shape rather than talking about my desperate need to do so. Cuz I’d like to be able to bike up steep mountains in the south of France too someday.

But for this year, I’ll content myself with a triathlon. I’ve joined an expats Tri club (cleverly called the expaTRIés), so I not only do I have some structure for training, I also get to talk in English with several people at once, often other native English speakers, which is fun and novel. I can make jokes! I don’t have to grope for words midway through telling a story! I meet other women who are not averse to sweating while clad in lycra!

So since early Jan I’ve been going out regularly to swim and and run (very, very slowly) around a track  and ride loops around the Longchamps hippodrome (thankfully, much better than my running).

This is new for me. While I’ve always been somewhat active, it was pretty random. A hike here, a bike ride there, a few years of casual running 2x a week, often followed by a bacon-laden brunch. And then I’d spend the next several days moaning about sore muscles, then not do anything for weeks (these last few years, make that months).  Then repeat the process.

So for the first time in my life I’m working out 4-6 times a week. This means I sleep a lot, and eat even more. And grocery shop & cook more, because I’m doing another whole30 this month (then there’s the dishes. Our dishwasher is on the fritz, and my backup dishwasher is away on business. My hands have started to shrivel).

My first mini-tri is a week Sunday!

It’s all quite fun, but not good for writing.

Tomorrow I will be introducing some newbie cyclists to the gorgeous Val de la Chevreuse, which is the local cycling mecca for roadies and mountain bikers alike. I’ve never lead a group of cyclists before: I’m more used to being the one wheezing at the back since moving to Paris.

But I noticed several of my fellow newbie triathletes are still not comfortable with things like switching gears and clipping out of pedals.  It seems far more pleasant to get to know one’s bike in lovely quiet countryside rather than an urban track with literally hundreds of cyclists in fast-moving peletons threatening to mow you down at every turn.

I hope they enjoy biking there as much as I do. On verra. I am praying we have no mechanical issues beyond flat tires!


Like biking? Check out the Czech Republic

In late July we spent 2 weeks in Czech Republic and Poland, most of it while on bikes. It was our first real bike tour since 2009 (our May Day long weekend doesn’t really count), and we were relieved that my tendons and joints held up over the 420 km between Mikoluv, CZ and Krakow, PL.

We were so enthused  I even uploaded photos to Picasa and added captions. And now I’m actually making a blog post about them. This is an unprecedented level of vacation-sharing enthusiasm here on Pain au Chocolat, but that’s what two weeks of great beer, fab biking, and gorgeous Baroque towns can do for you.

First foray into Eastern Europe

Update, Nov 2013: I forgot to give credit to Simon of CZ Circuit Rider, for his excellent explanations of how to travel by bike in the Czech Republic. Thanks to him, HerrKaa was able to pick up the maps we needed during a business trip to Prague a few weeks before our vacation.

Another shout out to Top Bicycle, an American run outfit that offers rentals as well as guided & self-guided tours around Moravia, the Czech wine region. Thanks to them, we didn’t have to deal with packing our bikes and lugging them from Paris and through Prague. Another huge plus is that we were able to drop off our bikes in Krakow (where they also run tours), rather than returning to our starting point.

Vive les vacances…whatever the weather

Today kicks off summertime in Europe.  May 1 is European labour Day,  and since it falls on a Tuesday this year many are taking the Monday off to make a “bridge” (un pont) to the holiday (and if the holiday fell on a Wednesday,  and you took both Monday and Tuesday off, that is known as…. un aqueduc).

This weekend is essentially the French equivalent to Canada’s May 2-4 long weekend,  with hordes of winter weary workers clamouring for an easy escape from the rigours of life in Paris.   We too want a fix of green but did not want to travoel too far,  so we are off to Normandy along with about a million or so residents of la région parisienne .  It’s not for nothing that it’s known as the 21st arrondissement.


We thought we’d be clever and escape crowds by taking our bikes on the train so we can pedal back to Paris via the uber-pretty Seine river valley.  The train part was shockingly easy.  Every one of the 20+ cars on this train have 2 bike “parking spots” (more like hanging spots)  so getting our bikes on board was a doddle compared to the TGV.


Unfortunately, the weather gods didn’t get the email about this weekend being the start of vacation season.  Or maybe they did,  but realizing all kinds of austerity-conscious people are staying closer to home this year they kindly decided to make us vacationers feel like we’re in the exotic English countryside instead of just the department next door.


On the bright side, we’ll have no problems keeping hydrated!