Trans-Savoie: The Race That’s Not.
Ten Years of ‘Big Alpine Enduro’
This summer marks 10 years of the Trans-Savoie Multi-Day Enduro in the French Alps: The perfect excuse to get nostalgic and look back over how we’ve evolved since our pilot event back in 2012, and to take stock about where we are going with the Trans-Savoie in the future.
It’s been emotional!
In reviewing a decade’s-worth of old footage and combining it with some spectacular new high-altitude drone shots to make this new edit, we were reminded of the many highs and lows along the way. But as the next phase of our evolution continues this summer with our new “50/50” format, there’s one thing we’re clear about: Our proudest achievement is not the amount of alpine single-track we’ve discovered in that time per se; its [I]the human element[/I] of bringing people together with a common cause in such a beautiful place, in order to see and enjoy it for themselves.
Creating Lasting Memories
Brining a bunch of strangers together for a week of thrills that are shared so intensively with everyone else on the start-list, is a sure-fire way to create new connections, lasting friendships, and vivid memories that stand the test of time. It was heartbreaking to watch through old footage of old participants – all of whom we now consider to be more than just that – knowing that more-than-one of the smiling faces on tape are sadly no longer with us. We try to remind ourselves daily that the best way we can honour these awesome people, is to get right back out there and not to waste even a minute of the precious time that we do have. With the necessary restrictions on human interaction in recent times, this sentiment has become even more poignant. Perhaps this is why we’ve focussed on the ‘emotional’ side of things, in our 10th-Anniversary video that we’re releasing today.
Remembering Those Who Made it All Possible
Anyone with a craving for outdoors, adventure, and adrenaline (we’d guess that’s most of you reading this) recognises that our ‘best’ memories are often formed when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone; when we venture beyond the familiar. We also notice that many of our strongest memories are also from our childhood and adolescent years…but why is this, exactly? Bare with us…
Psychologists have theorised why time appears to speed up as you get older. Apparently, this is (in part) because your brain pays more conscious attention to ‘new’ and ‘novel’ experiences; and the more you’ve already done in your life (i.e. the older you are); the less likely you are to find something as ‘novel’, and therefore to pay full attention to it. Under this hypothesis, they recommend the best way to reverse that feeling, is to put yourself way outside of your regular routine and/or comfort zone. Riding flat out, blind, down 22,000m+ (65,000ft+) of all-natural, high-exposure (and at times, high-consequence) single-track in a week, sure is one way of getting your brain’s full attention.
We feel sure that anyone sporting a Trans-Savoie Finisher’s headset-cap retains a stack-load of vivid memories to go with it. It’s those memories and emotions which we genuinely feel still bind us all together, a long time after we return to our regular routines. A big shout out to each and every one of you, if you’re reading this! It may sound obvious, but it can’t be said enough: without staff, volunteers, and especially the participants themselves, none of this would have been possible, and our own memories of the past ten years would likely be a lot more mundane as a result.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
In the run in to our first full-scale event, many of you wondered exactly what they’d signed up for. What was a 6-day, lift-assisted enduro-rally across the biggest mountains in Europe going to actually involve? An invite-only test-event in 2012 taught us that attempting to double-taping 300km+ of remote walking paths was never going to work out (the moment the first person blows through the tape – or more likely an inquisitive Savoyard cow eats a crucial bit of signage just at the wrong junction – and half of your field end up a VERY long way down the wrong side of a VERY big mountain). Fast-forward to 2022 and the format has evolved to become fairly well defined. There’s now a superb global selection of bucket-list, multi-day-enduro “Trans-XXX” races you probably have on your hit-list. With borders and travel opening up again this year, there’s a lot to look forward to if like us, you are already long overdue a fresh hit of adventure.
Whilst we never set out to create a suffer-fest, the sheer size, quantity and variety of terrain on offer here in Savoie, meant we always expected the Trans-Savoie to become synonymous with an expectation of “Big”. That first year, we probably pushed it a bit too far and tried to cram in just one stage too many each day (feedback such as “if it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you a better person” wasn’t really what we were aiming for!). With each subsequent edition of the Trans-Savoie we’ve have gradually evolved away from out-and-out race format, to a stronger emphasis on “it’s all about the Journey”. Yes, that might just be the most over-used cliché, but in this case, it’s bang on the money. With the new Trans-Savoie “50/50” format, we’ve taken this natural progression to its logical conclusion.
In 2017 we took a year-off to search for a new perspective and to focus on other projects such as our pairs-format series Enduro2. That break ended up as 4 long years without Trans-Savoie whilst we pondered over exactly how we could keep things fresh, interesting and exciting for our future participants…and for ourselves. An unexpected global pandemic in the time, didn’t help. In 2021 we introduced our re-booted Trans-Savoie as “50/50” with minimal fanfare and an ultra-small field of only 25 riders…and the vibe was undoubtedly all-the-better for it! A smaller field meant we could ditch our traditional tent-city / mobile-catering setup for more-than-half of our overnight locations; to take advantage of Alpine lodges, hostels, and mountain restaurants instead.
