It has now been over a week since the TransAlp finished and I have had a bit of time to just relax here in Copenhagen and think about the journey and the race. Last year, after finishing the TransRockies, I thought I wouldn't do anything like it again. When Christoph first suggested it, I said no way. He then told me that he meant the road version, and my interest was piqued. I am still pretty sure I won't do TransRockies again, but the TransAlp was different.
For one thing, we always had a nice place to sleep. This was our doing, as the organization had arranged lodging each night on the floor of the local gymnasium. This was adequate, but not what we were looking for in our alpine holiday. At TransRockies you have no choice, but in the Alps there are plenty of places to stay. Most are in ski villages and always at summertime rates, which are much cheaper than in ski season.
Next, we had Stacey generously and patiently driving our bags and equipment, as well as us, to and from each hotel to each start point and then from the finish to the next hotel after each finish. Having this was invaluable as it meant we always had a bottle of mineral water and some nice snacks waiting for us at the finish without having to fight through the crowds of other tired riders and their bikes each day. We certainly did that enough during each stage! Also, it meant that we didn't have to ride to our hotels, which were sometimes up long climbs. The TransAlp organization provides a hotel-to-hotel baggage service for those who prefer to book ahead, but not having to use this gave us more options in daily equipment choice as we didn't have to hand over our bags at 7am each morning. Of course the biggest plus was being able to be with Stacey - awesome!
Also of great importance is the race organization, which was first class. The roads were closed to traffic, the signs were all in place and easy to see, and the police always patrolled complex intersections with a smile and wave. The timing was flawless and the placement of the feed stations perfect. The race food could have been better, but it was more than adequate and, anyway, most people prefer to use their own. My stomach is not easily upset, so I just ate and drank anything they handed me and I was fine.
The course itself was stunning. We began at the edge of the Bavarian flat lands to the north of Oberammagau, rode straight through the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, and finished at the Adriatic in the hot sunshine of mid-summer Italy. We rode through picturesque villages like Zwischenwasser, and ritzy towns like Cortina d'Ampezzo. We did 2+ hour climbs to 2500m and 35km descents at over 90kph. We rode through pouring cold rain, with snow on the roadside, and then through blistering sun in the thin mountain air. It was fantastic.
While I am up here on my personal web podium, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the following people. I would like to thank Stacey for her patience, dedication, encouragement, support and love. I want to thank Christoph for coming up with the idea and being the perfect teammate, even when I was cranky! Thanks also to Christoph's family and his wife Jen for helping with logistics and giving us a lovely place to stay before and after the race. Thanks also to Eric at VeloEuropa for sorting me out with a sweet Cyfac bicycle and Dirk at Big Shark Bicycles for hanging some nice Campagnolo kit on it. Thanks to Mark at River City Bicycles for all of the bike-related details. Also, thanks to Mike B for the happily unused first aid kit, and to Andrew at Cycling Innovations for all the sweet lightweight Tiso parts. Thanks also to the King, Erik V., Brad, Mark, Tim, Monty, Corey, Eirik, Josh, MJ, Jim, Ian, Anthony K, Jason M, Phil Z and Jeb Stewart and all the others with whom I ride for their support, encouragement, and advice. Thanks to Dave and Brittany for taking care of our house. Thanks to Hunter Allen for my cycling shoes and, more importantly, for guiding me in my career and making it flexible enough to be able to do things like this and not get fired! Thanks to my athletes who have been patient with me while I prepared and who always shared my excitement about the event. Thanks finally to my parents for always encouraging me in whatever I want to do.
I have learned a great deal from this race and in the next articles, I will endeavour to share a bit of that. Until then, keep the rubber-side down.