Mountainbiking is the most universal, evergreen sport I know. I was riding bike in my hometown as a kid, constantly trying new tricks, which usually ended up with bloody knees and elbows.
Now, 25 years later, it’s pretty much the same story, but I’ve traded my hometown for stunning landscapes and sharp peaks. My knees are protected by 6 years old, 60 times machine-washed POC kneepads, which don’t dare want to fall apart.
I don’t ride cheap BMX anymore, it has been replaced by lightweight Carbon-Fiber bike with high-tech suspension.
Bikes have got so advanced these days that we can ride almost anything, almost anywhere. Yes, anywhere…
That’s how I’m spending my summer seasons. Scouting big mountains for unforgettable, dream trails. Of course, my expectations are often not met, but I’ve learned to enjoy every day in the mountains. Sounds cliché? I accept that. It took me years to reach this mindset.
I’ve pushed down dozens of unrideable trails, which seemed to be epic on a map. I’ve bushwhacked for weeks with my snowboard, seeking for a perfect treeline, which seemed to play a hiding game with me every single time. Bushwhacking and down-climbing of hiking trails with the bike on my back became so common, that I’ve started awaiting it.
“If you are prepared for suffering, you can’t get surprised.”Adam Kubis – professional bushwhacker
Once I’ve reached this mindset, I knew, I am ready for big projects. So I’ve sat behind my laptop and start with planning.
This TransAlp ride was meant to be my learning experience.
Yep, I didn’t accomplish nothing that big before. I’ve had no clue how much elevation meters I can climb daily, in a stretch of 7 days. I didn’t know how many kilometers daily I can cover and how rideable the trails will be. I had nobody to ask. None of my friends have done something similar.
I was simply dedicated enough to find out on my own.
I’ve found a video from Jonas M, Swedish mountainbike explorer on youtube, where he’d shared .gpx routes from his traverse. I’ve taken them as the base, added a couple of drops from my personal experience sauce, and peppered them to fit my vision. Voila, my first big project was born.
Support from Young Talent
I’ve planned to do this on my YT Capra 29, what is big enduro mountainbike, born to crush descents, with rocks and dust scattered in the air by the rear wheel. That sounds good, but this is not the way I want to behave on pristine hiking trails in protected Naturepark. It’s about leave-no-trace riding.
Also, with heavy backpack, additional bags hanging on my bike and thousands of vertical meters in my legs, I won’t be so agile anymore.
Once I’ve told YT Industries about my project, they lighted up and gave me all the support I needed. I’ve got a new YT IZZO for the job.
IZZO is a trailbike with 130mm of travel, which is unlike anything I rode before. I’ve evolved from a downhill biker, who understood that he wants to be able to access all terrain, not only trails in the park. That’s how I’ve bought my first enduro bike.
As longer I ride, more I understand, that I don’t need 170mm of travel. It feels good, but I have pedal it uphill, to access the trails. It’s fine for a single day big rides or weekends, but 364 kilometers on Capra would be nuts.
On the other hand, I was unsure of downhill capability of IZZO, because different geometry, light tires, which I had to run on higher pressure and other things. Hiking trails don’t give a shit. They weren’t designed to suit bikers needs. Even easy hiking trail can be a double-black for biker. I had to be ready for everything.
IZZO has completely hammered my worries about it’s downhill incapability into insignificant pancake. My worries were myth-busted.
I guess we’ve became best friend with IZZO on this trip. I will tell you about this later…
Don’t pray for good weather. Just make your trip flexible.
With all the support from Young Talent, Whistler Adventure school, my friends and family, there was no way to retreat. Even after looking on weather forecast 3 days before the trip. It looked like I’m going to be wet and cold, daily.
The weather is something, you simply can’t plan for. The most important lesson I’ve got out from this tour is to make my next tour flexible.
In the mountains, simply altering the start date by 1 week can make all the difference between succeeding and failing. One week before I’ve stared my trip, there was superb sunny weather in south Tirol. However, I’ve pulled the “Black Peter”.
Cause I didn’t give myself an option to change the starting date, I had to take and eat what was “cooked” for me. I didn’t also plan any free day, which I can use for recovery to hide from bad weather.
For the next trip lasting longer than 4 days, this “joker card free day” will be pre-planned.
Seven-days long bike ride. A lot of details to dial right.
Everything matters. Your training routine, elevation you live at, your nutrition and recovery, pace, your knowledge, navigation, the weight of gear, mindset… Just feeling fit doesn’t get you to your destination.
I’ve worked on all aspects.
I think I did most decisions right. And now I know exactly what I did wrong.
I’ve started TransAlp ride in the best shape of my life. I’ve put into the game everything I had and I lost.
I’ve ended WAS TransAlp ride on Thursday 24th September 2020 on day 6, one day short of success.
Do I regret it?
No way! In fact, I had #radtimes.
When I was leaving Silandro on a day 6, physically defeated from the constant rain and cold weather, I’ve started planning my next bike trip. I don’t want to uncover too much, but this one will be longer, more exotic and planned with newly acquired wisdom from this one.
I don’t feel that I’ve fallen on my face with my WAS TransAlp ride. I went there to learn, and I’ve learned a couple of priceless lessons. I went to prove that I am strong enough and I found out that I am. I went to fuel my desire to follow my dreams and now, I am more motivated than ever before.