MountainZone.combike transalp 

Stage 6
Anticipation and Dread
July 2002 — Meran to Malè
Preview  Intro  Stages: [1]  [2]  [3]  [4]  [5]  [6]  [7]  [8]  [Wrap]

Trans Alp
Stage 6 Photos
Anticipation and dread are the feelings associated with our next two major ascents. Today's stage is a combined climb of 3500 meters cresting at 2400+ meters of altitude. The first climb is manageable, the grade waves and a opens up to a more gradual ascent which finally peaks. No drama. We cross our paths from yesterday at the ski area and pick up Roman and his partner Alberto, friends from Costa Rica. They grab our wheels as we clear path on the descent. We are having an incredible time bouncing off the rocks and roots. Our voices become familiar and people politely give us room to work.

"Competition here is brutal but our main competition will always be ourselves...."

We hit the valley floor suddenly and then we start climbing again. A slow gradual climb up a valley before we begin the true ascent.

Off the main road and on to the final dirt road climb out of the last valley we ride aside a couple of fellows from South Africa. They discuss how they are beginning to feel better as we assault the last stretch up to the alpine. More converts. Everybody is either falling into the rhythm or they are living in a personal hell.

The valley is stunning, with huge truck-sized rocks, and is bare of vegetation. The lack of trees, only a few shrubs and a floor that looks like sod bisected by a small stream is a familiar visual shift. Cows, blending in to the barren landscape, are everywhere.

We arrive at the last steep and loose rock Jeep road. Back to expending energy while trying to adhere to a loose slope. There was a cheering squad part way up. Very nice. We crest into another farm structure and up a steep alpine trail that reminds me of Moab. The trail levels and we get back to riding.

The first section is nasty and greets us with a wheelie drop, we dismount and then quickly get back on track and pass riders to get down to the valley floor. (It's worse for our friends from San Diego, Todd and Greg. Todd is relegated to one brake, the front.)

The next section is a long, almost steep freefall back to an old alpine structure, before we are back on pavement then quickly onto a trail and zipping alongside a stream. Back on pavement into town and finish in Male.

Brett Wolfe, Correspondent