By Jason Sumner
Two stages down here at the eight-day TransAlp mountain bike stage race. Good news: The scenery is off the charts, course marking is spot on, food is tasty, and legs have been decent. Bad news: Team International Cycling Hacks aka Nuno and Jason have had a rough first couple days.
Day 1 it was Nuno’s turn, as he battled through a trifecta of troubles, including a spazzing hamstring, a broken chain, and a derailleur that decided it didn’t like the granny gear anymore. That was bad news, considering the aforementioned spazzing hamstring and the fact that the main climb of the day was about 10km long and barely-rideable steep. And it was pouring half the day and slick-as-snot muddy. Add it all up and the Nuno’nator did a whole lot of walking. Good news, is that through sheer force of will he/we managed to get to the finish line. Yes, we were basically DFL. But hey, a finish is a finish.
Day 2 was good and bad. The good that was some pain meds and artfully placed kinesio tape seemed to heal up Nuno’s hammy issue. A new chain fixed his mechanical problems. Alas the bad, was that about half way up the opening climb of what was to be a 78km ride from Imst to Ischgl in Austria, I noticed a distinct lack of air in my rear (to be left nameless) tire. The ensuing hour included adding air in hopes the Stan’s inside would heal the problem, adding foam sealant in hopes that that would heal the problem, and finally adding an innertube. Unfortunately, turns out the problem was a two-inch horizontal tear at the bead seam of the tire’s sidewall, which could not be healed. Day done…
So while Nuno plodded on, managing to cross the line solo about 8.5 hours after the stage 2 start, I got to take my first ever trip in a MTB stage race sag wagon. At first it was just myself and event staffer Andy from Munich. But we were soon joined by a guy with a hurt back, a guy with chest pains plus his partner, a guy whose brakes failed on a super steep (25%) paved downhill and crashed into the woods, and a woman who overcooked a corner and smashed her thumb badly enough that’d already turned punched-in-the-eye purple. Needless to say it was a cheery hour-long ride to the finish line.
The good news is that Maxxis is here in the event expo and set me up with a new 29er Ikon. So on we’ll go tomorrow for what looks like another monster. On tap starting at kilometer 2 of 68km between Ischgl and Nauders is a 13km climb that gains about 4,600 feet. But hey, it’s almost all downhill from there, and they say it might not rain. Bed time.