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Val’ D’Allos. Probably one of my favourite places on earth. The 2011 Enduro Series came back round. This time I was running Lone Wolf but with minimal stress due to knowing what was coming. A brutal but beautiful 2 days of racing with 10,000, yes, Ten Thousand metres of descending.

Having had a virus for 2 days and feeling less than perfect, even considered not going, I was a little concerned about being upto the task in hand. I went for a little ride on Friday evening to see how I felt. I pretty much forgot about feeling crap as soon as I looked around me. There is something extremely special about the area. The mountains, the climate, the vegetation, the light. Its magic. Go there.

Tent setup, pasta consumed, to bed and a pretty rubbish sleep. Standard. Went for a comfort break at 3am and the clarity of the night sky was incredible. I could clearly see each constilation instead of just a bunch of stars..pretty but should have been sleeping! Waking up I popped my head out of tent to see the sun rising over the Mercantour and immediate heat. Make no mistake, we are in the South. Minimal flapping from me. I now know what needs to be done and the timing. For example, I don’t need to miss my morning coffee to jump in line for the lift. Oh no. Eat well, caffenate, prep and leave.

With that I jumped on lift without the massive delay of last year and took in the view. From minute number 1 I practised my French with a variety of guys. All very friendly and talkative. Some new comers, some old timers.

Saturday: Is the day of DH orientated competition. Three different tracks done twice each. Almost the same as last year I didn’t need too much time to warm up. Was pretty pleased with my opening run. No errors, no real delays and solid. It always surprises me the level at these races and its got higher now that its officially the French National Series and everyone has been training! Most noticably Miss Anne Caro Chausson who posted 2 9th positions and an overall 13th for the day. Its incredible that she is challenging the big boys. I’d love for her to win a special!

I had 3 really good runs and 3 runs where I chose a bad time to depart and got held up. Every moment you pause, hesitate, mistime a corner, fall in a bush or get delayed by another rider you are going down the ranks. That instills a very high sense of tempo in everyone. Fast. Very Fast. There is a skill to over taking of riders…a quick shout as soon as you spot them, then more informing the closer you get and then a move or they let you pass. There is no time/energy for waiting and if you get the chance to get past them before a bottle neck you only have yourself to blame.

Anyhow, I finished up the day with my riding getting to a place that I was happy with. Think I pulled in a couple of 40 ish position runs which really makes me happy considering the level. I snuck into 59th position for Saturday which is great (although last year my goal was top 50 it wasn’t really acheivable, this year different story).

A great atmosphere, paella party and early night leads into Sunday. The Business end of things. Although the ‘Coupe De France’ is determined by the 2 different days and points awarded for that everyone is looking for the overall finish. Sunday is where the battle really happens with significantly more physical requirement and more and longer visits to the Pain Cave.

Last year it was super brutal with a horrible climb up a ridge but this year it seemed to have a better balance. Beginning of stage 3 from Staturday through beuatiful meadows and then spin off and climb upto last years ace course. A nasty little climb that was steep at first then slowly flattend out. If you gave too much, too early the longer flatter bit was horrendous but saying that you were so keen to get On The Gas and pass EVERYONE! Mwhuhuhuhuhu!

This then came in to the traversy tech singletracks that had 2 river crossing with steep banks to push out before the fun began again. First run this fun got more fun than I barginned for!!! Absolutely flying I somehow seemed to have LocationTravelled to Yorkshire in winter! A huge bog. I had the first 3-4 step drops before the inevitable happened. A full front wheel sucked into the mud and me catapulted through the air and other competitiors!! A soft anf gooey landing, rolling around, laughing and then eventually pulling bike out I got back on bike then slid to the bottom of bank. Covered in mud but all good.

Flat fireroad and back to the Gas Chamber. In the red and into singletrack which goes on and on and on till the end. I went to far into red and never recovered. Bit of a passenger on the bike, hands like claws and just wanting it to be done. Hardly able to hold onto the grips at 30mph is a bit worrysome!

Final sprint and done. Messy. Body a mess, cough racking my body and felt pretty bad. On the return I considered quitting but knew that the next one would be better, the first run is always the worst. A 20:35 sec run was tough, 2 more to go and I’ll get it around 19.

