Note – This post is a recap of the Trans Provence Tour in June 2013, not a real time update!
Day 5 was an early start (or a normal Clarsen start) with brekkie at 7am for a 7.45am departure… Why so early? Because we had a fucking BIG day in store ahead so said the guides… And if the guides say its going to be a BIG day, you know you’re in for an epic set up. Basically the guides spend the week lying to us and we continually kept falling for it, not that we had a lot of choice, but they seemed to do it in such a funny way that in the end you quite enjoyed being lied to, it must be the fact that we were getting more and more fucked so we didn’t care as much. When they say it was a “25 minute climb”, what that really meant was “Its 25 minutes of sort of riding and some pushing before we head into an epic two hour of portage into the snow”.
Dok kicked off the day in usual style with a bathroom depth charge that even out did yesterday… I tried to take a photo of it, but I couldn’t get it in frame. This one was so insane I felt the need to attempt to clean it up, which created more mess and I ended up scarpering before the proprietor found the destruction. Gladly we started the day with another beautiful Van uplift (not so hot for Doc and I, we ended up in a van of full Austrian units who decided to have a massive rap in Austrian) to the start of the riding at approx 1500m at La Colmiane, again we decided to up our radness by rocking MTB camo kit, delta force styles, with Dok opting for a tinge of yellow to set things off:
And, not to be outdone, here is Wolf posing with his loaner bike… It may have the brakes around the right way by that point, but that did nothing to detract from it being a midget bike or an English Avanti made by a bike shop basically, it was described as ‘reassuringly robust’ (that is being kind) – In this photo he looks like he has stolen it from a little kid:
From here we set out on an epic climb in the usual format… Slow pedalling with tired legs… some traversing and then a hard turn up into massive portage, and this morning was a BIG one! We trudged up the side of this super steep mountain, with it too steep to push at times, so it was bike on the shoulders for some carrying action. Not helping was the altitude and very soon I found myself panting like a horny Pug dog rubbing its balls frantically along a heavily textured persian rug, it was fucking hard work. Here is a shot of the MTB delta force somewhere on the climb to the sun:
Constant breaks and modelling shoots were required along the way… Its part of our Fox clothing deal that we need to get the brand exposure up, no problems:
Here is the shot from what we thought was the ‘Top’ after an hour and a half of Portage… Alas, it was not the top, but fark its an awesome view, this was at 1921m:
The crew were happy to kick it for a bit and take in the view… Hanging out in the alps is rad. As you can see below, Wolf not missing the chance to take a selfie and Dok unable to resist making a tweak to his bike set up (this was the whole trip in a nutshell):
Onward we trekked… the views getting more and more amazing as we marched on, here is a shot of more ass kicking scenery, aptly photo bombed by the WAR Machine, who is showing how to get Portage done with the beast of war on his massively wide shoulders:
Adding to the Mystique of the War Machine, we found out today that he had a hip replacement 6 months ago, he fixed Dok’s rear D last night and at beers later that evening he gave away a KTM motorbike in a business deal, basically an all round fucking legend of a unit. Here is an artisnal photo of the boys on the second half of the mega trek, which I got by lying down the bank like a c0ckhead and shooting backwards (no pun intended):
Onward we trekked… The higher we got, the more amazing the views became… Its a weird trade off of punishment and beauty:
So, by now you may be asking yourselves why we came to France to push 30 pound slaying machines up massive mountains into the snow line… Well, after a solid 2 hours and 40 mins of epic riding, traversing, tramping, panting and portage, we found ourselves at the longest downhill of the trip. This mofo is so long that when they race it, they have to split it into 2 special stages and time them separately as its too epic and full on to string into one. We were not disappointed after the trek up. We have ridden a lot of amazing DH so far this week, but this one had a special test in store for us.
Bearing in mind that this was 100% natural trail with NO man made obstacles or additions, it was quite a mind and arm blowing experience. Quite literally I was arriving at some of the steep rocky hairpin sections with so much speed that my brain was struggling to slow the bike down and then process carving through the multiple back to back rocky steep hairpins that littered the trail. I’m not just talking about for 10 or 15 minutes, this thing went on and on… It had extremely narrow high speed single track sections, bursting out into even faster rocky straights and then suddenly dropping away into slick forest with a sea of rock underneath it.
