Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reflections on the Transalp Challenge 2006

The Transalp Challenge 2006 - we had the best time of our lives out there, really fantastic.

The Never-Ending Story of Tango and Cash!!!

Where Transalp Challenge Began For Us

After more than 54 hours of pedalling over the week, we finished up:

  • 1st in the teams named "Tango & Cash" class
  • 2nd in the people using flat pedals class
  • 242nd in the overall Men's class
So we are very proud chaps.
End of Day 6 Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke Association What a View
Just a couple of notes that you may find useful or interesting for your own Transalp Challenge effort:

  • The variety of biking is unbelievable - tarmac switchbacks, singletrack, forest trails, technical sections, all sorts of class stuff. Would be a brilliant holiday, never mind Transalp Challenge.

  • The heat is SAVAGE! Over 40 Degrees sometimes, and nowhere to hide.

  • The hills go on FOREVER - like nothing you have ever encountered. You can climb for over 2 hours without a let-up.

  • The altitude is a factor we had not reckoned for - it really does affect you way up there (that's our excuse anyway!).

  • It is pretty much an event for proper cyclists. Most of the folks have a road background, and have done racing, and have lots of cool gear and very light stuff.

  • Do some speed training - we did none and, whilst we could pedal all day OK having done plenty of endurance training, folks just streamed past us up the hills.

  • 6 months was just about enough time to train for it with other family commitments from a base of being in alright shape generally, but not being cyclists, but we could have done with some extra speed training for sure.

  • Most folks are not that quick on the way down, but you don't really make up much time or places on the descents.

  • You need to be VERY careful - some folks got completely wrecked in falls, particularly later in the week when folk were tired and concentration wavered - it was very dangerous at times, with the terrain and some of the speeds being hit.
  • There is something uniting about going through the same hell with 1,000 other people, although only a Transalper can understand. A bit like being a Vietnam veteran, I guess. "You weren't there, man. You don't know what it was like!..."

Other comments welcome. Any questions? Email me.

Message For Fellow Transalpers

Davy with a CowJust in case there is ANYBODY beyond the usual 7 people reading this, hope you folks enjoyed the Transalp Challenge as much as we did. We met loads of great people, have lots of great memories to cherish, and the memory of the pain is fading fast. It seems a long time ago that we were back here.

A special note to the other Tango and Cash team (team 266), who were both forced to retire from the event through injury. Get well soon, lads, and keep pedalling. Transalp Challenge 2007 beckons.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 8 - Finale

Well, that was the Transalp Challenge that was. We finished the race in one piece (well, two pieces) yesterday afternoon in Limone, on the shores of the beautiful Lake Garda. Raw sewage never tasted so good.
Team Ireland Finish Line Wheelie 8 Days Completed
Two of our Irish compatriots, Kookie and Paul, ended up sucking the tarmac on the 30 KM downhill section at the start, where over 1,000 cyclists were nose to tail for the whole 30 KM. We were hitting up to 60 km/hr on this section, so carnage was likely and ended up being a grim reality.

All the Irish dudes were OK and able to finish eventually, but one of their bikes was completely wrecked in the crash. The poor chap who caused the crash was unable to continue as he was in a bad state, so Kookie nicked his bike and even robbed his shoes from the ambulance, whilst the poor fella was being measured for a wooden overcoat.

The rest of the day was uneventful, other than the cliff we had to descend at the finish, which dropped us 1,800 vertical metres over 8K.

Great to see our girls at the finish, and relieved to hit the finish with no damage caused by or to us, none physical anyway. All the other family dudes were there for the rest of the Irish band, and the party started.

Now enjoying a couple of days of eating and relaxing on Lake Garda, and back to work on Tuesday (sigh...).

Many thanks for all your best wishes and jolly japes during the week, and excuse the lack of attempt at further bad gags in this update. Watch out for an epilogue in the next couple of days, probably Tuesday.

Buenos Dias! Or Cameron Diaz or whatever.
Tango and Cash Blinged
Tango & Cash

Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 7 - Like a Prayer

Greeeeeeeetings from Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy.

Today was the alleged 'easy day', only 45km long. What we forgot to factor in was the 40 degree heat and the 2.5km of VERTICAL climbing. The heat was fierce, but it takes more than that stuff to beat Tango & Cash! We had to pull up long long hills past a few ski lifts today, which is pretty painful stuff, and we were not the only ones today to cuss the race organiser, Uli Stanciu.

Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association Tee Shirt on Top of a MountainPart of our trouble was down to the NI Chest, Heart & Stroke T-Shirt that we carried to the top for a photo. It weighed nearly 200 grammes, which is a lot over a day, and at one stage we nearly ate it.

The daily wheelie over the finish line was pulled with more finesse today, and we actually made it over the line without falling over.

Highlight of the day was after the race. The showers had a long queue of Germans, who have lots of skin and take ages, so all the Irish dudes stripped off and gave the locals something to talk about in the form of a golden shower in the fountain in the street.

Tomorrow is our last day of cycling (probably ever). We finish the race in Limone sul Garda mid-afternoon tomorrow (DV), and then it will be kisses and hugs and pizza and beer. Our long-suffering women are on their way to see us, just to check we are actually doing the Transalp, so we will see them tomorrow afternoon when we finish.

I hear we are in the Belfast Telegraph today (Friday) too, so the PR machine rolls inexorably on.

Happy birthday to Tommy, who is the big 40 today. He found his climbing legs for his birthday, and gave poor Andy a roasting.

Yours in pasta,

The Material Guys!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day 6 - Tango & Cash Enter Male

Greetings from Male, Italy. Another roaster from hell today. 42 Degrees in the freezer. The organisers decided to have a little alphabet fun today, and they made us climb the letter M (it looked like an M, OK?).
What a View Not a Bad View Either
Total height climbed was 3,450 metres vertical, including a single climb that went on for 35 KM! What goes up must come down, so we, eh... came down.

Golden streaks of blue once again lit up the downhill singletrack. The On One bikes are like shit off a shovel down the hills, really class.

We are livin' on the edge out here. Loads of folks are cut to ribbons from falls and a few unfortunates have busted themselves up pretty bad and have needed airlifted. But we are continuing to be careful!!

It has become a Transalp Challenge trademark for the "Two crazy Irish guys, Tengo and Cesh" to pull a wheelie whilst crossing the finish line, to the wild applause of a packed crowd of willing townsfolk. The crowd were baying for blood and laughing their heads off when Cash bravely popped his wheelie and crashed into the finish line arch, falling off and having to drag the bike over the line and run for cover.

2 more days of gut-wrenching hills, world-class descents, and naked German men with really the most enormous disk brakes you have ever seen!

Quick update on the other dudes in the team:

Kookie & Paul - Paul is really slowing up Kookie, but together they are showing the young pretenders how it's done.

Brendan & Eddie - Brendan runs up the hills and Eddie somersaults down them. Both performing their respective roles with great aplomb.

Andy & Tommy - These dudes go through bikes like toilet paper. They have bust more stuff than the mechanics have in stock, and I would hate to be picking up the tab. Tommy will be getting his birthday treat in the morning...

Simon & Rowan - The years of spending time alone with their bikes is paying off for the chaps. They are really hitting every hill like it was their last.

The fart barn beckons. To all the Thales dudes, enjoy your fry in the morning. See you next week. To any Tibusians, I am counting the minutes until I once again stride manfully through the door and open my laptop.

Keep the crackin' posts coming - much appreciated by a couple of lonely old souls. A few pictures of men in lycra next week. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.

Ho Hum.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 5 - Podium Finish Now a Pipe-Dream

We were over 9 hours on the trail today. Rocky Mountain Business Objects now look to have beaten Tango and Cash into at least second place!!

Blagged the use of the Internet behind the reception in a hotel so no time to think up any gags.

Needless to say we are like todally knackered after another tough tough day, but it was unbelievable singletrack, climbs, tarmac downhill, scenery, yadda yadda yadda.

Weather is still class. Looking forward to the 2 girlies coming out to meet us at the finish on Saturday - hope the weather holds!

I hear we are in the Antrim Guardian - hittin the big time for sure. Check us out at our sponsor site too!! www.on-one.co.uk

Keep livin´ the dream back there at home. Send us a few messages, either directly or to pass onto others. We are all homesick out here, sniff sniff.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 4 - Livigno Vida Loca

Captain's log. Stardate: right now!! That big German chap has been in there 15 minutes doing impressions of a Rhino giving birth - does he not know there is a queue?!!

