Grab your dad’s mountain bike and become a pro – but can it really be that simple? In 2009 Lauren Gregg’s pro mountain bike career took off, following this essentially very simple recipe. A damn quick rider, her rapidly expanding palmarès says it all: California Enduro Series Champion 2014 and a hotly contested second place this year at the hard-fought series. But what’s it like being a successful pro enduro racer?

Tuck it! Dass Lauren schnell ist, sieht man nicht nur am Ergebnis. Ihr Racestyle ist unverkennbar.
Tuck it! Not just results that testify to Lauren’s speed on the bike; her riding style is unmistakable.

For 2016 Lauren is going to report for ENDURO on her adventures both on and off the big enduro races in the western United States. She’ll reveal first-hand just how it feels to toe the toughest startlines week-in-week-out for an entire season. Now considered one of the best female riders in the US, what are the mental battles that she has to overcome to keep race-fit and ready to shred the toughest trails in the west of America?

Lauren Gregg, 24 Jahre alt und eine der erfolgreichsten Enduro-Racerinnen 2015 in den USA.
24-year-old Lauren Gregg, one of the US’s most exciting enduro racers of 2015.

While Lauren’s race diaries will naturally include a run-down of her races, we’re more interested in hearing about the pace of a pro rider. How does she prepare for the relentless months of racing? Do freetime, family and friends have to fall by the wayside? What’s life like on the road and in the race pit? What’s the lure of this tough-as-nail sport? Lauren will reveal all of this in due time, and we’re super stoked to see where she’ll be heading in 2016 as we tag along for the journey.

Lauren Gregg in ihrer zweiten Saison als Vollprofi – 2015 fuhr die schnelle Kalifornierin für Pivot Cycles und FOX Suspensions.
Lauren Gregg’s second season as a full-time pro – 2015 saw this speedy Californian riding for Pivot Cycles and FOX Suspensions.

We seized the opportunity to chat to Lauren at September’s final California Enduro Series (CES) race in Mammoth Lakes, California. In its guise as the Kamikaze Bike Games, this 3,000 metre-high extinct volcano provided the stage for this tough enduro race, where the overall series title was up for grabs. Super technical trails in the unique territory of the Mammoth Bike Park would demand every ounce of strength, skill and concentration from the riders, as the terrain alternates between the deep, volcanic rock pumice floor, strewn in ankle-deep dust to volcanic rock gardens that wouldn’t be out of place in a downhill race, dishing up countless massive rock drops too as the trails are lined with giant boulders.

Lauren Gregg trainiert, wenn möglich, jede einzelne Stage – selbst noch am Morgen des Rennens.
Lauren Gregg likes to know each stage inside out, even taking the time to train in the morning before the race.

A rare opportunity to race almost exclusively above the treeline, this race was definitely one for pushing the limits. With energy-sapping descents on the four stages (some of which even took the pro riders up to 15 minutes), alongside uphill sections ridden in the unforgiving Californian heat, riders were forced to pull the season’s final reserves of energy and concentration out the bag. There was no shortage of flats, mechanicals and nasty crashes on the technical sections and the notoriously quick scree slopes of the Kamikaze Bike Games.

Lauren auf Stage 3 am Tag vor dem letzten Rennen der California Enduro Series 2015 in Mammoth Lakes, Kalifornien.
Lauren rides stage 3 the day before the final of the California Enduro Series 2015 in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Bike Check: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon

We were fortunate to get an up-close look at Lauren’s current whip: a Pivot Mach 6 Carbon with 27.5″ wheels and 155 mm rear travel that has evidently served her well throughout 2015. Featuring a tidy-looking DW-Link rear suspension design, we could tell that this enduro bike had done the rounds with the satisfied Lauren: “It is a great bike! What I like most about the bike is its versatility.”

„Vielseitigkeit ist Trumpf“: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon mit 160 mm/155 mm Federweg an Front/Heck, 27,5" und Shimano DI2-kompatibel.
“Versatility is king”: Pivot Mach 6 Carbon with 160 mm front and 155 mm rear travel, 27.5″ wheels and Shimano DI2 compatible.

At first glance Lauren’s Pivot appears to be a well-balanced enduro bike with relatively classic geometry figures and pretty typical travel: the slack 66° head angle, snappy 431 mm chainstays and a nice and low bottom bracket (345 mm) – but this universal do-all nature is exactly what renders the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon into such an outstanding enduro weapon in the hands of Lauren Gregg.

Ohne Zögern – Lauren im Practice Run an einer der Schlüsselstellen der CES 2015 in Mammoth Lakes.
No hesitation – Lauren takes on a key section on a practice run at the CES 2015 in Mammoth Lakes.

By her own admission, the former cross-country rider admits that technical descents aren’t her strength and she’s had to work extra hard on her technique and build the confidence to tackle the hard stages of any enduro race. After the initial nerves of bike park-style jumps and drops, the Pivot was decisive in changing in her attitude: “It felt very stable on the descents and was very easy to jump – it took off on lips so smoothly. It also had great pedaling efficiency on flat all-out sprints.”

