Words by Stefan Westerveld
BC Enduro Sainte Marie aux Mines
As it’s well known, our neighboring country France is always worth a trip for mountain biking. Since it can also be reached quickly, we already drove on Saturday to Rhineland-Pfalz and then further down the direction of the Vosges near Freiburg. At the beginning of February, this year’s enrollment and registration for the Bike Components series started and we were able to get some of the coveted starting places for most of the races. Within half an hour the opening race and the other events were fully booked.
First race in Sainte Marie were a one day race with 37km and 1440 hm and, as every event in this series, it is a fully blind race. No training just racing which make it even more challenging. Well organized, dry and sunny the riders started as they want in a defined time period for each stage with a gap of 20sec. At the beginning of Stage 1 countless flowy fun curves followed one after the other in roller coaster style, followed by small and large bomb craters, rock gardens and natural berms. As the length of the stage increased, the lower part became steep and fast and finally ended on the transfer way to Stage 2.
After a strenuous 350hm, Stage 2 began just like Stage 1 had ended. After the start you had to pedal hard to get up to speed first, then the trail meandered steadily downhill on dry forest soil. Flowing full throttle curves, technically demanding sections, jumps and very creative line choices made it even more fun til finish. Everyone had to pedal up the 350 meters from the valley. My leg-power became less and less with increasing meters but I finally made it to the top of stage 3 with the support of this week riding buddy Joerg from Last Bikes. When we got there, we lined up in the queue to mentally to prepare for the very, very long stage as we had heard. Jörg started right in front of me and pedaled hard until he disappeared in the forest.
My motivation was to catch up with the old man and I also gave everything from the start. With the first meters of the stage ran clean and smooth over the finest forest ground I kept the speed with pedaling to master all small climbs. However, minor errors occurred in as the stage progressed. Halfway through the stage Jörg were in sight. I got everything out and stayed focused. My physical condition was already in the red zone but no matter what, I followed the endless slippery dust-dry curves, natural berms, rock passages, loose stones continuing the trail. Unfortunately my front wheel suddenly lost traction and I hit hard on the ground. Handlebar and brake lever were bend and time was gone! To the last stage we followed the local road up again for 30 minutes and started right after our arrival. Jörg in front and I stood behind directly forcing moderate. But after a short time my batteries were empty and Jörg circled himself like a little kitten through the tight curves to the end of the stage.
- The 4.5 hour journey was 100% worth it. Excellent organization, perfect refreshment stations between the stages,
- Unbelievable 4 stages.
- I had to settle on 37th place with my huge crash.
- We can only recommend everyone to participate!
BC Enduro La Semoy
For the second race of the BC Enduro Series we traveled to the border of France and Belgium in the beautiful landscape of the Ardennes! Whipped up by an huge amount of spectators, more than 400 starters made their way to the 11 stages in Les Hautes-Rivières on June 11th and 12th. In this years’s second race of Bike-components Enduro Tour, the riders covered an impressive 2200 meters in altitude over a distance of approx. 70 km under optimal weather conditions. Bike action and the great atmosphere made the event unforgettable for all participants. The first day was more on the mid-range in difficulty but had some long stretches of flat or even light ascends in the six stages. I packed up my pimped Hei Hei Race while Matthias was on his now enduro like Process 134 with coil shock and a 160 mm tuned Lyrik in the front. This two completely different setups equaled all advantages and disadvantages over the first race day. Just a few seconds of difference in time and on 6th place just in touch with five local riders in front. Not bad for a never ridden and complete blind race! But I knew that I had pull the trigger in the more technical sections on second day.
I packed up my pimped Hei Hei Race while Matthias was on his now enduro like Process 134 with coil shock and a 160 mm tuned Lyrik in the front.
After a few hundred meters climb on Sunday morning we started stage7 with good number of pedal strokes but suddenly got in the first steep and rocky sections which should dominate the complete second days trails. First stage in the morning isn’t naturally not my best one but I tried to stay loose on the pedals and let bike do its work. So far so good! Second stage started the same with a long flat pedal stretch but continued then in a gnarly steep loose descent with tight turns and rock drops. I overtook some slower rider and dropped in a steep stairway like root section. But entry was too fast as the exit turned into a tight right corner which I missed on the right break point. So I crashed nearly full speed into the corners tree and went straight OTB with a nice somersault. Back on my feet I saw the complete disaster. On first glance my handlebar seemed tweaked but a second look showed that the right side was complete disjointed from the rest of the bike. Race was done! 10 minutes later carrying my bike on the shoulder I went thru the finish time trap. Matthias continued the race for the next four stages and finished the weekend in the top twenty with just local riders in the top 15. Good job, buddy!