Hard to believe this is only the 2nd real mission briefing of the year… I recall a time when these things flowed thick and fast in a highly viscous fashion, so only doing 2 in a 6 month period is therefore enough to make one pause for thought and reflect if the ratio is wrong? However, before we disappear down that fat rabbit hole never to be seen again, lets get straight to the point of this briefing:
Its been a long time coming…
Its possibly been over-hyped…
Its finally here…
Its probably the only beast able to take on the size of Dirty Mega March…
It shall be known simply as:
Unsurprisingly then, this is all about going to Europe, in Summer, to ride myself into a full ENDURO frenzy. As I’ve said previously, there are two places that are utterly addictive in summer to the point that its not really a trip, its more a pilgrimage or a mandatory basic human need to be there: Whistler and Europe (‘Europe’ really just means Italy or France in this context). And fuck I can’t wait to pretend that I can speak French (faux accent included) to the point it gets horribly awkward and confusing for everyone involved.
I’ve said before that I HATE focusing around one event or trip as it builds it up too much and gives rise to anxiety about health, form and things generally going well, but its hard to escape the fact that this is the equivalent of the ‘Queen Stage’ of a Dirty 2015 (touch wood). March was of course mega in its own right, but the genesis of that trip was that it was to play a supporting and prep role for an even bigger June. With that slightly odd concept in mind, whats the low down on this EuroPorn fest?
Some may recall the fever and surprise when I got a spot in the Trans Provence race, especially given that I was still rather munted at that point to say the least. As such, its been quite a build up to be able to get into the right state to take it on.
Rather than rave on and on here, I thought the best way to over-hype things further would be to take a whole lot of previously published material and turn it into a short film with abstractly inspirational music with a poignant message buried in its lyrics. As such, this two minute little video may be the best way of telling the story about the #roadtoTP and how this whole caper was brought screaming (literally) into the world:
That’s right, in an odd twist of fate, I’m not sure I would have been doing this if I hadn’t of eaten a massive pile of cunty Filipino road and instantly become allergic to road racing in shitholes. It was like a suspension fork in the road moment that switched this dirty train onto a different track.
Sometimes that’s just the way it goes, a cause and effect moment that spins you in a new direction or perhaps a major epiphany scenario like the look on Doktor’s face at the real summit of Alpe d’Huez when he realised that A) his days of grinding up HC Cols at 13.5kph were over and the time of rad shredding had commenced and B) Yes, cows can exist that high up a mountain – These are pivotal moments that redirect us down a new path.
And with that in mind, I’m feeling mega pumped to be heading off on this massive mission and unleashing the Nomad 3 onto terrain that its designers had in mind for a change.
Taking exactly zero learning’s out of DM2, its another whopper of a mission – 23 days on tour! Dooooooossh! However, its not just about Trans Provence obviously, no, its split neatly into three parts:
- Get rad
- Chill the fuck out
- Trans Provence Race action
All 3 will involve consuming a dangerously high level of croissants each morning, supported by a bowl of heavy cream of course. Phase one of getting rad is based around a slightly confusing and geographically inconvenient spread of locations across France and Italy as I attempt to get re-adjusted to riding fast on real terrain and in real mountains. Case in point? This is next Friday just quietly:
That would be the border of the Mercantour National Park, in France, but there is also a couple of days in Finale Ligura, Italy, on the menu, a day in Sospel (France) and then even a warm up ENDURO race in Roubion (France again). Yes, its time to indulge on some of Southern Europe’s finest radness to get ready for what is to come, as it’s a BEAST…
The BIG goal
This doesn’t need much of a drum roll does it? There’s only one game in town here, Trans Provence. I’ve already had a little squirt about this, video included, but to recap:
6 days. 270km. 9,000m up. 18,000m down. 24 Special Stages…
Now oddly, this isn’t my first experience with the TP scenario, but having done the guided tour exactly 2 years ago and hearing of the comparisons to the actual race, there’s no question its a massive step up. To start with, its in June this year instead of September and of course, there’s the small factor that you’re racing instead of cruising.
Starting in a place I can’t pronounce at the top of the Maritime Alps and finishing in a place I always mispronounce on the French Coast close to Monaco (see header pic), lets commence feasting the senses on the first few turns of Stage 1 on day 1:
But here is the other big goal/s:
To have fun, ride relaxed and savour every single moment
I have specifically not used the word ‘enjoy‘ there, that’s because you ‘enjoy’ a coffee or piece of cake… Or a walk along a beach… Or a movie… Or sexting co-workers during meetings. No, this isn’t an ‘enjoy’ scenario, its a whole lot more than that.
As such, its about savouring it, allowing all the senses to suck up as much of the goodness and awesomeness as they can possibly manage throughout the entire trip. I want the scenery to burn my eyeballs, the riding to melt my brain and the experience to overwhelm my vocabulary. Imagine stumbling into an orgy filled only with cliche Victoria secret vs. Sport Illustrated swimwear models, you wouldn’t emerge hours later empty and drenched in, er, oil, and go “Gee, I enjoyed that“. Fuck no – This is essentially the MTB equivalent. Whilst I’m doing all of those things I may also possibly break Instagram, so heads up.
It would be fair to level the charge at me that during Dirty Mega March I may have lost sight of these simple points from time to time, notably during EWS practice, so this time I am determined to not roll like that.
And so here’s one of the BIG things about Trans Provence – No practice, no pre-
comewalking and absolutely NO idea of what’s coming next in the trail. You see it once, you ride it once and you never see it again. That’s right, 6 days of racing blind terrain. This is pretty unique and much like a one night stand (so I’m told), you hit it once and then never see it again. Bottom line, you have to be all over your game, know how to read the trail and find that bleeding edge between managing risk and race speed given that much like a German discotheque/actually a sex club, literally anything could be around the corner. Ja.
But if you think that’s challenging, there is something far more terrifying waiting for me out there… Out there… Past them trees…. I see you… Camping:
The first problem I foresee is that my Fox gear bag is actually bigger than those tents. Wait, that’s actually way down the list. I couldn’t camp if I was taken prisoner of war for fucks sake and not to dig too deep on that theme, but what sort of torture will it be to put me in a sleeping bag after a day of sucking down gels? I suspect that the camping aspect will provide an additional layer of weirdness and story to the occasion – Pray now for good weather.
The other main thing I will be attempting throughout the 6 days of racing will be not getting lost. Yes, lost… Some of the days are rather big shall we say? And one common theme from previous years were frothing competitors missing signs or turns and adding considerable time to their stage results.
So then, not too much to ask really is it? Stay healthy, don’t have a mechanical, don’t crash, don’t get lost, measure out your energy over the 6 days and ride as fast as you possibly can. Thank fuck I have 6 pairs of knee pads to choose from. Its time to start getting in the ZONE.
Luckily for me I was sent this motivational message from the second greatest actor of all time behind Mark Wahlberg, my homeboy Shia and his designer pony tail outlining what I need to do while racing TP. Let’s face it, anyone that can stare down Megatron and smash Megan Fox’s back wheels in all in the space of 2 hours deserves to be heeded:
And on that note… It all kicks off Saturday night with the BIG bird to Zurich, so stay tuned as EuroEnduro unrobes itself and takes over the Onsen/Sauna/Lunch room with its girth. I’m off to nude up and indulge in my pre-packing OCD a bit more… Savour: