Sunday, April 20, 2014

Le loup du bois noirs

A sunny start to the day up on the Col de Brouis overlooking the sea by Menton, right on the italian border

From the start of the race you could see all the tracks used in the last race two weeks ago for Sospel, which is hidden in the valley in the centre of this picture. Two weeks ago we started on the prairie in the bottom right and then climbed the mountain in the center of the picture!
This time we were heading north away from the sea, down to the tiny village of Breil sur Roya.

Nothing but descending!
The trick was simply to bomb down the straights...

And hope to make it around the tight steep corners without sliding out!

Xav Marovelli smashing his way down the course

Seb with a more controlled approach

Chevelu reminding us that colour coordination is the most important aspect of racing
The race was good fun overall, not sure a 29er was the best weapon for a swithback fest, but my average result can be clearly traced to a fairly major aerial off piste excursion in my second run as I pushed a little bit too hard on the dusty tracks!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Enduro Sospel Rider

Huge race in Sospel out near the Italian border last sunday, with a ridiculous amount of climbing in between stages. Sospel is an amazing little village with small mountains (or big hills) all around with an incredible trail network for hikers and bikers alike.

It was a very weird day for me overall, as I spent the day racing a bunch of guys I hadn't heard of who had traveled down from a different region of France. In the first, massive stage (13km of road with 600m ascension to get to the start) 4 of these guys annihilated me, I simply couldn't keep up with them and had to pull over to let guys who started a minute behind me pass by. I wasn't feeling too fast, obviously, and it didnt help that as I crossed the finish line a friend told me my time was worse than my teammate's (incorrectly it later turned out). I couldnt keep up with these guys even on the last stage when one of them had his chain in his backpack... But then it turned out they were all just very fast guys and I was holding my own in the overall up in 28th!

Overall the race was perhaps too physical, or at least more time was required for the average rider to make it to their start times. A couple of my teammates and some big enough names in the local scene couldnt get to the second stage on time for their start, this meant the clock started as they were ascending up the road to the stage, leading to a bad result and a lot of racers giving up at that point.

This is a bit of a talking point at the moment, enduro is meant to be the people's race format, where you chat with your buddies on the climbs and have a laugh on the descents. But the organisers are pushing the limits each year, so on the one hand France remains well ahead of the curve with all the best athletes, but on the other the events get harder to enter, harder to finish and a lot less fun to do. Thankfully, the local races here are still a blast, but I am a bit worried about some national rounds I have signed up for later in the year.

On a positive note, this was my first race on a 29er, the Specialized Enduro. I may become one of those annoying 29er proponents, although it could just be that I bought a size L instead of M for once. All in all an excellent bike. If you are in the market for a new mountain bike, definitely try and test ride this one.

So a good day overall riding some amazing trails. Big winner of the day was Florian Nicolai who crushed all opposition as he has been doing all early season, here's hoping he carries the confidence into the world series and gets onto the podium as he surely has the skills. Check out this insane line choice on the last stage, as he cuts a corner by jumping it, passes 2 switchbacks with barely a wheel touching the ground, then gives a quick look back boast to the crowd: facebook link 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Season round 1: Oppidum Bike

So I somehow managed to sign up for a race for nearly every single weekend of April and May. Luckily I'm about as fit as I've ever been and feeling quite fast! So might as well resurrect the old blog.

First race in a long string of races: the Oppidum Bike which took place about an hour down the motorway towards St Tropez (ish). Headed out with Seb who continues to be fast despite apparently never training, and after some dodgy organisation even managed to get a race plate in the same wave as him, so we would be racing each other directly!

The race itself was very physical with an exceptional amount of sprinting required, but tons of fun overall as the tracks were freshly groomed! There were 4 stages, I came out on top of the group of 3 in the first one by quite a large margin as Seb crashed. This first stage was pretty much a 10 minute sprint session with steep as hell climbs that many people had to push up rather than stay on the bike. The second stage was more fun and I was leading again until the last 4-5 corners when I crashed out losing a good 10s in the process. We then rode pretty much the same pace in the next 2 stages which were a bit less physical, and even more fun!

My name doesnt appear in the results as I effectively took someone else's race plate due to some misorganisation. So I'm down as Bruno Petra in 38th place, a good step up from 58th last year, but there are still some fast guys in front (and far in front at that!). Winner of the day was Aure Giordanengo who is switching from DH to enduro and surely aiming pretty high at the world series level! On the seniors podium was this Killian Bron guy, if you havnt seen his videos, definitely check this out: link


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