Tracy Moseley tackles the Enduro World Series – Val D’Isere

Tracy Moseley is a world renowned mountain biker. A professional MTB racer, she has multiple downhill world cup wins to her name, several world champion titles, and a whole host of other race wins under her belt. Let’s just say her trophy cabinet must take a long time to dust.

This year, she has turned her hand to enduro racing with phenomenal success, and is currently the leading individual woman in the new Enduro World Series. She’s competed in rounds in Italy, France, the US and Canada – as the series draws to an end, these final races mean the chance to gain crucial points that could lead to her being crowned the overall female World Series Champion.

This is Tracy’s report from the front-line of racing, in her own words.

Talk about atmospheric! Tracy set to go at Stage 1 of the Val D’Isere round of the Enduro World Series. What a place to ride

BikeParks and TV

The MTB race discipline of Enduro has now really found its place amongst the many disciplines of cycling, so much so that I was asked to go along to film a feature about Enduro to feature on ITV4’s Cycle Show.

The Cycle Show is now on its second series and is a show trying to feature as much about the world of cycling as possible. It’s no doubt more road focused than anything else, but this series they have tried to showcase many of the other cycling disciplines out there and it was great to have the opportunity to help promote some off road cycling on the show.

Also alongside my races I took a trip down to the UK’s newest bike park, BikePark Wales. Trek are one of the main sponsors of the park so I was lucky enough to get invited to the pre opening test weekend and take a look at the trails.

In only a short 6 months it’s amazing to see how many different trails they have managed to create in a small area, catering for every type of rider. It’s so exciting to see projects like this happening all over the UK as it just shows what an exciting place the sport of cycling is in right now.

After a short 6 days at home I then set off back out to Europe and fitted in a visit to another new biking location in Italy on my way to round 6 of the World Enduro in Val D’Isere. La Thuile is located on the Petit St Bernard Pass road and borders onto France. It’s a known winter holiday destination but as yet had not really been explored by bikers, other than the locals.

La Thuile – a location that’s just been added to the Total Women’s Cycling ‘to ride’ list

Enrico, the organizer of the Italian enduro series, invited a few of us over to take a look and help promote the resort in preparation for hosting a round of the World Enduro next year. It was a beautiful little town, with natural unspoilt trails and views of Mont Blanc, glaciers and incredible waterfalls. I can’t wait to see the film we made from that trip; I think it will be a good one.

Enduro World Series Round 6 – Val D’Isere

From La Thuile it was only a short drive down into the valley and up to Val D’Isere. There has never been an enduro race in Val D’Isere before so no one really had an idea quite what to expect. I raced the World Cup DH there last year and it was super steep, so I was expecting some steep terrain!

Already early in the week people had been commenting on social media sites about the weather forecast for the weekend as it was not looking good, but you don’t expect the weather 5 days in advance to actually be accurate….well, at least in the UK we don’t! But I have to say it was pretty spot on.

There is no practice at the French Enduros until race day so all we could do on Friday was walk the trails, but with 3 massive, long stages on the map it was never going to be possible to walk them all. I decided to just walk the top half of stage 1 and then the bottom of stage 3. That was plenty as my glutes and calf muscles certainly knew about the 2.5hr mountain descent the next day!

Saturday morning was beautiful and for the start of stage one we had to hike up a super steep track to set off from the same place as the Olympic DH ski course! It was quite an amazing view back down to the valley floor and just the perfect start to a tough 2 days of French Enduro.

For stage 1 we did one practice run and then two race runs down. It was predominantly downhill with some nice open meadow style turns up top and then some tight, narrow traverses into some steeper tight trails to finish. It was around 10mins long and a good start to the weekend.

Enduro racing isn’t just about the downhill; riders pushing up to stage 1 of the Val D’Isere round

I had a safe and steady start to the race and took 2nd place to Anne Caro about 9 seconds back. In my second run, I rode a lot better and took the stage win by 2 seconds. We then headed back up to start our practice for Stage 2, which was delayed a little, as by that time the storm that had been forecast came in! It was pretty cold, wet and windy by the time we did a practice run.

The rain really set in then and the thunder and lightning too, so at that stage we had no idea if they could run the timed stages as the lifts would not run in the storm. We all sat out the weather and waited for confirmation from the organisers as to what the plan would be. At 4pm they made a call and we were back up the lift and ready to race just once down stage 2. The thunder and lightning had stopped but the wind and fog was still there!

