#2 Coffee with Cae - Mandy, Fed & Yves

Imagine: sun dappled palm trees, blue sky, azure ocean and the strumming of a ukulele. This time of year we usually have just one thing on our mind… Kona. Breakfast with Bob is cancelled in 2020, so you have to make do with (another) “Coffee with Cae”.

Posted on Monday 21st September 2020


Joining me on the couch this time, cradling a cold brew and eating moon cake, we have:

  • Mandy Tik Tolman: my wonderful wife, nominated by Anne in the last “Coffee with Cae”; everyone knows Tikki; she thinks and talks at the same speed as her stroke rate in the water.
  • Federico “Bed Egg” Masin, the Italian Stallion: the foul mouthed Federico can talk on any given topic, at length and with a depth of knowledge that astounds. Marc wanted Fed to join us on the couch.
  • Thirdly, the captain’s pick: Yves Klenk; one half of Team Suisse, Ernie to Thomas’ Bert; a lover of Lulu’s macaroni and a relative newcomer to the Blue, Orange and White.

Its been a difficult summer with few opportunities to get to know each other better, so I hope, like me you’ll enjoy learning a little more about these three souls. Except of course I’ve been with my wife all summer, but I also did learn something new about her…

Imagine: sun dappled palm trees, blue sky, azure ocean and the strumming of a ukulele (I included it at the start of the “Coffee with Cae #1” transcript as a stage direction and it was removed, so I’m hiding it in plain sight this time)!

Cae: ok kids, we’ve been sitting here in the sun enjoying the view for too long, its time to shit or get off the pot… first question: tell us a little about your history with Tritons… Fed, you’re a Tritons ledge… why don’t you start?

Fed: Well, I used to train alone and I was only competing on ITUs. I could tell there were teams out there but I couldn’t care less, I didn’t need motivation, nor did I need to socialise more in my life, if anything I felt needed more time and less people around me.

Cae: So not a whole lot different to now?

Fed: No, I’m just a grumpy bad egg. The only legendary thing in me is my potty mouth and my blatant disregard for decency

(Note from Cae: Fed was right about potty mouthing: there is some fruity language within, so please beware and turn away if easily offended)

Cae: So? ITU as a lone wolf to the beating heart of Tritons?

Fed: One year I missed all the local races because I forgot to register, I thought I should have been more on the know, so I looked up at clubs in HK and joined the Tritons because It was the only club beside the Dragons advertising in English and I thought that Dragons was a bit too obvious as a team name. I joined Tritons and went straight to a camp in Kenting without having shown up at any event before. That camp was awesome, I had so much fun and the rest is history!

Cae: I love Kenting; how was it and who was there? Was Wendy there (and yes, I am publicising the fun fact that you called Mandy by the name Wendy for quite a while after you met her)?

Fed: I remember Mike Fischner, Coach Mike and Fen and some others. I don’t remember Mandy I don’t think she was there.

Cae: Were you?

Mandy: No, I don’t think Wendy was either.

Fed: Back then Mike F was in a kind of coaching assistant role. I had my first coached swim session ever and I was told for the first time that my head was all over the place... some things never change and Fen is still telling me that now

Mandy: she told you that this morning in squad…

Fed: Ah awesome memories it feels like a century ago, life is rich and thick in HK. 

I loved Kenting so much that I went back later that year and did my first half without much training. I wasn’t eating on Olympic distances, so I thought that maybe I should have one gel and bonked on the bike, walked the run, and finished albeit with bruised pride. I went from podium in the HK ITU triathlon that year to abysmal crawl in my first 70.3 but that started my addiction for long distance tri 

Cae: So Yves what’s your Tritons story? It is rumoured you were a Dragon... why did you leave??? Or are you tri-bigamous?

Yves: I am indeed member of both the Tritons and the Dragons. I was member of both for ages but didn’t really take part in the activities before getting to know my favourite Lane 1 people.

Mandy: You lane 1 guys are so tight!

Yves: Yes, swimming is definitely what I appreciate most with the Tritons gang, the Dragons are more focused on cycling. And for both clubs the mini-tris or duathlons in winter or summer are great! 

Cae: I recall you appearing at IHP and swimming on your own for a while before you joined us

Yves: Yes, the more systematic training started only in spring 2018, and towards the end of that year I started to swim with Swimlab - and got hooked. But first I needed to up my game by doing Monday Swimlab and solo Wednesday and Friday before being able to survive Swimlab Wednesdays and Fridays. Ive made so much progress, but so much more to go.

Fed: I feel you.

Mandy: Yup

Cae: yes. Mandy, tell me about your Tritons journey.

Mandy: My Tritons starting story is similar to everyone here. I wanted to do sports in my 30s to clean up all the alcohol, all the tequila shots, and to experience working on a Friday while not  hung over.

I did a lot of classical ballet, jazz, before taking up track and field growing up. I picked up triathlon living in Phuket, cos got nothing better to do there.. really!

