Deep in the Pyrenees at the Trans-Nomad Enduro Adventure Race - Photo Epic

Sep 20, 2017
by Kike Abelleira  



From the 13th to the 17th of September the second edition of the Trans-Nomad Enduro Adventure race powered by Fox and sponsored by Orbea was held in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. The event saw racers cover 182km in four days, 12,200 meters were descended and 7,000 meters climbed over 18 stages and 53 timed km through the Spanish and the French Pyrenees. The start point of the race and first base camp was Sesué, next to Castejón de Sós, and Castejón was the chosen village for the last base camp location and finish point of the event.

Up to 80 riders coming from nine different countries, including names such as Ruben Rodriguez (Intense bikes Spain), the first edition winner, François Bailly–Maitre (Ibis), Ze Manel Borges (BH Miranda Racing), Simon Andre (Orbea), and François Dola in the men field. In the women's category, Trans-Nomad gathered last year's winner Sandra Pastor, Sandra Jorda (XCM European Champion) and Nadine Sapine (Scott France) among the rest of the female competitors. On top of that, the 2017 Trans-Nomad included some names like Chris Porter (Geometron bikes and Mojo-UK's Fox distributor), Carlos Huerta (Montenbaik collaborator, Chile) and Cesar Gairin (Orbea ambassador).

Trans-Nomad aims for a focus on the adventure and spirit of comradery, rather than on the competitive side of the event. Although it is still a race, and there is a final classification indeed, the big family feeling is powered by the team that runs the event. Daily breakfast and dinners are served for the entire group of riders together. The organization's bike patrols mark the stages ahead of the riders with a limited signing display. Besides the non-environmental-intrusive track marking, one last bike patrol makes sure that no tape or sign is left on the mountain after the last rider passes by. Underneath the surface works a huge logistics plan for the feeding zones, shuttling riders to remote places in vans or buses, and transporting the riders baggage and camp tents to every day's base camp location.

This year, the organizers decided to cross the French border, and it was one of the highlights of the race, with the riders taking their bikes to Portillon de Benasque and descending to France. More than five different valleys were visited in this second edition, some of the most beautiful locations within the Huesca region of the Pyrenees, breathtaking landscapes, many hours spent over 2,000m, amazing natural trails in a huge variety of terrain and forest. I can't avoid mentioning that completing this adventure is challenging, it's quite tough, pretty physical and mentally demanding, but totally worth it. The moments you experience, both on and off the bike, the places you visit, the people you meet. As one rider from Canada said the other day; "After completing this race, I don't see mountain biking the same way".

Did I mention breathtaking landscapes? Enjoy the views…

Trans-Nomad 2017
Marshalls and bike patrols meeting the day before the race departure.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017

Francois Bailly-Maitre has certain experience in this sort of base camp enduro races... Andes Pacifico and Trans Provence victories are part of his track record.



Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017

Bitech and Fox were in charge of technical service, every day, until very late in the night.



DAY 1


36km and five stages leaving from Castejón de Sos (Huesca) to reach the base camp at Bagneres de Luchon (France), from the Aragonese Pyrenees to the French Pyrenees. In their way, the 80 riders had to deal with a hike from La Besurta (approx. 1,800m) to Portillon de Benasque (2,445m) where the start of Stage 1 was located. The Portillon is a natural border crossing between Spain and France, used in the last century by soldiers, traffickers, and political refugees. Although the day started sunny on the Spanish side, it turned to misty and rainy weather as soon as the riders entered France. After the first two stages descending the Portillon de Benasque, the riders faced a pedaling liaison to Col de Bareges (1.749m), descending on the third stage to Col del Portillón. The last two liaisons took the participants to stages four and five, in flowy and fast trails with better grip and temperatures than in the morning. Jose Borges and Sandra Jorda were the fastest riders at Bagneres de Luchon.


Trans-Nomad 2017
The first hike was pretty good, sunny weather at our departure from La Besurta in Llanos del Hospital. We didn't expect what we got one hour later.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
The track to Portillon de Benasque is a popular trail for hikers in this area. You get the chance to climb to some peaks and the views are outstanding.


Trans-Nomad 2017
In a few minutes, the weather changed dramatically. Bike patrol Diego Grasa climbs into the mist.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Across the French border at 2,445 meters. A technical pass event on foot.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Francois Bailly-Maitre was the first rider out of the mist.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Cesar Gairin, a Whistler resident and original from this region of the Pyrenees, was familiar with both the terrain and weather conditions.


Trans-Nomad 2017
A Trans-Nomad spirit award went for this guy. Patric Plante came all the way from Canada and completed the adventure on his hardtail bike, all smiles at the same time.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Juan, from Rotor Spain, dealing with the slippery rocks on French soil.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Carlos Huerta (Montenbaik Chile collaborator) was one of the few riders that rode the newish Orbea Rallon R5.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Although an XCM specialist, Sandra Jorda performed at a very high level considering this was the first Enduro stages event for her.