Run 2 was excellent and I felt on top of the world this time. Followed two guys down who held me up a little but was fun following, on the Elevator took them and powered through…some small errors here and there but good. 19:49. Better.

Last run on this special and I put it all out there. It was going so well, clear track and I properly owned every corner. Had a little Team Davros moment out in the meadows…A good lous shout of ‘EEEEEEEllllllssssss!!!’ is what happens when you high on EndoCrackain! Wooop. Elevator destroyed and then the last 3rd discarded with a disregard for safety. Just the steep last turns and I’d be home and dry…woops.

Front wheel tucked in on the 8th from last corner and over I went, missed tree, banged knee and at least 2 somersaults down the steep hillside before I came ro rest. Back up, on bike and get it finished. 30 odds secs lost and finished with a 19:41. Would I have got sub 19 mins? Who knows?

Very happy to have finished the 3 hard stages and with only one more to go I have to admit to wanting it to be over so I could start recovering..not the best mindset. Went up and waiting along time for the right time to go. Too much time spent mulling it all over and off I went. Didn’t start great and just as I got into it after the first quarter I heard that terrible sound.


‘Fuck. Please seal, please, please, please’

Nope. Game over. I tried to limp down but no way. Oh well, its one of those things. I suppose I could have swapped out to a dual ply DH tyre for last run but I didn’t.

Was more than a bit pleased with the pain to be over and a really solid performance considering. After checking the results I was running 46th for the day before the puncture. THAT is a win.

Some post race analysis of times and percentage away from winners and 30th place positions revelas just how tight it is. I am not going to compare against winners (12 -18%) as thats not really a realistic goal but 30th position. On the Saturday I ranged from 13.8% behind to 5.48% slower than 30th. 5% is 40 secs…which over 400(guessing) turns/ corners over a 1000m descent equates to being 0.1 secs slower through each turn…not sure if that has any validity but this sport is about effiency and consitency whilst being fast.

Interestingly looking at Sunday we see me getting closer to 30th with a range of 2.6% and 6% slower BUT getting even further away from the Top Guns (21 – 19 – 21%). They really are Beasts of the highest order!  However, I can look back at last years results and really see some significant improvements. Last year I was 35 – 28 -24% slower than Fast Boys. So I can see I am massively faster and much more consitent from the getgo…

In the end of the day it doesn’t matter or change anything however to be able to see the cold hard facts that I was faster validates all the hard work and beer and food sacrifices. Of course it is ALL good because this racing lark is way more than the race.

Lets see what Les Arcs will bring.

Here is the video from the race:

Some little piccies too:


Viddy clicky

Its good AND I am in it gor about 2 x 2 secs. 😉 Skip the French chat.

After an easy day on Thursday (Ascension) you would have thought I would have been well prepared. Maybe I should write myself a list of things I should always take to races…that would be clever rather than just wandering around picking things up and randomly throwing them in the car. I have a lot of tyres but for some reason I choose not to take them cos I ‘know’ what I need from my dark mancave 400km’s away from the race location. Luckily Mike Carr brought the world from Walsall and I was kept like a king (apart from a sleeping bag!!)

Did a little tour of the Voseges on the way to La Bresse, I see it as getting to know the area, you might see it as getting lost. Stunning area. Just made for riding ‘push bikes’ on. A feed, a beer, a chat about tyres and stuff, hiding from midges and the make shift sleeping bag was hit.

The weekend was scheduled to be pretty relaxed in terms of timing. Register in the morning, have coffee, chat, see whats what and then roll out of the start at 13:00 for our numbers (we were nicely riding together for the first day). Format is classic All Mountain:

Leave at given time, plenty of time to get to stage, walk first 300 yards and then queue up for start time then beast yourself. Repeat.  A fairly physical 1300m of climbing was advertised and combined with flat out racing that quickly sorts out those who pretend to bike and those who bike. Combined with some very warm and close conditons meant it was Sweatsville, Arizona.

