Tracy Moseley | Race Diary from Rotorua – Chasing Seconds
The opening round of the Enduro World Series is now in the history books – and what a race it was! As riders took to the stage under the Pohutu geyser excitement hung heavy in the air, how would this season play out? Racing is now so close that just one mistake can cost a race, it’s no longer about who is the fastest, but who has the best ‘worst’ stage.
In the men’s racing it was Jerome who had the consistency to take the top step but there were new wildcards in there too. But it was in the women’s category where the racing was most intense – just like the previous two seasons Tracy Moseley and Anne Caro were again trading seconds at the top, dominating the results and taking it right to the wire. Tracy Moseley talks us through her first opening round – one that would push all riders to the limit.
When I found out the first round of the 2015 World Enduro was in New Zealand I was so excited! I first went to New Zealand in 2000 after I finished university for the customary post graduate travelling stint. My trip was a little less traditional as I travelled to all the sights, but also managed to compete in the New Zealand National DH series at the time. I loved the country, the people, the biking terrain and the culture. Everyone was into the outdoors, and the food and hospitality was second to none.
15 years on and all those things are still true, but the biking culture has evolved even more. The Whakarewarewa forest in Rotorua where most of the EWS race was held had developed enormously since my first visit and now boasts over 130km of marked biking trails.
I took the opportunity like many people to travel over to New Zealand early to recover from the ‘jet lag‘. Well that was my excuse! The main reason was to escape from the UK winter and to get some quality time in on my MTB after a winter of training mainly on the road and XC bike. With the first race a month earlier than last year’s season opener in Chile, I also took the opportunity to do a couple of local races to make sure I was not too rusty coming into the first round.
By the time race week began most people had already been riding in the forest and trying to guess which trails would be included in the race! With a permanent uplift service running in the forest it also made it easy to do loads of riding as a bus and trailer carried you up to the top of the forest where you could access a large proportion of the forest. It started to feel like I was back racing DH again, sessioning trails and sitting on a bus! I didn’t really like it, but like everyone I felt the pressure of the first race and felt that I should be doing the same as everyone else to get time in on the bike!
Fortunately official practice started and we were restricted to only practice certain stages on certain days. This I think was a good idea as it meant that you couldn’t just spend 3 days practicing every track to death! Practice began with the final stage, stage 7 which was a long descent from the top of Mount Ngongotaha taking in parts of the 2006 World DH champs track.
It was quite a challenging start to practice as it had a dark, dense native forest trail at the top that hadn’t been ridden since 1998, which turned into a root infested trials section and then the track opened out into flat out fast DH trails, with some big jumps, drops and huge compressions for a trail bike! Sadly that practice session took out a few people with injuries and the afternoon session on Stage 1 which was the most technical stage of the race, also proved a big challenge for a lot of people in the wet conditions.
On day two of practice there were a few people already suffering from day one and dreading what the next few days would be like. Fortunately the weather eased and the stages were a bit more forgiving, but after 3 days of practice all we wanted to do was race!
As ever the weather was the talk of the day, as race day had been forecast to rain all week, but thankfully it held off, although with 96% humidity and temperatures around 20 degrees, it felt like it was raining for me as I have never sweated so much in all my life !! Drinking enough fluids was almost impossible to keep up with the sweat rate!
The race started on the outskirts of Rotorua at one of the towns thermal parks next to the Pohutu Geyser. From there we had a 12km pedal with a 450m climb into the forest to Stage 1.
Stage 1: Stage 1 was just over 3km long with a 320m drop. It was probably the most technically challenging trail, although the first half was pretty flat and proved to be a huge physical challenge in the sticky mud conditions. Once you had pedalled hard for close to 5 mins, you then started to descend steeply in some beautiful native forest. Native forest in New Zealand is stunning but it has the most roots I have ever seen! It felt as though you were riding on a carpet of roots that just got slicker as each rider carried mud onto them. I made life even harder for myself by forgetting to let the 35psi tyre pressure out that I had left in my tyres to ease the first 1hr transition! So with 35psi in both tyres I had a sketchy ride, and even after making some huge mistakes and having to run sections I somehow managed to win the stage, just 1 sec ahead of Anne Caro!
The transition from Stage 1 to 2 was pretty tight, so no time for eating, chatting or barely even drinking!
Stage 2: This was a short one, just 1.5km long with a drop of 180m. It was a super fun tight twisty, off camber trail, but still with plenty of awkward little sections to make mistakes on. This one I enjoyed and rode well, but this time Anne Caro had the better of me by just over a second to even things up!
