Hot on the heels of last weekend’s Enduro World Series opener in Rotorua, New Zealand, the Kona Gravity Team has landed in Tasmania for round two. The trails in Derby are racer favorites and provide wide open, fast, and rowdy descents. We caught up with a few members of the team to talk about the early season.

Crankworx Rotorua 2019

Connor Fearon:
“Rotorua was pretty good! I only wanted to race Rotorua EWS for fun and focus on the downhill race. I only got to practice 2 out of 5 stages so most of the racing was pretty blind. I think the highlight was not crashing on any stages. I had a lot of scary moments though! This week I’m going to practice all the stages and have a better crack at it. The derby tracks are sweet! There is less pedaling in the stages and more technical bits which will suit me.”

On whether he thought racing downhill or enduro was more challenging, Fearon said, “I think Enduro is more challenging. You have to go as fast as possible but also ride very smart to not break your bike or burn all your energy too quickly.”

We asked Miranda Miller about the mental and physical challenges associated with racing EWS—specifically the Rotorua race. “This race was a bit of both for me, perhaps they go hand in hand? I felt practice was so perfect- we were efficient, it didn’t require a large energy expenditure and I was riding well. But it kind of made me nervous for the race as I felt the odds of having a perfect race, after perfect practice, were low. But I also didn’t want to mentally sabotage myself…too late maybe,” she said. “The stages, although I really liked them, required a lot of pedaling and I was happy with how I was able to attack some of the sprints towards the end of stages.”

“The feelings I had during practice are some that I haven’t had on a bike in a long time. I think it’s a good beginning for me. There’s some pressure I feel to rock up to Enduro and start killing it but I feel like I have lots to learn before that happens. When you make mistakes your day isn’t completely busted, there’s so much more racing to be had! You also need to fire yourself up for every stage, but then come back down for the liaisons and towards the end of a big day that can get increasingly harder. That’s one goal of mine in Tasmania, to be more mindful of this process throughout the race.”

Squamish local, Rhys Verner, is happy to start the season injury-free and with a solid team. “I learned that my fitness is good and that I have the skills to push it. It has been a long time since I have raced hard like that so Rotorua really just got my confidence up to push hard and to not be nervous. Having the team on site is a total game changer. The week felt really chill and just awesome to be able to only have to think about riding my bike. Normally EWS races are a pretty hectic week, but that week just seemed to go so smoothly. It really does facilitate having the best race possible.”

The EWS in Tasmania gets underway today with practice. Stay tuned to the Cog for updates throughout the event.