Riding a mountain bike doesn’t get much better than the six days of enduro racing at Mavic Trans-Provence in the South Eastern corner of France. From the start in Embrun to the finish line at the Mediterranean coast in Menton we covered some 271 km of trails, climbed 9.177 meters and descended more than 18.000 meters. (Nice balance for the ups and downs!)
Trans-Provence is a proper adventure: The night before the race it had snowed hard. The snow line was at 2100 meters – and we had 2500m and 2600m high cols to pass. For the first few days there was quite a bit of slipping and sliding, but then the weather turned for the better. Warmer temperatures and drier trails were welcome as we all camped in tents and had minimal amount of spare parts and very little chance to clean our gear.
I would say the essence of Trans-Provence lays in three topics. Firstly there is the epic terrain. The riding changes from the alpine meadows of the first days to amazing gray and red earth moon landscapes to the rocky Mediterranean mountain sides. All racing is blind, so it is very important to find the balance between fast and safe. Cliffs and gnarly rocks line up the remote trails so there is little room for error. That brings us to the second point, uncertainty. Six days of riding will throw surprises at you, no doubt about it. Crashes, mechanicals and getting lost are real issues. Despite the possible setbacks one has to stay focused. The race ain’t over until you cross the finish line on the last, 24th stage in Menton.
To me camaraderie is the third important part of racing Trans-Provence. TP is not just a race, it is an adventure you share with your friends. We rode six to ten hours a day and spent the nights at camps with a bunch of like-minded people. The highs and lows of the week really bring people together. Thanks a lot Matti Lehikoinen, Iago Garay, Mark Scott, Greg Callaghan and Pekka Kupiainen! You guys rock!
Antti Laiho (@aplaiho), 40, is a former world cup downhiller from Finland. He has been riding a Kona since 1991 and won the Mavic Trans-Provence in masters in 2016 and in the amateurs in 2015. At TP Antti was riding his Kona Process 153 DL.
More info about Mavic Trans-Provence: http://www.trans-provence.com