Affectionately known as The Wall
By Jason Sumner
Brain function is at an all time low right now, so we are going to do this notes column style. Coherently connecting thoughts after 60-plus hours of racing/touring is just not in the cards.
Stage 7 is done. Relatively speaking it was an easy one. Just 100km from Isaba to Elizondo with 2,255 meters of climbing, most of it on paved or smooth dirt road. Stage winners Joan Compte and Jaume Guardia (Team Camprodon) stopped the clock in 5 hours, 5 minutes. Team Nuno/Jason trailed in 2 hours, 25 minutes later in 104th and 105th place, carding a time of 7:31. That made it our second shortest day thus far in the eight-day TransPyr mountain bike stage race that concludes tomorrow in San Sebastian.
The highlight of the day was affectionately known as The Wall, a ridiculously steep 4km stretch of road that started out paved, then turned to dirt. According to my Garmin data, it topped out at 33 percent, and gained a total of 1,009 feet in just 1.2 miles. Needless to say I did not clear it. Props to my man Nuno, though. He dropped down into his granny gear and ground his way all the way to the top with nary a dab. Strong work.
Other highlights included another boatload of great long-distance views, a few sections of sweet loamy singletrack, and lots of rowdy, loose fireroad descents that have me convinced they should bring back the Mammoth Kamikaze Downhill. It’s not exactly singletrack bliss, but there is a certain pleasure to seeing how fast you can go down a rocky road before you loose your nerve and grab the brakes.
The tech support at the race has been superb. Run by a small but highly capable staff from the ProBike bike shop in Barcelona, they’ve managed to keep this fleet of bikes running smooth despite yesterday’s mud-palooza. At various times, they’ve replaced my brake pads, fixed a creaky bottom bracket, and strung new cable and housing. Nuno got a bent derailleur hanger sorted, was aided with a bent derailleur cage, and also had new brake pads swapped in. Multiply that by 110 teams and it’s been some long nights for lead mechanic Sergie and his crew.
On tap tomorrow is another grinder of a day, 84km and 2,070 meters of climbing between Elizondo and San Sebastian along the Atlantic Ocean. But knowing that the finish line will include beer and beach and the exhilarating realization that I can sleep in the next day will provide ample motivation to get’er done. Bed time…