Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saint Lucia: Anse Chatanet, Mountain biking at Anse Mamin, and living like a God at Jade Mountain

I created this blog to post things about me and my cycling career, but also to talk about some of the things that mean the most to me. As you can see, among the most important are the marriage to my wife and birth of my son and my cycling career.

While these things are the most intimate and personal things I talk about, I've got a few other things that are right up there on the list. So I wanted to tell you about Saint Lucia where the Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts are. Also, where there is a mountain bike trail named after me.

Recently, Michael and Karyn Allard of Anse Chastanet & Jade Mountain emailed me saying that Terri and I were in a Saint Lucia tourist magazine. 'Cool!' we said, and they mailed us a handful of copies. We were super suprised when we opened the glossy full color magazine (that is in every hotel room on the island) to find three pages of photos featuring our wedding for Saint Lucia as among the top places in the world to be married! Way cool!!! They did make a mistake about describing me. I didn't get a chance to review the article or I would have had them change it, although, I am honored that they said I'm a 2 time Olympic gold medalist! As much as it was a dream and I wanted to win the gold in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, I didn't!

Saint Lucia has become a very special place to me. It is a hidden treasure nestled in the Carribbean Sea and it's there that I found a place to get tough training in as well a place to completely relax. Saint Lucia is where after the Race Across America last year, I married my soul mate and will forever be etched in my memory as one of the most magical places on the earth.

There is also something super special about being able to go to an island in the middle of the Carribbean where there is a trail named after you. And also be able to stay at a very exclusive resort that is incredibly private. At Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts, you don't get bothered by anyone except the expert staff and all of them know your name no matter who you are. The resort gives you a feeling like you're on your own island - kind of like you own the place. It's not touristy but more like a home away from home where everyone is treated like a celebrity. On top of everything, the food is excellent and the scenery is beautiful. There is also a lot of fun recreational activities to do.

I always bring my mountain bike because I love to train there. It's a volcanic island and some of the roads have really steep long climbs like 15% grades and better. The roads are not all paved, so I don't bother with the road bike. The loop around the island is at least 70 miles and the last time I road it was a few days after the RAAM last year. That was one of those "what was I THINKING????" moments, when half way through, I remembered how tough the climbing is!! And boy did I pay the price with no cell phone or water, I crawled back to the resort. After a couple of Piton beers, though, things were back to normal...

The mountain bike trails at Anse Mamin have something for everyone. They are carved out of dense jungle and are beautiful. Here is a real good trail review on mtbr.com. If you have time to read it, it's a really good description about the trail and the whole jungle biking experience, especially the second entry. Although, I don't agree with the mention about the staff at the jungle biking facility. They do a good job but there is no shop or easy access to replacement parts that you can purchase. But they do a good job with the rental bikes, which were replaced sometime recently. Advanced riders may want to bring their own bike and gear but you can bring your shoes and helmet since the rentals are pretty good.

The Tinker Trail is difficult. Part hiking, part biking. The rest of the trails are everywhere in between. The roads into and out of the resort are a tough bike ride alone. It takes a 4x4 just to climb the road up to the resort!

The town of Soufrie is a nice ride to a place to have lunch or you can go up the hill to the gardens where there are hot springs, a waterfall, and baths. If you want to be lazy, you can take a boat taxi over to town and go shopping or hang out at the local sports bar.

Well, I just wanted to thank Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy, Michael and Karyn Allard, and Dennis and Cheryl for their hospitality and taking such good care of us every time we go there. We can't wait to go back soon!! If you decide to go, tell them you saw my blog. I will guarantee you won't want to leave!

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