The Transalp Mountain Bike Race is an international event that takes teams of two riders from Fussen in Germany across the Alps through Austria, Switzerland and finishing in Riva del Garda in Italy. Known as the toughest Mountain Bike Race in the world every day involves climbs along dirt tracks, through forests and over several mountains.
David Hawkins, 29 now living in Birmingham and myself, Neil Wragg, 40 from Marlow completed the 8 Day Mountain Bike Stage Race across the Alps in 45 hours 24 minutes and 1.2 seconds for High Wycombe Cycle Club.
This put us into 182nd position in the open category (the category that happens to contain Olympic and World Champions, doh!) out of a total number of 550 teams entered from countries such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, USA and Canada. Even Alaska and Costa Rica entered teams!
We improved our overall position after every stage each day even though legs were getting tired and everything else was getting sore. The day’s racing involved several Alpine passes at levels of up to 3,000 metres, all off road including the never ending Mortirolo and Stelvio which would take us higher than the road passes right over the summits in hail and freezing rain.
Most days however were at over 20% gradients on rocky tracks in over 30 degree heat and you could follow a line of sweat droplets up the climbs until you got to the snow and would then have to hike the bike on your shoulders over the top. One ascent we timed at 2 hours to go up and 13 minutes to descend, which didn’t seem fair!
Each of us expended over 36,000 calories per rider just during the riding in the 8 days of racing so as a weight loss plan it works quite well, however the celebratory meal at the end might have made up the difference.
The race was 600 kms long and involved climbing a total of 19,685 metres over the total 8 days of racing. You raced as a pair staying together all the time in order to ensure each others safety as the route was sometimes very dangerous and quite remote in the high Alps.
We couldn’t have done it without our hard working support crew, they had the tough job of driving the precarious mountain roads in a motorhome and then finding somewhere level to park near the finish each day!
It was a real working holiday for my dad and uncle so a huge thanks to them, it was a real team effort of four guys in a van doing the Italian Job!