Date 15.-21.7.2018

20 years of Transalp – Part 4: one man, one bike, one will

In our fourth part of our 20 years of Transalp racing series we take you back some 15 years when one US-American wrote history by crossing the Alps as first with a major handicap.

Every now and then, there are people who are born with an incredible will, people who will never give up and take up every challenge they might face. One of them is Brett Wolfe.

And the challenge he was up to back in 2002 was the BIKE Transalp. Wolf wanted to complete the world's toughest mountain bike stage race with one leg.

Twelve years before, he had lost his right leg due to a motor cycle accident while he only survived thanks to his superb physical shape. It was a stroke of fate which made him think about his life and how precious it is.

“I wanted to do everything which I was going to do fully focused,” he explained in an interview with the BIKE magazine back in the days. There was no time for pitifulness or to back out as the passionated mountain biker was on a mission. Within just a few months (8!) he was back on his bike, ready for new – from there on one-legged – adventures.

And that's how he became a living myth of the BIKE Transalp.

After having competed in several 24h races, participating in La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica as well as in the Transrockies in Canada, the back then 36-year-old was ready for the crossing of the main ridge of the Alps. And over the course of the 2002 race edition, he indeed mastered climbs which are actually a real test for experienced hikers.

The third stage was the most extreme racers had ever have to complete. Wolfe was facing a route which featured unrideable gravel terrain. How should a man with only one leg drag his mountain bike over this massive choss desert? Should he even start?

He did, and he found his own method to master the hours-long climb to the St. Poelten hut. Thanks to his cast-iron will, he placed his right leg stump on the cross bar, pushed the bike forward, pulled the breaks while he simultaniously pulled his left leg behind. Hour after hour.

Metre after metre he fought his way up and finally made it to the top. “It was an incredible feeling, when everyone who was sitting in the cafes alongside the home straight got out of the chairs and started to give me a hand. I had leaped all hurdles,” he said afterwards.

Thereafter, the rest of the race was a cakewalk for him.

But by mastering one of the most extreme stages in history Brett Wolfe underlined that everything is possible. Ever since, there have been many handicapped participants who have completed the BIKE Transalp but Wolfe has deservedly earned his chapter in the history books thanks to his outstanding performance back in 2002.