Race Report | Manuel Ducci reports his EWS in Ireland
The town of Wicklow was home to the second round of the Enduro World Series in Ireland – almost two months after the first race, finally we left for another exciting foreign adventure , I speak in plural because at last it was time for me to return to racing!
In the gap between the first and second rounds of the EWS, I suffered an injury that left me with two broken ribs and therefore forced me to rest for a month and a half. I spent this time supporting Vale, attending Italian races as a mechanic, managing the activities of the team, and then trying in recent weeks to gradually resume workouts. I must say that the feeling once I got back into the saddle on our local trails was not the best, I was very far from the condition that I should have been to be able to push hard downhill, so I decided at the last minute (the Thursday before the Irish race!) to try to book a ticket to travel and ride on the Irish tracks, to breathe different air, catch up with old friends and try out riding on new trails, where I had no frame of reference and limited reconnaissance by the race organizers would level the playing field against the competition.
After the flight landed, we headed straight in the event village to go through the last details, registrations, collecting number boards, etc. Why do I mention this? In the Enduro World Series you can’t do anything without your race number, let alone think about going onto any trails involved in the race unless you have your number board, this limits the chaos and is a great deterrent to those who want to try out the tracks outside of authorized reconnaissance times, which is often very dangerous.
Friday and Saturday were available for reconnaissance, the first four special stages were accessible on the first day and the other three the second, it all took place on a single hill on private property that had an incredible number of tracks. Access to all the special stages was only by bike, no powered vehicles were allowed except those of the staff – and also this is a another very positive feature of this event. Practice and access only by bike means spending an average of 6 hours a day pedalling and trying stages, trying to limit your efforts to a minimum to be able to get to race day with some energy in reserve. Personally I must say that I liked the trails used for the specials a lot, unlike those in which we usually turn in Italian races, these are much more pedally and often characterized by short steep rocky sections right on the limit of rideability, and the rest are continuous descents on flatter stretches with pump track style features… absolutely exhausting, even if you’re only putting in half gas.
Maybe my competitive spirit makes me think that racing is important, it’s a priority, but after just two months on the sidelines, I couldn’t wait to introduce myself again at the starting gate. In this instance, I had no great desire for a particular result, just the sole desire to try my best, to prove to myself that I could still ride the bike as I should be able to. Have you ever mounted a number on your handlebars and tried to do an enduro race? And what amazing therapy, I recommend it!
On Sunday’s race Enrico was present, introducing all the racers at the start and this made me feel a little more at home even if we were from the other side of the world. Once you left the start ramp after the brief interview and thanked the locals (who proved incredibly hospitable, welcoming all riders warmly), it was time to begin the transfer to the special stages. We should spend hours talking about the spectators who came to see the event – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life for quantity and variety, perhaps the Tour de France or the Giro di Italia on top of the big stages. It was just amazing to see hundreds of children and teenagers with their parents on the specials and people dressed in the craziest of costumes all the way down insane stages!
My day of racing was satisfactory, I started pushing hard to try to adapt to the pace that was so different to what we normally see, trying to push more and more, special after special, seven in all, with tight transfers that didn’t leave much recovery time. They gave a minimal breathing space over a total of 50km and 1700m of altitude, six and a half hours continuous racing with only a 20-minute break at the time control.
I finished the race with an 80th place that is certainly not what I aspire to, but it’s a good starting point. The hardest thing when recovering from an injury is having the ability to know how long to wait and to be patient, not really one of my qualities, but we need to allow the time to be able to rebuild our form and return to the top, whether it’s for a world series race or a bike ride with friends.
If it was hard for the men, for the women it was even more so, I like to remember that for the female category there are no concessions. Unlike many other sports, in Enduro racing, transfers and special stages are the same for all. For Valentina this wasn’t her best race due to a wrong choice of settings on the bike, which meant she failed to give their best on the Irish trails. She still came down and finished with a smile on her face to have completed another fantastic adventure riding her bike! Great work Vale!
For more info, visit: enduroworldseries.com
Words & Photos: Courtesy of Manuel Ducci