crankbrothers

Back on the bike: 20000m down, painkillers galore, epic scenery, semi functional ankle = one happy girl.

EWS round 3 Valloire, France. Pretty spectacular mountain views.

It was time to head into the Northern Alps for round 3 of the Enduro World Series in Valloire, France. A town nestled at the base of the Galibier Pass in the Savoie region. A destination steeped in โ€œEnduroโ€ history, but a new destination for us, which is always exciting. Surrounded by big mountains wherever you turned was stunning, but I also felt a bit anxious, as this was my first weekend back on the dirt and racing since I messed up my ankle 5 weeks ago. By the looks of it, this wasnโ€™t going to be a walk in the park.

My Roubion

It turned out to be one brutal weekend of racing. It was amazing to be back on the dirt though. The format of the French enduro races are awesome. You show up on Friday, get registered and then go straight into racing on Saturday. First run down the mountain is a practice run, then you head straight back up and race it. Move on to the next track, practice run, then race run. Usually I love this format, but it took me a while to warm up and feel comfortable on my bike again, so there was really no time to get back into it before racing. Because I missed the Scotland round, I had a pretty crappy seeding number, which meant loads of traffic during my race runs, but what made it even tougher was the fact that they decided to run the women in the reverse order for this round โ€“ slowest girls first, which caused big headaches for everyone (The fast girls, the mid pack and the slower girls were all equally affected). Everyone was trying to get by everyone, which ended up being pretty chaotic. I had 7 girls that I had to pass and pull over for on every run, so Saturday was a bit of a write off for me and I just saw it as a day of getting back into it. Feeling very race rusty, hesitant and then all the traffic from both ends was so frustrating, but hey, thatโ€™s racing and you just have to get on with it. The upside of it all: there were 45 women racing! How amazing is that?

Dramatic mountain views wherever you look with lichen rocks to match my gloves.

We had another big day ahead of us on Sunday, and after realizing that running the womenโ€™s order they way they did on Saturday didnโ€™t work, they let the fastest girls go first and that was brilliant. The tracks were amazing on Sunday, more technical, steep and flowy and I loved them. I felt so much better on my bike, hardly had any traffic and I felt like I was finishing in the mix with the girls that I usually race with. It felt great. I wish that we had another day of racing, as I was just getting back into it again.

Typical French tracks; taking fresh tracks to a whole new level. Trying to find and make tracks here!

Absolutely knackered from racing 20000 + meters of brutal downhills (and of course some punchy uphills) thrown in there over the two days. My arms were done and my ankle had had enough. All in all a great weekend of riding, racing, suffering and catching up with everyone again. Cheers to the crew for putting on another amazing round of bike racing & fun times.

Time to go for a swim in the med and some much needed time back on the bike - but first some rest for this old, weary body of mine. Huge congrats to everyone that managed to survive the weekend and to all the Kiwi girls killing it out there!

Kiwi girls representing! Gabby, Rosara, Meggie & myself having fun in the Alps.

Also, cheers to Sven for all the rad shots!

Peace out,

Anka

single digits & the grand finale.

By now, everybody must be so sick and tired of hearing about Finale, and about how amazing that place and the final race of the season was, with all the epic photo's with the shimmering blue sea in the background, well, yes, it was pretty freaking amazing. In fact, in all of my years of racing in really cool places, this little sea- side town on the Italian riviera, has managed to jump to the top of my favorites list, it has found a special place in my heart and I'll definitely be back for more next year. It was our first time over there this year, never being able to wait out 3 more weeks after the end of the season to go to this race, I mean at that stage of the season and year, it's just another bloody bike race isn't it? Jon Cancellier has always been the one singing love songs about Finale, about the amazing tracks and the amazing place that it is and he's always tried to get us out there, so when it became the final race of the enduro world series, we had no more excuses. Finale it was. Now, I can fully understand Jon's love relationship with this little town. The place, the people, the food, the sea, the amazing colors (pantone's that just don't exist in the new world), the old people that are an integral part of the community, the cobblestone's and church processions, the old walled medieval city that you ride your carbon bike through whilst window shopping the most exquisite leather boots & hand bags on route to the special stages - absolutely everything about this place is awesome. This is the kind of place that English people relocate to and write books about.

