Well before ‘enduro’ was both a buzz word and the focus of the industry, the Trans-Provence stage race made a name for itself by taking place on some of the most remote and untouched singletrack in the Maritime Alps. Created in 2009 by Ash and Melissa Smith, the race earned world-renown for its long, rugged descents and inclusion of raw, primitive trails that crisscrossed the Alps. However, at the conclusion of the 2017 race, Smith called a hiatus on the Trans-Provence without many details, only that the race would not be back the following year. He’s since announced its return in 2019, for one final running of the Trans Provence.
"Itinerology," a multi-part series from filmmaker Sam Needham, chronicles the process Ash Smith is taking to revitalize his brainchild, as well as dives into the decisions leading up the 2018 intermission of the event.
In this the third installment, Seb Kemp—a longtime supporter of the event, initially through his role in the media and now as an employee of Santa Cruz Bicycles and a trail builder—and Ash Smith focus on restoring a particular trail deep in the mountains. Their efforts to uncover, rejuvenate and re-purpose an ancient utilitarian path take them on a journey back through time, hinting at what once was. As the ancient trail nearly lost to time took new form, a connection through time formed—the trail originally meant for people, produce and pack animals changed to one built for riders, knobby tires and racing. Kemp narrates the piece.
“Specifically for this project, I thought that Seb’s renowned and eclectic trail-building experience around the world with different people would not only be a huge asset to the trail renovation, but also give him the ability to narrate the story in a manner that a broad spectrum of people (e.g. North Americans or Kiwis who have never been to the Maritime Alps before) could understand what was going on,” Smith says.
“Itinerology” wraps up with a fourth installment that will be released later this year.