His first major race win, a SuperEnduro spectacle, the WESS crown and finally a serious leg injury after training accident. Billy Bolt explains what the hell happened in 2018…
From top of the world to hospital bed – the life of a professional off road racer is a tough one and no mistake. It’s a reality Billy Bolt knows all about after what can only be described as a stellar season in 2018 came to an abrupt end when his “left leg pretty much just caved in” in a training crash.
Working hard and doing the homework
Bolt kicked off 2018 with an increasingly impressive SuperEnduro season which culminated in a dramatic win to secure second place overall at the final round in Sweden. Billy followed that up with his first major race victory at round one of the World Enduro Super Series in Portugal and the Extreme XL Lagares. It was a strong start to the new WESS championship which Bolt then famously went on to win at the final round in Holland.
Along the way 2018 brought variety with traditional enduro at Trefle Lozerien, immensely tough races at Romaniacs and ErzbergRodeo, a mudfest at the Gotland Grand National and slogging it out with the beach specialists at Weston Beach Race before eventually WESS championship glory at Knock Out.
WESS title sewn up
Billy was on a crest of a wave after wrapping up the WESS title. Heading indoors as one of the favourites for the 2019 SuperEnduro World Championship, a training accident days before the opening round in Poland brought an abrupt end his 2018 season.
Sport can be cruel and for sure Bolt knows this only too well right now as he lays up with his leg in plaster. With plenty of time to reflect on a season which saw this bright star of enduro come of age, we caught up with Billy to ask what the hell happened, what the diagnosis is and despite the current state of play, to find out if 2018 wasn’t so bad was it?
Firstly how is it going? How are you feeling and how is the leg?
Billy Bolt: “I’m okay. I have up and down days but feel like I’m definitely through the worst of it from a mental side of things. There’s a lot of work to be done but I’m well aware of that and not frightened.”
What actually happened when you crashed?
“I actually had a relatively small (by my standards) crash. I had wheel spin up the take-off of a jump and knew straight away I had to hit eject otherwise it was going to be head first.”
What is the diagnosis? When will the cast be off how long do the docs estimate before your back on a bike?
“As I’ve landed, my left leg has pretty much just caved in beneath me. Resulting in fractured fibular, damage to my LCL, ACL and PCL. That does sound fairly horrific but all of that is certainly repairable and recoverable.
“I’ve had surgery to repair the fibular and the ligaments will be re-assessed after Christmas. The final issue is there’s some nerve damage which is frustratingly why it’s not just the case of getting the cast off!!
“I’m doing my best to see the best people and learn as much as possible about nerves but from what I have gathered so far there is no magic trick other than time. It may even be that I will be able to ride before the nerve has fully recovered but, again, that is something that needs to be looked at once my knee is back performing at its best.
“I’m grateful that my team around me and myself are both happy to take the patient approach and ensure that things are as good as they can be before I start to ride again.
“I feel at 21 I have a very long career ahead of me on two wheels, so I don’t want to jeopardise that for the sake of an extra month or two.”
That aside, 2018 was one hell of a year to be proud of. So much effort across the year. Stand out moment must be winning WESS in Holland?
“Yes, for sure. 2018 has been amazing and the way it all ended in Holland perfect. To have everyone there and me able to share the moment was special.”
You had to work hard for it – a high in Lagares but Erzberg and Romaniacs looked hellish! The championship see-sawed a fair bit. Were there points in the year when you thought it was out of reach or did you always think ‘I’ve got this?’
“It’s definitely been a hard year for sure. So many different kinds of racing you have to prepare so different for each race with both training and bike set up. It’s definitely a lot of effort from my mechanic’s side of things!
“I started very well with a win in Portugal. I was then pretty consistently within pouncing distance right the way until Gotland where I re-took the lead of WESS.
“Obviously a lot went on during the season and I think everyone had their ups and downs, but I always felt I was close enough to be a contender.
“Even going into the last race there was still there of us who could take the win, so I never felt safe or complacent at all. But I did feel confident I had worked hard and done a lot of homework in the sand which I think showed. I was really happy with my ride at Knock Out.”
Apart from that day on the Dutch beach when you sealed the WESS championship, what were the highlights of 2018?
“I love racing and the final SuperEnduro round in Sweden was sure special one! Obviously also Lagares was my first big outdoor win so that’s going to stick in the memory too.
“Romaniacs was hell, but to survive to the end with the issues we overcame was so satisfying. The British Extreme round at H20 definitely sticks out personally as one of my best performances of the year.
“Erzberg this year didn’t quite go to plan but that whole week is still one of my favourites of the year. I had my first taste of Weston [Beach Race] too and it’s safe to say I’ve definitely caught that bug and it obviously all came to a close perfectly in Holland.”
What was the best day doing anything on a bike in 2018?
“There is no chance I could pick one day. I take enjoyment out of so many different things that a day on a motorbike that I don’t enjoy is very rare.
“Above all it is the racing. I still just love to go out with a solid group of mates and ride no matter what kind of track or bike we are on. Pushing each other and the limits of possibility, I think that’s where I’m most at home.
It definitely helps me appreciate what a fortunate position I am in to do what I love every day.”
As a footnote Billy wanted to add a thanks for all the people who’ve made this such a monumental season:
I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am, past and present. My team, sponsors, girlfriend, family, friends and followers. Thank you.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone. I’ll be back soon.
Amen to that and get well soon big guy.
Photo Credit: Future7Media
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org