Trek World Racing’s Justin Leov took a very impressive second place at the Enduro World Series this weekend, here’s his diary…
It’s been one of the most full on weeks of bike racing for me, here at the second stop of the EWS in Tweed Valley, Scotland. I would describe this place as the UK version of Whistler just minus the chair lifts. Endless trails, brilliant infrastructure and a huge community spirit focused on nurturing mountain biking.
I put some big days in the saddle leading up to the race, I rode over 100km to get two runs on each of the race stages. My plan to film all the stages and watch it after was in place. Unfortunately this was soon undone, I downloaded all my footage onto my computer from the memory card only to have my computer switch off for good the day before the race. All my hard work gone!
You have to roll with the punches sometimes, mountain bike racing is full of these sorts of problems and I often think it’s how you deal with the issues that determines how the weekend will go for you.
There were deliveries this weekend, which helped me go faster. I received the new MET Parachute helmet, which is the lightest and safest full-face helmet I have ever seen! I was glad to be able to have a full-face helmet this weekend for these super muddy technical trails, the bonus is that this one is 700 grams! Trek also sent over a couple of Carbon Remedy 29ers for Tracy and myself. From the first run on the new bike I had a good feeling about the race. Fox had been also working hard with some suspension tuning and each day our bikes were getting faster and faster.
Scotland really turned it on for the racing, the rain disappeared and out came the sun which was a nice surprise. I have to admit when the sun comes out, everyone’s mood take a lift. Trails were drying but there was still going to be a lot to handle in the first day racing.
Day One: This is the side of the valley that was more the Downhill inspired terrain. I knew I had to limit mistakes, as there was potential for losing or gaining a lot of time.
Stage 1: I was getting the cobwebs out if the system. I was riding fast and strong on the pedal but my pacing was off and I rode off course a few times while trying to push. A lesson learnt, calm down!
Stage 2: It was more muddy, lots of roots and super steep and technical. I needed to survive this one and be smart. Riding smooth I had a great stage.
Stage 3: Disaster! Setting off the start and this one had a long muddy fire road in the woods, which required a good pedal. Entering this section I shifted to my largest gear only to have my chain come off and be stuck between my cassette and frame. Unable to shift it back I was forced to stop and put it back on. I knew my stage was over but I now had a new challenge and that was manage the damage and work hard to bring back time on every stage.
I setup my bike for the last stage with the highest gear locked out. I wasn’t sure what the problem was but I figured that would get me through and save it happening again.
Stage 4: I was in the zone and going after it. My best finish of the day in 2nd place. Seeing I was 5th after day one was a surprise, but with such radical trails my other competitors were also having their own problems.
Day two was on the Glentress side of the valley and we would be facing more consistent trails with some opportunity to bring some time back.
Day Two: We started the day with a climb transiting, time was reasonably tight so we had to keep a solid pace and there wasn’t time to stop.
Stage 1: Setting off I felt good and put some good effort into the pedals. This stage was a little messy for me and a few roots caught me out but overall a good start and 4th in that stage.
Stage 2: Another quick transition climb and this stage was a key for me. I needed to be smooth and really get some time back in the bank. Managing energy was the key and I paced it well to finish 2nd.
Stage 3: Was a short technical stage, things seemed to be on track and this felt like the best stage for me of the weekend. That feeling when the bike and your body are working together with controlled drifts into the corners. I had a huge smile crossing the finish line! 2nd again and now on to the time check to find out I was now sitting, 3rd overall!
Following this it was a long climb transition but plenty of time to get to the start of the final stage of the day. Stopping near the top I decided to check my chain and put some lube on it. Discovering I had a broken link in the chain I had a minor heart attack! Luckily I had the time and was carrying a link and a chain breaker tool. 5 mins later I had a race ready bike again, I had dodged a bullet big time!
Last stage and I put everything I had left in the tank into that run. A long climb in the middle of the stage, I was in the red and managed to push through the pain to finish strong and 2nd in that stage behind Jared Graves. It was enough to close the gap in the overall and jump into 2nd place, 11seconds off Nico Lau. I was in shock a little bit. So much effort was needed to bring that time back!
The feeling was amazing to stand on the podium for the first time at a EWS! It really pays off all the hours spent working to get there!
I have to say a big thanks to my Sponsors/team/coach/ and wife for all the help to get here this weekend. Without all this support I just couldn’t do it! Trek Factory Racing, Fox Racing Shox, Shimano, Bontrager, MET, Bluegrass, Adidas eyewear, Stages power meters, CNP.
I now have two weeks until round three in France. I’m sitting 2nd in the points and couldn’t be happier!