Scottish enduro pinner Michael Clyne is aiming to take the 2019 Enduro World Series Masters championship off his own back.
The Italian Dolomites hosted round 4 of the 2019 Enduro World Series and the heat would really knock many riders for six.
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.
Planning the 2 back to back European rounds of the EWS should have in theory been the easiest, what with them being on my doorstep. But so far, they have been the most complicated. The reason for this was choice there were a number of combinations of ways to get me over to Italy and then onto France. This made things complicated when deciding on finances and time allowances.
In the end I chose to drive from Scotland to the outrageously stunning Dolomites region in Italy. 20hrs, 1066 miles and an overnight ferry. This gave me a considerable amount of time to ponder my World Championship bid.
The first thing I decided on was that I was not going to make decisions on trail. Unlike my consternation on how to actually get to the venue, I was going to keep it simple, flow the tracks and ride it as I found it.
The second thing I had to ponder, was my likelihood of a decent position. As well as the usual suspects like Nigel Page and Karim amour, this field promised to be the toughest yet. With a squad of ex pro World Cup DH racers like Bruno Zanchi and olympic athlete Cedric Ravanel in the mix, this round was going to be an extremely tough nut to crack. Anything inside the top 20 was going to make me a happy camper.
For practice I kept my promise and kept it simple. I opted to just ride down the trails and only check out bits that I stalled or crashed on. One thing that became apparent was the abundance of hairpin bends and the need to go high, wide and early for these nasty momentum stoppers.
Stage 1 was a huge brute of a 10 minute track with several testing climbs thrown in and much glorious loamy singletrack. Due to its length, it was a difficult track to remember. Other than a terrifying front wheel slide off a narrow bench cut on a very steep slope my stage went very well with an 12th place.
Stage 2 was a loamy and rocky trail with a surprising amount of anti-flow. I seemed to forget how to ride the hairpins on this stage, stalling on the first several before getting my act together. Still to get 15th on it, meant I was holding my own
Stage 3 was by far my most favourite on practice day. But come race day it was not as much fun. Proving to be a difficult one to race hard on. The trail was top shelf loam almost top to bottom, but many speed sucking holes had appeared since I had practised it making line choice a worrisome experience. Its other terrifying experience was the gravel piste roads like turning on marbles great fun for the spectators. 13th place on this stage was perfectly acceptable to me.
Stage 4. This was the worst stage for me on practice day as it wasn’t very well cut in and seemed a bit vague. But let me tell you it was the hidden gem of the Italian round. Come my race run it was bedded in with multiple line choices on its almost top to bottom loam 14th place was an unexpectedly high placing for me.
Stage 5. The 15 minute monster called “Tutti Frutti.” 3300ft of descending. Well let’s be honest here. There was a lot of filler to get this trail to drop so much height directly into the village. Several climbs, lots of gravel roads and tarmac involved too, but that’s not to say it wasn’t bloody marvellous. There was probably about 13 minute of epic singletrack on this beast.
The fact it was so long meant a few things. Most importantly, it meant you couldn’t go hell for leather. To ride well for that long meant riding a touch more leisurely than usual which made it hugely enjoyable. Its other important fact was that if you could handle the continuous onslaught all the way to the bottom then you stood to gain a lot of time.
My 10th place on this stage helped propel me from 12th to 10th in the race standings. Something I’m incredibly pleased and proud of. Even better than that, I beat the riders I needed to beat to remain in 3rd place overall.
So close but alas, so far. My 3rd place points tally is a country mile off Karim Amours 1st place standing. And Cedric Ravanel is a hair’s breadth behind me with only 2 races to his name.
Next week in France will highly likely see me demoted off the podium placings. However, if I ride as well and clean as I did here in Italy, then I’ll be a very happy man.