Sending our bikes out to the Enduro World Series for testing as become our annual tradition. In this blog Ethan gives his own unique and spicy take on the top level race.
When me and a bunch of wild Africans turned up to Olargues, stuffed in to the back of a rental Ford Galaxy, the hype was breaking the seams much like we were breaking the limits of how much you could fit in the car. A short hike around the beautiful medieval town got us to the the top of the urban stage where we found the media squids who had just been on their first rec of the day. Their summary?
Prepare for brutality. Thus brutality ensued.
We started our first day of practice light, and by light I mean we started on stage 7. A stage that now has been immortalised by it's body count (including mine). That first day really set the bar for how much gnar we had in stock. Technical, rocky and steep. It was hectic, a true test of mind, body and your equipment. With balls out stupidity hitting these runs blind and with DeathWish being the weapon that it is, the runs got rowdy, but at the end of each section you just cracked up laughing. So much fun in death or glory.
Day 2 of practice took us to the faster, more varied stages but damn, they were no less technical. With stage 3 set on ancient Roman road, it was cobbled hell on the body, but so fast if you had the resolve. Perfect for the DeathWish to dominate.
Day 1 of racing was a mixed bag, I was pushing hard and racking up smooth runs, alas that lead to mechanicals on 1 and 3, stages where just that little oomph was need. It gave me the knowledge of "damn, this is my element" but also of what to bring to the table in the future.
Day 2, did not pan out well with storms all night there were rumours of closures in some of the stages, the same stages that even had the pros deliberating safe play, the same stages WE would be the first down. And like canyon fodder guinea pigs, we dropped in. 5 and 6 were mental, one second you'd be nailing corners and throwing down your competitors, the next you were off the ridge watching as those same competitors passed. We're all in this together, this is riding on the edge. After another morale crushing climb in the drizzle, the camaraderie brought the hype back up. Who knows how, but on top of a mountain, in the cold and wet, with "the most savage stage" next, a group of mountain bikers from across the globe can reignite the hype. Dropping in with my stoke rekindled, I forgot about playing it safe, your boy fell off a cliff, ending my day without a ligament in my thumb, a bitter taste of disappointment but with one thing that could make it all better: Free food and a lit after party. Tales were swapped, industry legends accidentally hit and bonds made. The weekend may have ended in pain, but my god was it worth it. The best trails, the best people, the best sport.
Give me more.