Going to Ibiza and Seville for the Aquabike World Championships

July 20, 2023

Ibiza for a race and then Seville for relaxing

My wife, Mary, does triathlons. The swim, bike, run races testing one’s endurance and fortitude. The best triathletes are also great runners. 

Me? I can’t run for Jack. A book from a few years ago called “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall concerns other people not me. I dabble in the occasional jog and can walk 18 minute miles fast for long distances. Running? Nope. Just last week I forgot my wallet in the car and didn't discover this until trying to pay for food at the market. Sprinting out to the car wasn't in the cards. I jogged halfway fast.

The solution to me not running is a race called Aquabike. It’s a triathlon swim followed with a triathlon bike race. Some say “swim/bike/done” when describing it. Others call it “The Special Olympics of Triathlon.” The bonus for me is I was a competitive swimmer once upon a time. I was also a Class II mountain bike racer. So when you put the two together I’m halfway decent. A college swim team friend, Mike Shaffer, (whose daughter Sarah had a wedding I shot) is one of the best Aquabikers in the world. Me? Not so much. My goal in Ibiza was to be in the top 20.

Last year the Aquabike nationals were held in New York. A couple weeks before New York we had a race here in Oregon at a lake near Sweet Home to use as a tuneup. The morning of the Oregon race I wasn’t feeling super amazing. It was smoky out, so I thought it was the brown air. Did the race. Won the race. Felt increasingly bad during the race. After the race I didn’t want to get up. 

So we came home and I took the test and had raced with COVID. 

Two weeks later I’m in New York trying to make the top 18 to go to worlds in Ibiza, Spain in May. Was it unlucky or lucky the swim was cancelled because of a summer of algae in the lake? The swim might have moved me up a few places. Or it might have killed me. It didn’t matter because I finished in the top 18 and started training for the early May race in Spain.

This blog post isn’t about my usual Bend wedding photography or Bend portrait photography, but about first going to Ibiza and racing and then to Seville for hanging out with Mary. 

Going to Ibiza to race was my fourth trip to Spain. I love Spain. It would be fun to learn Spanish and just live in Spain, coming home on visits. Mary has brought me to other countries in Europe and for me Spain is far and away the best country. 

Why? It’s the people. They’re so animated and friendly. They bring life to a place with history going back to before the Romans came and started building things. The halfway nice weather doesn’t hurt either. 

There’s one city in Europe that is also amazing for me: Amsterdam. OMG! What a cool place! Truth be told, I haven’t been to all the great cities, but of the ones I’ve been to it’s the best. That said, Seville is now in my top five list of cities in Europe.

So, back to Spain we go. 

I listen to various kinds of dance music most days. The exception is when I listen to and go to the opera. So it’s mostly dance music. When listening to newer dance music a person always hears Ibiza, Spain mentioned in the lyrics. In the airport you see billboards with the biggest names in modern dance music advertised. 

Then you go and see all the beautiful people there to party and have fun, and you say to yourself, “Why did I never hear about this place when I was younger?” Totally missed out on the fun.

I didn’t see most of the island because of the race and then the recovery afterwards. But it’s hilly and is mostly centered on the main town of Ibiza. Well, I DID see a chunk of the island during the race and can say with authority it’s hilly. 

After the race we went to the port and walked around the Castell d’Eivissa and the surrounding old town. It’s quite stunning. Also what’s stunning are the super yachts in the harbor. The castle itself? Quite the defensive structure. One of my personal running jokes is where to hide during a zombie apocalypse and this castle is a place built for that purpose. 

My goal for the race was top twenty. I was twentieth and went sub-three hours. So yay!

After a couple days of eating amazing food and drinking sangria and pina coladas Mary and I went to Seville up north and west in the slight interior of Spain. 

OMG! I now have a favorite city in my favorite country. 

Mary found a nice little hotel on one of those cobblestone paths near the Catedral de Sevilla. What a cathedral it is to behold. Something we didn’t know: Christopher Columbus has his tomb in the cathedral. Yes, the Christopher Columbus of Pinta, Niña, Santa Maria across-the-Atlantic-in-1492 fame. You turn around and there it is towering over you. Crazy, right?

There’s one of those kinds ships parked in the river next to Seville. Sailing on one of those things would be horrible. Setting out with three of them bobbing in the ocean into the unknown makes me queasy. It was the moonshot of the day.

Plus there’s orange trees growing all over the place. We learned on a tour of the Royal Alcazar of Seville (a royal palace still in use for the royal family) that these trees have two leaves on a stem. The oranges are the bitter kind used to make marmalade. The one leaf trees are the sweet oranges we eat. These particular oranges are used to make the orange wine of Seville. Didn’t know that tidbit of information. It’s always fun to learn something new.

I tried some and it was ok? Wine tasting is wasted on me. Tequila? Yes please. Wine? Meh. That said, I barely drink anything anymore, so it’s all in another lane.

One of our favorite events was going to see flamenco dancing. They played Gypsy Kings style music and got all sweaty clapping and tapping their feet to the beat. It was really cool to see. Two thumbs up from me on seeing and hearing the flamenco. 

Just to the south of all this one finds the buildings constructed for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Or as we say, the 1929 World’s Fair. All I can say is, “Holy cow!” There’s one building, the Plaza de España, that’s mind blowing. They went all-in on the worlds fair that year and probably spent a few decades paying it off. 

A person could spend a long time exploring Seville and not see it all. I need to return and walk more streets and alleys, stopping to see, taste, and hear the place. Apparently a person might skip going in late summer because the city transforms into a cauldron. 

Technical: I used the fun to use Fuji X100V for the trip.