La Thuile EWS, Veni Vidi Perdidi*

La Thuile EWS, Veni Vidi Perdidi

Amongst the many, many things that annoy me (unnessecary repetition, spelling necessary, etc) is the phrase “have a good time all the time”. The idea that you can have only the good and positive with none of the bad. The yin without the yang, the single market without free movement of people…. Life needs a balance to work.

Hence the crackingness of the La Thuile race weekend; the courses, the weather, the friends, the kicking about in the pits in the sun…. all had to be balanced out by a negative, which in my case was arm pump.

Top of stage 1 on race day. That's what I call a backdrop...

I thought I knew arm pump. Turns out I was wrong. Six stages of average 800m vertical drop of steep and technical terrain showed me what arm pump really was. Fortunately pretty much every racer was getting embarrassed by the leaders of their category (U21 Men being the exception) so I was in good company with my disappointment at stage results.

Practice backdrops weren't bad either. Liaison to stage 4.

All pretty much irrelevant anyway as, outside the top 10, no one other than you gives a shit about where you finish, so might as well relax and enjoy the experience. Easier said than done admittedly, but with some grand company from a Canadian infront and a Kiwi behind me on the hill for pre, during and post stage chat, it was still a pretty chilled out affair.

The practice days were probably better than the race days to be honest. The courses were without exception exceptional but better enjoyed in sections with stops to session the more entertaining bits. Practice was in a multi national crew of (probably) Denmark’s fastest enduro racers of the weekend, Nina and Frederik, plus Melanie Pugin who is France’s (probably Europe’s) fasted female enduro racer without a proper deal. Seriously, bike companies, why will none of you support her?

Melanie reccying stage 5 and moving a bit too quick for the camera.

It’s kinda a shame we have to have races to ride like this, it would be good if you could get huge groups of riders together to rag about some trails, share the fastest/funnest lines with each other, then kick about in the sunshine after.

Nina helping wear in the loam on stage 5 practice.

I’m no expert on van life, but the privateer pit area laid on seemed pretty good. Flat car park, fresh running water piped in, toilets, restaurant playing poor quality covers of pop tunes at high volume, views of massive mountain. Not much more to ask.

The pits. They were pretty good really.

Well, a van would be good, which fortunately I got upgraded to when photog Tom Gaffney got upgraded from his van to a hotel, and let me use his Transit. Cheers!

There’s more than enough media out there to explain the racing and give a better idea of the trails and I was just taking snaps with the phone all weekend so try these: A proper race report day 1 and 2, Preview¬†of the stages, and the full video thingy.

Melanie on stage 6, pinning it for 5th on stage and 6th overall.

Rude & Ravanel are making it all a bit boring this year for the who’s gonnay win, but there’s plenty of interest in the rest of the field. Melanie Pugin in 6th for example. Also, I’m not getting the surprise at Sam Hill doing so well. Enduro is all about cutting the inside line, and who’s the king of the inside line?

Joe getting back on form, stage 6 race day.

But (other than my apparent need to keep sticking content up) the main point for the this post is this: Away over to La Thuile for the day to ride your bike. The lift pass is cheap, the trails are incredibly good, well laid out. Even if the EWS tracks aren’t on the bike map yet, the race map is easy to find (see, I just found it for you) and all of it is worth raggin about on.

Cheers to Nina, Frederik, Melanie and Tom for practice day entertainment, shuttle sharing, pit company and for lending me somewhere to sleep, Canyon and SRAM for saving me (or rather the bike) from my mechanical ineptitude and the La Thuile bike park and race crew for putting on such a great event.

Ciao La Thuile, see you soon.

*Aye, so turns out Latin is quite hard. I thought this title was just going to be a case of lifting the “Vici” and going on google translate for “vanquished”. Which is “Victus”. Except that means to vanquish, not to be vanquished, which I was, or were, or something. So after a fair bit of research and some help from other non-Latin speakers (cheers Antoine) ended up with “Vini Vidi Victus sum”, or “Wine, I saw I am conquered”. So that got changed to “Veni, Vidi, Victus sum” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and looks a bit odd, so a bit more searching about came up with “Perierat”, or lost, and then some conjugation and stuff later, boom, a blog title.

It’s possible I should put more effort into riding my bike and less into writing about it.

My stage 5 didn't go to plan on a number of levels. This is the head level issue.