Clamensane -> Dignes-Les-Bains
In the description for Day 1 of Mavic® Trans-Provence 2013 the route is described as a “baptism of fire”. While there was no brimstone or flames, like last year, this Sunday did provide riders with high mountain cols and more of that infamous biblical weather.
For 2013, Mavic® Trans-Provence Day 1 has three new stages for riders. Spread over 50km with nearly 1800 metres of climbing, its a reminder to riders new to the event and seasoned vets, that Mavic® Trans-Provence is an event as much about fitness as downhill technical prowess.
Morning saw the first wave of riders up for breakfast at 6am and leaving base camp for the morning uplift, from the drop off, a 300m climb lead riders to the first col of the day and special stage one.
Special Stage 1 takes riders away from the traditional Mavic® Trans-Provence route and drops them into a new valley for the event. A loose exposed line of singletrack dropped riders via some very exposed right turn switchbacks in to path that traversed a broken river bed before finishing in lush meadowland and a fire road.
After dropping 400m on trails and then another 300m on fire road, to get to Special Stage 2 riders faced an 800m climb to reach a col between two hills and the next timing station (the timing device that riders press their timing chip against at the start of each stage).
A combination of tarmac, then broken fire road and finally a carry, saw the first wave of riders reach the col at 1700m and once again like last year, the skies opened and the wind roared, and continued like that for the next few hours.
Regardless of weather, Special Stage 2 is fast, after dropping across open hillside, the trail plummets through sparse woodland and through small rock gardens, before traversing along the river, with a now already notorious fast right hander, that despite warnings, had many riders off and over the edge of the track and having to climb back up from the hillside below to get back to the trail. After crossing the riverbed another long fast traverse finally dropped riders down the the road, and a chance to get some respite from the weather.
The final two stages of today see a Mavic® Trans-Provence classic revisited – Donkey Darko – but by a new route, and with a third Special Stage added in along the way – after some steep fire road, riders reach the traditional ridge that finally gains them access to Special Stage 4, to add a little more “spice” to the day a small trail off to one side of the ridge becomes Special Stage 3 via a wooded gully with a steep (or “physical section” as described in the route! ) climb to finish.
Special Stage 4 the classic. Donkey Darko. From high above Digne-Les-Bains, riders drop across meadow into a rock band before finally diving down a trail that drops steeply down the sides of a ravine. The only thing that we can think of that Donkey Darko doesn’t have is loam. Other than that, everything else that people love about riding is right there between the ravine walls. Switchbacks, rock gardens, fast straightways on ribbons of single tracks, open hillsides, and pine forests, all available to be taken at speed.
Tomorrow involves a slightly less gruelling day and we’re told good weather – stay tuned!