Tritons gave me solid friendships. I was coached by Mike Tse right away as i admired Federico in the track so much ; i wanna be fast like him. 

Fed: Awww bullshit!

Mandy: No, seriously; So Fed, I copied you and used Mikey as my Coach. And Mikey gave me a lot of podiums. My IM addiction started in 2014 Boulder. I was still learning, I was doing a 5 hour marathon without understanding nutrition, and without bothering to research and taking into account what my Coach told me. I was so so destroyed and i told myself “I wanna do a better one next year”, so this shit keeps rolling, rolling and rolling.

But its as much about training and best of all, because of this long haul training, I’ve got to share a GogoVan with all these amazing and yet super humble athletes such as the Kosters, Mark Lee, Tim Cox, Jamie Roberts, Federico of course (he is really my brother i have to say)

Cae: And me, of course!

Mandy: Yes, Baddo; the friendships I’ve had with all these mates are beyond words.

Fed: Totally Agree The Tikkivan did it for me too, it’s been a source of fun,  good feeling laugh and amazing friendships, I will be a Tikkivanner forever!

Cae: So, Mandy has spoken about her growth as a triathlete, what about you Yves, when did you first race?

Yves: Well, I started with my first olympic distance in Zurich in 2010 (summer just before moving to Asia); I’d lost a bet and was roughly 10kg heavier, and it took me 3h40 for that one! I suffered hugely... but somehow I’d caught the bug and wanted to improve. I did some more Olympic distances in the years after in Zurich, Hong Kong and Byron Bay

Mandy: Byron Bay? Nice.

Yves: That one was memorable, as the waves were super high, and not being the tallest of athletes I struggled to even get out hahaha

Cae: I’ve seen open water races in Sydney where there are score of people who fail to get out through the surf: look for the rip and run toward it, even if it takes you off course!

Yves: Yes, I was not the only one, many dropped out just because they couldn't get out past the waves. I also did Phuket for the Olympic distance and also my first 70.3 distance; I finished the last 30km of the bike leg without my left pedal; that was only through mental stubbornness.

Again a bet I lost triggered my first full ironman attempt, in Zurich 2014: cleared the swim, but after 120km on the bike: DNF; not enough training and my knee was acting up.

I was done with tri for a while then... I took a break but caught the bug again and loved my first 70.3 in Cebu in Aug 2018 so I continued with Taiwan 70.3, Danang (where I thought I would get a heatstroke being cooked like a sandwich in the sun, but being small helps in the heat!). Cebu 2019 was epic and I got the last slot of a loooooong roll-down, super lucky but was happy that the effort paid off! 

Cae: and when did it all click for you Yves?

Yves: I think what really is amazing and different since 2018 is stopping training alone and working with Ryan as coach was game changer; I can recommend to everyone to find a ‘match’; no coach is good for everyone but he and I have awesome teamwork; my progress would not be possible with that partnership

Cae: OK next question: if you could change or add any rule to IM/70.3 races what would you do? Mine would be that the race starts before you’ve put your wetsuit on; if you want to swim in a wettie, you use your racing time to put it on! Lets level the playing field for us who prefer to swim unaided.

Fed: Ah that’s a good one; if you had your rule, I’d use a shorty sleeveless, I hate the full arm anyways!

Cae: And if I had to race when you were race director for a day, what would my experience be Fed?

Fed: I would abolish the “inclement weather” course modification or race cancellation option. The race starts in any condition and finishes, the craziest wins; typhoon races would become epic

Mandy: that’s just because we had to sit out Goseong last September because of the weather isn’t it? 

Cae: Fuck yeah! Mandy and I have wished for that before. Especially when when the swim course in Taiwan IM was cut to 400m… because of a little wind chop… well 40kmh winds. But everyone knows Penghu is either stupidly hot or stupidly windy!

Fed: I know right? If you are scared just pack it up and go home, if you are not go for it. And, Mandy, you are a typhoon magnet

Yves: Nice rule! The “concrete guts” rule!

Cae: You should have heard Mandy screaming while cycling downhill in Penghu IM in 40kmh crosswinds!

Fed: My rule would give a fighting chance to the inconsiderate and careless type like me against the organised and careful

Mandy: I’d always have Men and Women separate race day, so that we can cheer for the boys and abuse them when they run! Call them names that they cannot even hear !

Yves: My rule would be to ban breast stroke swimming: I’ve been kicked in the face too many times!

Cae: So, favourite race? For Mandy I know it was Boulder (and now they’ve cancelled the event, she can enjoy the fact she got to race it even more) until she qualified for Kona at Penghu last year I bet. She’s one of only 17 people to have done every Taiwan IM!

Yves: Cebu: fantastic atmosphere, great race hotel, you survive the run with ghetto-blasters every 500m, super nice swim (you can say “Hi” to the frogmen at turning points and count fishes instead of strokes). Also, my wife Jin is totally not a swim/bike/run type but she comes along to every race if she can.. she loves the atmosphere etc and that makes it so much awesome when you can share and she’s there to support, so the hotel/resort is extra important!

