The Traka was reaffirmed once again on the weekend of May 1st in Girona/Spain, as one of the leading gravel events in Europe. Event promotion company, Klassmark, has earned a reputation for hosting the best events in the European gravel scene. The 2022 edition of THE TRAKA wrapped up with 800 participants from more than 30 different countries.
Amateur gravel cyclists, newcomers, and ex-professional cyclists joined together to ride in the gravel paradise of the Spanish Peninsula.
There is a saying in Germany – “Things firstly turn out differently than secondly one thirdly thinks“. My plan was to do intensive bike training in March and ride the 360-kilometer route of THE TRAKA. However, a Coronavirus infection at the end of March with subsequent quarantine knocked about my rhythm.
Based on this fact, I adjusted my plan and stood on May 1st, 2022 in Girona at the start of the 200-kilometer course of THE TRAKA. The start took place punctually at 7 a.m. on a damp meadow, 11 degrees Celcius.
THE TRAKA, with its 200 kilometers of route, ascends directly over two steep and snappy climbs near the beginning of the route. Startline melee out of the way, everyone was riding full throttle to tackle the steep climb that leads out of Girona. My heart rate was also climbing, to over 170bpm. The early parts of the forest tracks traverse several muddy gravel roads, with some participants resembling breaded schnitzel, after taking an excursion into the muddied waters.
In the first 20 kilometers, we ascend more than 500 meters. The steepest climbs are almost a gradient of 20%. The track then heads towards the sea on fast and dry gravel roads. Like so many others, I cannot find the second refreshment station in Pals. Improvisation is key, and a handy fountain provided a refill point for my bottles. After 115 kilometers had passed, came the most challenging and longest climb. It’s almost 10 kilometers long, with grades of up to 16%, and about 400 meters above sea level. This is followed by a fast descent on a wide slope, and later a downhill on a winding paved road. After the penultimate refreshment station, the track changes direction. The last 80 kilometers are hilly, even if the climbs are not as long and demanding.
At the last refreshment station, I fill my bottles with Coke, a drink of champions! A few steep short climbs follow. I ride in a group with Americans, Canadians, and Spaniards. My chain falls off the sprocket at a muddy underpass, and the group drives towards the finish line without me. Just 15 kilometers from the finish, my front wheel slips, and I fall hard onto my left side. A lot of blood runs from my left arm onto my handlebars and my shoes. My cycling shorts are torn, my hip is bruised and my knee is covered with blood.
Unfortunately, there was no chance I can catch the group ahead of me, but I finished the ride in just under 8.5 hours. I roll straight to the paramedic station, they disinfect my wounds and bandage accordingly.
Despite my small mishap, I will definitely return for 2023, and ride the 360km route, albeit with better preparation, tires with more knobs, and hopefully, no crashes!
The Traka is the most famous gravel race of the events team at Klassmarks. The event agency organizes numerous running and cycling events in Spain. It is also about sustainable development of the region and above all the further development of sustainable tourism.
- Homepage: https://www.klassmark.com/thetraka/
- The Track: https://www.komoot.de/tour/751834014
- Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Nr9FjL4Y8
- Video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it9Vj_EQxxI
- Video 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvKoOn6ee1k