Anyhow, back to the racing. We all knew we were in for a big weekend, being known as one of the toughest enduro races on the Superenduro circuit, as far as technical tracks go, but also as far as the liaison stages go. Big days, pedaling everything on the bike. The stages were released two days prior to the race, so we had some time to find & check out the different special stages, which is not so simple to find your way around tiny little medieval villages and roads. Most of us were able to get about 2 or 3 runs down each track before racing, which was great as the tracks were pretty full on. They were mentally & physically pretty draining. I'd say the most technical and demanding of all the races we've had this season, so it was great to practice the very precise tech sections before having to race them - especially when you're all jelly legged from pedaling the liaisons & all the pedally bits in the stages! (Hat's off to Tracy Moseley who pedaled the entire loop, both days & didn't do one shuttle run during practice and still managed to win - you bloody legend! That my friends, is "the spirit of enduro").

We had 4 special stages on Saturday with 45km of liaison stages & 2 special stages on Sunday with about 30km of liaison stages, so we had to be prepared for a big day out on the bikes. Luckily the cloud cover on both days made it just bareable to pedal up & around the mountains in full face helmets & back plates without shriveling up from dehydration. Of course we had to do the most technical stage twice, which also happened to have a nasty, rocky, uphill section in it right before the scary descent - perfect when you're seeing little white spots. Our day was cut a bit shorter after stage 3 as they cancelled the last stage due to a big accident earlier in the day. I was looking forward to that stage, as it was a flat out, fast, loose downhill stage, but I was pretty happy to head back to Finale and eat some gelato. Well, the gelato had to wait, due to Sven & the media crew racing down stage 4 after hearing the news that it was cancelled with Sven charging ahead only to stop dead on one of the many rocks (due to the heavy camera bag apparantly), flying over the bars & smacking himself silly and sampling some of the very rocky terrain with his hands & elbows. So it was off to the Italian hospital to check out his head and to get some stitches in his elbow. Too many team Dark Cloud members around this weekend... Thanks to everyone for looking after him - cheers!

Happy that he was OK, we sampled some more of the delicious red wine - which is perfect post concussion medicine and ate some more delicious ligurian pesto pasta made in heaven, I swear, followed by the gelato I never got to eat earlier and the most decadent cappuccino's that we're not supposed to drink after 11am in the morning - for no apparent reason, you just don't, but we ignored that rule and consumed as many proper cappuccino's as possible. The racing on Sunday was great, the whole weekend was amazing, the vibe was good. Everyone was of course racing as usual, but there was more of a relaxed atmosphere amongst all the competitors. We all wanted to do our best, but as far as racing, things were pretty set for the overall, a few points here and there, with the general feeling of everyone just wanting to enjoy & savor this last weekend of fun on our bikes. I did come to this last race with a mini goal, besides savoring this last race - I wanted to become a single digit. I was sitting in 10th place for the overall series results, which I was content with, but I really, really wanted to become a single digit, so that was my final goal in Finale, which I managed to achieve, while having an absolute blast. I ended up in 8th place for the weekend (with a massive crash near the finish line of the last stage of the season), and that managed to put me into 9th position for the series overall. Happy girl. (It must have been my spiffy new sombrio outfit that Aaron sent over to me for the last race - thank you Aaron!).

Sven & I were asked to design the first ever enduro world series trophy this year, with Simon Muir creating and making all our ideas come to life. This was such a huge honor & such a huge responsibility, but in the end they turned out beautiful and we couldn't have imagined anything better to present to these talented, amazing bike riders to remember their & this special year.

Below is a little description behind the meaning of the trophy:

"Close-up on the trophy, designed by Anka Martin and Sven Martin and built byย Woodguards' Simon Muir: eight tiny compartments each contain a relic from one of the race destinations - soil from Punta Ala, alpine rock from Val dโ€™Allos, a bottle of Genepe from Les 2 Alpes, bark and aspen leaves from Winter Park, old manโ€™s beard moss from Whistler, white organic linen from Val dโ€™Isere, to symbolize the white-out conditions, and fresh chestnuts and sand from the beach of Finale Ligure. (A final compartment remains as an empty invitation for the champions to add a personal memento from their year of racing. Wonder what that will be?)."