Walking the first section I was very excited indeed. Chris and Mike had ridden this section the day before and said it was very, very good and FAST. Think dark forest, perfect trails with lots of Sandstone rocks for features, tight, twisty and just plain ace. Mike was 15 secs ahead of me and then a large minute gap to Chris so it really favoured me as it gave me a target (with a massive helmet!) and then a clean(ish) run. Mike is a great guy and  just popping his Euro Enduro Cherry and wouldn’t have any ego issues of letting me past.

Into the first section and gave it Full Gas and then into the single, a little tentative but then felt the flow immediately and just loving the track. Blind and as fast as possible. Rocky, slight exposure, twists, turns and really, really fast. Spinning out my 34 x 12 fast but on a singletrack a foot wide! Caught Mike and then just attacked and attacked and attacked. Into the final area and there are loads of people on the course shouting encouragement. LOVE IT!

Get to the bottom and I think the first thing I said after getting my breath is ‘I LOVE RACING!’ So good, you just can’t recreate race pace. Its intense and addictive.

Big long climb to 2nd Special. Looks ace, I don’t really want to know whats coming and just get on with it. This is the hard special with 2 longish climbs that is a place to leave it all (although you still have a long way to go). The trail is simply magical and I’m in the zone. Catch 3 other riders near the bottom. Around 7 minutes. Have to have a pretty good lie down at the bottom.

Another smallish climb and everyone can feel the pain after that effort. This next trail is 4mins ish and tech. Really tech but absoulutely great. Then some awkward twisting and turning through flatter forest is tricky to spot things early enough but just fantastic. Probably my ‘worst’ of the 4 specials time wise.

The final push. Literally. 350m of mostly deathmarch pushing really splits people and makes them suffer. I’m in my little zone of pleasure. Knowing this is the last special I push the pace to up my ante. No idea of whats ahead I sprint off and hit my balls for the 3rd time nose diving into a ditch! Oof.

This trail is something else. Probably the most tech trail I have ever raced on with some serious consequence. Some proper switchbacks and a rock section that a marshall tells me to slow down on. I ignore him as I am full of confidence and The Red Mist. Things to take away from this race. Listen to marshalls. I narrowly escape plunging off a cliff as I fully compress down a rock drop into a left hand corner with a drop straight ahead. THAT was close! Thank you Fox suspension and Tyre compounds for keeping me alive! Mike has a little off down there so it couldn’t have been as deathly as I make out but it felt like a big drop at the time.

Full of Adrenaline I pick rider after rider on the tech/physical traverse and feel I am coming to the end as I can hear a lot of cheering. Same finish as first stage and I have it. Wow. Done. What an amazing trail.

Finished with the day we opt out of shuttle back up and spin out the lactic for the 10k ride back up the hill and round the day out with 1500m of climbing and 38km of riding. I am over the moon with my performance, Mike survived his first Enduro day, Chris is a bit frustrated with being blocked and not being aggressive enough to get past but all in all it was A grade with a statement of  ‘this is the best yet’ from Chris.

Shower and then we head to the Pasta Party. Yes, included in the price of 40 euros for 2 days riding is goody bag, 4 lift ups (Sunday), uplift back from bottom and a proper good meal with dessert and a drink. All because the whole commune is behind the event. Excellent stuff.

We then check our times and placings. This is where the bottom of my world fell out. I made a couple of mistakes but nothing much and it is impossible to ride flawlessly for the whole time, I have trained for 6 months now and had a whole race season last year. I have a new light and awesome bike, I am the lighest I have ever been and I rode extremely well. Extremely well. Based on Enduro Series ranking which is a much more talent packed race I managed to break into top 50 last year. In this race I was looking at top 30 as a goal.

When I saw the position 53rd I was properly gutted and surprised. I just couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t have gone faster. The long and short of it is that it crushed my ego into a little pile of poo.

It felt like all of the training had been a waste, I’m just not good enough etc..etc…Its probably easy for someone to say ‘oh its your first race, let it go, doesn’t mean much etc’ but when I know in my heart that I rode to the way I want to ride and performed physically to the way I can its just crushing. Also the basic essence of why I race was not fufilled i.e. I want to do as well as I can in a sport I have reasonable skill and my ego has a certain level that it is expecting.