Tango and Cash and Team Ireland on the Transalp Challenge Official Home PageWe are on the official Transalp Challenge home page - get it here! (the Home Page)

Just completed Day 4, and what a day. We are now in Livigno, Italy, scene of a previous skiing excursion for us and our special friends a coupla years ago. It is just as we remember it - there was no frickin snow then either!

Sun splitting everything today all day again, and the heat is a KILLER. Best day so far in terms of stuff to look at whilst you are climbing 1,000-odd metres first thing in the morning. The downhills were the best yet too, as we didn't have to brake ALL the time - we just had to stop ourselves from falling to a certain death off some of the corners.

Our bikes are simply CLASS. Aside from our obvious good looks and infectious charm, we are getting lots of admiring and envious looks and comments as we rip down through the pack, and the bikes are class on the singletrack stuff. Anybody know what "Shnell, der Irlander Scheisse Fokker!!" means?

One of the highlights of the day was early on the first climb, seeing one poor chap try to turn round on a cattle grid. If you don't bike, you might have to think about it. Very very funny, and even he saw the joke as 38 nations mocked him and laughed heartily.

Rowan and Simon are the Irish dudes on a roll for sure - those fellers are SMOKIN' the trail day on day. Every day when the rest of us are finishing, they meet us at the line having already been to a movie, done some shopping for new outfits, been for a couple of pints and finished off with a Chinese banquet. Amazing fast chaps for sure. Especially when you consider the pieces of crap they call bikes that they are travelling on!

WE are keepin' it real out here, dudes. More rubbish tomorrow. Off for a beer now to celebrate making it half way anyway. Enough awreddy!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 3 - H-H-H-H-H-H-H-Hot!!

Greetings from Scuol, Switzerland. Not a cloud in the sky all day. The heat is deadly. Our high point today brought us at well over 3000m and we were cycling past snow and ice.

A chap who speaks no English is letting me use his computer - all I had to do was smile, and he caved in.

We finished one place and 30 seconds ahead of the pretenders to our throne, the other Tango and Cash, after 6 hours and 20 minutes.

Once again, for those of you affiliated with Andy Ruck, he has upped the stakes from his previous uber love to you, and is gobbling an enormous German sausage in your honour.

Cheers to everyone posting rude and amusing messages - keep it up (urrrr). All good stuff.

Onwards and upwards, and in time may you come to own a thousand camels.

Day 2 - The 2 Mile High Club

It takes us about 7.5 minutes on average to climb Donegore Hill, which was our primary training hill at home. On day 2 here we climbed for over 20 times that with no let up. Altogether we climbed for over 2 miles vertical. Scenery is unbelievable.

Glad we have disk brakes as some of the folks on rim brakes are having blowouts as their rims are overheating and melting their tyres!! Some big crashes. The downhills are incredible.

The day would not have been complete without flying in the face of common sense, so spare ribs, chips and ice cream chased down the biker pasta, which is becoming sickening. Maybe we will have a beer tonight too.

No bother so far (ahem), other than we are totally knackered beyond belief, and there are a few more dents in the camera!

Greetings from Davy to all the Thales folks. Wish you were here - instead of us, boom boom, etc, etc. To our loved ones - we are being extremely careful, so stop worrying. To Mikey, you are a cheeky git, but keep it coming - all good crack!!

Just about to tackle a 1200m vertical climb in 15 minutes, so over and out!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day 1 - Fussin' in Fussen

The Route - Fussen to Limone Sul Garda9:30 pm, and both of the housemates are completely knackered!!

Got the bikes up and running last night in Fussen. I was interviewed by a young lady from the local press who entitled me "Mr Big Bag", seemingly on account of my oversize luggage.

Ate ice cream, strolled the town. Slept for a while in the ice rink before bedding down for the night on the tennis courts (we are very sporty you know).

Up this morning for the RACE!!! Kicked off to AC/DC Highway to Hell at 11am. Hills unbelievable!! Lots of climbing climbing climbing. Hit the finish after five and a half hours pedalling, totally knackered.

LOTS of interest in the bikes, lots of interest in On One. Brant, if you are listening, we met someone who knows someone you know!

Good grief, this is dull, but we are both knackered.

For those of you affiliated with Andy Ruck, he sends UBER love from Austria.