Billy Bolt’s exclusive blog at the half way point of the 2019 World Enduro Super Series – Billy talks Erzbergrodeo, having Graham Jarvis as a team-mate, closing in on the Hixpania podium and Husqvarna 2020 model launches.
Welcome to my third blog for Enduro21. It seems like a long time since the first one back in April this year. That was just ahead of the first WESS round of 2019 and now we’re four rounds in already. Where did that go?
We’ve put in a shift at two tough events recently, Erzberg and Hixpania. It’s crazy really that we’re already halfway through the championship. It is nice for me to get through those two and go back to a little bit of rehab for my leg because the first part of the year was so hectic.
With all the racing and travelling I haven’t been able to take care of my leg as well as I’d like and there is still work to do with it. That said it’s nice to have so many races and get on with riding because there are less distractions at the races.
“I just couldn’t get across, Burping Stones I think, and I was getting stuck every time I tried. That’s where I wasted most of the energy.”
Looking back, I was pleased with Hixpania because I’ve climbed the ladder this season and finally got close to a podium there. Erzberg was different. I had a few dramas in the race and I didn’t feel my result was as good as it should be.
One thing maybe not everyone knows is you’re down at the start two hours before the race so when the flag eventually drops is absolute mayhem. I got a reasonable start but on the first climb going out the quarry Ryan Sipes went down in front of me and like a lot of people I had to stop. That caused me to be one of the last 10 riders leaving the quarry.
I was there or thereabouts after picking people off up until a tricky off-camber section. I was third or fourth maybe and just three minutes behind Letti at the checkpoint before Dynamite. Then there was a little section with snow that I just couldn’t get across, Burping Stones I think, and I was getting stuck every time I tried. That’s where I wasted most of the energy.
I know this is all past history by now but it is good to look a back and explain a bit the reality of a race behind the results.
One thing I will take away from it is to be more mentally strong. I was struggling to stop the small things affecting my riding. I just couldn’t put them to the side like I know I should. That’s mainly why I was disappointed with myself, because of how I reacted to the problems rather than the problems themselves. I have accepted and learned from them so I’ll try to avoid it in the future.
I did manage to get the Akrapovic fastest speed award in the prologue though which was a bonus! It’s the award for being fastest in the first 200 metres of the prologue. I wasn’t even aware that there was a prize for it but I was walking Dynamite the night before the main race with Jonny when my phone kept buzzing with messages. They told me that I had to go to the rider presentation because I had won the Akrapovic challenge so that’s when I found out. I was happy to get it, this event – ErzbergRodeo – is massive so to get a little win during the weekend is always good.
“I try to learn from him as much as I can but the way he rides is difficult to replicate to be honest.”
After these last two WESS events it is impossible not to talk about Graham. I wasn’t expecting his Erzberg win to be fair, but when I looked back at his onboard footage after the event I could see he was just a machine, he was not even looking tired. Through Dynamite, everyone was struggling there, and he just kept going. Even from the start he didn’t go all out but just picked off people at the difficult sections.
Full credit to him as well because he was the only one to do the actual whole track with his little detour!
I get mixed feelings with him winning and performing that well, obviously I am happy for him but you always wish it was you. I knew at Erzberg my chances of winning where finished as soon as I started messing up and Graham was the best rider out there so he clearly deserved the win.
He had no dramas, just kept moving steady through the course and that’s how he won it. It’s just like everything happened right for him, no mistakes, no dramas, good strategy…fair play to him after putting it all together.
I try to learn from him as much as I can but the way he rides is difficult to replicate to be honest. The way he puts the power down and how he sits on the bike is quite unique, I try to copy it but to sit down like him is difficult for me because my legs are longer.
I think that our transition was quite similar for us, we both got to a pretty decent level in trials. He was way ahead of my level but the way we look at the tough sections in an extreme enduro and how we understand where to find traction is pretty similar. When we walk a track we tend to find the same lines.
Post-race the team does sit down and run through things but every situation is different, how you have ridden and depending on how things have gone we might sit down with the team manager, Andi.
Even on your best day when you have won and all that you can still point things out to improve for the next race. I usually speak to Andi about the race the next day when everything is more calm and you have gone through your mistakes in your head a bit more.
“I am doing a couple of events out of the WESS – I think I’ll be racing Tennessee Knockout.”
Obviously last year in WESS I was in a different position than I am now but things are improving with the Hixpania fourth place and being close to a podium. It is what it is, I am happy taking in to account all the trouble with my leg in pre-season.
I just take the races as they come and I’m not bothering too much with the championship – for me it is just about getting through the races and recovering my fitness level. I want to use this year as a preparation for the next one.
I feel like even if I can’t fight for wins it’s much better than being sat in a chair and seeing everyone race, even if I’m not at my best level. As the year is going by, I am feeling like I’m getting closer and closer and that there are races ahead where I’ll be pushing for a podium like I did at Hixpania.
I am doing a couple of events out of the WESS. This year I think I’ll be racing Tennessee Knockout in the USA. The schedule pretty relaxed by that time. It’s quite a hard race and you have to use some strength to get through that race so it’ll help with my fitness.
I’m pretty sure that I’ll do Weston Beach Race again. I really enjoyed that race last year and I feel that it’s a great event for the UK so I want to do it again. The schedule has been really packed until Erzberg but now after Hixpania it’s more relaxed. After Romaniacs I’m also going to the Inner City Enduro in South Africa as well and I have other things planned even though the main focus is the WESS.
A couple of weeks back it was the launch of the 2020 Husqvarna Enduro models in Finland. I am not sure where in Finland we were but it just amazing place to ride.
I spent quite a lot of time on the new 150 to step away from what I normally ride. I think it’s good training. You need to use your body more with this bike going out of the corners and you don’t need to brake that much because it handles so well and you can build confidence.
Take a look at my onboard blast on the TE150i.
I also spent a bit of time on the five hundred because I haven’t ridden one before so I wanted to have a little bit of fun on it. It’s such an easy bike to ride to be honest, keep it in low revs and it just goes through everything.
The chassis is a big difference on my bike for this season, we’ve been on the new model since the start of the season. It’s more stable and stiffer for the high-speed sections, and the engine is also a big jump from last year. They are definitely making good progress.
Which is also where I’m at this season so far. We’ve come a long way since the leg injury and through some tough times but to be challenging for a podium at Hixpania was a real positive we can build on.
Anyway, Romaniacs is just around the corner and I’m getting ready for a big one at the Sweet 16 Edition! Till the next time.