Re-Inventing Our Multi-Day Format
The new “50/50” format aims to retain 100% of the “high-stakes, high-adrenaline” buzz of previous Trans-Savoie races – but offers more accessibility to passionate amateur riders looking to push their own boundaries but without the extreme pressure of an out-and-out race: Whilst the majority of our 32 stages are timed (with individual results available for each stage), there’s no longer a podium, no rank-order classification, and no cumulative times each day. Yes, you heard right – it’s no longer a race, certainly not in the classic sense. But there’s still ample opportunity for pushing your own limits and cultivating an intense – if informal – rivalry between participants throughout the week. But out-and-out racing is no longer the focus, and we definitely don’t want to encourage any sense of pressure (nor motivation) to take excessive risk or to miss out on simply enjoying the journey, in your tunnel-visioned bid to shave off a few seconds versus your rivals.
In defining our new format, we observed that most of you who started the week “with your race-head at 110%”, had by Day 2 or 3 mellowed out…big time. Competitors became Comrades. ‘Race’ became ‘Expedition’. ‘Getting through each day as quickly as possible’, became ‘Hoping the week would never end’ and ‘Evening Race-Prep’ became making the most of post-ride beers and re-living each day’s highlights with your crew. We’ve always gone above-and-beyond to include only the very best backcountry trails in our itinerary – but these are also often the most remote, exposed and sometimes access-sensitive. Some of our favourites had necessarily been left out due to being unsuitable, unsafe, or just outright inappropriate to double-tape, close off entirely to the public, and to all-out race. In removing the race / competition element (and limiting the participants to a small field of only 50) we’re finally been able to deliver an un-compromised itinerary that really is all and only about simply the best possible trails that we know, linked by a truly world-class network of ski-lift and road-access. Feedback from our pilot ’50/50′ event in 2021 only confirmed to us that we made the right call. )Impromptu Party-trains appearing on some stages, was a welcome sight).
‘The Podium’ is No Longer Our Focus
There’s undoubtedly a hardcore group of Enduro Racers out there who may feel that something has been lost without the formal element of competition and the potential glory that awaits the fastest amongst you. But unlike ten years ago, there are now a stack of alternative multi-day enduro races that will give you just that, no questions asked. Trans-Savoie 50/50 provides an alternative option for those of you who want the same challenge, adventure, camaraderie, high-adrenaline and motivation to push your personal limits that you get from a race – but without the extreme pressure nor necessary compromises of running a formalised, competitive event. Many of you, we suspect, will be reading this and nodding along in approval (or perhaps reluctantly accepting that your days of podium-chasing might be behind you). Indeed, former pro and hardcore-privateer racers still make up a decent proportion of 50/50’s start-list.
Trans-Savoie 50/50 isn’t only a nod to our equilibrium between race and fun. Its also our very enthusiastic endorsement and welcome of e-bikes into the event – with 50% of the entries reserved for our e-assisted buddies. The course has been especially crafted to run e-bikes and regular bikes shoulder-to-shoulder and the 2021 edition proved very clearly that with enough logistical planning, there’s no reason to segregate e-bikes and regular bikes as if we were two completely separate breeds. We see e-bikes as just additional, eco-friendly method of up-lifting, and a great way to access ever-further into the backcountry. Since Trans-Savoie has always been heavily biased towards shuttle and ski-lift liaisons (ratio of uplifts to human effort on the climbs is typically at least 4-to-1), we’d see it as especially hypocritical to exclude electrically-assisted riders from the party, or to call them out for not having ‘earned their turns’, whatever that even means. That said, weekend-warriors beware: Trans-Savoie is absolutely not a walk-in-the-bike-park, and self-sufficiency with at least a pinch of general mountain awareness is essential to completing your adventure with a smile on your face. This ethos means we don’t allow battery swaps-out once you’re out on the hill each day – so you’re either running in ECO/TRAIL mode, OR carrying a second battery in your backpack (the latter is permitted but not recommended!).
20st to 27th August 2022
Savoie, French Alps (Departs – Bourg St. Maurice, nearest Airport – Geneva)
6-day Enduro Adventure
22,000m+ descent, 6,000m ascent (on top of shuttles and ski lifts).
Limited to 50 Entries: 25 E-Bike / 25 Regular Bike
Strong Focus on Adventure and Camaraderie, rather than Racing.
50% Dormitory-style accommodation, 50% camp-based.
All food, shuttles & lifts, medical support etc included in entry price.
Cost to Enter:
€1495 all-inclusive per rider.
Covid cancellation insured, including full refund in event of travel restrictions or quarantine measures (See cancelation policy for full info).
Volunteer opportunities are available for on-bike mountain crew, 4X4 drivers and paramedics/medical professionals.
How to Register for Trans-Savoie in 2022
20 entries are still available for this year’s Trans-Savoie 50/50.
If you’re keen on the adventure but would prefer the lower-pace of a guided tour, Guided-Tour Options are also available on a limited basis (June-September).
E-Bike Travel Concerns
We understand that international travel with a bike, can be challenging…perhaps even more difficult with the safety requirements for E-bikes and their Lithium Batteries. Fortunately, we have a solution for that too! Our partner Ship to Cycle can arrange to deliver your bike direct to our event HQ, and arrange for it to be collected and returned home to you at the end of the race. This works for both normal bikes and e-bikes, meaning you only need to think about getting yourself to the start line and leave the bike-transport-logistics to the professionals.