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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines


Tom Hill reflects on the phenomenon that was the Trans-Provence, and his part as a small cog in its machine.

I stand at the bottom of a trail. Despite the beauty of the wider country that surrounds me – I started the day descending a frost-covered col, alpenglow hitting high peaks, a perfect ribbon of trail steering us through chilly air into the wooded valleys below – my spot isn’t exactly picturesque. Scrappy tarmac and a concrete culvert. Scrubs of foliage provide me with a little shade, but as midday approaches I can already feel the sun intensifying on my neck. And yet, there I stand still. Rooted to the spot. I strain to listen for the telltale rumble of tyres on loose rock… hollow chunder, scraping of a locked wheel through an ancient trail, the odd squeal of hot brakes, and whoops and hollers from the most vocal of riders. It’s impossible to relax fully, but I grab bites of a not hugely inspiring peanut butter and Nutella sandwich before returning to the task at hand – the small timing box dangling from my wrist while I busy myself doing not very much. And there I stand: one small part of a much bigger thing, ears pricking up as sound tumbles down the hillside heralding the first rider as they appear through the foliage.

A precious timing box.

The flow of time

Some time later. It could be another day. There is such an intensity to Trans-Provence that when the dust settles and we reflect over a beer each evening, our memories of the day are jumbled, with huge gaps. Entire stages disappear from our personal timelines, only to return with the kind of prompts like ‘that was the one with the dilapidated house, the funky shaped rock and the trail that dropped through with those sick turns before the janky rocky section’. Given that we struggled to recollect the previous few hours, forgive me if this tale doesn’t flow chronologically. Instead, it is an honest reflection of a single week. The heat and the stress and the joy and the pain. The friendships, the laughter and the tears. Winners, but no losers.

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Editorial: Wear Sunscreen Chipps lifts the veil on the uneconomic world of newsagent magazine sales. UK Adventure: Going Over To The Dark Side Shorter winter days mean you can do a dawn raid without having to get up too early. Classic Ride: The South Downs Blue skies, chalky trails and endless riding make for a perfect combination. Tom Hutton takes on the trails around Cissbury Ring. Column: Jason Miles It’s not all about chafing and suffering in Jason’s endurance racing world. Sometimes it’s about haunted helmets… International Adventure: Letting Go And Finding Flow Some journeys aren’t about the miles ridden. Amanda explores the trails of Denmark, while unwinding some of the twisty singletrack in her head. UK Adventure: My Grandad’s Head In A Jar Adam Batty gets rad with his dad and his dad’s dad. And all thanks to some electric bicycle help. Keeping Track Of Time At The Trans-Provence 2019 saw the final Trans Provence. Tom Hill looks back on what made the event so special, from the unique view of those riders not racing, but working the course every day. Column: Still Going After a mere 20 years, Chipps reckons his SPD pedals are just about needing a service. UK Adventure: Making It Up In The Lake District Drawing a line on a map and following it over the roof of the Lake District is certainly one way to see the Lakes. Follow Chipps and Nigel Page to see if it’s actually a good one. Bike Test: British Steel Not just designed in the UK, but cut, mitred and welded here too. Three aggressive hardtails on test from 18 Bikes, Shand and Stanton are put to the test. International Adventure: Verbier By Train Can we really appreciate the places we ride if we’re helping to destroy them by getting there? Mark took a low carbon approach.