By the start of the women’s race the fog was so thick that as I sprinted out of the start gate I couldn’t even see the first corner and having only ridden the trail once in the pouring rain, navigation was not easy.

I took a wrong turn pretty early on as the course tape had been broken, and started heading down a well used bike park trail. I soon realized that I could see no course tape and I didn’t remember all those steep berms!

I quickly stopped and turned around and then saw Cecile who had set off 20sec behind me up above on the racecourse! I ran back up spotted the broken tape and rejoined the course. I eventually caught back up to Cecile and passed her before the finish, but unfortunately did not get back the 20sec I lost, so ended up taking 2nd on the stage.

I was not the only one to get lost as many of the girls field had been lost in the fog at some point, some just rejoining the trail later and a couple ending up back in town! They were some of the toughest conditions I have ever raced in and I was happy to have salvaged my race and not lost too much time on the overall. Anne Caro also took a wrong turn and lost more time than me, ending up in 3rd, which gave me the overnight lead.

Fortunately the weather on Sunday was clearing up, and as the first gondola came down from the top of the mountain you knew it had been cold up there as it was covered in fresh snow! Whilst the snow melted on the top of stage 3 we raced stage 2 again. This time it was pretty damn slippery and my choice of bike was my Remedy 29er. Sadly there are not many mud tyres out there for 29ers yet so I struggled a little on dry tyres trying to ride safe and stay upright, and lost some time to Anne Caro again.

As the weather improved we were then able to go up to the final stage of the weekend and do a practice run. This was a long stage, just over 20mins. It had a great mix of terrain and also a sustained grassy climb, which was going to be tough towards the end of the stage. Due to the slight delay with the weather we would only have to race stage 3 once, which I actually think was a big relief for everyone as it had already been a tough weekend with a lot of riding in hard conditions.

I knew that I had to beat Anne Caro on this stage by at least 8 seconds to take the win, so I really pushed hard all the way and was absolutely ruined at the finish! It had been worth it though as I beat Anne by 21 seconds on the final stage and took the win.

Sadly the celebrations were short lived as I was told at the podium that I had been relegated to 2nd place as I had been given a 30sec time penalty. This was because I didn’t have my ‘pin on’ back number on for the final race run…I lost the number in the race run on Saturday afternoon in all the rain and fog and had completely forgotten to get a new one.

I was pretty gutted as I had worked so hard to get this win and something like that could take it away from me, but that’s life.

I was also unhappy that there had not also been penalties given to the people who had cut the course on the Saturday in the fog, as it did ’t seem fair to enforce some rules and not others. But I don’t envy the organisers role in trying to keep on top of all of this in the first year of this competition, and with all the things that can happen in a race.

It was a big blow for me as I knew that I had won that race, but the consolation I had was that I knew taking 2nd place had still given me enough points to have won the overall series with the last round in Finale still to go!

It’s just amazing to have been able to achieve this in the first ever year of the Enduro World Series, I was so happy.

It’s been a tough year; learning how to race this new discipline, how to prepare, what bike to choose and how to keep your head and focus throughout the races. I’ve loved it all and its still not over; I still have Finale Ligure in October to try and finish on a high and get back to the top step of the podium, and don’t you worry I’ll make sure I have my back number pinned on my jersey!

Tracy in action at Eastridge for the UK Gravity Enduro. Image copyright Doc Ward

UK Gravity Enduro Series Final

As well as Finale I also had the final of the UK Gravity Enduro series at Eastridge. This was an opportunity for me to add the UK title to the World Title, something that would just finish of the year perfectly. It had been 3 months since I last raced an enduro in the UK and it was great to see everyone again. The UK scene really has got a good vibe going on and I had a fun weekend.

The stages were all great fun and I enjoyed being out for the day, self-sufficient and not using any chairlifts to get around the stages. I like the format and the fact that 3.5hrs after we started, we were done and had had a good workout, some great racing and even better banter on the way round. A top day that was finished off by taking the much needed win ahead of Helen Gaskell and also the overall series title!

Tracy topped the podium at the UK Gravity Enduro. Image copyright Doc Ward

Thanks to Steve Parr and all his helpers for making the UK series happen and I am so excited to see where this sport goes in the next few years.

We had more girls racing the enduros in the UK than I have seen in a long time.

It’s so great to see new faces at every round and I only think this will continue. It’s a great place to start out and have a go at your first MTB race – see you there next year!

Both headline images copyright Doc Ward


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