So, we went to the Passportes du Soleil… again! I’ve lost count, but the numberplates are realy piling up. We started with a sunny day of bikepark fun in Les Gets. In the lift going up I thought I saw a Juliana Roubion going down (turned out it was the Nomad) but an idea came in my head that I couldn’t shake… could we make it possible for me to test-ride this wicked looking bike…
YES WE CAN!
Within minutes I had a few inches available to me in the next Fiets edition and I needed to get to work. Don’t get distracted by the pretty face, find out what’s the big deal with this Juliana Roubion bike. Specced to the nines with the Cane Creek Double Barrel air shock, Rock Shox Pike, Enve wheels with DT Swiss hubs, XTR brakes and XX1 groupset. What more could you possibly want? I mean really…?
Alizée Baron was the girl I saw flying on her Nomad, she asked to come along with us. She’s a pro ski’er and rides bikes for training and we had a great time in Les Gets. The first run was all about the setting and the “ooh’s and aaah’s” and boy did we have a crowd piercing at us… enve uhm envy I meant to say 😉
The next runs where all about letting go, the Roubion’s top speed way exceeds my comfortzone and my skill-level too at times. It’s nice and tight and rails into corners so fast, I couldn’t keep up. But the Enve wheels allowed to get up to speed within a few pedal strokes so every corner was a new opportunity to get it right. With great sadness I returned the bike to Race-Co-mtb and dutifully wrote my piece for Fiets, basically:
- Awesome color coordination: yes, pretty colors matter.
- Cane Creek Double Barrel Air is the new benchmark, the Pike even struggled to keep up. You’ll need a university degree though to set it up.
- So light feeted, you’ll plunge into corners at full speed, you’ll need to work on your skill set.
- Girly touches: specialty grips are nice, seat to be honest this is so personal you may as well sell bikes without saddles, much like pedals.
- Bars, pretty much wide enough, but you know when it’s just wide enough… you may want to go wider.
- Goes anywhere, up and down, just point and pedal pretty much. Nothing complicated here, carry when it gets too steep. But it’s so light you’ll hardly notice it 😉
After carrying our massive bags down many stairs we go to start day 4; yes it was the new best day ever. We started our day with Julia and she was explaining to us the trails ahead ‘a bit ungulated guys’. Apparently I made the face of oblivion and Sean explained it to me in a single hand gesture… oh right… that…
But we couldn’t stop smiling, ungulated meant something we were actually good at. It felt like we grew into the riding and we were in great shape to ride too.
By this time our little group was a well oiled machine, we had our own order of putting the bikes on the bike-rack. Inside jokes and smirkes. But this one comment from Michael made me lauch so hard… I didn’t know someone could be classified as “Mad as a box of frogs”… still funny.
We finished our morning session in the iconical village of Roubion. A tiny village (about 125 people) and quite ancient, but spectacularly build within the mountains. Roubion was also the inspiration of the Juliana Bicycles new bike Roubion (the womens ‘Bronson’), the bike that our guide Julia also rides. We now have intense fascination for this bike… a deep feeling of need. We NEED one.
Are we there yet?
After lunch Julia said Ash would take us up to the longest stage of the Trans Provence, I can’t remember is she said it was also the hardest stage. OMG doesn’t begin to describe how hard this stage is.
Is was an insane puzzle on the bike trying to keep the wheels roling was often the biggest issue. I was riding on trails that seemed so deserted, I was afraid I had taken the wrong trail and was lost all by myself. But ofcourse we survived the stage and got our mandatory beed as a reward afterwards.
That’s where we rode today!
So, here we are in Colmars day 2, after barely -or actually not really fully- surviving day 1. Day 1 was announced as the hardest day of the week, about 10 hours of riding and many many hours going up they said. For a moment I thought they might be pulling our legs…
Fully loaded backpacks with food and drinks, we set off on a fireroad uphill and we where just thinking… this we can manage… It was about to turn ugly.
Too much… too much… error…
Ash pointed out some tree near a signpost I couldn’t even see so far away it was. And high too. Just putting one foot after another and keep on walking, for a looooooong time. Sang some songs in my head and refrained from worrying too much. Because to be honest… I didn’t know how I was going to survive this day. Annemieke neither.
At one point we needed to carry the bike up, but there was no obvious path… so we’d just aim for the tree that was getting somewhat more visible… That was just to get to the first descent…
9ish we started off and around 14:30 we rolled in for lunch. And yeah… this was about all I could take at this time. We both couldn’t go on for another session like that. We cave in and we hopped on the bus and slept the rest of the afternoon trying to recover for the next day.
Day 2: another great day in the office
Monday we woke up pretty relaxt and ready to go. We had seen the profile of today and it promised a huge climb from the start. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a climb like this one. It was about meter per meter ascent at one point. We’d take a mini break every minute or so and did 500 meters uphill in the first hour. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, apart from dying on Sunday ofcourse.
But we didn’t die today. We made it at 1750 meters, had a good feed and an awesome trail down. This was so rewarding, so much hard work and a good downhill as a treat. Wanted more… and got more 🙂 did 1600 up and a total of about 30km. We made it through today with the biggest smiles on our faces, great riding and good vibes all around. Tomorrow more, less climbing… Yeah actually NONE!
ps. Sang 23 potjes met vet…