I still had an amazing day racing and riding new trails with old and new friends. I had to push out my chest and take it on the chin. Bed. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday was a more DH orientated day with lift assistance and some pretty hard riding. Especially after a heavy fall of rain in the night. Changed rear tyre and to battle I went. Early start and another hard tech trail. I didn’t ride as well as I did the day before and was a little tentative. Get through without crashing was my mindset. That mindset came from the night before. A defensive, hurt mindset. Its easy to see it in hindsight.I did try my very best and I had moments of real flow but overall I was not on my Saturday pace.

However, the trails. Oh man. Loved them! 1st special was just incredible. Loam, rocks, steep, slippery then a balls out 1 min plus pedal along a lake and into flatter but equally tech and rocky sinlgle. Oof. Tough at 9 in the morning. 7 mins ish

2nd Special had smallest amount of ‘just’ pedalling and was hard. It was nice to  see the little bits of pedalling to breathe and be relieved that you are still on the bike! Lower sectionwas pretty nuts and then a final taped out course across piste to finish. 6-7 mins

First 2 were ok. No real issues but nothing special either, the second time was better but overdid pedalling and crashed in rocks due to inability to coordinate. Last run was good enough and was very happy to be finished in one peice.

Chris was storming his last 2 runs which I was really happy about as he’d suffered with a lack of aggresion before. Mike survived and did really well. Props to you Mike!

Beers, food and hanging out enjoying the atmosphere and catching up with new and old friends (The OTT’s and Jasper the Belgium).

Post Op: Chris and I had worked out that something was afoot in the timing as the guy who started 45 secs ahead of him and he was catching every run and sometimes passing (if he could get past) had a better time than Chris. Hold on…Wrong. Looking at the times bearing in mind on a couple of stages I was then only 5-10 secs behind Chris (45 secs in front)  but my official time was 9 secs difference from Chris. No complaining or hassling but an error was made. I am now shopping for a DMC Lap timer as I can only guess at what my true time was. Dissapointed but also vindicated. I know that I hit the top 20 on Saturday and there is an awful lot of good things to be taken away from the weekend for me personally.

Apart from these issues it really was the most incredible race, in an incredible area, beautifully organsised, huge friendliness from the locals and non locals. Loved every second of it. Bring on Val D’Allos!

Metabief, Montreux, McPuppy, Monday, Mechanical assistance, Mud (bit of), Mighty Fine Singletrack, Millions of Metres Descended.

In Spring one of the first places to truly open is Metabief. Located just inside France in the Jura mountains they do a great job of providing quick, lift assisted action. With only 400m of vert its surprisingly tough! Think more of a stepped profile with some seriously challenging trails that are made  much harder by limestone, roots and a clay-like substrate. One of the hardest palces to ride in the wet.

So with that and a forecast of heavy rain I went there. Nothing like forcing yourself to ride shit like this. Found more and more trails this time and was again left thinking how hard it was but ultimately great. Will return again to mash out run after run.

Out of the habit of writing this.

So where are we? Ah…Spring/summer. Feels like I have been riding for months. Well thats cos I have. the winter of 2010/2011 must go down as a lean, lean year. Great early snow of Chrimbo then nothing. Surviving on that snow till Mid Feb was too much and the conditons allowed for the bike to come out.

As soon as that happens a part of me is lost. The training plus actual MTB riding conspired to make a motivating fire along with a Boot Camp in early March in Novato, California meant I was 100% biking come early Feb.

The said Boot Camp was something else. 6 days of Hard, Hard riding with a too bigger gear up steep hills with some fast MoFo’s (some of the fastest MoFo’s in the world) all means I am above and beyond last year by someway.

A new bike (Specialized S-Works Enduro) and a new outlook on some other details means I feel like I can be dangerous in my races. I have chosen not to race Early this year and spread the races out so it keeps my motivation up and I get to ride for pleasure.

June: All Mountain Series Hautes Voseges and Enduro Series Val D’Allos

July: Enduro Series Les Arcs and Valloire

September: All Mountain Series Portes Enduro Des Mercantour

October: Flims, MaxiAvalanche and SuperEnduro Finale Ligura

Training has changed this year. Last years work can now be built upon and focus on more specific items whilst also taking it a little less serious. A better balance.

Very Excited to see what happens. My competitors from Enduro Series etc have been racing for a month or so but I don’t mind. They can do what they want. Lets see how a 1olb weight loss from last year (bike plus me) effects my performance.

