James Stock, anxious about the 6 day Trans Provence race, as his injury was still restricting him, ended up sitting on the mountain bike for the first time Wednesday before he travelled (3 days prior to the race). He wrote to us: “I can ride, but i feel like I have 2 glass legs.” Never mind that, he got on the plane and raced. Here’s his inspiring report.
“At Trans Provence you sleep together (separate tents ha), eat together and race together so its really like a big family. The race is 6 days, around 80 participants, 271km, 9,000 meters of climbing, 18,000 of descending with 24 special stages to race.
Waking up at 6am on Sunday morning, first race-day, there was a static vibe in the whole camp.
It had rained. A lot. It had rained the entire drive from Nice Airport – where I had landed coming in from Liverpool – to Embrun, the starting destination of the race. This rain, pouring down on us in the valley, was of course snow falling, up on top of the mountains where we would be biking.
The first breakfast is pretty memorable as people are fresh faced, clean kit, clean and working bikes ready to go. The first day would give everyone what they were looking for: a huge ride and hike up to the snowy tops – where racing commences. You’ve been out on the bike for about 4 hours now, and this is the first chance to get some time on the clock. But make sure you get at least one stage before crashes and mechanicals, which is easier said than done.
There are about 80 racers all making their own stories on these high mountain trails. So when all is said and done, the chatter from the days events is alive and well back in camp.
For me, the Tour de Provence (TP) is as much a holiday as it is an adventure – but when it comes to the timed stages it’s: “once a racer, always a racer”. I really enjoy the travelling, on the bike with your mates with a bit of racing thrown in, it doesn’t get much better.
Over the week there are highs and lows, I’d say seeing a Wolf at the top of a mountain was special and my best moment. Other than that, one of the stages on day 4, it was over 12 minutes long of pure downhill, it was incredible and such a battle, after 4 days and 15 stages you died a 10+ minute stage and this is where your riding really comes in to its own and shows yourself what you are capable of.
My other top 3 is the constant search for water, making sure you have enough in your pack, the race is so remote, a back pack is vital and you need to leave each day with everything you may need. I found myself carrying sunglasses, sun cream, multiple inner tubes and more food than ever before just in case.
On the final day of racing, I have a really fond memory of finding a canyoning pool in the river between stages. Being 32 degrees, me and a couple of friends went for a swim then got back to racing … What other event could you do something like that in! That’s why TP is so special.
My results are pretty decent, I never pushed too hard because I am recovering from injury but this sometimes played in to my favour. No mechanicals, 3 small crashes and 1 wrong turn was no mean feat for 6 days of racing.
I’d finish in 10th place overall with my best day seeing me in 8th place and when you look at the competition standard with the likes of Lau, Callaghan et al it made me smile.
Onwards and upwards now, I am looking forward to getting some serious time on the bike again and building fitness back up for the second half of the season. Next up is La Thuile EWS in a couple of weeks.”
Thanks for the inspiring report and good luck for the coming weeks from all of the SOURCE Team!