Next up was the first French enduro race of the season organized by Fred from Tribe Sports, at Les Gets and yes, of course it was pouring with rain. So much so, that when the afternoon came around and it was still pouring, we went to the LBS and bought 4 mud spikes at full retail! Now that HURT. This was a first (to pay full pop for tires, but also to run full mud spikes front & rear on our Nomad trail bikes). After the first day of racing though we realized that it was the best 200 euro's ever spent. It was like attending a mini world cup of enduro racing, with the legendary Anne Caroline, Sabrina Jonnier, Florian Pugin & Pauline Dieffenthaler all there to play & race in the mud. The enduro races here in France work a bit differently to back home in the US. You show up on Friday, then on Saturday you get to race 2 completely different tracks 3 times on each track - completely blind. So no practice, just show up and race your first run blind, hopefully know it a bit better by run 2 and then by the 3rd run you should be pinning it. Then just as you start to feel comfortable, you move onto the next track and repeat. So add to this exciting format ZERO visibility, great when you have no idea where to go, torrential downpours and copious amounts of mud which makes using goggles or sunglasses impossible, so you don't use anything and just hope you don't get too much mud caking up your eyes. It was the most fun I've ever had on my trail bike, sliding around with my full spikes hooking up brilliantly everywhere except for the wooden bridge near the finish which kept spitting me out like a pinball machine after every run. Spikes & wood = carnage! I ended up 4th after Saturday's mess of not being able to see and having too many crashes to count.
During all the mayhem, they have great feed stations with all kinds of lovely French treats and drinks and the entry even includes a free dinner & drinks that evening at the restaurant at the top of the mountain. Pretty amazing what you get for a 50 Euro entry fee. The tracks on the Saturday is usually more downhill oriented and around 10 minutes long, while the tracks on the Sunday is a bit more physical lasting up to around 20 minutes a run.
Sunday rolled around with even more rain. Saturday was fun, playing in the mud, but putting on a completely wet, muddy & cold full face helmet and soggy shoes first thing on a Sunday morning takes some of the fun factor out of it. We got ourselves up on the open chair lift ( in the rain of course) for another day of "blind" racing. This time on the other side of the mountain.Today we had one track that we had to race 4 times. When we got off the chairlift at the top of the mountain, we still had another 30 minute or so hike a bike to get to the very top where the race started. Once we got to the start - we were welcomed by falling snow. I aptly renamed the Portes de Soleil to the Porte de Neige (Port of sunshine to Port of snow). It was freezing, and we had to do this 4 more times today.
With frozen hands and feet I set off on my first, blind race run of the day and managed to have a huge over the bars right off the back. The track was covered in gnarly, slippery roots from top to bottom. Cold and sore, you don't get much time to recover as you have to head right back up there to repeat. repeat. repeat. I got stronger after every run, but couldn't make up the time I lost during my crash and I had to be happy with a 6th place overall for the weekend. Sven rode like a rock star, racing with all the Dirt crew boys - their main goal was beating ( or trying to beat) Anne Caroline every run.
All in all though, it was an amazing event. This is what I call the real deal enduro racing. It was hard, challenging physically & mentally, but super fun. Such great value for money - 10 timed runs over 2 days. It is hard to take this too seriously, as so much can happen and go wrong during 10 race runs :)
Thanks to Fred for an amazing event, and for the muddy photo's. I can't wait until the next one.