After a rabid few months, travel and then three banger days ripping at Pila, I found myself positively Euro fingered in a way only Swiss Mountain Bike girls can relate to.
Fuck, poor me… Clearly I needed a holiday within a holiday, so I proceeded to the sunniest hill top I could find in all of Italy and dropped the hammer on getting ready for the main course of EuroEnduro III…
Yes, EWS Round 4 at La Thuile is mounting us like an ambitious and over zealous labrador and its time to take a sneak peak at what’s to cum this weekend.
This will be short and probably less than sweet, as I have just finished practice which consisted of 2 days of being dry humped by what Santa Cruz PRO Iago Garay described as “Probably the most technical stages the Enduro World Series has seen…” Fucking A bro, Fucking A.
So then, what’s the low down from practice ahead of the big race this weekend then? Let’s get cracking.
Well, we are in the Mon-Tons, aren’t we?
First point of order – As you’d expect being up in the big Mon-Tons, motherfucking stages are, well, BIG. Not just from a length perspective, but check out these vertical drop numbers:
And after 2 days of practice, I can assure you, this Dirty half dozen feels a whole lot more bad ass than that little chart gives them credit for.
Day 1: Stages 1-3
Stage 1: Things start off REAL here in La Thuile, with the biggest liaison of the weekend, off the start ramp and into a monster of a climb. The first 6.1kms are on road, averaging 7.1%, which is kind of ok on a road bike I guess, but not so rad on a big banger… But that’s just the warm up, you then have 45 minutes of single track grunting to get up to the 2,400m start point, which is laced with epic scenery.
The stage itself is rammed with variety – Starts out with alpine switchback radness, then into mid alpine high speed grass sections that are as loose as fuck…
Before dropping you into mind blowing loamy goodness… Which begs you to go as fast as you think you can manage. Very easy to out-brake yourself here massively. Holy shit its awesome.
Stage 2: Well, Stage 1 gets the day off to a rad start, so I was primed for more of the good stuff! I mean, fuck, location?! Mental.
Stage 2 however? Bit of a cunt to be honest… I suspect we’ll get on better now I have had another run of it given that the start of stage 5 and 2 are the same, but I wasn’t overly pumped on Day 1 of practice. It starts out with massively fresh cut mountain grass trail, through what appears to be an asteroid field of sniper rocks…
It’s also quite long and tiring, so you try and go as fast as you can until you get tired and go over the handlebars like a low IQ donkey.
Oh yeah, the bottom is fucking rough as fuck and super fast as well, just for good measure. I will be pleased to get through 2 cleanly come Race Day 1.
Stage 3: The longest stage on Day 1 and easily my favourite… And not just because its the shortest distance from the chairlift. No, its mainly as this thing is rad… Exhausting yes, but sensational trails and variety to be had.
Stage 3 is an excellent way to end the day, aside from the climb at the very end back to the Start/Finish area which has the very real potential to either make me hurl into my helmet or just simply collapse with exhaustion given how long this beast is.
Day 2: Stages 4-6
If you finished Day 1 feeling good, pumped and with some mojo on board, don’t worry – Day 2 is ready to gang bang you back into submission and laugh at you while the Mon-tons cream pie your ENDURO specific lifestyle.
That’s a summary for the fact that Day 2 is a fucking hard step up in length, steepness, gnar and just general hard core shit.
Did I have self confidence tantrums on Day 2 of practice? Hell yes… Did I eat loam whilst sliding down a bank in amazement as how hard it was? Fuck you bet… Did I human tri-pod myself into a stupor of amateur destruction? You bet… Welcome to Day 2! Allow me to briefly elaborate.
Stage 4: First run of stage 4 and I hated its face… And the feeling was mutual. To start with the scenery is on point however, but lets not forget people, its called “Super Kappa” for a reason, mainly as its 7km’s long and quite unrelenting…
It literally goes on for so long you forget this is a race stage and it just feels like a normal MTB ride… I guess its the same length as the Bukit Timah pretend MTB trail, except all down… Oh, aside from the mega cunty climb in the middle. But then of course, plenty of switchbacks to keep you occupied on the lower section when you’re nice and fingered already.
We did 2 runs of 4 in practice and I have to say it felt a lot better second time around, even though I had ridden it 2 years ago. Switching to a 40mm stem also a bonus. Which is more than I can say for 5…
Stage 5: As The Swiss Missile put it “Probably not my best stage“. Of course, he was being polite, as Gentlemen racers do… I summed it up as a cunt crossed with a nightmare. If you had epic skills, then you’d probably quite enjoy it. We had a different experience however, and I will hand over to RJ to outline some of the complexities of a rather challenging stage.
To be fair, this thing is fucking hard… The lower section in particular. I lost the plot down here and declared this well above my pay grade. Its so steep that parts of my brain refused to work, probably as I ingested too much loam from making bad decisions.
Stage 6: I had it in my head that stage 6 was going to be awesome and I was going to shred it. It wasn’t and I didn’t… And not just because it has a Fucking Climb in the middle of it. Real talk:
Its clearly called ‘Vertikal’ for a reason clearly – Its so fucking steep that even French PRO’s look away and close their eyes at what’s around the corner… I feel you Flo, I feel you bro.
Its not just steep, its crazy blown out and off camber, and with what feels like fresh cut sections. Again, slightly above what I would feel comfortable with, but this isn’t the ‘Local series’ is it? WORLD motherfucker, so get on with it.
The only real reason to ride stage 6 is to get to the end for a beer and try and look rad off the final step down jump… At least I had the beer.
A massive thanks to RJ for being rad to run practice with in La Thuile, for putting up with my need for constant photo breaks, coffee breaks, piss breaks and self confident melt down breaks. Good times.
So then – In summary Amateurs, close your eyes and embrace the fisting… Two massive days ahead!