Haven’t got back into doing my blog. Lots has been happening. Back into training for the summer and have a good long list of Enduro events. This year they are spread out a lot more so less stress and less impact on normal life.

Skiing. Yes. Lots and lots and lots of Chrimas and New Year. Great christmas present of a foot of cold snow. Unfortunately we have been living of this for a while before a warming period and some more snow. Its been a lean Jan but is fairly standard. Cold weather means snow has stayed good and stable and if you like to walk you’ll still get the goods.

Biking: Yes. Been trying to get out a bit often with commutes and some bike rides. Its just great to be out and the highlight was a solo nightride at Branson with new light. Ace.

A load of photos

Still resting my little fingers (well, thats my excuse) I took 2 windows of freetime this weekend to crack out a couple of rides on the road bike. I had been secretly hankering after this for ages and it just was perfect with 3 hrs to spare each day.

Saturday: Verbier – Mauvoisan Dam. A stunning valley stretches east. 20km ish and 1100m of climbing with 2 climbs, a lovely wide valley and simple peace and quiet. The weather was A grade and it really couldn’t have been any better. Popping into see Vanessa and Thibaut he left me with “if you can do it in an hour you’re fit”.


Now…I still had to get back upto Verbier AND try and break the Verbier Peleton record of 36:45 (Neil) so I couldn’t do myself in too much but I pretty much went at a fair old pace. Its a great climb and JUST incredible to look around. A diversion up a hill water stop put me behind but still going well. The final part kicks up but ALL the time its difficult to really suffer as its just so beautiful.

Made it around 1hr 15min, ate stuff and high tailed it back so not to be late. Descent was rapid!

Hit round about at Chable and gunned it. I knew I didn’t have much and probably went too hard. Hot and hard work. Sweating in my eyes trying to keep composure. Just beneath Mediere I started coming apart. Little lightweight guy zipped past me, held his wheel for a few mins..struggling. Hurtsville. Just trying to maintain speed.

Enter lower slopes of verbier and another lightweight rider comes past. Looking fresh and Euro compared to my disheveled, sweating, gasping, pathetic corpse. Do my very best to go after Verbier Village…not much in there. Make it to Place Centrale in 37:30 and I am done…1700m up on all in the red. Youch.

Big night Sat


After ‘recovering’ I head off for a more chilled ride. Well same distance/elevation but not on the rivet like Saturday. I decide to do the La Valletes – Champex Lac climb which is pretty steep but pretty.

This one starts steepish and keeps going and stays steep and then steepens up a bit more. Hairpins stacked on top of each other at times. Just stunning. Climbing at 900m/h, in smallest gear and making a big effort to not go into red. Slip higher and higher into great forest. Nice little singletrack crosses road.

Higher up I get an incredible view up into Aiguille de Genepi. The NE couloir is a huge ski tick I want. Pretty excited to see it and also how to get into it.

On and on I ride. Gradient eases off, spanking new tarmac and constantly craning neck at the views. I eventually crest the col and roll into Champex after 58 mins for 830m climbed and a big smile. LOADS of people here. Have a sit down next to lake, eat a bar, refill water and off.

Its amazing how fast you can go on a bike down a road. Great views into other valleys and other trips. Head back to Chable and climb back to Verbier at same pace as rest of day. Not too fast, not too much pain, loads of sweat but no grimacing today. 43 mins and ok.

Get back to see Neil and Gareth just finished flogging themselves in Mano o Mano. Gareth learnt a few things about a Turbo Trainer!!

Gone are the days of just mountain biking for me….so much more to it all.

August rolls in and that equals the end. The end of racing for 2010 BUT what a finish. The scene for the final round of the Enduro Series was Valloire, France. Named ‘The High Race’ it did not disappoint. For some reason I was under the impression it was going to be an ‘easy’ race. I don’t know why. It wasn’t. It was probably the hardest of them all.

Same format as the others. Three tracks, 3 x 1 saturday morning, 1 x 2 in the afternoon and 4 x number 3 on sunday. One x number 2 Sat afternoon? What? You getting soft or what? Ahhh. Well. We’ll get to that.

