After a fairly big gap in between the races, it was time to head to the Alps to race Round Four of the Enduro World Series. The gap was big enough to feel nervous and anxious all over again, almost as if it was the start of the season again. It’s been a busy few weeks since the last round in Scotland. I raced a two-day blind race in the Jura region, the taxing, six-day Trans Provence race, and then headed over to Les Deux Alpes to help SRAM with their Lyrik product launch. Good times, but busy times.
The one thing that I was super excited about this round was that it didn’t take up your entire week prior with practice. I love this format: show up on Friday, get registered, and go straight into racing. You’d do a run down the racetrack to see it, and then head straight back up to race it, and and it kept on like that through the weekend. I feel this is most true to the discipline, it is more like “blind” racing, you don’t have time to sit and watch Go Pro footage in-between runs, and you have a more concise weekend of racing, making it possible for more people who have normal jobs to attend and participate.
On Friday we were able to walk one of the tracks, as there would be no practice run on it, so we had one pretty much blind stage, which was exciting. You have to hold back just a little bit and it mixes it up. The format changes slightly at every venue, and it keeps everyone on their toes. I like that things and formats keep changing – it makes things interesting, especially these days where a lot of racers tend to go to the race venues a few days (or even months) prior to see if they can get a few sneaky runs in on any of the potential tracks.
It hadn’t rained for the last six weeks due to a crazy heat wave that has hit France this summer, so we’ve been riding in the hottest, dustiest, driest conditions that I’ve ever experienced in France before. Even the lush, evergreen hills of the Alps were a bit brown and dry. Of course, as Murphy would have it, the heavens opened up right as the women went up for our first race run of the day. This after we’ve just finished our practice run, which was in the incredibly dry and dusty conditions. Absolutely drenched by the time we got to the start gate, there was an hour delay and we had to make the best of trying to stay warm hovering over the little generator that was running for the timing – getting high on the fumes in the process (not ideal just before a race)!
So, as you can imagine, that practice run was an absolute waste of time, and the race run was a slippery, muddy, wet, rooty, rocky mess of an affair. Of course none of the lines could be hit nor any of the steep uphills ridden due to these slippery conditions. There was so much clumsiness going on, trying to run uphill, slipping backwards, fogged up goggles, gasping of air, missing the pedals trying to get back on the bike, hooking my shorts, the list of fumbles and stumbles goes on and on, resulting in frustration, which turned to lots of giggles when I just started riding the trail and stopped trying to race. Everyone had a struggle and turns out I didn’t do too badly after all.
Of course after that race run, it cleared up, the sun came back out, copious amounts of sun block had to be reapplied and it was back to heat wave temperatures with the odd rocks and roots still slimy in between the dusty sections in the forest. All the stages were amazing, I loved them all, they were natural and raw, fun and flowy, but also just the right amount of steep and technical. Samoens was the perfect, typical French village to host the venue and to give everyone a sampling of what France has to offer in terms of mountain biking. I will most definitely head back there for a riding holiday.
All in all, we had a magic weekend with the Santa Cruz boys and with Allan and Marshy helping us out (even though Marshy broke his collarbone the day before the race), keeping our steeds race ready and clean, and most importantly keeping us fed and hydrated. Cheers, guys!
Kelli and I had our best EWS race weekend so far this season, – Kelli finished in 10th spot and I in 12th. YAH! I was really pleased as I managed to also get two tenth places on Sunday, so now I have new fire to keep trying to crack the top 10 again this season – or at least have fun trying to get there!
Thanks again to everyone for their support at these crazy races and to Fred and all the organizers for another top weekend. Bravo!
Go Team Juliana SRAM!
I’ve just had an amazing few days of exploring some mind-blowing trails in some really big, really remote, spectacular mountains here in France with a great crew. I’m knackered now, heading home tomorrow to see my family for the next three days, do loads of laundry, not ride my bike and pack up for the next month in North America. Burritos here I come!