Fed: Like Mandy, Boulder Colorado, great place, crazy funny spectators, huevos rancheros at breakfast, beautiful course: I had a lot of fun would go back any day... plus yummy mummies and legal weed. Come on what more can you ask for?

Cae: So next question: what has triathlon taught you?

Mandy: Tri taught me that it is ok to pee on your bike.

Cae: And your shoes

Yves: I agree with Mandy & Cae and that race nutrition matters (from begin of race week on till the party)

Fed: Triathlon is an aimless painful waste of energy, from an evolutionary perspective it’s just stupid. Yet my life revolves around it, I love it so much that I get emotional when I line up for a race. I feel true meaningful connection to all the fellow slaves of this terrible addiction; In the end It’s the ultimate metaphor for true love. So I don’t question reasons anymore , I just learnt to give myself  to it and just love it.

Mandy: So poetic!

Cae: So, in relation to training and racing (and particularly when I used to just swim stupid distances) I always motivated myself with “you can’t tell how much you can do until you try to do something that’s more”; what is your phrase to motivate yourself? What do you tell yourself to keep going?

Mandy: I keep going cos there is always a woman in front of me i need to chase

Cae: Feral, I like it! Chase first; ascertain their AG after you pass them

Fed: Nothing really, I don’t talk to imaginary people inside my skull, There is nobody there to fool into making me going faster, that’s what crazy people do! I just try to stay in the game, ease in the pain, wait for the moment when it’s time to squeeze what’s left to the finish line.

Mandy: you make me feel like a superficial bitch! In fact i am just a sinner…

Fed: Ah no no, you may be a bitch I give you that but not a superficial one because you often do beat the bitch ahead of you and that makes you a winning bitch, so chapeau!

Cae: Fed, an imaginary person in your skull could’ve told you you were running into the finishing chute one lap too early in Nice last year! 

Fed: Ha ha, no that’s the real me, I’m a bit stupid every day of my life

Yves: Mine is quite simple... in Switzerland we have Anita Weyermann who got WM Bronze over 1500m as 19yo... and she gave this legendary interview, where she said ahead of the semi-finals: «Gring ache u voll seckle», which means: head down and full run!

Cae: So what sport do you all suck balls at? I am terrible at ANYTHING involving hand-eye coordination

Yves: Tennis: not everyone can be a Roger Federer!

Cae: I remember an uncle who could only connect with his kids through sporting activities. He gave up on me after being hit with tennis rackets and cricket bats more than once. Sorry, by the way, as you may have seen I have a hard time making these interviews about you... I have a habit of prefacing questions with my own anecdotes

Fed: I’m generally good at sports involving sweat and grit, but I’m completely useless at video games and hate golf, if you see me playing golf, please kill me… and I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie, attracted to anything involving speed and danger… and after all considering how much I train, I’d say I suck at triathlon too

Cae: Haha! You are a repeat 70.3 WC qualifier dude! That’s hardly “sucking”. Last 2 questions:tell us something about yourself that will make us go “oh! I wouldn’t have thought that! about them!” And, who do you want me to interview next?

Yves: I used to play the flute both solo and in orchestra from being very young until 20yo. And I’d like you to interview Grace please, its our last chance as she’s leaving: Lane 1 stalwart, I like her being always in good and high spirits.

Fed: I may come across as a bit unpredictable and that may be because I actually am a bit like that. so I don’t think that any of the things I do would surprise much. There you go, I’m so random that I’m a boring fuck.

Oh no, I’ve got one: I’m getting into meditation, I find it very interesting, maybe that’s something one wouldn’t think I would be doing

Cae: That is very true...

Fed: And please interview Nick, I love his sense of humour!

Mandy: What about Jeff? 

Fed: I expect some serious comedy when you guys will get into “ what do you play in your ears before a race?”

Cae: Yes! Great question: “Jeff I’ve heard a rumour that before a race you listen to an audio file of your mum telling you how great you are; is this correct or fake news?” By the way Mandy: fun fact?

Mandy: I am the Only Asian on earth that does not eat chicken.

Fed: Yeah Mandy, I’ve know you for a decade and I only realised this recently, I thought you were shitting me when u told me!

Mandy: There was a Tritons Camp in Taiwan KOM one year. Margaret Ko arranged all of us to end with Signature Chicken Restaurant. I was so traumatised when i saw her wearing gloves tearing tons of chicken apart serving everyone

Fed: Uhhh I remember that, it was the best chicken I’ve ever had in my entire life!!! They roast it in a drum it was just awesome. I miss Taiwan, let’s all move to Taiwan and train and eat Taiwanese chicken woohoo!

Cae: So , yes: ;ets all go to Taiwan. Life is better there!

But firstly, a big thank you to Fed, Mandy and Yves. I hope you all feel you know them a little better and you approve of their choices of next interviewees: Grace, Nick and Jeff (If they are willing). I would love everyone to WhatsApp questions to me: what do you want to know about these guys… <ukulele fading out…>