First we participated in the race-before-the-actual-race. This race is all the preparation and anxiety which goes into getting ready for the day's ride. In my opinion, the race-before-the-race is more stressful than the race itself.
What tire pressure should I use? How much food should I bring? Did I tighten my cleats? Do I need to bring a jacket? These are all questions which can easily get your blood pressure rising. It becomes more elevated when you are in a foreign county competing in a new event. Add the fact that we had no vehicle and each had to haul a 50lb duffel bag 6km from our hotel to the start line in order to drop it off in time to get it aboard the luggage transfer truck to the finish town.
After we figured out where to drop of the luggage, the next order of business was finding the toilet. I’ll cut to the chase and say three toilets for 1,200 racers is not a good ratio. Next is checking in at the starting grid. Imagine all of these racers from dozens of different countries all trying to find out where they belong in the start chute. It was complete chaos. The final stage of the race-before-the-race is the waiting game. With 1,200 racers to get into the starting grid, the line up starts one hour before the start. Yeah, there is no warming up at the TransAlp. Luckily everyone is having fun and the atmosphere is awesome.
Then came the actual race. It was fast. Starting with a 5km neutral start, which was a "euro neutral" of high speed urban assault, sprinting up the sidewalk to gain position, and general chaos.
This was followed by 100k, or four hours, of enormous climbs, hairball descents, jaw-dropping vistas, and punishing speed. Not to mention totally insane urban segments, roads and bike paths open to the public, and a grueling uphill finish.
We rode great, and didn't run into any pasture gates, mid-path flower boxes, or oncoming cars in darkened tunnels. There were some low points, like dagger-in-the-hamstring leg cramps for both of us (at different times). And also high points, like our fifth-place finish in the masters.
Following the finish, the race-after-the-race began. This consisted of 1) eating and drinking; 2) tracking down our duffel bags from the transport service; 3) identifying our hotel (in another town 6km away; 4) finding the shuttle bus; 5) learning the bus wouldn't take bikes; 6) checking our bikes into the overnight storage service; 7) riding the shuttle bus; 8) and finally, collapsing in our beds. Fortunately, this is the only night our hotel is outside the finish village!
We capped the day with a scrumptious dinner of salad, risotto, pizza, and a tall beer at a street cafe in the shadow of a beautiful church. Let's do it again tomorrow!
Thanks for reading,
Pete & Brandon