The Final Trans-Provence
Story by Peter Ostroski
What makes the Trans-Provence different than all the other stage races? It’s the combination of a massive amount of vertical metres descended, the number of hours in the saddle, countless switchbacks executed, and the camaraderie formed between riders. In my mind, it’s one of the hardest mountain bike events in the world as it tests your physical, mental, and mechanical stamina over six unrelenting days. This year marked the 10th and final year for the Trans-Provence and it finished just as it started – incredibly. This race has always delivered the ultimate adventure for like-minded riders looking to move through the mountains, interpret trails on sight, put down some fast times, and feel a true community vibe.
I was anxious about heading into the Trans-Provence. It’s such a legendary event with a long and documented history. But even though my anxiety was growing it shifted to excitement as soon as I arrived in Barcelonnette, France to kick things off. The schedule was set for the next six days, and although it was daunting the vibe at camp couldn’t have been more relaxed. New riders were introduced, past riders were reunited, and everyone was stoked to get going as we organized our tents and gear.
The Trans-Provence is all about blind racing so when you’re charging down old donkey paths, predictability goes by the wayside and the good choices you make begin to outweigh the risky ones. It’s quite unlike an EWS race that lasts only one day or two. At the Trans-Provence, you’re tasked with managing your own decisions and support to sustain nearly a full week of racing.
We were greeted by unfamiliar but awesome trails day in and day out. As the entire group rode through the Maritime Alps, we navigated everything from high alpine singletrack to technical rocky crags at sea level. The style and flow of each trail changed dramatically, putting even more strain on our bikes, body, and mind. Even though I was completely exhausted, it was the other racers at the Trans-Provence that helped to keep me going in the adventure. Riding with friends, swapping stories, and having coffees in small villages made for an unforgettable journey.
The idea behind the Trans-Provence is simple. You camp in tents and change locations each morning, manage your own gear, keep your bike and body running, and get through each day. It sounds simple enough, but I can assure you it’s far from it as you navigate from valley to valley and cover hundreds of kilometres and descend the height of Mount Everest two and half times.
The Trans-Provence is a race model that’s influenced an entire culture of mountain biking and pushed the limits what’s possible from an event. It truly is an incredible mountain bike adventure.
Je me souviens
Story by Andreane Lanthier Nadeau
I was lucky enough to discover riding at a very young age. I was so young, in fact, that my mom had to attend every training session for my first year on my development club. In Québec City at that time, if you mountain biked, you raced. As a kid, racing was much more than results, it was a means to live life rich with experiences. A means to learn about setting goals and to experience camping trips, friends, and travel. Plus, I truly loved racing, so pursuing it felt like a win-win scenario.
Four years ago I relocated to Vancouver Island in British Columbia to train with the cross-country National Team. Moving away from Québec and leaving behind my community was difficult, but it was becoming clear to me that I needed a change. Over the years my love for riding had gone adrift. My years of focusing on numbers and results had taken their toll and I was no longer having fun. Yet, I knew that biking and I were far from being done and I hoped that the West Coast would offer a new perspective.
My immersion in this new riding culture was a turning point for me. On the West Coast, I found a more adventure-focused, fun-driven approach to riding. It was a new experience to be in a community that rode for fun, where friends gathered on the weekends with their bikes, and people loved the sport without racing in it. The challenge of the new terrain was a catalyst that put me back into a beginner’s mindset where I could start fresh with biking.
The move was a good one and it did not take long for me to fall back in love with riding in the Pacific Northwest forest. It was the best reminder of why I ride bikes; because I love it. It took me back to the days before racing, to the days of playing on bikes as a kid in Québec. We spent our time smashing through as many mud puddles as we could, riding our bikes backwards, singing out loud while bombing down the road, scaring each other during night rides, washing our hair in the campground’s creek, and cooling off from the scorching summer heat one gulp of Slurpee at a time. This return to the fun side of mountain biking allowed me to put the pieces together to transform my passion into a career and to find myself racing as a professional mountain biker all around the globe.
While I was back home for a visit this fall, I met up with one of my best pals, Antoine Caron, a filmmaker and shredder of all types, to discuss shooting an edit about our stomping grounds. I wasn’t sure how it would feel to return with my big bike, to experience the same trail networks that I had trained on as an XC racer. I came back to fresh new trails weaving through the old ones I used to hammer out intervals on. Coming back to fun, challenging new trails was a very refreshing contrast.
We arrived at a cold and snowy trailhead parking lot on one of our filming days, but we realized we did not really feel like shooting. After running into old friends, we decided to leave the camera in the car and head out for a ride. We saw people out there, smiling, enjoying being out on a ride, and getting stoked about new trail features. Seeing how the trails evolved and how the Québec mountain bike community is changing to incorporate what I foundon the West Coast was a truly heartwarming feeling. I realized that these are still my people, they watched me grow up, and I was surprised to find that they have followed my career. I realized that even though I have moved on from XC, Québec will always be my home, in my mind they were so tied together, until I brought my big bike and rode it!
Thank you to Mathieu Dupuis-Bourassa from La Vallée Bras-du-Nord for agreeing with all our bad ideas of quad follow-cam. Thank you to the unknown master builders of the jump spot by the train tracks. And finally, thank you to the whole crew at Les Sentiers du Moulin & LB-Cycle for building not only great trails, but an awesome mountain biking community in Québec.
East of the Divide
The Jank Files - Episode 2
For the Rocky Mountain Race Face Enduro Team, the long trip and the short stay in Madeira made for a whirlwind trip. Coming from Vancouver, the 8-hour time difference and hot island temperatures had everyone in a daze - and that was before rattling through jagged boulder sections and the loose corners of each stage.
From unforgiving race tracks and talking to parrots, fresh haircuts, and a ridiculous hat for Jesse. This is Episode 2 of The Jank Files.
Presented by Smith Optics
Filmed by Caldwell Visuals
Photos by Dave Trumpore
A big thank you to all our sponsors!
Race Face, Maxxis, Fox, Shimano, Smith Optics, WTB, OneUp Components, Stages Cycling, Peaty’s Products, EVOC