Wideopen’s Monet Adams is learning the dark art of enduro racing … Her biggest challenge so far was the Enduro World Series in Wicklow, Ireland.
Here’s her story …
Words: Monet Adams / Photos: Duncan Philpott.
The weeks running up to the Irish round of the Enduro World Series seemed to just slide by uncontrollably quickly. Just 7 days earlier I was slogging around the British Enduro Series, positively terrified of the idea that the EWS would be any more challenging.
Tracy Moseley reassured me that if I had managed this I would be fine, but that last year it was like a 5 hour time trial.
Brimming with trepidation I headed out to Ireland on the ferry. I was travelling solo and had filled minty with all of the kit and spares I could lay my hands. I was prepared for what would surely be another weekend of slop!
My long-term test bike is a Vitus Sommet Pro, which has come from Chain Reaction Cycles. CRC (and Vitus) are Irish so they had a good presence at the race with a huge fleet of demo bikes for spectators to take out for the day. The boys were kind enough to give my bike a once over and I headed up the hill to learn the tracks and practice pacing myself for the climbs.
“Throughout the weekend I saw riders like Sam Hill and Nico Voulllioz opening up some creative lines that other riders hadn’t even considered.”
It was really good to see this as lots of the smaller enduro races I’ve been to have been down to your physical fitness rather than your raw skill on a bike.
The tracks were a healthy mix of physical pedaling and pumping with some gnarly rock sections that really let the technically confident riders to stand out. Throughout the weekend I saw riders like Sam Hill and Nico Voulllioz opening up some creative lines that other riders hadn’t even considered.
I was feeling really confident on my bike and having the opportunity to ride some of these sections and step up to the ‘pro lines’ highlighted a few things I wanted to address on my bike. Graham and John at Marin Stans Racing helped me to make some tweaks to the cockpit of my bike which gave me a much more aggressive riding style. This was rounded off nicely by Tim Flooks who put two tokens in my forks to help manage my incredibly smooth riding style!
My favourite stages of day 1 were 3 and 4. The first section of 3 was great and I spent a while looking at lines and hitting a left line on the rocks. Stage 4 was like a giant continuous pump track that jumped through bluebell-strewn woods with surprise flat corners to keep you on your toes here and there. I felt great on this track and it would end up being my best stage result of the weekend.
Stages 6 and 7 were the longest and most ‘DH’ of the weekend. The crowds on these were insane. More intense than I’ve ever experienced and it did make me a little nervous to begin with. I stepped up to the tech line in the rocks on 7 in practice but was worried about my arms holding out for the end of race day.
Race day rolled around and I was sick with excitement and nerves in the morning. I had to force myself to eat but once I was at the venue and I had copious amounts of energy bars, and tools and food stashed on my body and kit I was twiddling my fingers 20 minutes early and ready to go!
My aim for the day was to ride clean, drama free and have a good time. So making my first stage in plenty of time was encouraging. Flatting at the beginning of stage 1 wasn’t so great..
“As I realised that I had a blown tyre my lack of experience hit home … Should I stop now? Is the race over? should I roll down?”
I decided to just roll down as smoothly and rapidly as I could, not taking any overly rough lines and jumping off to run up the up hill near the bottom. It was a huge mood killer and crossing the finish line I was already pulling my bike out from under me to inspect the damage. I thought I had maybe burped the rim really badly so I pumped it back up as much as I could and gave it a minute to see if it deflated. It didn’t so I started back up the hill to stage 2. Unfortunately 10 minutes later I could feel my tyre was super low again so I sprinted to the neutral tech station and decided to put my tube in. Enough of this high-tech tubless faff!
By this point I was running low on time, and arriving at stage 2 I had to slip in behind another rider and take the hit of a 1 minute time penalty. Patience and moral was running low by this point and forgetting to put my gloves on or turn my lock out suspension off in the rush didn’t help the cause!
I managed stage 2 free from drama although I did take a gorse bush to the face! On Stage 3 was better and I caught a rider up. I started to feel more positive and on the climb back up the hill I realised I was half way through the day. I might actually make it to the end!
Stage 4 was just as much fun as I remembered from practice. I felt smooth and fast and I came in 11th overall on this stage, my best stage result of the weekend. A good run really put me on a high for the second half of the day and after stuffing my face with loads of food and getting some help tuning my gears from the Marin guys I was back on the hill ready to smash it.
“On Stage 3 was better and I caught a rider up. I started to feel more positive and on the climb back up the hill I realised I was half way through the day. I might actually make it to the end!”
With lunch covered I had 3 stages left. I was feeling surprisingly fresh which again made me question my experience. Was I trying hard enough on the stages? Should I sprint harder?! It’s hard to know how much to give. I guess it will all sort itself out with experience.
About a minute in to stage 6 I flatted again! Yet again I flipped my bike over to perform emergency surgery, doing my best not to hang about. There was one hour to go and I would finish the day.
I made it to the stage with a few minutes to spare and smashed a caffeine gel to pump me up for the last stage. I could hear the hecklers from the start line and my heart was beating out of my chest. I had done it, nearly. All I had to do was ride this last run, clean and smooth and put what I had left on the line. The track seemed to go on for ever, but it was super fun, dipping and diving through gullies with some rad loamy off camber turns to finish. I caught a rider in front of me again just before the end, but I didn’t have it in my heart or in the tank to get her to move.
“I had done it, nearly. All I had to do was ride this last run, clean and smooth and put what I had left on the line. The track seemed to go on for ever, but it was super fun, dipping and diving through gullies with some rad loamy off camber turns to finish.
I rolled through the finish line having battled my way through the day, ridden my lines and been more or less clean. I guess punctures happen, and there was the time penalty from earlier in the day. The lesson of making decisions quickly and sticking to them had definitely been learnt!
It was bitter-sweet to look at the results and see my 17th place. The stages that had no drama saw me in 11th, 12th and 13th place, and the time penalty pushed my overall back by 4 places.
As I have learnt, Enduro is all about who can survive the weekend, who can be fit, be determined and ride smart. I think I did all of those, and learnt a lot for next time.
Massive thanks to Duncan Philpott for the images to go with Monet’s words, Monet for representing on the World stage and Vitus for the long term test Sommet Pro.