Of course the weekend and the season couldn't just wrap up, it had to end with a bang, or more like a massive thunder & lightning storm with torrential rain flooding the pits, cutting out the electricity and leaving everyone soaking wet and shivering. Perfect. The thunder cracked so loud in these little narrow cobblestone streets and the lightning lit up all the nooks & crannies with shutters slamming, bells's chiming, rain pelting and pantone colors popping against the black skies. Nothing could dull the vibe & excitement that was present, this was the grand finale. SRAM organized a big party for Jerome, with champagne & a big cake to celebrate his victory - which we happily celebrated with him & everyone else who shared his excitement, until the wee hours of the morning.ย What a fitting place to end the season which started on the beaches of Punta Ala, Italy, then stretched into the big, scary, snow capped glacier filled mountains and now back to the beaches of Finale Ligure, Italy, where bike checks are done on the beach and the pits struggle to keep the sand out of the seals. O, and where parking tickets apparently don't mean much & tow trucks don't exist - or as Italian, Simon Cittati from SRAM puts it: "It is merely an invitation to pay". We were invited to pay quite a few times over the course of the week...

The season was over, we made it, sort of, we're going home, we had fun, we made new friends, good friends, we bonded - again, I rode well, I am happy, I'm content, I am relieved, our van survived, I LOVE my bike, I love my new big - well sort of big wheels, I loved our new adventures. Now it's time to chill, time to reflect, time to reconnect & to start making plans & plotting adventures for next year. Ciao!

Thank you to everyone that supported me this season: Will, Rob & Mary-Anne from Juliana Bicycles, Jon Cancellier (for the sickest bike ever & keeping it in tip top shape all year), Keeton, Marty, Todd, Dani, Simon, Evan, Dawson & the whole SRAM family, Aaron from Sombrio clothing, Fred & Fabien from URGE helmets, Tyler from SDG, Michael from Schwalbe, Stikman at Troy Lee Design, Jo Jo from G-Form protection, Blick & Dani at Oakley, Kevin at Camelbak, Andy at Crankbrothers, and so many others for various things & of course to Sven for all his support along the way & all the pretty sic shots he got of me ;) A huge shout out to everyone involved with the EWS - you guys killed it and made it happen. Bikes are rad. You guys rock!

diary of my Trans Provence week

The Trans Provence is always the highlight of my season. It is a week filled with amazing, unknown, wild & crazy trails, where we trek up and over many big, vast mountain ranges, starting near Sisteron, making our way all the way to the beach in Menton. I love this point to point style adventure, where you are actually moving, pedaling & pushing yourself across mountain ranges and valley's and that sense of satisfaction that you feel when you get your first glimpse of the sea shimmering in the distance. It's pretty exciting stuff & that is what keeps me coming back every year for more adventures. Last year we had some bad luck with Sven getting heli vacced off on the last day and then Jon Cancellier getting carried out 200 meters from the finish line with torn ankle ligaments - not ideal. Mix in there some crazy rain, thunder, flash floods & hail storms on exposed mountain tops with not a tree in sight, then you start understanding how a small group of riders started calling ourselves Team Dark Cloud. Not satisfied with unfinished business, Team Dark Cloud had to come back this year to make sure that everyone finishes up, get's to plonk into the med, look at Smail's speedo du jour & to give a puff on the old cigar.

Base camp Day 0: Clamensane

Home for the next week

So here we are, Trans Provence 2013 Day 1: Clamensane - Digne

The day started off sunny & cheery, only to turn to shit as soon as we got to the top of the mountain of stage 1. This was dejavu - exactly like last year and how we came up with Team Dark Cloud to begin with. We had to laugh & just get on with it - was this to set the precedent of the week to follow? I set of on my first special stage on day 1 in a hail storm - this was going to be a long, tough week, and Team Dark Cloud already lived up to it's name. This day was the biggest day yet - we fought, slogged & dragged our bikes through clay & mud the entire day. I was knackered.

