recap by Muddbunnies Race Team member Genevieve Baril
February 2013. I was feeling grateful to be a new member of the Muddbunnies Race Team, but didn’t really know how to feel about racing, the thing I never really did.Â As I was checkingÂ out the race schedules, I decided to bookÂ a DH trip with Big Mountain Bike Adventures in Italy, Bella Riviera. I thought it could be a good start to the season….Even better, realizing that one of the world series Enduro races wasÂ in Punta Ala, a 4 hour drive from our DH trip location….Interesting…..I kinda had to go, right??
Next thing I knew, I had my first UCI license in hand and I was on my wayÂ to Italy, with a spot to race with the fastest riders of the world.
I never thought I would end up doing an enduro race that is part of the Enduro World Series. On top of that, as my FIRST race ever! I am not sure if IÂ was thrilled or scared to death…!
Week number one. Very nice day in Nice to get rid of jetlag. We are getting picked up by our very friendly and sweet guides, Louise (Swedish girl, originally DH racer that speaks all languages!!) and Alessandro (Local Ligurian Italian, Louiseâ€™ husband).
DH trip is getting started in Finale Ligure, Italia. Fast trails, with a mix of slippery roots and mud in Finale,Â then more natural and steep riding in Triora.Â Some medieval village riding throughÂ Molini di Triora, passing old churches, flowering blossoms, old ladies walking with canes on those slippery paved streets and stairways,Â (on whichÂ we are riding down on 2 wheelsÂ withÂ suspension!). All of that beauty, not mentioning the remaining of this ride, a switchbacky descent all the way down to Triora, also called, witch town.
Rocky, sandy, challenging and fun terrain in SanRemo, with another very stunning view on the Mediterranea. Nice and mellowÂ (( mellow?)Â including a 23 km climb with over 1200Â elevation gain!)Â XC rides around Finale, with vineyards and Oliver trees surrounding, turquoise blue Mediterranean, again. Wow, this is a holiday!!
Due machiatto per favore!
Week number two. Heading to Punta Ala, EWS number 1.
Very nice drive through Cinq Terre, by the Mediterranean sea. Good to have a day off, after 9 days straight of biking, including a very bruisy and painful hand fromÂ 3 days ago in Triora!
Punta Ala, here we are. One of our shuttle drivers from Sanremo, Davide Bozza,Â is racing the enduro as well. He kindly offered us to rent one of his friend’s little villa on a local farm. Very nice and cozy. Happy arrivals on an olive farm in the middle of very country side Toscane 🙂
Race course studying. Hot, dry day in Toscane. Pedaling day to check out courses PS1-2-3. Holly. Long climbs. We actually did around 1000m climbing today with probably close to 40km. The descents areÂ technical and rocky, very tech and my bike feels small!Â Challenge is here for sure! Impressive to be surround by those big names â€œliveâ€. Barel, Clementz, Garcia, Ragot, Martin, Chausson. You know they are fast till you really experience it in person, they are extremely FAST! Wow!
Having a great time discovering new trails and post-ride penne with meatball sauce that never-ever tasted so good!
The rest of the week became more challenging. We received a massive rain day on thursday. And it kept raining on and off until the race day. Those already challenging trails were then super slippery and muddy and so different thanÂ during the practice! The traffic is incredible as well, race counting close to 500 participants. All that said, my level of stress slightly went up, mud not being my comfort zone…(just yet!)
Just to calm me down and forget about the race, we kindly got invited to a typical Italian dinner. I mean, I certainly canâ€™t omitÂ mentioning Italian food. We got included in a very entertaining group of local riders, who invited us to have a very copious and abundant dinner at Agroturismo in â€˜Pian de Rocaâ€™, an agricultural village. Agriturismo consist basically in having dinner at a family farm where all you eat is locally grown and freshly made for you. Tortellini, grilled meat, bruschetta, prosciutto, fresh cheeses, tiramisu….Mmmmmm, Italy tastes good, my taste buds are overwhelmed 🙂
Saturday. Prologue in the streets of Castiglione de la Pescaia, a medieval village. Mediaeval village, actually, fortress, perch on a couple hundreds meter high with a long descent down to the sea. Great fun and cultural experience to ride very fast dowhill on pavements, stairways, tight corners and couple of stunts add-ups, in a . Still pretty impressive to see the stars out there. Anne-Caro Chausson wins, doing time that is placing her top 50 overall ..she rocks!
Sunday race day. I am considering myself a very amateur rider. How is it gonna be to be part and race with the Pros? Nothing different, I guess, but still…I feel small, but stoked and very energized.
Sunny day, I am starting the first stage , which consist in a 19 kmÂ pedal. The time to make it to the top is pretty long, so we even have time to chat on the way up!!Â You forget somehow for some minutes that you are racing and makes you feel pretty relaxed! 🙂 IÂ encounter a lot of interesting girls from Sweden, Denmark, UK, France, Switzerland. I am certainly the one coming from the farthest (Quebec, Canada)!
PS1 was very very slippery and I survived (not raced)Â all the way down.
Second stage, probably the highlight of my day. Very good feeling till my front wheel get stuck in a rocky canyon and I flew 3 meters over my handlebars. Luckily, I am fine and keep ripping down my favorite stage.
PS4 and PS5.Â Nice single track uphill. Starting to feel that I have pretty much been pedaling for more than 4 hours. The view from the top is stunning, it makes youÂ forget your pain for a second.
Tracks are fast and very dry compared to the morning muddy slick rocks.
After the 2 last stages, we still have a short pedal to the finish, with my new pedaling buddy, Lorraine Truong, a 23 year old pro racer (Norco Team) who I luckily encountered during this race!
I have completed it, my first enduro and I am very proud and happy!
This whole race passed so fast, even though it last around 6 hours. My goal has been achieved: have fun, complete the race, and finish with a smile….Mission accomplished. I feel fulfilled and floating, I think this post-race High is the best drug EVER!
The Muddbunnies encourage and welcome female riders of all experience and skill levels to join them in getting down and dirty. Come on, ride like a girl!