Juliana Bicycles

Mavic Trans-Provence

Mavic Trans-Provence

July 09 — 2019 | France



Emily Slaco is a Juliana | SRAM Pro Team athlete and multi-stage, blind racing fiend. When she isn't out racing in various corners of the world, she is guiding riders through the South Chilcotins.
At the 2019 Trans-Provence, Emily secured 3rd place in the women's division. 


The first time I did the Trans-Provence was in 2016.  It was also the first time I did a multi-day race, the first time I traveled with a bike, and the first time I rode in Europe.  A trip of firsts can be daunting and exciting and I remember the initial nerves. The week kicked off and passed before I knew it.  Meeting new friends, catching up with old friends; riding, hiking, scrambling all day; exploring new trails, mountains, villages; all while pushing the physical limits of my body every day for six days.  The experience was amazing. When you spend time with people like this, challenging yourselves and overcoming obstacles together, bonds are formed and memories made.  

When I heard that 2019 would be the last year of the Trans Provence I knew I had to find a way to make it happen. Low and behold, I found myself building my bike outside the airport in Nice just a few weeks ago, excited for what I knew would be an adventure never to forget.

As we drove away from the airport and into the mountains I started to recognize the scenery. Some of the signs and some of the mountains looked familiar, and once we got to Barcelonnette it all flooded back to me.  This had been our Day 2 camp in 2016, but today it was just the start. Riders started to trickle in and the beer flowed... it was all about catching up and recounting stories of years passed.

I started in Wave 1 on Day 1, which set off at the crack of 7:30 am (don’t be late!).  A shuttle drove us up the mountain to yet another familiar starting point. We rode through snow and mud to get to our starting point at the top of the Col d’Allos.  Dropping in, I got a sense of deja-vu realizing we had started a stage here. Dangerously fast sidehill sections through washed-out corners made us all remember just where we were, you’re in France now, wake up! 

A particularly fast meadow section had me feeling confident and then, wham, an unsuspecting rock hiding in the tall grass flipped me OTB and I somersaulted down the trail. That was a serious wake-up call, and a reminder of Ash Smith’s (the event founder and organizer) words the previous evening, “pace yourself and have fun”.  The rest of the day got better and better with new (to me) trails and places to explore.  

As the week continued, each day came with new challenges, new trails, and plenty of new scenery.  We even dropped into Italy a couple of times, once passing by a roadside café that was immediately stormed by riders ordering espressos, cappuccinos, and cannolis.  The variety of trails had us climbing and descending thousands of meters every day, and as a bonus, we rode a whole bunch of untimed downhill transfer liaisons. These were truly the icing on the cake as we all rallied party train style down and across the terrain hooting and hollering and trying to not crash into each other. 

In a race this long, where you’re covering so much terrain, diversions do happen along the way. There were stories of wrong turns or little detours adding on to already long and exhausting days for some riders.  There were also the good diversions, such as the stops at creeks along the way to soak your head, or a stop to check out an ancient castle, village, or farmhouse. One particular diversion took us up and over a small hill rather than taking the sidehill route around it.  We ended up finding a full sheep skull, big horns and all, leftover from whatever unfortunate fate it came to. As we trekked further up the ridge looking for other treasures, we found something else… a sweet red earth freeride style descent where we carved turns in the loose dirt right down to the next stage start.  It was precisely the kind of thing that makes this event so amazing, and it’s a memory I will never forget.  

For me, the Trans Provence is the ultimate experience... every day just getting on your bike, exploring new places, and pushing your limits with other like-minded people. Since my very first time in 2016, I’ve been lucky enough to have raced several multi-day events all over the world. While each event presents its own set of challenges and experiences, there truly is nothing like the Trans Provence.  It’s sad to know that this was the last time anyone would have this experience, but as they say “all good things must come to an end” and “with every end comes a new beginning”. I’m excited to see what the minds of these creators will come up with next! Until then... Aurevoir mes amis.


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