Video: Altitude Sickness – Highs and Lows at EWS Round 5

Rocky Mountain Urge bp Rally Team at Winter Park, Colorado

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Photos by Matt Wragg
Words by Isabeau Courdurier

After a season opener in Chile and several races in Europe, the Enduro World Series traveled to the North American continent. At over 10,000 feet of elevation in Winter Park, Colorado, this race promised to be one of the most physically challenging races of the season.

Having endured nearly 36 hours of travel hell, the Rocky Mountain Urge bp Rally Team got back together in Denver, but without mountain bikes. Three days before a race, that’s cutting it a little too close for comfort, and the Denver airport had several very pissed off Frenchies in it.

Once in Winter Park, we met the rest of the team: Peter from Alaska, Jesse from Whistler and Francesco from Chile. Eventually our bikes arrived.

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Friday

Warming up normally gives you an idea of how painful a race is going to be and I was already worried for stage 1. This flat stage was a massacre for me! The rest of the guys struggled as well, with only Flo and Jesse ranking in the top 30.

On the more technical stage 2, we made up some time, but at the end of the day our results were still disappointing: Flo in 16th, Jesse in 21st, and Alex and Peter both needing to push harder to break into the top 50.

Saturday

Stage 3 began with a steeper, rocky section that suited me quite well, but it was followed by a long, flat, pedal section where I struggled to maintain the gains I had made. Stage 4 was very short, with no climbs, and I earned my first stage podium of the season – 3rd!

It’s hard to breath at this altitude, and the terrain is very different from what we are used to racing. While Jesse had a solid day—9th, 14th and 6th—both Flo and Alex struggled to maintain their form.

By stage 5, we were all exhausted. Alex crashed because he “saw two trees when there was only one,” and I slipped back to 7th place on the stage. Despite this, we improved our results as a team today, the toughest day of the race.

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Sunday

Stage 6 was a controversial one for racers. Lots of us felt that the flat, smooth, cross-country course at 10,000 feet was not up to the standard that has been set by the many excellent EWS stages this year. Already out of my element, I missed some tape and ended up going off-course, costing me even more time on this stage. Everyone else was able to push through and maintain their positions.

Finally, the 7th and final stage of the weekend was on Trestle Downhill—by far the most technical and aggressive stage of the weekend! Definitely the best way to end the race.

We all had solid runs, with Flo taking 6th, Jesse 10th, Alex 18th and Jordan 30th. I was really happy with my 7th place on the stage.

After a brutal weekend, Canadian Jesse was the fastest on the team with a well-deserved 15th place overall. Going forward it’s clear that our young team needs to strengthen itself to threaten the podium when the races are physical, especially at altitude. We are also gaining experience of how to manage energy and maximize time gains.

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Next, we’re heading to Jesse’s hometown of Whistler to enjoy some of the best riding in the world. These next two weeks are going to be full of adventures and fun times, and we’re all looking forward to the Crankworx stop of the Enduro World Series!

More EWS news:

Videos: 2014 Enduro World Series round 5 recap | Winter Park, Colorado

Gallery: Enduro World Series round 5, Day Three | Colorado Freeride Festival, Winter Park

Video: Enduro World Series Round Four Highlights

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