Seit 2015 bietet das Pivot Mach 6 Carbon einen überarbeiteten Hinterbau sowie verbesserte Umlenkhebel für mehr Steifigkeit und langlebigere Lagerung.
In 2015 the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon introduced a revised rear end design as well as an improved rocker arm to give more rigidity and longer-lasting bearings.
Der FOX FLOAT X CTD-Dämpfer ist nicht nur auf den DW-Link Hinterbau des Mach6 Carbon optimiert, sondern auch individuell für Lauren getunt.
The FOX FLOAT X CTD rear shock isn’t just optimized to work with the DW-Link rear suspension design on the Mach 6 Carbon, but it’s also individually tuned for Lauren.

On this race’s loose volcanic rocks the bike’s set-up and tyre choice, including the ideal air pressure, are crucial factors to consider: “I raced aluminum rims in Mammoth because of the gnarly rocks – I saw many people explode their carbon wheels! I also ran a little higher tire pressure in Mammoth than I usually do. The WTB Trailboss Front / WTB Vigilante Rear was a great setup for the pumice and rocks.” Despite the speedy Californian’s string of successes and her evident satisfaction with the bike, Lauren’s ties with Pivot are coming to an end and she won’t be riding for them in 2016. So who’s going to be her new sponsor? The excitement is building…

Laurens Raceplate bei den legendären Kamikaze Bike Games von Mammoth.
Lauren’s race plate at Mammoth Lakes’ legendary Kamikaze Bike Games.

Where the California Enduro Series meets the Kamikaze Bike Games

Despite still managing to clinch the third step on the day’s podium, Lauren wasn’t overly pleased with her performance in Mammoth as she loosened her grip on the overall victory in the California Enduro Series, having to make do with a well-deserved overall second place. Not one to wallow in frustration though, she explains: “I loved racing the CES this year. I did have a few challenges and setbacks that kept me from getting all the results I would have liked, but it was a great season with super fun races and a lot of really fast competition.”

Mammoth Bike Park: ein selten gutes Mountainbike-Paradies, besonders für Endurofahrer. Definitely a must-ride!
Mammoth Bike Park: a virtually unrivalled mountain bike paradise – particularly for enduro riders.

The final of the CES, held during the legendary multi-discipline Kamikaze Bike Games, saw a wealth of enduro talent descend on Mammoth Lakes, with a strong starting list including World Cup DH racer Jill Kintner. The multiple US-Downhill, 4X and Dual Slalom champion arrived as a strong favourite, and her downhill know-how placed her in good stead for a podium position. But races wouldn’t be races with some upsets and Kintner’s race didn’t end how she’d envisioned either.

Noch Enduro-Trail oder bereits DH-Track? Bei manchen Stages der CES in Mammoth fiel die Entscheidung richtig schwer … Fett!
An enduro trail or more of a DH track? Some of the CES stages in Mammoth left you wondering – sick!
Sending it – without fear, Lauren tackles a rock garden on Stage 1.
Sending it – without fear, Lauren tackles a rock garden on stage 1.
Die Trails von Mammoth sind einzigartig: pulverisiertes Vulkangestein und massive Felsbrocken auf über 3.000 m Höhe.
Mammoth’s trails are certainly unique: dusty volcanic pumice and huge boulders litter the volcano in 14,000 ft above sea level.

Some of the CES stages in Mammoth took riders down gnarly downhill-style sections with double diamond levels of difficulty, which even left those long-travel enduro bikes floundering. Much more than just a bike race, this final CES round required a touch of luck and heap of experiences, with careless mistakes and flats having decisive impacts on the results: “2nd place is always a hard spot, of course I wanted to defend my 2014 CES title and end up on top of the podium. But I still had a great time racing and 2nd place just gives me more motivation to train hard and come back even faster next year!” says Lauren.

Lauren lässt es beim 2015er CES-Rennen am Lake Mommoth in Kalifornien wieder einmal ordentlich krachen.
Lauren tears up the CES race at Mammoth Lakes.
Beautiful California: Sonnenuntergang in Mammoth Lakes mit Blick auf die Minaret-Berggipfel und die endlose Weite der Sierra.
Beautiful California: sunset in Mammoth Lakes with a view over the summits of the Minarets and the vastness of the Sierra.

And as the 2015 season now firmly comes to an end, everyone at ENDURO is stoked to see how one of America’s current fastest riders is going to keep performing in 2016. Shred on, Lauren!

All infos to the Pivot Mach 6 Carbon on the Pivot Webseite.

Links: Laurens Facebook Profile | California Enduro Series | Kamikaze Bike Games | Mammoth Bike Parks | FOX Suspensions

Text: Steffen Gronegger Photos: Steffen Gronegger, Scott McClain Called to Creation

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