PRO DIARY 5: TRACY MOSELEY
Reigning Enduro World Champ hits up the last two races of the season...
Tracy Moseley needs no introduction – when it comes to racing she has done it all… National Champ, World Cup Champ, World Champ (all in downhill) and lets not forget that she is the current Enduro World Champ too. Here is part 5 of her Pro Diary for Dirt as she aims for her third title in a row...
Photos: Sebastian Schieck and 'Various'.
Driving out to Europe is always exciting, as it means a road trip to the mountains and bike riding. This time it was to the last two races of the season, so I felt pretty excited to be back racing, but also a bit sad that the summer was coming to an end already. We took a different route to normal as we were heading down to Ainsa, in Spain, just over the Pyrenees. So an overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff started off our trip and then an 11 hour drive down through France into Spain. It was good to be driving a different route than the normal Calais to Geneva drive, it felt new, exciting and almost like we were going on holiday.
I have never regretted buying our campervan six years ago, as on trips like this it’s just amazing. We can pull over anywhere, have a sleep, be a tourist and have a picnic, as there’s no rush to have to get to a certain place at a certain time. We took our time and after two days we passed over the Pyrenees, which was stunning, and then with 50km to go to Ainsa I hopped out of the camper and rode the last bit to Ainsa to stretch the legs after two days in the van.
I was really looking forward to the race in Ainsa as I had heard so much about the place and how great the riding was. The race venue was in the old castle sat high above the village, it was such a stunning setting. The riding didn’t disappoint either… there was so much variety, from high speed almost alpine-like feeling trails, to tight techy stuff and then moonscape barren rock ridges. It had everything. After three days of practice and a fun street race through the castle we were ready to race.
I always thought the French were the cycling fans of Europe, but the Spanish out did them, not only with their enthusiasm, but also their knowledge of who the riders were and their passion for the sport. It was such an amazing experience to race with the crowds cheering like crazy on the stages and also being swamped for pictures and autographs in town. Bringing the EWS races to places like this is so important, as the town, the locals and the cycling fans from that area, just loved having us there. It was pretty special.
For me this was an important race, as although I had a good lead in the EWS series, I still needed to have two more good results to win the title, and in my mind I wanted a good result in Spain to give me some breathing space for the final round in Finale the following week.
Cecile Ravanel (my nearest competitor) pushed my hard over the two days of racing and won more stages than I did, but I was never more than 2 secs back in any of the stages she won, and in the ones I won I put in some decent chunks of time. So after two long tough days, and even with the cancellation of the last stage due to a crazy rain storm, I managed to take the win by 26 seconds and further extend my lead in the series.
This year we have had three back to back races and I think it’s hard to stay feeling fresh for the second weekend, so I planned to try and have a fairly easy few days after the race in Ainsa. We took it steady and drove over two days and then I had a good road ride once I arrived in Finale on the Wednesday. Thursday ended up being our only practice day as Friday was cancelled due to bad weather, so I ended up only doing each stage once. It was strange to spend the day before the race weekend not practicing, but I think the extra rest was going to be good for me as I definitely could feel that it was the end of the season and my body was pretty ready for a break.
The weather was pretty extreme for the lovely sunny Finale Ligure that I have only ever seen the previous four years in October. We had some serious high wind and also quite a bit of rain. It was bad enough for the race organisers to have to cancel stage 1 for racing on Saturday, leaving us with just three stages on the Saturday and two on the Sunday.
We started the race on Stage 2 which was a super physical stage, with a lot of pedalling and with the rain it made it pretty slippery and slow going. Loads of people were complaining about the stage, but I think it was a good test not only of your fitness, but also your technical ability as some of the climbing was pretty tough in the wet rocks and roots. For me Enduro racing should not just be multiple staged downhill racing and some varying terrain and physical tests are part of the sport… or should be.
I was confident that I could win this stage and hopefully take an early lead, but Cecile is an ex XC racer and knows how to pedal too. I had no legs to start the day and found myself not being able to push as hard as I would have liked, but I had a pretty clean run and managed to take the win by 2 secs. The next two stages were overlooking the sea and are super rocky loose trails, which I have to admit is my least favourite terrain to ride on. Cecile is from the South of France and loves that stuff so I knew it would be tough to beat her. She won stage 3 and then I won stage 4, leaving me with a slim 2 sec lead going into day two.
I didn’t need to win this race to win the series, I only needed to finish within the top 30 women, but now being this close I really wanted to end the season with a win. I loved the final two stages as they were up in the hills with a bit more dirt and more familiar terrain, and with the overnight rain it just made them better. I managed to claw back some time on Stage 5 and now had a lead of 10 seconds going into the final stage.
I started to feel the nerves a bit as not only was the win in sight but also my third World title. I started off pretty scrappy, getting loose and running wide on the first few turns, and then after a short steep climb I felt my bike come to a halt and stopped to see that one of my spare tubes that was taped to the underneath of my saddle had come loose and wrapped itself around my rear hub! I had to get off, back pedal and unravel it before setting off again. I could feel the race drifting from me as I slowly got the tube out of my wheel and then all I could do was push as hard as I could for the rest of the stage. I blew out one of the final turns and had to run up a short uphill and got to the finish with mixed feelings… I knew I had done enough to win my third title, but I thought I had thrown away the final race on the last stage. Somehow though I had managed to claw back enough time to win the stage, the race and the series.
Getting back to Finale and standing on the stage to find out the result was a pretty special moment. I had made the decision earlier in the year that I would not defend this title next year. After 20 years of racing it’s time for me to take a step down from full flight international competition and bowing out on top of my game is what I had always dreamt of. So to make that announcement on the stage with Enrico (the race organiser) nearly in tears, with my family and friends (many of them this was their first time they had seen me race an enduro) was a pretty special moment. My brother (who was the reason I got into racing in the first place and a big mentor in my early years) was also in Finale to see me race which was cool. All in all it really was a fairly tale moment for me and everyone who has supported me over the last 20 years…
Finale will certainly not be my last race, as I still plan to be involved in the industry and in the sport, I just wont be chasing my fourth EWS title next year. I’d like to say a huge thanks to all of my sponsors who continued to support me. I hope to continue working with all of them as I move into the next chapter of my career. A special thanks to Trek for providing me with the best bikes to help me win four World titles and countless victories over the last seven years with them.
Finally a huge thank you to James my fiancé, who not only has put up with me for the last nine years, but for the last three years as been my mechanic. It’s testament to his work that in three years I never had a mechanical issue or finished outside of the top 2 at any EWS race… thank you James.
It’s now time for some well deserved time off the bike, some time to reflect on an amazing year, get ready for winter and make some plans for 2016. Thanks for reading my diaries this season.