What I learned from the Bike Transalp

Feb 15, 2024

Bike Transalp 2023 start in Nauders, Austria

Last year I rode the Bike Transalp. It was my first real stage race. After some time of reflexion I think I know now what I can do better next time.

My hands hurt on the extremely long trail downhills. Sometimes we would ride down technical trails for over half an hour without any interruption. While that’s extremely fun it was also exhausting for my hand. I love my breaks - the Trickstuff Piccola - but I only hd an 160 mm disk in the front. Normally that is plenty enough für the trails I ride. But for half an hour breaking non stop it required a bit too much hand muscle for my liking. So I will switch to a 180 mm disk if I do somthing like this again.

On te donwhill from the Tremalzo I caught a snake bite becaue I didn’t have enough air in the tire. I’m a light guy, so I don’t need much air. But this is the third time I got a flat like this. Two of those wre in a race. I have to learn from this. Most of the time I only check the pressure with my hand alqthough I know that this is not a reliable method. But most of the time I either forget to bring the pressure gauge or I think it is too stressful or not enough time to check before the race. That’s why I’m thinking about buying a small electric compressor where you can jsut set the desired pressure put the thing on the valva and it does its thing. By using this it would guarantee to have the correct pressure and it wouldn’t be much fuzz around.

Use tyres that work on gravel. Since over two years now I’m using the Kenda Rush Pro TR and I love it. It is great on hard pack and has an unbelievable low rolling resistance on tarmac. Even on wet roots and in (not too deep) mud the Rush is a great tire. But it has one huge downfall: Gravel. I can’t really explain it because it actually almos looks like a good gravel tyre, but I literally lost minutes on gravel downhills in the Transalp. The Rush just didn’t feel confidence inspiring. I will experiment in the spring a bit with other tyres.

Speaking of tires: Finally testing wider widths. In the past years I was an almost extreme weight weenie. My Canyon Lux did weigh 8500 g at ony point. Therefore I always used tyres in withds bewtwwen 2.0 und 2.25 inches. I hesitated to try anything wider than that because of the weight. That said, I didn’t actually have any problems with missing enough width on my tyres during the Transalp, but maybe that would even help with the confidence on gravel. And I suppose it also doesn’t hurt on other kinds of dowhill surfaces. There probably will be a dedicated article for tyre choice. 🙃

My fueling strategy is shit! I always had only water, gels and Clif bars.

One thing that I’m glad about is that I decided to bring the extra ~500 g and use a dropper post. I was long unsure if it is woth the weight penalty because it still is a marathon race and I couldn’t exactly judge if the trails are that difficult or steep. But in hindsight it was the best decision I could have made. The trails there were to my surprising long steep and pretty hard. I think I rode the hardest trails I ever rode on a XC bike during the Transalp. And the dropper post gave me so much more confidence of not enabled me to ride it at all.