Caroline and Mark Livesey take on Transcordilleras 2024

Last Sunday (18 Feb 2024) Mark and Caroline Livesey completed the gruelling Transcordilleras gravel/mountain bike race in Colombia.


Traversing three of Colombia’s immense mountain ranges, this 1035km, 21,000m ascent 8 day stage race is one of the most gruelling gravel ultracycling races in the world and one of the only ones to feature this stage race format. It is rapidly growing in popularity due to its incredible scenery and challenging route, and this year’s race had a stellar line up.

Mark and Caroline have done many difficult physically testing endurance events, including the 750km non-stop Badlands gravel race, but both found this to be amongst the most testing things that they have ever done.



“The combination of high altitude, rough terrain (often more suited to a mountain bike), extremely long ascents and descents (sometimes >30km), and temperatures which topped 40 degs C at times made this a real physical test.” said Caroline. “8 days is a long time to be racing, and each day brought it’s own ups and downs. Unfortunately I got quite sick with a stomach bug during Stage 3 which lasted until after the end of the race. That created it’s own challenges, and I had to be really careful with my efforts, riding to how I felt each day and fuelling on just bananas. There were a few moments where I really thought my body was not going to be strong enough to finish, so I am really happy that I managed to complete the race successfully with the third fastest female time of 59 hours and 34 mins. This race has definitely made me a better bike handler!”.



Mark streaked ahead, making the most of the added benefit of the Hiride suspension forks he fitted to his Terra for this race.  Riding strongly and consistently each day Mark said the hardest part for him was the management of hydration:
“The lower elevations in Colombia are always hot, but we had the added bonus of hitting an especially hot week here which meant that some of the stages were almost unbearable. The heat and humidity topped anything I have experienced before. But even the wild, remote areas of Colombia that we traversed had small shops along the roadside to top up fluids. The benefit of a Stage race format like this (in contrast to the non-stop version) is that each night we stopped in beautiful villages and had some time to see the colonial architecture and meet friendly locals. We experienced such incredibly diverse and extraordinary parts of Colombia. This is a race I won’t forget.”

Mark and Caroline were really impressed with all their kit.
“I can’t believe the battering that the Terra was able to withstand this week” said Caroline. “There were numerous times when I hit rocks or potholes so hard that I was sure I must have broken something. Neither of us suffered any mechanical problems on either the bike or the Parcours Alta wheels. On the final stage which was a 120km road stage (the only road stage of the race) my bike felt like it was rolling so fast and completely at home on the roads even after a week of being shaken to death! My body was a lot worse off than the bike!”


Mark’s total time for the race was 53 hours 14 mins and he finished with the 15th fastest male time. 

Both of them loved the race and are spending the next four weeks doing a bit more exploring in Colombia on their bikes.

Kit:

Orbea Terra M20i Team 2023 Shimano GRX , 31-48T, 38/11

Wheels: Parcours Alta

Tyres: Pirelli Cintuaro 45mm Gravel RC