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.
Round 3 of the 2019 Enduro World Series headed to the sun and dust of Madeira.
Photos by Steven Kellock.
Arriving in Madeira can be a hair-raising experience with cross winds forcing pilots to do the aeronautical version of a Scandi flick. Thankfully our arrival was more sedate then the typical Youtube videos available.
The island is a mass of valleys creating “500m as the crow flies” into epic 30 minute up ‘n and down journeys filled with lush greenery, friendly locals and plenty of cliff views. What a place.
After a track walk of stages 1 and 3 on our first day and some fantastic guided riding with local company “Lokoloko” I felt pretty ready to attack the trails on practice day.
Day 1 practice went without a hitch, but I soon realised it was going to be impossible to remember every line, and so had to pick just a few belters for each stage.
Day 2 involved me getting very relaxed with the trails, if not too relaxed as I barrelled into blind drops and gullies too fast, with some very lucky crashes and escapes for me and my bike. The traverse from the top of stage 5 to the bottom of stage 7 was an epic journey past stunning scenery and terrifying cliffs. Coupled with it mostly being downhill, makes for an incredible day trip for any rider.
Day 1 Racing
Stage 1 was a brute, just shy of 8 minutes for me. I Held my lines well but felt a losing battle with hand grip towards the last minute, making me back off a touch. Riding clean got me 6th on stage
Stage 2 did not go well, it was the rockiest trail by far, and guess who punctured 10 seconds into it?
Luckily my MSC Tires tyre mousse did its job and I rode the whole stage with a rear flat at 70% pace. Rescuing a 10th place on it.
Unfortunately I now had to fix my puncture for the hour long climb ahead of me. Riding on the rim meant that my tyre had about 8 holes in it. Amazingly my Sixth Element wheels survived the pounding.
Once I got my puncture sorted with a tube, I tucked my tyre insert into the back of my jersey and beasted up the hill like a man possessed, nearly spewing once in the muggy heat, but I made it with 90 seconds to spare. Actually clipping my chin guard on as the marshal counted my 10 seconds down.
My mantra for helping me halve a 60 minute climb in 25 degree heat was “how bad you want this?”
Stage 3 went by in a blur, my heart rate through the roof, sweat pouring out of me, no sprint capability and arms like limp noodles. Somehow, somehow I pulled a 5th out the bag.
Finishing 7th on day 1 was a real bonus for me . Here I was hoping day 2 would be a little less drama-filled.
After yesterdays drama, I was hoping for an easier time of it for day 2.
Fat chance. After putting a new tyre on the previous night, I woke up , got ready to rumble, headed out the door only to find my rear wheel completely flat. Not great, seeing as I was due on the start ramp in 20 minutes. The problem seemed to be a valve leak. No matter how hard I tightened it to the rim, it still leaked.
The decision was made to carry extra air cartridges with me and just keep topping up all day. Which was basically at the top of every stage and midway on the liasons. On one stage I lost 15psi. But nae chance was I giving up.
Stage 4 was the awful and mega dusty “stunt” trail. Despite my misgivings on it I actually enjoyed riding it with 8th fastest.
Stage 5 was my favourite trail but I took a cheeky lowside crash on the exit of a left hander. 9th was not what I was after on a style of track I consider to be my bread and butter.
On stage 6 I seemed to relax considerably, pulled a super clean run and 6th place on it.
Stage 7 was the one with the 1000ft cliff on it. A lot of the fresher corners were blown-out dust bowls so some care had to be taken. As a result I wimped out of a few nice lines for fear of ploughing my front wheel. Because this was a long stage, I felt my tyre begin to go soft with the valve leak and had to go canny on the high speed section at the bottom. Pretty pleased to grab 7th on this stage.
The final and 8th stage was the same as day one’s stage 3 but extended through the streets and gardens of Machico to the beach. It was lovely to hit this stage fresher than yesterday. Other than one silly error in the rocky/grassy meadow, bringing me to stand still, I felt pretty good on this stage but a little disappointed with an 8th place on it.
My overall finish was 7th. My best yet. And more excitingly, puts me in 3rd place overall, with Javier Santiago in 2nd and multiple world champion Karim Amour in 1st.
Without being defeatist about it, it’s a position that I doubt I will hold for long. But I’m sure going to relish it while it lasts. And there’s one simple reason why. Because I worked for it, I worked so hard for it, I thought I might actually die of a heart attack.
Getting to my stage 3 on time with 90 secondss to spare will probably be the pinnacle of my sporting life. Not giving up because its tough is precisely what any competition of any sort is about. Dig deep and you never know what you might find.
I’d also like to point out I wasn’t the only person in the masters category who suffered race ending disasters but pushed through hard against all odds to finish the race. My hero has to be kiwi rider Brendan Clarke who ripped his mech off at the bottom of stage 7 and ran the whole way to stage 8 with minutes to spare to finish the race. Us old boys might be slower than the pros, but I tell you, we got heart.