Stage 3: This was the newly built trail that had to be shortened due to the wet weather, so now it was a flowy off camber DH trail with little pedalling. I had a pretty incident free stage, but I think just played it a bit too safe and ended up losing almost 6 seconds to Anne on this stage.
Stage 4: This seemed to be a favourite with a lot of people. It was a fun flowy singletrack trail, flatter at the top and then onto one of Rotorua’s famous trails Billy T. I really pushed hard on this one, pedalling hard whenever I could and managed to make up the time from Anne taking this stage by just over 6 seconds.
Stage 5: This was another tricky little stage only 1km long with a 130m drop, but it had a couple of key sections of off camber roots that you needed to get through. For me this track was the key to the race and also turned out the same for a lot of people – as it was so short any mistake would cost so much time. Sadly for me, I rode way too conservatively on the tricky sections and didn’t attack the roots, ending up on my side and losing valuable time. This was such an important stage and I had lost 12 seconds to Anne – and the race!
Stage 6: This was a variation of the National DH track that has been used for DH racing in the forest for years. It was 2km long with a 320m drop, flat out, very little pedalling and some super sketchy drops and compressions at speed on your trail bike. I really pushed hard and made a couple of silly mistakes, costing me the stage as I ended up just 1 sec off Anne, knowing I should have won this one without my mistakes.
Then it was time to jump on the shuttle and head out to the other end of town to the Skyline centre to finish the race.
Stage 7: This was just over 3km long with a drop of 320m, it was a tough stage to finish on, and as we hadn’t practiced it since the first day, it was hard to remember. I had watched the DH race online the day before and saw a good line I thought I would take to cut off a berm near the bottom of the track. I came to that point in the track, entirely in the wrong place, braked too late, and completely messed up the line, almost coming to a stop! You would think after close to 20 years of racing I should know better to have a go at lines in a race I have never tried! Sadly that rookie mistake once again cost me the stage as I lost out to Anne by another 2 seconds.
Sadly my mistakes were just a few too many this time and Anne Caro beat me by 14 seconds – after a 7 hour day on the bike and 40 minutes of racing! Although disappointed to lose out on the win I was pretty happy to be so close at the first race. I know I need to sharpen up my riding before the next round as it’s going to be another exciting year of racing for that top spot!”
I have chosen to ride the Trek Remedy 29er again this season as it’s brought me a lot of success so far, so why change things when its working ! I really love the bike and I feel for the longer style enduro races it’s a big advantage, as once up to speed it carries speed so well and I feel I have increased grip. I think for a race like this weekend in Rotorua the wheel size was not such a big factor, and I am a true believer in riding whatever you feel works for you – try not to get too wrapped up in all the conflicting options about bikes.
For the race I found it really hard to set up the suspension as the stages were so different, some just flat and root, and others fast with big compressions. I started with a setting I used for the first 5 stages and for stages 6 and 7 I added around 4 psi of pressure and also added some compression damping to help cope with the high speed tracks and big compressions.
Tyres for me this weekend were also a hard choice as normally I favour fast rolling tyres over grip, but for this race I ended up using a pretty aggressive tyre both front and rear, the Bontrager SE 5 – I felt that grip was more important than rolling with the shorter more DH oriented tracks. I am still not sure if it was the best choice but these are the things I love about Enduro, there is always a compromise and you have to make the best choice for the whole day.
- Frame – Remedy 9.9 OCLV Mountain Carbon – team colours
- Fork – Fox 36 – custom tuned
- Mudguard – EnduroGuard
- Rear Suspension –Fox Float X (new air can) – custom tuned
- Wheels – Bontrager Rhythm Elite Alloy 148 Rear
- Brakes – Shimano XTR 9000 Race (metal finned pads + Ti Rotor Bolts)
- Shifters – Shimano XTR 9000 (Dura Ace 9000 Polymer Gear Cables)
- Deralieur – Shimano XTR 9000
- Cranks – Shimano XTR 9000
- Chainrings – XTR 9000 26 – 36
- Cassette – Shimano XTR 11 speed 11-40
- Pedals – Shimano XTR Trail
- Chaindguide – E-13 TRS+ Dual DMB Guide
- Seatpost – Fox D.O.S.S
- Saddle – Bontrager
- Handlebar – Deity T-MO Carbon Enduro Signature Bar 735mm wide
- Stem – Deity Cavity 31.8
- Grips – Deity Lean (super thin profile)
- Headset – Cane Creek 1.5
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Words: Tracy Moseley and Trev Worsey
Photos: Trev Worsey