I couldn’t be happier with the way we finished the BIKE TransAlp.
Danny and I both ended ready to fight another day and climb another climb. If there was a stage 8, I’d get up tomorrow ready to go. Luckily there is not.
We rode really hard the last few stages and, although our times and placement don’t show what we threw down, we improved our position day after day.
This stage started with a nightmare of a peloton up into a brutal climb. Similar story, different day. We were in completely different company and when someone wanted to attack either of us we were dropping them quickly. It was truly invigorating. We both like racing, and racing on the 6th day of a stage race felt good.
We had our plan laid out based on when we were going to hit anything that required mountain bike skills. About half way through the stage we hit a a series of short climbs (500-1200ft), so we put on the gas. Up to this point I could feel the flesh painfully shake on my scrapped and swollen arm when I went down hill, but then it went away. Being able to jump out of the saddle on 12 percent plus climbs over roots and rocks passing hoards of people was great. This was all a set up for a big descent to finish the stage
Somehow we missed a sign, got to a road (super common) that pointed us down. Within a few minutes we passed a section of trail off the highway and then turned around. We were with about eight other teams — two we had just caught before the mis-step and six we had just passed. A bunch of folks yelling in other languages didn’t provide guidance. So we went back up, jumped onto the trail we were just on and carefully sought out the sign we missed. I almost missed it a second time.
Later I found out the bonus lap took us 12 minutes, not considering the much slower second attempt where we were looking for our missed turn.
We quickly switched gears and forgot our bonus mileage. Danny ruthlessly attacked on the last 1,200-foot super steep climb to the top of the Lavarone ski area. I had to dig deep at the final 500 meters to come around five teams to join him. Luckily we were greeted with a bike park on the way down. That put us on a trail with nice burms, jumps, and wood drops. There was navigation around all of them but I disregarded all of it and enjoyed the features.
In the end we had our best finish, and would have easily cracked the top 20 without the bonus miles.
We were pretty focused from the finish of 6 to the start of 7. We decided that if we had anything left we were going to use it. After a neutral start we headed up, a very steep up. New company again, and I didn’t feel great. About 45 minutes in, Danny was in sight and I was starting to turn on. I was quickly passing riders and on a benign gravel road climb I blew a 3/4 inch tear in my rear tire.
I changed it, and then flatted again. I used a gel pack to boot the tire and maybe got it to 15 psi. At this point I was committed to finishing the final 35 miles, so I made the decision to nurse the remaining 1,500 feet of climbing and 3,000 feet of descending to the first aid station. By the time I caught Danny at the aid station he’d been there for 45 minutes. When I flatted he was in sight but he couldn’t hear me.
Danny decided to re-address the tire, my boot had slipped and the tube was sticking out. This is not the way we saw our day going, but we were glad to see that an hour behind us people were racing hard. Mateo Lopez from the Basque country also decided to help. Mateo was super helpful and didn’t speak or understand a lick of English. I was able to have a pretty basic conversation with him in Spanish which was great (where are we both from, how long are we staying, where are we leaving from, do we want to ride the next flat section together before the final climb…).
The last climb was a monster. Hot, steep, and 2,500 feet up. We weren’t racing for a good finish but why leave anything behind. It was a charge. We passed a ton of people and, as opposed to dropping the hammer on them, we were all excited about finishing so we shared words of encouragement.
It was hot; I’ve never before had my jersey feel like it was being sucked into my skin. We still had a rolling few miles with 800 feet of steep pitches. I was ready to finish so we went hard. We also were looking forward to the most technical part of the race that people pledged to walk at the start of the stage. On the way down I was done with track standing waiting for people to not mountain bike so I just shouted out to them to move, and they finally did. I didn’t climb 55,000 feet over 7 days to walk down great trails at the end. At one point I came upon I’m guessing 15 riders looking at a 30 percent rooted and rocky pitch, and I just called out my line turned into it and shot down. Great trails. Nothing we wouldn’t all routinely ride in the east mountains, just a little steeper.
On the last stretch to Riva we seemed to group up with what appeared to be 12 track riders who pulled us at 24 mph into the wind. At one point, without marshals we pulled onto the highway (think a narrower, busier Coors). I was sitting around 7th or 8th for miles and with 1K to go I figured I would go around to make it interesting. More or less it’s been a road race, so why not race for 50th. At 500 meters to go I moved around the group. I thought it was early but I hit some corners soon after. Nothing more than fun in the moment, but really cool to still be driving to the end.
Finishing was great. We were greeted by a ton of people cheering. Crossing a finish line has never felt so good. This was hard, but none of us let up.
I’ll gladly get on my bike tomorrow, but more than anything I’m ready start the journey home and see my wife and daughters.
Elevate – Performance | Health | Wellness. We’re a fitness facility based in Albuquerque, New Mexico specializing in science-backed training, community building and a love of movement.