Translap 2015 Journal: Big climbs and high heat


Taking place on 19-25 July, the Craft BIKE Transalp is a seven-stage, 625km mountain bike race with +19,000m of climbs, from Ruhpolding in the Bavarian Alps to Italy’s stunning Riva del Garda (read more about the event here).

Among its 1,200+ riders is Jon Fearne, who will be taking on this gruelling route for the first time with race partner Oli Woods. Jon and Harriet Dodd, who joins their support team, report on Stages 1 and 2:

19th July ● Stage 1 ● Ruhpolding → Saalfelden

Harriet: A nerve-racking wait for the guys to come in was tough enough for the support crew! With no idea of how it had gone, all we could do was wait. Jon and Oli had been gridded in the first group behind the professionals, which meant that the pace was going to be fast. With the sun shining strong, their nutrition andhydration had to be spot on.


Jon: A 17km flat lead into the stage meant that the pace was very fast. At the start of the major climb of the day we were greeted with a marked walking section because it was too steep to ride. Once back on the bike, the climb started in earnest. The fast start and 40°C heat began to take its toll, but Oli showed great teamwork by keeping motivation levels high and making sure that I was on top of my nutrition and hydration (this turned out to be the theme of the day…). The stage finish, much like the start, was a 20km flat time trial which saw groups of riders flying along the trails. We both dug deep to reach the finish line as the 202nd pair out of 600+ teams.


Harriet: We greeted them with loud cheers and claps, but both riders looked pretty tired! We could tell that the heat had affected them, but they were both positive and motivation was high. After a team talk and a quick dip in the nearby lake in Saalfelden-Leogang, we headed back to camp to shower, eat and rest. As the thunderstorms set in again we all decided that this was a good time to get some sleep.


20th July ● Stage 2 ● Saalfelden → Mittersill


Harriet: Jon and Oli had a plan of attack for Stage 2. After last night’s team talk, they agreed to work at a lower intensity prior to the start of the climb. This meant that they had more reserves for the rest of the race. They were also blessed with cloud cover at start the of the day, which meant that conditions were a little cooler.


Jon: The first 13km climb of the day went very well. We stuck to the set heart rate and energy levels only started to drop in the last 2km. Once the climb was completed, we were greeted with our first proper woodland section, which was undulating but very rooty and lead to groups of riders having to walk several kilometres through these sections. Once through, we had a timed downhill enduro section, which was 10km on a real downhill racing track. Scary!


This took us all the way to the bottom of the climb where we hit the first aid station. These are placed all across each stage and provide energy drinks, water and snacks. A quick refill and a few smiles were shared about the fun on the downhill section.


We then had approximately 6km until the next climb. At this point the sun was back with a vengeance, so we set back into the same rhythm as the first climb, and this worked well. With Sigma Vertical Ride jersey points available (for climbing), Oli let fly on this segment. It was a long, hard slog to the next aid station, which was positioned only 3km from the start of another walking section. The last 2km of this climb were too steep to ride, so every rider had to carry their bikes on their shoulders and yomp.


From the summit, we were faced with a technical traverse across the mountain. A lapse in concentration caused me to crash but I quickly regained myself and carried on with only a small cut and a graze. Finally, the downhill arrived and the brakes were off with almost 15km of downhill gravel tracks.


Once at the bottom, we both felt good and could see several groups of riders ahead. Aware that there was only 4km of flat left, we both picked up the pace. When we crossed the finish line, we had climbed 12 positions to 190th. It was a good day in the saddle for us!

Harriet: When I work up with no views of the mountain tops I thought that we were in for a cloudy, rainy day, but it turns out that the clouds disappear very quickly here and it was soon 35°C again. We knew that this would be tough for the guys, so we were anxious waiting at the finish line.


They came in at 14:07:59, marking a 5-hour 7-minute day for them. With most riders cruising over the line we assumed the same from the team, but they had other ideas. Their sprint to the finish line was greeted with huge cheers and claps.


After a big catch up and some food, the guys were ready to head back to camp. There was no dip in a lake this time, but some regional sausages and yummy recovery shakes instead! Back at camp we recapped the stage, cleaned and serviced the bikes and cooked dinner. No thunderstorms tonight, but some are due. Let’s hope they’re not too soon! Stage 3 is a tough 118km with 3,577m of climbing, so an early night was in order!

Keep following Jon, Oli and Harriet’s progress live on our Twitter andFacebook pages and on The Link!