Friday night I met up with the WTB boys who had been scoping the area for a couple of days. Immediately I was informed about the word gnarly. Sorry, Gnarly. They showed me some pics, vids and instilled a sense of respect. Tyre change for the morning as it was a fresh track. A fresh track means a taped track through the high alpine with virtually no singletrack in situ.

Saturday morning dawned perfect weather and up we went. The scenery round these parts is something else. Got to top, walked a small part of track and got nervous. I was pretty intimidated by the unknown and also standard race nerves. Off I went and a standard sub optimal first run. Not warmed up, WILD track and tentative = off the pace. 105th, its ok. i am used to it. Bit rattled BUT experience now helps me and I know I get stronger and stronger both in riding and physical output.

2nd Run. Bang. Thats what I’m talking about. Loving it more and a bit more dynamic but still not fluid. The bottom bike park stuff is beating my already beaten up hands. Have a little tumble trying to pass someone, quite amusing.

Run 3: Better but had some bouchon and had to force my way through. Glad to see the end of this track as the bike park part is just not my cup of tea but I knock of almost 2 mins from 17:02 on run 1 down to 15:09 on run 3.

The afternoon and only one run. This ‘only’ one run is from top to valley floor. A total of 1800m of descending and some solid pedaling to be done. I am feeling strong and warmed up now. A gel in and I’m off. First beginnings of track 1 but then a good pedal to hit the ridge. I’d put fast tyres for this and the difference is incredible. I take 10 riders on the first pedal..

Onto the ridge and skip past another group of 8 and I have an open section of some of the finest alpine singletrack. Supremly fast, open, a few rocks and constant small changes…into the trees for loamy, steep fun. Riders are clearly feeling the attrition from the morning and I skip past easily. People talk about ‘The Flow’ and I had it, incredible experience.

Into second traverse pedal, on the gas. I know I am only a 3rd into the stage but also know that I can afford to put everything I have into it. This is the time to attack. Traverse turns into nasty steep up, heart nearly comes out of mouth and then into tech traverse, flop along this for a minute and regain some coordination from my body. Down onto road and then THE TESTER. A gradual road climb that then goes onto a flat track alongside a water pipe. This is probably about 5-6 mins in total but is all about getting head down and ignoring the sirens screaming ‘STOP’! Its like a graveyard…people walking, broken bikes, broken people. I take strength from this and look to every single training session from Dec to now. I’m dribbling, spitting into full face helmet…Writing this I try to imagine the pain but I can’t…its been replaced in my memory as something not as bad as it was. My heart rate monitor tells a story of 7 minutes with my heart rate sitting above 193bpm and topping out at 197bpm. Thats painful.

Eventually I hit the final plunge into the valley. This plunge is 800m of vertical and semi paved, roman style. Its horrendously steep and never ending. Its so fast and so on the edge. My hands and forearms have gone through so much. At one point I couldn’t stop braking eve if I wanted too. They were locked on. I simply had to grit my teeth and get on with it. I let all the marshals know my pain by grunting and they responded with encouragement..I needed that.

Eventually it comes to an end. 36 minutes and 2 seconds of pain, suffering but ultimately an incredible sense of accomplishment. Its a scene of sorts at the bottom. I quickly roll down the road and get a lift back up with team WTB.

Jason had a puncture half way down scuppering his run but Mark Weir put in a stormer. Just 3 secs off Remy Absalon’s time of 30:29…3 secs over that distance is incredible! Pushing the boundaries. Without a huge off he would have won..A lot of respect from all the French riders  was duly given. Having been a bit downhearted about my position I was properly over the moon with making 58th on Saturday!

Sunday. Another perfect day in the mountains.  Format is simple. Four times 1 special stage. Tis is no ordinary stage though and is a true Alpine Enduro beast. Over 1000m of tough descending and some super solid pedaling meant it would be a hard day. 18-20 min runs on this beast.

Run1 was going really well and as normal I ride about 100 times better on day 2 of riding. Got a puncture but it sealed enough to get down. Gave it all I had to limit the damage to my time but probably lost a minute. Not the end of the world, quick tyre change and back up.

Run 2: Fantastic. Loving the course and loving the pedal. 2 mins up on first run as expected.