Day 1 - happy girl.

Day 2: Digne - Colmars

The sun was shining as we set off under blue skies on day 2. We had a big old hike a bike to tackle first thing in the morning - just what we needed to loosen up our sore, aching bodies & awaken blisters from the day before. It was going to be a good day as the sunny skies lifted everyone's spirits and filled it with banter, laughter and lots of war stories.

Day 3: Col de Champs - Guillaumes

This is a morning of big views & big mountains, as we get dropped off on top of the Col De Champs - it is a sight that will take your breath away and the gateway to the Maritime Alps - a sign that we're heading in the right direction. The first special stage of the morning was a write off for myself and many others too - starting off with getting lost, falling into a hole & then slipping & getting stuck in my bike on the wooden bridge right at the finish while the clock ticks away. To end it off I gave the bridge a good punch with my knuckles as I slammed into it - ouch. All of this before a proper coffee.

Day 4: Guillaumes - St Sauveur sur Tinee

Once day 3 rolls around, your body has sort of got used to the shock of everything and you actually start to feel good and get into the swing of things. We had surprise today, we got to ride a chair lift for two of the stages in the Roubion bike park. It was fun to change it up, but these were my worst two stages of the day - way too groomed and perfect I reckon, I didn't know how to ride normal stuff! It was a good way to mix it up with all the other riders and hang out a bit. At this stage, we had no idea what Ash had in mind for us for the last stage of the day. I have no words to describe this last stage. It was wild, very sparsely marked, super exposed, almost 30minutes long and at the end of the day when you're mentally & physically already a write off. Most of us got lost somewhere along the way, crashed a few times, almost died a few times, but we all lived to share the stories at a local pub on the side of the road. It was awesome. Thanks Ash for keeping it real.

Day 5: ย  Valdeblore - Sospel

So day 4 was supposed to be our easy day, to rest up for the biggest day of the week, but it sure didn't feel easy to any of us and day 5 was looming ahead of us. It was a long slog heading out in the moon glow from the camp site and silently pedaling on through the morning fog. The fog never lifted and just got thicker as we made our way up into the mountains, creating quite a sullen atmosphere, as you didn't hear much laughter or chatter this morning. It took us about 3 hours before we reached the start of the first special stage that morning and we still had a long way to go. My goal was to hold back and get through these next 2 days without doing anything silly - I was in the lead and I wanted to keep it that way. All I had to do, was not crash, flat or have a mechanical - easy huh? Holding back is not easy when you're loving the tracks and you just want to pinn it, but this is what had to be done. After the first 2 special stages, we had a bitch of a road climb to get to the 3rd stage - 20km on the road with super tacky tires & 6" trail bikes are not that enjoyable. We got on with it, as that's what you do in this race, but we all cheered up when we were welcomed by local hero Nico Vouilloz at the start of the 3rd stage. How sick is that. I think we all tried to pinn it even harder after seeing Nico, but unfortunately Olly our South African friend was a bit too inspired and pinned it into some rocks, smashing his face and dislocating his shoulder pretty badly. Our day was about to get a whole lot longer & Olly just inducted himself into the Team Dark Cloud crew. He got heli vacced out of there, but Team Dark Cloud had another stage to finish up for the day. Not the nicest thing to have to do after seeing your friend off in a heli, but we grabbed a headlamp from one of the shuttle vehicles, turned up the volume to some Irie reggae tunes, mellowed out and smashed out the final run of the day - which happened to be my fastest run of the day after we all decided to go steady - oops. Having too much fun.

Day 6: Sospel - Menton - The final countdown!