Trans-Nomad 2017
With the humid weather, some sections were sketchy, to say the least.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Tons of switchbacks on this descent. Further down the mountain, the visibility improved a few meters.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Ruben Rodriguez, the 2016 edition winner, enjoying the rainy conditions.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Flow trails. These alpine woods near Bagneres de Luchon are pure gold.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Francois Dola, one of the enduro and avalanche early French riders (...and Adrien Dailly's mechanic), on his second TN after being third last year.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Francois Bailly-Maitre out of the green.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Nadine Sapine is one of the common names at the French Enduro Series scene.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Down to Bagneres de Luchon on the last stage of the day. This one was super fun to ride, plenty of corners and a great grip.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Liaison to Luchon.



DAY 2


The start line of Stage 1 was set at Coll de la Forqueta (2,386m). After a long and technical hike from the French side of Bielsa tunnel up to the top of Coll de la Forqueta, cold, wind and falling snow were the ingredients for the first section of the stage, but the weather improved as riders were making their way to the Pinarra Valley, at the Spanish side of Bielsa tunnel. A shuttle took the riders to Espierba to ride the liaison to Pico del Comodoto (2,361m) for stages two and three, through an alpine meadow at the second one and through a fast alpine forest track for the third. The last two stages were held in the Pineta Valley, finishing in Bielsa village. Jose Borges and Sandra Jordá set the fastest times. François Bailly-Maitre wasn't feeling good in the morning and decided not to race the second day, what eventually took him off the general classification.

Trans-Nomad 2017
First liaison of the day up to Coll de la Forqueta, was tough and chilly.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Carlos Huerta leading a group of nomads.


Trans-Nomad 2017
The first meters of Stage 1 were not easy. The mist and the falling snow didn't help the riders to find a trail barely marked.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Tomas Garcia, Tomi, transitioning from the misty meadow to the clear woods further down.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
No dirt here but rock riding.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Back to the Spanish side of the mountain.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Due to the long liaisons and stages days the feeding zones were displayed after Stage 1 or Stage 2.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Markel Uriarte flowing on Stage 3.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Nadine Sapine inside a tunnel of box trees.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Antonio Ortiz accepted the challenge from BH to race TN with Jose Borges. Antonio is a former pro XC rider, with a career-best 16th at World Championship back in 2002. Nowadays he's focused on XCM multi-stage races.



Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017

The village of Bielsa is just down there.


Trans-Nomad 2017
The last stage of the day surprised most riders, straight and fast at the top, flat pedaling at mid-track and super tight corners, rocky and plenty of roots at the bottom.

Trans-Nomad 2017
At Bielsa camping. See you tomorrow.



DAY 3


I had looked at the race book and I had no doubt about the third day being the toughest one of the race. More than 60km, four stages, 3,500m descending and 2,000m climbing/hiking. If that wasn't enough, the riders had to fight low temperatures (-5ºC plus wind) and a snowstorm at stage one and two, followed by snow, hail, rain, snow, and rain again. An epic day in the mountains.

A hike to Collado de Urdiceto (2.314m), border point between France and Spain, was done under cold temperatures but a sunny day. Suddenly, the weather changed to lower temperatures and an intense wind hitting Tabernés Valley and Biadós Valley. Stages one and two went from black dirt and rocks to an alpine meadow and then alpine forests with slippery roots. By that time, the rain and hail were over the valleys without intermission. After the feed stop, a long climb to Puerto de Sahún took the riders to stages three and four, and then to the base camp in Castejón de Sos. François Bailly-Maître and Sandra Jordá were the fastest riders of the day.

Trans-Nomad 2017
Surprisingly... the day started with a hike to a Spanish-French border.


Trans-Nomad 2017
And it wasn't warm there.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Bike patrol on a mission.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Their work ain't easy.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Although it is rewarding.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Riders on their way to the start of Stage 1, riding from Collado de Urdiceto. The liaison was a mix of pedaling and hiking.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Riding at 2,600m from Pena Blanca to Puerto de la Madera.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Once the start line was set, the bike patrols dropped towards Stage 2.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Due to shuttling logistics, for stage 3 the riders were split into two groups. The first group was lucky with the weather.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Inaki Gavin from MTBpro mag was another rider that got an R5 from Orbea for Trans-Nomad.


Deep in the Pyrenees at the Trans-Nomad Enduro Adventure Race - Photo Epic
I got another R5 to cover the race and both Inaki and I agreed on the bike feeling at home on this terrain. Photo: Nacho Trueba.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Nothing but epic views around Puerto de la Madera.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Riding in Mars.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Suddenly a huge cloud appeared out of the French side of the mountain. And it didn't bring good news.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Snowstorm! A strong wind and temperature drop changed the panorama. Here's Jacobo Santana battling the elements.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Both Antonio Ortiz and Jose Borges repairing a flat tire between stage one and two.


