Day Seven and Monaco Aftermath
I can't believe we have made it this far and saw so much along the way. The crew has been awesome, my experience on and off the bike has been stellar and now it's coming to a close. Well, every great adventure must end, but we don't have to be happy about it, do we?
Some things I would like to explain- Each Special Section has a small box about the size of a walkman attached by a short piece of rope to a tree or a rock, this is what one must swipe their personal timing chip across, once at the beginning to start the time and once at the end to stop the time. The finish is extra fun because, invariably, one is cooking down a trail trying to make up some precious seconds and there is a Trans Provence staff member with the unit in hand. While the timing chip on our bodies is located on a lanyard around our necks or attached to our hydration packs (opposite shoulder to the spigot) we racers come screeching to a halt in a strange fashion thrusting our chests out and wiggling about hoping to get 'swiped' as quickly as possible, quite a comedy really, and quite a few near-collisions.
All week we have been cruising about the mountains, hammering sections of trail, then liaising to the next hammer section. The battle at the front has been fierce with Nico, Fabien, Jerome, Weir, Matt Ryan and Beaumont battling it out, but, within each day and within each race section we find small tête-à-têtes shaping up throughout the field, or, more to the point—rooster scratching, posturing and name calling.
What I have noticed is the different types of terrain changes who one matches their skill against. I am terrible at high speed, but do 'ok' in the tech-y forested sections or the portions with some up. When I'm pointed down I match up very well with Stephen Jones aka 'Jonesy', and when pointed up, with Matt Ryan. In-between it's Ian, James, Tracey, Anka and sometimes Sven. Invariably there is a competition, but it changes day-to-day and it truly forces us to look at our own strengths and weaknesses as a rider.
Then there is the timing of the departure. Does the code, the 'man' code that is, dictate that you shouldn't follow lines or drop in right behind your closest competitor slash buddy? I say poppy cock (Euro euphemism for BS), my best runs were simulations of ripping trail at home or basically dropping in behind a good buddy and slashing the trail together. It's all new territory for us; this enduro thing is so new that rules don't really exist. This week it was rumoured that the UCI would be adding Enduro to the World Cup circuit, but it remains to be seen what style and what format will be adopted. Some people are great at the individual time trial format while others need the mass start for motivation. I fall in the latter; I like to chase and need a rabbit to hound after for best results. At any rate, I truly felt like a different racer on Day Seven, my head was in the game, and my face and teeth were beginning to look and feel like Mark Weir—a fully-bared grille, stomping the trail into oblivion, torturing my cranks with focused aggression, you know what I mean.
We had two awesome runs on this the last day, and I started to put together the significance of the area, the terrain and the local riders. Looking to Nico and Fabien, both former World Champions, I finally figured it out; Monaco isn't for casino-goers or James Bond fans it is in fact the hub of French downhill power.
The last few kilometers took us winding down staircases and narrow alleys between streets and alongside residences—all on a mission to reach the beach. We were navigating ourselves through the maze of Monaco/ Monte Carlo trying to find the official finish. A motley crew of media, sweep crew, guides and riders finally hooked up with the rest of the event on a pier jutting out into the Mediterranean. Could you imagine a better finish? Could you imagine a more elated crowd than this one? We had journeyed far in a fashion never done before, and it felt good to be one of the first.
My first swim in the Med, followed by an awesome banquet at our base camp overlooking the lights of Monaco—sooo sweet. Emotions ran high and the champagne flowed, but there weren't any unexpected changes to the GC. Some of the grudge matches had closed in on a definitive winner and it's all on paper for everyone to see, so until next year – what is written is the final truth, until it can be re-written – in late September at the Trans Provence 2012 – See you there.
Trans Provence Final Results
1) Jerome Clementz FRA 03:25:54
2) Nico Vouilloz FRA 03:26:40
3) Fabien Barel FRA 03:27:28
4) Mark Weir USA 03:36:58
5) Matt Ryan AUS 03:37:09
6) Marc Beaumont GBR 03:42:27
7) Rowen Sorrell GBR 03:47:54
8 ) James Richards GBR 03:57:25
9) Steve Jones GBR 04:00:27
10) Sven Martin RSA 04:01:00
1) Tracy Moseley GBR 04:16:02
2) Anka Martin RSA 04:35:38
3) Ingrid Hohermuth SUI 05:02:06