Trans Provence: Day Four and Five

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Trans Provence
Blue skies on another amazing day
Trans Provence
Stunning scenery lines the route
Trans Provence
All in a day’s mountain biking

Reporting back from the Trans Provence, David Warren is starting to wonder how life will be the same again having to ride back at home.

Day Four – A day of mixed emotions

Starting a day with an 8km descent which drops almost 750m can only be described as epic – it’s almost as if I was sitting in my office day dreaming about the best start of a day.  From about halfway down the trail my body was screaming for a break and in particular my arms, which were on fire.  The variation in everything including speed, trail, scenery and altitude made this trail legendary in the camp.  If you ever do this race remember the name – Col des Champs.

Unfortunately the Col des Champs claimed this year’s first victim, who was airlifted to the nearest hospital with a broken shoulder.  So hopefully Markus Boscher (Ger) recovers soon and is back on his bike in no time.

A day of 30km should be something of a ‘rest’ day but a few missed signs due to a lack of concentration meant that a group of us were scaling back up almost vertical descents – Alp descents!  At this stage it was hot and a mood of elation turned quickly into one of frustration.  When this happened for the second time we all started feeling a bit despondent, however we were treated with Grey Earth.

Grey Earth was a unique trail that was made up of black shale rock which was almost completely clear of vegetation.  It could have been a tarred road it was so smooth.  Let go of the brakes and the combination of gravity and smoothness made this run super fast.  It was undulating in some places, but because I could carry so much speed into the up sections no pedalling was needed.  I have never ridden anything like this before so I was grinning from ear to ear when I got to the bottom – my day’s blunders now forgotten.

Today was yet again another crazy day at the Trans Provence.  Considering the level of trails we ride each day I can’t imagine how I am going to feel when I get back home!

Men

1. Chris Herraghty – 2:55:17
2. Michael Watton – 3:07:30
3. Ola Carmonius – 3:07:46

Women

1. Ingrid Hohermuth – 3:47:56
2. Stephanie Tuck – 3:51:20
3. Fiona Brennan – 4:15:46

Day Five – What goes up must come down

I never really understood why people travelled to the Continent to ride mountains on tar.  I know lots of people that have and they all rave about it.  Well today we had a taster of just that.  After the first timed section called Col de Segiliere we found ourselves at the bottom of a valley in a tiny village.  From there we had to make our way up to Vallon du Nai, which was about 15km away with an elevation gain of about 700m.  All of this was done on tarred road and surprisingly it made a nice change from the brutal terrain we have become accustomed to.

What made this a real treat was the fact we could look around and enjoy the scenery without worrying about what our front wheel might hit.  The road meandered its way through small villages and provided some spectacular views.  We managed to sneak in an espresso or two along the way, which was a real treat.

Aside from the tarred road ride it was again a day of incredible riding between stages.  Some immense cliff edges, rock falls and precarious rock hops made for adrenaline levels to almost pop – something they are getting used to.

Last night we were briefed about the trails and again the ‘one of the best trails’ stories was told.  The trail is called Roure and descends almost 600m in very little distance (I think less than 2.5kms).  This makes for steep riding with very tight switchbacks.  Roure was a completely mad trail – I can’t think of any other way to describe it!

Large portions of this trail were smooth which really encouraged speed and flowing riding and then all of a sudden, without warning there would be a steep tight switchback!  The penalty for failure of overshooting a switchback was about a 50m+ freefall, so my common sense took over!

The other highlight for me today was on the third timed trail of the day that had a few hundred metres of natural steps to contend with.  About halfway down the stepped section I realised that control was overrated and the bike appeared to be managing itself.  The only thing I could offer was direction, the rest was up to gravity, luck, rock placements and the end of the trail.  If the marshal at the bottom of the trail had known how out of control my bike was I can almost guarantee she would have been hiding behind something solid – instead she complemented me on a nice finish!

As we sit eating another meal for champions in the camp this evening the rain has started coming down so fingers crossed it clears for the morning because we have another monster day to contend with.  And then we have a clear run to Monaco.

Winners of the day were (GC):

Men

1. Chris Herraghty – 3:28:15
2. Rolf Reimann – 3:40:51
3. Michael Watton – 3:41:15

Women

1. Ingrid Hohermuth – 4:27:30
2. Stephanie Tuck – 4:37:33
3. Fiona Brennan – 5:09:13

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