Tracy Moseley needs no introduction – when it comes to racing she has done it all… National Champ, World Cup Champ, World Champ (all in downhill) and lets not forget that she is the current Enduro World Champ too. Here is part 2 of her monthly Pro Diary for Dirt…
Photo: Matt Delorme, Sam Needham/Trans-Provence, and ‘various’.
With a six week break from the Enduro World Series races many riders would choose to enjoy some time at home, getting in some training or just generally having a break from travelling, but since James (partner) and I bought a camper van many years ago, I now see a six week break as an opportunity to travel around Europe taking in beautiful scenery and riding my bike in different terrain. I love camper life and really feel I am still able to train well, and get the rest and relaxation needed too.
The year after I retired from DH racing I took a summer to travel around Europe trying out a few enduro races to see if I would like to give it a go. The French races were always my favourite – as the original format for enduro races in France, is blind racing, no practice is allowed and in general the atmosphere and feel around the race is all about a good weekend on your bike, with good food and sharing the experience with the people around you.
Some of this feeling has been lost at the EWS races as they have become so high profile and serious so quickly, so I was really excited to get back out to a few races in France that I knew would bring back that feeling of adventure on my bike that made me want to give Enduro a go in the first place.
Quite a few of the French riders also organize their own local races, I have been to one of Jerome’s (Clementz) races before, which was great fun, and I found out about the Enduro Jura that BMC’s pro rider Francois Billy-Maitre was putting on. It was just outside Geneva in the Jura mountains, so an easy stop off on our drive down to the alps.
In true French style the weekend began with a welcome meeting on the Friday night with wine, meat and cheese. Collection of your numbers and then a full blown evening meal for everyone before bed and an early start on the Saturday.
We had two days of racing, with a combination of shuttles and pedalling to get us to the stages, all interspersed with a stop at the food station for more meat and cheese! The terrain was pretty wild, unused and very, very slippery. Overnight rain made the clay soil/limestone rock combination one of the hardest conditions you could ride on, so staying on your bike was the main focus of the weekend. Going back to blind racing was a strange feeling at first, but I began to enjoy the surprise waiting for you around every corner.
From the Jura mountains we then headed to our favourite stop–off location whilst in the alps each summer, the Bike Verbier Chalet just above Martigny. It was the week before owners Phil and Lucy began their summer of guiding biking guests around the beautiful trails in the area, so they were busy getting the chalet ready. We interrupted their work for a few fun bike rides. I soon remembered just how steep and how many switchbacks there are when riding out there! We also had chance to show the Trek Team photographer Matt Delorme why we choose to come and ride here so much. He loved the landscape and the amazing photo opportunities around every corner.
Next stop for me was the Transprovence six–day adventure from Embrun to Menton. Now in its sixth year, it was my second TP. The last time I did this race was at the end of my last season of racing World Cup DH, in 2011. This style of racing and riding was pretty new to me back then and my endurance and general riding fitness was nothing like it is now, so I was really looking forward to getting back to an event that really was all about the adventure and journey and less about the racing with hopefully some fitness to suit it.
The logistics of this event are incredible, moving the base, our tents, our kit and the kitchen every day to a new location, and could only happen with an amazing team of volunteers each year that work tirelessly all week to make it happen. With only 80 competitors getting a spot on the race each year is hard and the mix of people at these event is so cool. A few pro riders, but the majority are just normal people with 9-5 jobs that have been training hard all year for this experience.
For me I was looking for a change from the high intense pace of life at the EWS races and a return to the adventure, the fun and the challenge of surviving six days of rugged terrain, and more importantly sharing that adventure with a great group of people. The race results really were secondary at this event, so it was nice to take the pressure off, and just enjoy a week of riding my bike. In fact I couldn’t think of a better way to get a block of training done, when someone else is in charge of your food, the logistics and the route planning! All I needed to do was be on time and follow the arrows and I racked up 28 hours of riding time, just over 300km and nearly 10,000m of climbing, so not a bad six days of training!
Even now with a few years of training for big days like this under my belt, I still found TP a tough week. Previous years the event has been held in October, so this year there was the added extra element of heat to deal with. We often spent up to six hours out in +30 degree heat, with very little shade, so managing to take on board enough liquids was a challenge in itself. Carrying a bigger pack than I normally would, to be able to be self sufficient in terms of food and water but also to fix myself or my bike, added up to a heavy pack and extra pressure on the saddle which by days five and six I could really feel An event like this is a test of not just your physical ability but also your mental ability to deal with the fatigue, endless false summits, death defying exposure and constant concentration to navigate your way through an ever changing landscape. To complete and event like this is a huge challenge and I think that’s what makes it so special. Every person at this event has achieved something and there is a special bond that gets created between everyone who has experienced the week. It’s a true experience of a lifetime and an event that should be on every adventure mountain bikers bucket list.
Till next time.