Yes, the last day has arrived and we're all jonesing to get our tired assess into the Med, but we have to get there first. It was an amazing day exploring a whole new Sospel valley, even making a quick jaunt into Italy for a quick cappuccino after one special stage. The stages were very physical today, with uphill running, boulder clambering, challenging navigation and some long ass sprints, or maybe we're all just tired from the whole week, but it was no rest day today, we had to work hard to dive into that sea in Menton. On my last stage, I kept messing up, doubting myself that I was lost and that I was throwing the whole week away - even turning back at one point to double check a sign - amazing how my mind was playing tricks on me. Anyhow, I got down, I made it, I kept my lead and I took the win. I was very, very happy, as this event is a very special event to me. This is what riding mountain bikes is all about. It is the adventure, the camaraderie and all the experiences that makes this event so special. It is wild, raw, dangerous & everything that I love about racing little bikes as fast as you can down crazy technical blind tracks. Ash, thank you - you nailed it man. This is and will always be what everyone keeps harping on about these days - "the spirit of enduro", or as I prefer to refer to it, riding our bikes in sick places.

Mary-Anne & I enjoying some Italian coffee in Olivetta during a liaison stage on the last day.

Cheers to Team Dark Cloud and every single person that completed the week - you guys & girls are awesome (especially the girls, as this is not an easy week). Heal up to all the injured riders too.

All the lads - I mean girls! (Missing Fay with her broken hand & Kat that went on the first wave)

Our crew grew stronger this year, we were planning on being a bit more cautious this year, to make sure we all got to the damn beach, but when you clock into that balise, it is not in any of our gene's to hold back. We all freaking pinned it and we all lived to tell the tales. We took care of Ollie, we encouraged Todd, we rode for Michael Bonney. This week was way more than a bloody bike race, it was filled with many emotions, reasons, passions, decisions and friendships and that is what makes this week a standout week. Times are forgotten (well maybe not the 1sec that separated Nico & Jerome after a week of racing!), but these memories we create on our bikes will be shared & remembered for many more years to come.

One more TDC shout out - we didn't do too shabby either taking the win in a few classes & the fastest TDC awards goes to Jerome Clementz, who had to go and loose by 1 sec, but killed all of us!

Anka Martin 1st Pro Women's (32nd overall)

Sven Martin 1st Masters (also 2nd Am & 15th overall)

Chris Ball 1st Amateur (9th overall)

Team Dark Cloud

Paul Smail never disappoints.

Cheers Team Dark Cloud - until we meet again in February to explore Chile!

Peace out,

Anka x

Round 3 & other bike shenanigans at Les2Alps.

Round three of the Enduro World Series was held in the bizarre ski town/resort of Les 2 Alps, France. A visually spectacular place when you look at the mountains and surrounding scenery, but quite a strange 80's style architecture clad ski town with a million kids roaming about that get shipped out here to ski and snowboard camp for a summer filled glacier action. Soooo many amazing mountains, spectacular scenery.

The tracks here are very downhill bike oriented as it's situated in-between two really steep valleys, so I've never been a huge fan of this mountain for trail bike riding, because of all the brake bumps except for their two amazing tracks that they use for the Mountain of Hell race every year. Due to loads of snow, most of the upper, good trails were still closed to us for this race, so they had to make use of the two very steep slopes on either side of the valley. Nothing was marked out until Friday (I love that), then we had all day Saturday to practice and figure out the 4 different race tracks - which turned into a pretty epic day of riding bikes as most of us did all the tracks twice which ended up taking all day, resulting in a pretty battered body on Sunday morning for race day.

Beautiful single track trails makes for one happy girl.

More pretty mountains.

Stage one:

Long, pedally, fast, dusty, raw, brand new, steep pinches, many traverses, more pedaling, fresh grassy off camber, heater buses, fire road, bike park berms, a mother F*&$@r of a tar road & gravel climb that never ended, followed by more uphill traversing and finally a fast as all hell, straightline downhill down to the next villiage. Did I mention all the climbing? It was brutal. Noodle legs, arm pump, passing, shouting, frustration & elation. The amount of emotions that happen within those 15 or whatever the stage time was, is pretty unreal. This shit is so mental and if you know how to deal with that, then you'll do well at these races. I ended up in 9th place, felt surprisingly good on the climb, then got stuck trying to pass 3 girls on the narrow single-track descent. Frustrating. That's racing.

Steep, off camber, fresh tracks on number 1. Primo.

