The last stage was not the typical short party stage that these races often end with. There was no big hurry to finish, but it was a long route with some big climbs so it wasn't going to be easy.
I'll avoid dragging you through the repetitive descriptions that I have fallen into. It was a good day, with a lot of fine singletrack, amazing views, good weather and very little time off the bike. The only bad thing that I came across was a very surly horsefly that smashed into my jaw within a few km from the finish. It nipped me somehow and now my jaw looks like I got punched. How can a fly bash into you like that and still find a way to bite you at the same time?
There was no change in the GC. I ended up 9th. I'll take it.
I really enjoyed this race. The quality singletrack and the TT scoring format are really fun. There is more good singletrack in this route than in any other Trans-XXX race by far, maybe a factor of 10 or more. That definitely makes for a better race for me. At this point I am pretty sure I'll be back for more.
Some of these events start off on the notion that they have to go from here to there, in a more or less straight line. The TransAlp goes south from Germany to Italy. The Cape Epic crosses the cape. That's a fine idea and it works well in some cases, especially the Alps. But in some cases connecting the start and finish towns with interesting race routes every day is not too easy to do. You can end up with some very long stages that could be done on a road bike. That's also not that bad if you are into it, and I can usually work it out. But it is not the same as racing on a fair amount of sweet singletrack everyday.
So why not develop stage races that optimize the quality of the course rather than going from here to there? Loop it around as required to make each day hard, but a good MTB race. Don't call it Trans-XXX. Call it the MTB Tour of XXX or 7 days of XXX. You get the idea.
You could even base the entire race in one spot and have the course go off in a different direction each day, along the lines of Montezuma's Revenge, but over a week instead of in one seriously insane day. Mix in time trials, hill climbs, down hill TTs, etc. This would not be possible everywhere, but there are spots in many places where it would be possible. I can rattle off ideal locations in the Alps, Dolomites and in the States where it could work. (These comments are here for a small audience - you know who you are and I know you are reading this...)
To read Keith's complete diary entry, including advice on how to survive a multi-day stage race, click here.