This race, it seems, is a never-ending uphill.
At this point a 10 percent grade or less now feels almost flat. (Forest Service Road 333 La Luz trailhead is around 10-12 percent grade at its steepest.)
As a matter of fact, Dan called today’s final climb “diabolical.” I’m not sure that’s exactly the right word, but it fits well enough.
While our plan all along in this 7-day epic BIKE TransAlp has been to ride, enjoy the experience and take lots of pictures. Climbing 30,000 feet on a bike in the first three days is just not easy. (For race updates, rider standings and organizer photos, go to http://bike-transalp.de/en/news/.)
In fact, it’s incredibly hard. But I’m smiling most of the time.
One of our climbs today was part of the route on the road bike race, the Giro d’ Italia, which is held in May each year. Some of the route markers were still visible along with pitchforks with the name of the Italian pro road racer Vincenzo Nibali on them.
Dan is a great partner. We are getting a better feel for each other’s riding all the time and we are well-matched.
Everyone riding this event is strong. They all seem to like the idea of riding trails on a bicycle, but probably ride more dirt paths and gravel roads on a regular basis than true single-track so their technical skills are not nearly as good as their fitness.
Most of the riders don’t ride the technical parts. Sometimes this means we are in a long line where we cannot get by. So we walk a bit, too.
There are always lots of riders around us. Traffic and walkers as well.
The descents are the payoff, however, and we fly down them at about 50 mph.
Some random thoughts from each of the stages:
- The views are breathtaking; took 48 photos.
- Met a big German rider who “pulled” us across a valley
- Eating on the bike can be tricky; Dan’s stomach not too sure it enjoyed the caffeine gel
- The sight of a dirt trail sent many riders jumping off their bike to walk
- The downhills are super fast
- The final run into town was through vineyards
- There is no easy way up these grades
- Had to focus on rhythmic breathing and standing on the pedals a lot
- Some of the climbs were 20 percent grade; hardest climbing I’ve ever done
- The start felt flat; we jumped in with a big group that was going hard
- Phone decided to die, so missed some pictures on what they organizers said is the “most scenic” stage.
- Finished on a cool gravel road that was flanked by giant stone monoliths.
- Cooked at the finish.
Follow #elevatephwtransalp on social media for updates during the 7-stage TransAlp through Sunday, July 22. I’ll be posting another post on Friday.