The eagerly anticipated stage profiles for the 2014 Trans-Savoie race have just been announced, and we are bringing them to you hot off the press! Featuring six days packed full of intense racing on multiple timed stages, with an incredible 24,302m of descending and a total of 302km of riding, it is redefining ‘epic’!
The route winds its way from the impressive start in Val D’Isere, to the finish line in Chamonix through one of the Alps most challenging and beautiful regions. ENDURO magazine could not resist getting involved so will be sending our brave female racer, Rachael Gurney to bring you the highs and lows of racing in what must certainly be one of the toughest races on the 2014 calendar. Her preparation and story begins tomorrow but first let’s check out the stages.
The Trans-Savoie is the creation of Ali Jamieson, owner of the popular trailAddiction guiding company operating out of Les Arcs. Pulling together a continuous route of over 300km, linked in with lifts that were open, on mostly unmarked, “secret” natural singletrack that is also really cool to ride, and that finished near a campsite each night was sure to be a logistical nightmare. In-fact, the event took over three summers of development. The team behind this event deserve a lot of credit for making this happen; I can only imagine the initial responses they received when asking permission to close walkers trails, to walkers, in peak walking season!
Packing for the event will be just as much a tactic as the racing itself, each racer will have just one bag that will be moved from camp to camp, while they are racing so care must be taken over what is essential, and what can be left at home. Of course, this race will be battled out in the high mountains, it will be remote, rugged and very high, so warm clothing and waterproofs are essential. It was 100% sunshine throughout the event last year, but it could easily snow this time around, riders will need to be prepared! Camping is normally at the bottom of the valley at around 1000m, but the first night will be at 1850m in Val D’Isere, so could be cold.
This is a race that will be won on the downhills, however, it is a huge amount of riding to complete in one week. Featuring 30-minute stages with over 1500m descending in one hit, this event will push riders like no other. It is the equivalent of riding the Megavalanche twice on the same day, with a bit of liaison in between, and then repeating that for 6 days in a row! Racers will certainly have to balance exertion against downhill pace, it’s physically very demanding to descend for so long, and reliability and consistency will be required to take the overall win. Ali recommends 2.3″ tyres with very strong sidewalls as a minimum requirement, and for heavy riders a DH dual-wall tyre on the rear is highly advised.
Big brakes are strongly recommended. Ali works as a guide on these trails and runs Shimano Saints on 203mm rotors front and rear and rarely feels over-braked. They get damned hot! Your brakes will get tested too, there are many tight switchbacks so you had better get practicing! A dropper post is pretty much indispensable these days, but in a crash ripping off remote lever or barb is a common problem – this is another choice racers will have to make. Racers will have to look after their bikes too, rear mechs and mech hangers are a common problem – torn off on tight squeezes between rocks. And let’s not forget wheels and suspension too, 25,000m of descending on very harsh rooty, rocky terrain puts some very unique pressure on the bike!
The team was really pleased with how the event went last year and the feedback was amazing from all the riders. This year almost half the course is brand new, and some of the longest stages have been split in two. Ali found that after over 30 minutes of race-pace descending, riders were just hanging on for dear life by the bottom, this is supposed to be fun as well as a race so by splitting the stages into 15 minute sections; riders will be able to regroup and compare adrenaline-fuelled anecdotes before getting back on it for the second half. Of course, a select few of the bigger stages will still be ridden all in one hit, this is “Big Alpine Enduro” after all!
This will certainly be an epic adventure that will push riders to the limits however, in sharing that common experience racers will inevitably make new friendships that will last a lifetime. Tune in tomorrow as our ENDURO Magazine racer, Rachael Gurney, begins her Trans-Savoie adventure.
For more information check out the Trans Savoie website