Trans-Provence 2015 - Day 6

June 27 — 2015

The bikes are leaned up, the riders are resting, and this year's Trans-Provence is officially in the books. The race turned out pretty well for Santa Cruz riders when the last stage was logged: Chris Johnston finished second in the Pro race to Nico Lau, and Dylan Wolsky ended the race in eighth. On the amateur side, Factory Man Scott Chapin finished third in his first-ever TP. Read on for Gary Perkin's final dispatch and photos, this time from the Mediterranean. 

 

In true Ash Smith style the last day of the 2015 Trans-Provence was no gentle roll down to the coast. Some massive climbs and 4 testing stages in the heat of late June made sure there were no free rides on the sixth day.

Chris Johnston finding the rocky way between the rocks

Riders set off up to the old military barracks above Sospel to tackle Ze Holy Trail — which provokes an almost religious experience — or at least some pretty good blasphemous comments when the super-steep, tech, switchback-filled beast further pushes those tired bodies and bikes.  After descending the 700m vert back down to Sospel for lunch/neutral support, riders then climbed 800+m vert in up to 40 degrees centigrade towards the Col de Castillon and the first proper coastal stage — SP22 above the Foret de Menton. This scree and boulder filled stage was so loose and unkempt it had many wondering if the whole mountain was moving.

Chapin and French graffiti

SP23 was a blast through the aforementioned Foret de Menton with some super fast tree-lined trails before heading on the liaison across to the last stage, SP24, above Menton proper — Heckler’s Rock. Riders had to dismount and run the 30-odd metres of rock jutting into the trail before jumping back on and negotiating what feels like hundreds of uneven concrete steps that have been dropped from a height into the hill. These 'steps' bend and twist their way down the trail to the finish line. That last checkout is when the relief and joy floods back as riders realise just what they have achieved — be it a win, a podium position, or just making it across Provence in some semblance of one piece.

It's a Nomads race to get to the Med

The rush down through the old town and across the ancient church square and down staircases is a flood of whoops and hollers as riders head to the promenade to download their chips, check their results, down a few recovery beers and then dive into the Mediterranean with some of the worst tan lines you’ve ever seen.  

Team Santa Cruz (Chris, Chapin, and Dylan)

Its hard to put into words the effect the week of Trans-Provence has. As much as you prepared and trained, its never enough. Mentally and physically it drains you on another level. Your bike takes an accelerated rate of punishment day in and day out. But when the dust has settled and the carafes of red wine have been drunk at the last evening’s party and the end of week slideshows have been shown you feel a different kind of emptiness. A longing to do it all again once the aches, scrapes, cuts, and bruises and the memories of those switchbacks have healed. Cheesy perhaps, but thats the hold adventures like TP have on us: they strip off the layers of clutter of modern life through pain and suffering and leave you with a renewed appreciation for the little things — which end up being the big things. Getting a switchback right, finding the flow between two gnarly sections, or just the simple act of riding a bike in the outdoors.

Pro podium

 

Chapin may have finished the race in third, but clearly won the champagne race

Until next year.

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