Run 3: Feeling good but rear brake goes so have less than optimal set up for what is a fast course. Little junior guy pops by me and I stick to his tail. Amazing rider for 14 (although gets time penalty for cheat lines!!). Power by him on pedal and finish strong (thankfully brake has returned for mental steep end).

Run 4. The final run. I’d bled my brakes but think the rear was still a bit funny. Thankfully front was super good. Tired. Really tired. Conserving energy on push up to the start.

A quiet place. Everyone is exhausted. Not much chat or banter. Sheltering from the sun we sit in silence summing up courage for the final run. I go.

I can feel I have no sprint left in me so I go for solid, consistent output. I won’t be able to hit max but I can still sit high up in the revs. Rear brake goes almost straight away but I know the course now and can take lines with more commitment. My hands are in tatters. My right wrist is in pain, my 2 little fingers have tendon injuries but what can I do…just go.

I have a complete, almost free run down. Really good, lacking the raw power, but fluid. I give it all through the last pedal, style it up over the last jump, jump into spectators corner and get caught behind a rider who is kickingup so much dust. Just hold on, stay on target.

And Finish. A mixture of relief and sadness fill me. Thats it. Done and I am well and truly done. Hands won’t grip much anymore.

The Enduro Series is over. All my focus, training and sacrifice has come to an end. A great feeling of success, the results don’t really matter as its more about personal challenge BUT I hit my target of top 50. That weekend I came 50th.

A true progression:

Metabief: 75th

Allos: 68th

Vars: 67th

Valloire: 50th

It was way, way harder and more competitive than I thought it would be, there are some amazing riders out there and fit to match. I have so many things to work on to improve and get better as a racer. Bring it on.

Everytime I do another Enduro Series I say…that is the best.

I find it hard to believe it can better than Vars. Scenery, friendliness, organisation, variety, trails..etc..etc.

After a terrible nights sleep e.g an hour of shivering I was not best prepared but Saturday was going to be a long day. First special at 8:30 with a total of 7 completed by 10:30pm in the dark! Something along the lines of 6000m of vert, 1 hr 40 mins racing time and 4000 calories used.

The format was fairly simple. 3 different stages. 1st one. Short track of 5k with 800m of vert. 11mins ish of flat out Twistathon. Incredible. 3 x that please. Check

2nd Special. Double length and more enduro style i.e. more pedallig but not too much. Very physical in lower section and super high speed grass section. Absolutely ace and pain cave visiting 15 mins.

Final stage of day. The twilight/Dark trail. 4k, 400m vert and a man made feel. 7 mins of flat out RADNESS! We all left in a mass line. I swear there were 15 riders i front of me and 15 behind. All hell bent on going as fast as possible. SO MUCH FUN but almost zero potential to pass.

Come 10pm its a different story. Its a bit of an arms race in terms of lighting tecnology and thankfully Phil from BikeVerbier lent me his almighty light. The racing was no slower and full on. I gave one french guy a lesson in reasons to not block me.

Pizza and BED! Oh that sleep was good.

Sunday. An easier schedule with just 3 special stages. However, this stage had it all. 99% singletrack, high ridgline rocky stuff, then in to a grassy meadow that criss crossed a river gully. SUBLIME stuff. Couple of little pedals with one that hurt before dropping you immediately into singletrack through trees. To die for. Hold on, off the brakes and try and spot the lines early. Hold on and give it everything to the end. 12 mins x 3 of pure exhilaration.

First 2 I went off with people of around my speed. Somethign amazing about that. Someone over takes you and you just stick on their wheel, follow them and then try and regain that position.

Final one I was pooped so decided to go at the back and run my own race. Was loving it, picking off people here and there. Then the Dorian  lad zipped past me and I tailed him to the end using his French lines and aiding him with my English pushyness for back markers…

All in. Done. Finished. A great Sunday that left enough energy to drive home.

Am literally clawing my way up positions. Managed 67th. Yes, ONE place higher than the last one in Allos. Although to be honest i think I rode worse and made more mistakes this time due to tiredness but made up positions due to race strategy. Hmmm. Goes to show.

Last race next weekend. Valloire, The High Race. Bring it.