I am not sure what was overwhelmed first, my brain or my arms, but it was halfway down here that I had a decent stack and hurt my hand. This triggered some inner rage (as seen in yesterdays crash compilation video) and after a few loudly released ‘CUNTS’ I was back on it, fuelled by rage and a burning hunger to pin the fuck out of this trail. We have been trying to ride at 90% given we don’t know the trails, they are mega challenging and we want to get through the week (minus a Tallboy), but this track demanded 100%, mentally and physically and there was nothing left to give, it was time to muster all the skills and courage that we had developed so far this week. We all agreed that this track demanded everything we had and that we couldn’t have gone any faster, it was a completely all consuming experience and sensation – Not to mention hugely satisfying and fun.
To be fair, we did get one break halfway down, again, it was a SHAM related melt down, with one of their shite components giving up:
As such, Dok (modelling his Delta Force urban assault uniform) took some time to get to know Rocket Ronny:
Doc is confining that V stands for vag and this is how Ronny rolls… We have code named him ‘Fraser’, as he appears to have gotten lost on the way to the train line and ended up getting slayed all over the French Alps with his XC uniform (todays green flame get up was particularly fetching), matching XC stem and bar set up also not doing him any favours. Suffice to say we spend a lot of time waiting for Ronny, both going up and down. Ronny hangs out on tour with ‘Tallboy’, another Belgian dude who never smiles, and I mean NEVER… Even when tallboy laughs, he manages to do so without smiling. This is a good segway to the COTD awards:
- Tallboy – We waited for him to change a flat and when he was finished he rode off to rejoin his group (we are split into two groups). Nice one
- Ronny – On this epic DH, Dok broke his chain…. it took a while to fix and when we were finally sorted and ready to roll again, Ronny puts up his hand as he has a flat tire. Yip, as close as you will come to seeing a guide wanting to lose it…
Whilst Belgium cleaned up in the COTD stakes, special mention on the COTD front goes to the shower at the hotel, which waited until I had coated my entire hairy unit in soap and shampoo before it stopped completely. Handy.
Anyway, back to the epic DH action – This messiah of a DH kept on going, changing and evolving as we carved down the mountain, with the variety another aspect to blow an already overworked mind and body. We hit some mega steep stuff and then just when we thought it was over we found ourselves dropping into a section on ancient stone stairs that were massively difficult to negotiate and survive. By this stage my mind was ramming me that we needed food and that it was 1.30pm and we had been riding since 8am. We finally dropped into the last rad section and burst out into a village square for lunch, where we feasted like DH Kings following a victorious battle. Dok loves the Nomad and decided to have lunch with it:
Thank fuck that post lunch we had another van uplift, as the day was clearly taking its toll. Here is the Wolf tapping out in the Van on the way back up to 1500m, blasted after eating little red riding hood:
Liking my spy shot, it was hard to nail as the fucker kept waking up, thank you iPhone for reverse angle capability. The best thing is that by now the whole group and all the guides only know Nathan by the name ‘Wolf’, no one knows who Nathan is, so its simply the Wolf, or the sweet wolf (WTF?).
Getting dropped off coincided with the afternoon rain arriving…. so it was rain jackets on and another climb, this time with some micro vomiting of lunch on the way up the hill, it was hard work and a silent ascent as we headed to the last DH of the day. But oh fuck it was worth it! This one was called the ‘Toboggan run’, and once more, was unlike anything we had ridden this far. This run was through beautiful trees, with a surface of leaves and wet rock – Now, this sounds mega slippery and should be, but oddly there was a load of grip and with banked turns and perfect switch backs it was a dream to ride… An absolute dream, which meant a lot of carving and big smiles. We then had some rocky shoots and high speed sections that provided ample ‘oh FUCK’ moments given accumulative fatigue and the impacts of another big day. It was all high fives at the end of the day though, as we loved every inch of this trail.
Like any good day of shredding should end, here we are in Sospel having a well earned beer with Julia, one of the guides. As you can see, there is the BOSS again, like any good German, getting changed in public and trying to get the attention of the WOLF, he is doing well to try and ignore her BOSS shenanigans:
Just to confirm it was a big day, here is the Wolf apparently not snoring (but actually snoring like Jabba the Hutt on a bad day), asleep in his clothes as per usual. We eventually drew a penis on his face and then tucked him in:
Product of the day went to 661 knee guards for providing epic confidence and saving a lot of damage on this trip so far. Special mention to Shimano Saint brakes again, these things haven’t missed a beat all trip and man they have received some mental abuse.
Back to the future – How did the racer get on during day 5 of the Trans Provence race? Check it out here – As you’ll see, its INCREDIBLE: