Scottish enduro pinner Michael Clyne is aiming to take the 2019 Enduro World Series Masters championship off his own back.
Racing a full Enduro World Series as a privateer is mostly unheard of, let alone going for the biggest scalp of them all, the championship overall.
That is exactly what Michael Clyne aims to do, and he’s going to be checking in to let us know how he’s getting on throughout the year.
First things first, who the hell is this guy?
So who am I?
For those that have no idea who I am, my name is Michael Clyne, I’m 40 years old, and have been racing enduro since 2014. In the Scottish series races, I won the hardtail category, then won the masters category and moved into elite when I was 39, got taught a fair few lessons from the likes of Chris Hutchens, Christo Gallagher and Joe Barnes. I then came back fighting last year with a different outlook on race-days, to finish a supremely proud 5th overall in elite.
What does all this mean?
Well, this year I’m going for the big one. Masters category Enduro World Series champion. I genuinely believe I have chance. However, it absolutely won’t be easy or cheap.
Am I fit enough?
The answer to that is probably yes. Anyone that knows me knows I train like a man possessed. Part of that is an addiction thing, I’ve done it since I was a teen and it’s just a part of who I am. The other reason is I know my skill set is lacking and way off par when you compare it to Ben Cathro, Joe Barnes or Lewis Buchanan. With that in mind, the easiest thing I can do to make up the short fall is be as fit as I possibly can be.
I do about 10 hrs riding a week with about 5 hrs gym time chucked in too. I love the gym, it’s my “me” time, a place where I can release daily stresses and listen to my death metal music. The gym at my work is basically used only by me and I can custom tune any workout I wish, without worrying about affecting other people.
My daily workouts are pretty much all HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) based. Short, sharp and sweet. Max out the heart rate. Try not to spew and reap the benefits on race day.
I have about 12 different routines, 2 turbo trainer routines and a weighted squat routine. Plenty of choice. This is to try and stop the body from getting too used to certain exercises/routines and force it to work hard all the time. The other thing I focus massively on is stretching and mobility.
As I get older I am starting to realise how important mobility and suppleness is. Struggling to put socks on in the morning is not a great feeling. The longer I can delay that, the better. What it also means is that I’m more likely to survive a crash if my mobility and flexibility is good.
What have I learned?
Well, after speaking to Ben Cathro about it, a guy who will always beat me on any given Sunday (and any other day for that matter), fitness is definitely not the be all and end all. Ben’s own words are that he doesn’t do any training whatsoever and is by far the least fit out of the elite riders in Scotland. That sure hurt when I heard that from him. Ben’s ethos is simple. “Ride fun, ride fresh, ride fast”.
Where I go out and try put in 7 descents of a hill on a 4hr 6000ft day, riding on fumes and will power alone by the last descent, Ben’s thoughts are 2-3 runs of the hill is enough. Being fresh for his runs, Ben learns how to ride at full pace, how to react at full pace and what works and doesn’t work at full pace.
Whereas my emphasis is on seeing what my body can cope with when I’m tired. My thoughts behind it are that if I will be doing 6000ft on race day, I’d better figure out how I should ride my bike down a hill when I get tired. Makes sense to me, however it’s Ben that’s always on top of the podium. Bottom line, skills in a game of skill, is more important than fitness.
Do I know how to race?
Hopefully. I reckon I got about 100 races to my name, originally starting out in XC and doing not too bad, considering I was running a single ring up front (with only 8 gears) a decade before it became the norm, 120mm forks in a world where 80mm was a bit OTT, and my absolute refusal to ride SPDs.
I eventually got to represent Britain in 2001 in the firefighter world championships, whereby after winning every British race outright, I got absolutely owned in Italy. I think I started getting lapped on my 2nd last lap. Should have gone with the narrower bars.
DH came and went for me, never making any mark to speak of. Free-riding was my thing for a good while. Building 30ft gap jumps and 20ft drops in Falkland.
Then Enduro arrived.
The first year racing hardtail, was pretty awesome as it was all so new, but I had very little competition, I didn’t win every race, but I did win some by 5 minutes.
From there on in it was only an upwards direction for me.
In the Scottish series I’ve grabbed the hardtail series title, the Masters title and the stand alone veterans title last year. None of it was easy to come by.
I’ve raced in elite for the past 2 years against the young guns. I learned some big lessons in 2017 and put them to good use with a 5th overall in elite for 2018.
Can I afford the time and logistics of a full EWS?
Unless you are a paid professional rider on a team the answer to that is probably not. But where there’s a will there’s always a way.
Having thought about this since 2015, I have been saving up for this goal and thinking long term. I worked 3 jobs for 4 years to get extra money, a luxury that only a shift worker like me can manage. However with the cost of the full EWS looking to be in the region of £12k+ I only managed to save about half of that amount.
Those that know me know that I’m making the shortfall up by holding a raffle. My sponsors, Marin bikes, Sixth Element, MSC Tires and Flare Clothing have all donated incredible prizes. Coupled with all the industry insiders I know has helped create a prize a haul worth £7000.
If all the tickets sell the raffle will bring in £8000.
£1000 will be donated to Peter Lloyd, a young racer who was tragically paralysed below the neck last year. He only has the use of his chin, voice and eyes for his everyday life. It’s brutal, but we can make his life more enjoyable through an automated wheelchair, of which the donated money will be gong a long way towards.
Approximately £1000 will also be lost to the inherent costs of doing such a raffle. One thing I never thought too much about was postage costs for 200 items. The rest of the series will effectively be covered by me.
Unless you are a professional rider on a team it’s highly unlikely you will be able to manage this. Even as a self employed worker, it’s going to be nigh on impossible to justify being away from work for 11 weeks of the year… standard holiday allowance is 28 days, I’m looking at 80 days for this one.
What’s the ace up my sleeve you ask? Well as the stars have aligned with my race experience, fitness, and financing, so too they have with my time off work. I am supremely lucky that I can swap shifts with people at work, and thus I have been able to move my work pattern about like a Rubik’s cube, to accommodate the time off needed to do the full series.
What else have I learned?
Above all I’ve learned that this dream is mine and mine alone. I should not expect anybody to contribute towards it. That said. I have also learned you need to create the opportunities and openings for people to help you. One of my greatest flaws is my inability to ask for help. However If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Some of the help I’m receiving is from favours and friends made over 10 years ago, only now bearing their fruits.
With everything in place what am I worried about?
Some sound advice given to me a by a great friend, was to only worry about the things you can change and not to worry about the things you can’t change. It would be awesome if life were that simple. But let’s try keep to that maxim.
I count myself outrageously lucky that I’m in a position whereby I’m fit enough, skilled enough, financially stable enough, have a flexible job and supporting wife along with support from my sponsors and the riding community, that this dream of mine is no longer that, but now a reality that I will be experiencing. I would just like to say a massive “thank you” to everyone that’s helped.
Big shout out to my main sponsors who have been fantastic in the equipment and advice given. Marin Bikes UK, Sixth Element Wheels, MSC Tires UK and Flareclothing co.
Also a great big thanks to Reaper Guards for coming up with the idea of a different custom mudguard for each round of the Enduro World Series.