Stage Two:

This was a strange one. Flat out fire road sprint into a gnarly rock garden section and back onto another long ass fire road sprint, spin out & tuck section around to the front side of the mountain and then into some super narrow singletrack trails to the finish line. It seemed so much more pedaly during the race, but it was good, just couldn't get into this stage, it felt a bit disjointed to me. 9th place on this stage.

Steep, technical rock sections on track number 2.

Stage Three:

After a long break we headed up for race number three. The best description would be awkward. Everything about this track was just awkward. Fine to ride, but a bit strange to race. It would definitely have been beneficial to be able to do nose wheelies on this track. I fumbled out of the start gate, all the way to the finish line. Just making every mistake in the book. O well, I had to settle with an 11th place here. On to the next one, and my favourite, number 4.

Les2Alps racing.

Stage Four:

This was my favourite track from the start. It was full pinned high speed down the mountain, off camber, grassy knolls, scary fast blind rises, brake bumps galore and then into this narrow singletrack section that wound all the way down to the valley floor. It was a proper trail. Steep & tricky and I loved it. I guess it helps when you enjoy a track as I got a 7th place on that stage behind a few World Champs - so that made my day & I was a happy girl.

High speed grassy racing.

These days the level is so high, that when you nail one or two stages and are happy with them, then you've managed to do well and you should be stoked. There is no such thing as a perfect run, they just don't happen, there are way too many variables involved for that to be possible. Tracy managed to take the win again which was so exciting & Jerome took the men's win. I couldn't be happier for these guys as they are both truly amazing bike riders and genuinely ย passionate about riding their bikes and not just racing them. I managed to finish up in 9th place at the end of the day. Pretty happy with a top 10 these days, as the level out here is truly remarkable.

Happy happy birthday Jon! Fondue's & Raclette's are the best.

Cheers to another great weekend of racing & to everyone that managed to pull this off. It was different, not good or bad, just different which was great and it was hard, and that is how it should be and will hopefully remain to be. Next up - MegAvalanche & glaciers - ALARMA!!!!!!!!!

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I'm back in rural France at my sisters house now,ย knackered, battered & bruised after the Mega, but excitedย to see my dad, celebrate my sister's 40th birthday & to catch up with internet, life, laundry & loads of amazing vegetarian cooking from me mum (much needed after raclette & tartiflette overdose). Keep posted for some Mega updates coming soon!

peace out, Anka xxx

Out & about in-between races.

Our European migrations every year does involve a shit load of work, mostly at races & other events, with loads of driving, late night editing, lots of internet cafe time, laundry sessions, packing & re-packing, washing & sorting bikes & gear, getting the trusty (rusty) old van fixed and so on, but we do try to do something fun in-between the long drives from one country to the next and from event to event. These little side trips are usually the one's that we end up enjoying the most and that we end up sharing with our good friends. None of us really have much time at the races & events to actually catch up properly and hang out, everyone is so busy with their own thing, but when we do these little mini trips in-between, that is when we actually get to spend some quality time with our mates on the road & we get to play and ride bikes. The sign says it all.

Pretty patterns.

I am intrigued by all the shrines you come across on the rides in Europe.

Italian colours.

Tracks & trails.

I got to explore the Valley of the Sun in Italy while the DH World Cup action was going on a few weeks ago (pics above).

We got to go to one of our favourite places to ride, swim, eat way too much gelato & drink loads of red wine & lemoncello - Lake Garda in Italy. We had a big old crew this year which is always fun to do one of our all time favourite rides from Malcesine back to the lake. We also got to catch up with our good friends from California, Megan & Andy that just happened to be in Italy for work at the same time. Perfect!

High above Lake Garda, heading to the lake for lunch & a swim.

Exchanging bikes for scooters for some lake cruising with Rach.

Soaking up the sunshine.

Calm before the storm in Santa Barbara, exploring secret tracks with Victor & Sven.

Beautiful Torbole, Lago di Garda, Italy.

Sven & Andy lounging in the  lake.

Megan & I catching up on the last two years of life.

A big shuttling day from Col De Champs before the Val D Allos enduro race was pretty epic.

Another big shuttling day after the Val D Allos race was another pretty amazing day of riding before heading out of this beautiful valley.

Col D Allos for some apres race fun riding with friends.