Trans-Nomad 2017
First meters of stage 2 for Borges under the snow.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Filmmaker Salva Moreno, Southern Spain resident, out of his temperature habitat.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Liaison from the Stage 2 finish line running through the beautiful Gistain valley.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Stage 3 delivered nothing but falling snow at the top and rain for the rest of the descent.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Even if the weather didn't want to cooperate, we got the views.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Fernando Marcos, 4th last year, descending to Benasque valley on Stage 4.



DAY 4


The menu for the last day included some of the best trails of Puro Pirineo: Sierra Negra, Planadona and Gallinero.

After three days of rain, snow, and wind, the last day brought the sunlight and warmer temperatures as if everything was already planned for a good ending to Trans-Nomad 2017.

A 1.5–2 hours ride and hike was necessary to reach the top of Stage 1 at Sierra Negra. Departing at 2,500m and descending on a fresh black dirt without marked trail, a freeriding feeling with awesome views, making your way into an alpine forest on a fast and technical track, wide open smile for all riders at the end of the stage. The liaison to Stage 2 included riding on Planadona, and made happy every rider with its 3km of pure flow trail, a mandatory one if you happen to be in this area. Gallinero and Bosque Encantado (Magic Woods) were stages three and four, with almost no liaison between them. These two tracks together gather almost everything you can ask in a trail: rocky sections, fast trail sector, technical sectors, flow section, lots of corners, jumps, drops, pedaling section, and great views. Montisielo was the last stage, delivering more flow in the pine woods. Repeating the script of the previous day, François Bailly-Maître and Sandra Jorda set the fastest times for the day.

Trans-Nomad 2017
Salva Moreno fills his water bottle out of a creek with an iron composition riverbed.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Eventually, at least for the last day, the weather had mercy on us all day long.



Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017

Pablo, the TN bike patrols leader, enjoying a moment of relax at work.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Down from Sierra Negra. Riders cruising the mountain on the first stage.


Trans-Nomad 2017
FBM followed closely by Jose Borges.

Trans-Nomad 2017
Markel Uriarte lost his third position on behalf of his team mate.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Cesar Gairin on his way to the podium on the last day.


Trans-Nomad 2017
A day to celebrate.


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Simon Andre had a consitent performance at TN, being second every day but the last one when he placed 4th.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Sandra Jorda at Sarrau Rollo sector.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Too many possible lines on this middle section of Gallinero when you are racing blind.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Charging down the 'red earth' at Gallinero. Francois Bailly-Maitre took no prisoners in the last two days.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Bosque Encantado delivering the light...


Trans-Nomad 2017
...and the tall pines.


Trans-Nomad 2017
Where's Waldo?


Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017
Beer time to celebrate the adventure.



Trans-Nomad 2017


Trans-Nomad 2017

The winners of Trans-Nomad 2017, Ze Manel Borges and Sandra Jorda. Simon Andre and Nadine Sapin occupied the second step of the podium while Cesar Gairin and Beatriz Vicente made it to the third position.


Fall is already at the doors of the Pyrenees. Winter is coming and we can't wait for the 2018 season.

You can have a look at the final results here.


21 Comments

  • 18 0
 amazing photos! felt like i was there, even got a chill from those snow pics.
  • 2 0
 This is MIND BLOW!!!...AND THE SNOW!
  • 10 0
 Looks sick! Serious suffer-fest with the arduous conditions! Great photography!
  • 6 1
 Chapeau! This is my kind of biking! Adventure riding is typically quite tough, but linking up high passes and empty valleys and maybe riding where no one has ridden before is a completely different kind of stoke. It does look like there are also a lot fewer cows in the Pyrennees than in the swiss alps which correspondingly makes for much better trails!
  • 6 0
 The word 'epic' get overused so much these days but everything here is. The pictures and the riding and the whole event. Great article and shots.
  • 6 0
 Fantastic photos! Looks like one of those 'fun' death marches...
  • 6 1
 looks like fun. More like exploring instead of only riding.
  • 5 0
 WOW! That looks like a super experience!
  • 1 0
 I'm jealous! Where do these people find time to have so much fun!? Either they have the most laid back employer, not married with kids or just don't give a flying fig haha! Cheers to you mates here here for living life!
  • 6 1
 Need a bigger bucket
  • 3 0
 Thank you for this magnifient report and these beautiful pictural which summarize well what we lived!!! ????????❄️????
  • 3 0
 #breauxdureaux 2.0 ? for 2018
  • 3 0
 Great pics, some sweet scenery!
  • 2 0
 What a brilliant write up i wish pinkbike would cover more stuff this thoroughly
  • 2 0
 Wow that looks amazing great pics and great writing! Now I wanna go do it =)
  • 3 0
 Looks awesome!
  • 3 0
 Looks out of this world!
  • 2 0
 Thanks a bunch to everyone for your comments on the photos! appreciate it!
  • 3 1
 Wow. Just wow.
  • 1 0
 Come with us and live in the Pyrénées.
  • 2 0
 proper mountain biking

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