By Jason Sumner
Greetings once more, this final time from the Sheraton Hotel at the Malpensa airport outside Milan, Italy. In a few hours it’s fly time, as I head home to Colorado after 16 days of racing that included bruising MTB stage race traverses of the Pyrenees and Alps. The sum total for TransJuly: approximately 890 miles traveled, 130,000 feet climbed, and 105 hours ridden/walked.
Going to keep this final dispatch short, and let the pictures do the talking. But suffice to say the final four days of TransAlp were tough. Nuno and I climbed more mountain roads than I want to remember, observed more spectacular scenery than I can ever possibly remember, and suffered more than I care to remember.
We plodded through mud, trudged up steep, rocky roads, stood in endless lines (during the race), and plummeted down precipitous pitches while being drenched by driving rain. We laughed, we cursed, we moaned, we groaned, we smiled, we frowned. Sometimes we rode as a team, others we went our own way (with GC aspirations blown away by a torn sidewall). Sometimes the course was blissfully fun singletrack. More often it was mind-numbing road (paved, dirt, gravel, or somewhere in between). Always the views were amazing.
It was not always a perfect experience. Mechanicals, both bike and body, occasionally sabotaged us along the way. Team solidarity suffered at times. But what do you expect when you throw two essentially complete strangers into such a crazy cauldron of extended mountain bike masochism. It was an experiment that neither succeeded or failed; it just endured. At the end, we collected 3 of 4 possible finishers jerseys, spent 32 combined days on the bike, and accumulated enough intense memories to last a lifetime.
Yes, I am tired… And no, I wont ever attempt this again. But just this once, I’m happy to have taken on the challenge. No regrets. Time to go home.