Exploring the Val D Allos valleys & chapels.

After Val D Allos we made our way to the hidden gem of Moustiers St Marie tucked away in the Gorges Du Verdon for some swimming & kayaking adventures with Jon C & Christine and Tracy & James.

Our vanie, loaded up to the max, heading to the next destination (not all our shit though).

Moustiers St Marie, France

More shrines & holy stuff.

Plotting our next adventure with JC & Christine over croissants & coffee.

Cool restaurants.

Loving the food in France  - is it possible to overdose on chรจvre?

Lavender fields - we must be in Provence.

Moustiers St Marie.

Typical villiage signs.

The good life is a simple life.

In awe of the scenery we stumble upon. Checking out the gorges with JC & Christine.

It's summertime. Swimming, kayaking, beers & good times with JC, Christine, T-Mo, James & Sven.

Stunning turquoise waters of the Gorges Du Verdon - France's best kept secret.

Peaceful places. I love you Tar xx

There are a few (lots) places that I've always wanted to go to, that we just never end up getting to, so hopefully we'll be able to go on a few more mini trips this summer and experience some new countries, places, trails & cultures. Isn't that the whole reason we got into riding bikes in the first place?

Happy girl.

Anyhow, I'll keep you updated here on our mini adventures in-between all the important stuff.

peace out, Anka xxx

Riding bikes, van life & shit.

We just wrapped up the second round of the Enduro World Series race in Val D Allos, France this past weekend & what a great weekend of riding and racing it was. The setting was spectacular, surrounded by majestic mountains, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny little ski town and only two hours from bustling Nice. With the French format not allowing any practice before the race, we had plenty of time to explore some of the other tracks and trails in the area, which was good fun to go and ride bikes with your mates and not even bother to give the race a thought until race day, which I love.

We stayed in our van and created a nice pikey site with fellow van-ier (and photographer), Victor Lucas who took brewing up the morning coffee to a whole other level using his big track pump to get the frothy crema on the top of the brew, a sure way to get your morning started off on a good note.

The racing was absolutely amazing. The tracks were really fun, scenic, exposed, fast, sketchy, unpredictable, with shale rock, loamy dirt, dry loose bike park dirt, roots, rocks, cliffs, switchbacks, I mean, it had absolutely all the elements that a good trail needs to have to call it epic. They were super fun to ride, but to race, they were hard. Hard in a good way, as it should be. It tested your everything. On Saturday the tracks were a bit more DH oriented, but still quite pedaly if you wanted to do well, and on Sunday, they were still technical and tricky, but the pedaling sections were just too long for me to make use of my downhill skills to get a good result. I just didn't have the legs to stand up and sprint on all the traversing and uphill sections, but I still had a blast and loved the tracks. Proper enduro riding. Raw, unpredictable & hard. I just need to find my legs now :) We managed to descend 10 000 meters over the two days of racing, so I'd say you definitely get your money's worth at these events.ย Don't even get me started on the food station and how incredibly delicious it was. I have Haribo sweets stocked up for the rest of the summer!

I was happy with a 6th & a 7th place on two of the race runs, then a bit of bad luck on one of the runs cost me a lot of time, but it was the long pedaly one's on Sunday that killed me and put me into 11th place for the overall results.. All in all a magnificent weekend of racing. Hats off to all the girls that raced - 30 of us, which is pretty amazing to see a start list with so many girls ready to race. The level of the racing for the men & women was really high, everyone killed it & I look forward to this coming weekend to see how Les Deux Alpes will format their racing for the weekend, and hopefully I can have a good weekend and get into the top 10...but there are plenty of trails to go exploring this week and adventures to be had before the race, so I'll worry about that later.

One of my highlights this weekend was meeting up with my good old friend Sabrina Jonnier & catching up with her about life in general and just seeing her glow in the sunshine with her baby belly. I cannot wait to meet Stella soon!

Cheers to everyone for all their support & to Sven for the stunning photographs. It was such a treat to race and ride with all my new Sombrio kit - I LOVE all my new goodies, and they look good! THANK YOU!!!!!

Peace out, Anka xxx