I get it now, the whole “this is not enduro, this is not a race” thing. For the likes of me and all those not in the top 20% this is not an enduro race, this is survival and endurance, safeguarding your body and kit. It is a totally different frame of mind to riding and one that I wasn’t quite in yesterday. In hindsight on day one I went balls out everywhere. I thought I was being reserved but I wasn’t. Today I held back, rode conservatively and had a blast! I realised I just have to get down each stage to the best of my ability and have fun riding them, I was so much more chilled out I reckon I was actually faster. I’m apprehensive about what’s coming up but the nerves are gone, this is awesome fun!

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Today, day two of riding, we clocked up 46 miles in total, rode 26.3km of special stages and descended 5012 meters over those 5 stages. The 46 miles again includes lifts, my ‘moving time’ on the Garmin totalled 5 hours and I was out from 8:45am to 17:30pm. The special stages were varied, each one had its own theme with some providing blessed relief from the onslaught of pure gnar!

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Today started just down the road at the funicular railway, a train going uphill meaning bikes needed to be well stacked and in the right direction to avoid a bike/people domino scenario! Straight off the train and onto a chilly chair lift to the top of stage one. I made the completely girly faux pas of failing to get my bike on the lift first time and in front of a good audience too! There was a wait at the top due to walkers on track and signage problems, Ali told us later that some of the course signs had been tampered with making the teams work even harder as they then had to check the course. Stage one was ‘the rocky one’ with great fun, flowy track to start, crossing the meadow on a tiny ribbon of single track before you were launched into a rock garden.

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It was like day and night, each part of the stage completely at odds with each other. I committed to walking most of this, as did a lot of people I found out over dinner. It simply is not worth the risk. Getting out of the rocks, through technical single track in the woods you were thrown out into the open onto a rock, no hang on, boulder garden which I struggled to walk through let alone ride. By all accounts Neil Donoghue floated though here as smoothly as if it were tarmac!

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Taking the same train, chair lift combo and then some bike park trails to stage two, this was ‘the switchback one’. A massive rock garden at the top followed by relentless switchbacks for near on 800m! I could barely hold on, I think I went one speed down the whole thing scared of letting go in case I couldn’t brake again. This was a great stage though, everyone at the bottom was relieved to have made it, a definite achievement. After lunch at the trailAddiction chalet the journey to stage three took in a lobster pot style standing lift, a double decker coach on cables (crossing the valley, very very cool!) and a bubble gondola lift. This stage was less technical than the others and is typical Les Arc single track, open dusty trail, tight switchbacks with plenty of flow. I played a sort of table tennis with another rider here, him passing me then binning it, me going past again – it goes on!


Stage 4 is the one that comes with that ‘bit of relief’, originally a walkers track it had been ridden in and remodelled to become an amazing piece of trail with natural obstacles and man-made berms with plenty of roots and rocks. This was wicked in the dry but I know in the wet would be a different character all together. This was everyone’s favourite stage I’m sure, it was nice to let the brakes of and feel like you are really riding. The last stage was a ‘little extra’ apparently, a bit of fun just ‘cause they can! This ‘little extra meant climbing 400m on road, this doesn’t sound all that much but believe me at 4pm and taking over an hour to complete the climb I had a little sense of humour failure. I kept myself going by promising myself a bag of Haribo crocodiles at the top (other types of sugar kick ass are available!). After my sugar fix, stage five traversed the hill to the campsite with very little in the way of cornering, short and sweet. Clocking in back at base camp I found myself to be sitting in the middle of my two competitor ladies. American, Lisa Curry, is QUICK, I won’t be catching her anytime soon! The other lady, Alice Flower also British, and I have very similar times, it appears second is all to play for!


We didn’t move camp today, so it was nice to be back in the same place and knowing where to eat, wash etc. Dinner was just what I needed cheese and potato (Tartifeltte), served with a day one edit from the media crew, when these get released to the public you are in for a treat – endless camera and bike talent! There is a much more family atmosphere around camp today, everyone getting to know each other and feeling comfortable enough to start the banter, good times all round!

As for other news, after pinning it down stage one Neil Donoghue has ended up with a separated shoulder, the fourth lady has a broken humerus and there is talk of at least one broken ankle and a broken collar bone. Here’s wishing all those guys a speedy recovery. Results wise, these have changed rapidly with Donny out and Peaty finished with his enduro break. Overall in third place is Dan Wolfe, second is Gary Forrest and out front is Jamie Nichol, To give you an idea, my total stage times have been 1 hour 36 mins each day, the top boys are coming in with under an hour of stage time per day, rapid!

Last thing before bed then, there is talk of rain tomorrow……

Words: Rachael Gurney

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