Round three of the Enduro World Series took place over the weekend on the Portuguese island of Madeira. If you are not familiar with the name you would most definitely be familiar with views from this race. Photos from the cliff top stage seven are (along with Tasmania’s rock gap) the poster children of the EWS’s image! Unless you live under a really large rock you should be familiar with the terrain. Insane orange dirt, dusty in the dry, terrifying in the wet. Luckily for the Kona Gravity Team of Miranda Miller and Rhys Verner (and all the other competitors), the event stayed dry, save for a drizzle on day two of practice, although the dry and dusty conditions presented some of their own challenges. The technical and often rocky trails were taking a beating from the 100+ riders, come race day, after two days of solid practice, they had become extremely physical.
After battling with injuries on and off last year Squamish, BC local Rhys Verner found the rhythm he’s been looking for this season and rode to a solid 24th place on stage one. Two more solid stage finishes on day one would see him secure 30th place after those first three stages.
“Smooth is fast was the name of the game for me today! It was a mixed bag of super rough and blown out stages today and they made for some tough racing! But I’m pretty pumped to be sitting 30th and I’m feeling really good for tomorrow.”
A disaster on stage four would force Rhys to drop back in the standings, But he’s using his recent EWS experiences he stayed composed in the remaining stages and would land in 39th place after the weekends eight varied and challenging stages.
Fellow Squamish, BC local Miranda Miller suffered a major concussion recently at the ProGRT DH race in Port Angeles and had only recently been given the all clear to be back on her bike. In fact, before departing for Madeira she had only been back riding Squamish’s technical trails for a week. You wouldn’t know it though, after day one, an 8th on stage one and a second place on stage two signalled that Miranda’s relaxed approach to this round was paying off. Unfortunately, a disaster on day two would undo her hard work. She’d finish off the last stage of the weekend with another second place.
“I felt much more relaxed during this round, the expectation of a result gone. Any European round is often quite harder to navigate and feel confident at. Luckily Madeira went with more physical toughness opposed to technical toughness as some of the trails and conditions the island can offer are terrifying! Stage seven, the Queen Stage, was easily my favorite as you were assisted by gravity more so than the others. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, erosion was so bad that a section of trail had all but disappeared. It resulted in me getting my bike stuck in a fence and wrestling with it as the racer behind me caught and passed. It was very frustrating to throw the race away so quickly and at the end of four hard days of work. I was pretty much last on that stage and there was nothing I could do. I was able to use some of that frustrated energy to push ahead and finish 2nd on Stage 8. Two 2nd place stage finishes and many good moments I can be happy with my performance and look forward to being a bit stronger in round four.”