It’s a great and exciting opportunity to write a column for a cool, new enduro website like enduro21.com. It’s normally the factory riders that get most of the attention, and for good reason, so to be able to tell you a little more about my ‘privateer’ way of life is something I’m really looking forward to. I’m really proud of it!
Many things have changed this winter. I have a new bike model, new gear, and a new helmet. But my goal remains the same – to improve my GP ranking. It’s been my goal since I started racing in the Enduro World Championship in 2006. Of course, I’ve had some up and down results, but last year was my best season so far with a 7th place result in the Enduro 2 World Championship standings.
Although I’m a privateer racer – I’m not backed by any of the factory teams – I go about fighting for the best results I can in the same ways that all serious EWC racers do. I guess that means that factory and privateer riders aren’t so much different, apart from the support each receives.
To think seriously about a top 10 in EWC result means being prepared – prepared in every way. It’s something you can’t even think about if you don’t have a good bike, a healthy body and a strong mind. But on my side I also have to handle many other ‘hidden’ challenges. Challenges like finding my racing budget, communicating with my sponsors, and dealing with logistics, travel, entries, ordering parts, etc.
I like to think of myself as a Pro rider, but a private Pro. A racer who has to take care of everything.
First of all, I have to find my racing budget. Ok, I get a good support from Yamaha Belgium but I still have to find a lot of extra money. Contacting sponsors, meeting them, race files, press release, communication, web site, newsletter… there’s a lot involved in securing and managing sponsors. I enjoy it, but when I am with a potential race partner I have to convince them that I am the right guy to support. If I can’t generate the interest and then secure their support my goal of racing in the Enduro World Championship is over even before it has begun!
After taking off my commercial hat, I wear the hat of a mechanic. I am the one who prepares my bike, finds the best settings, washes and prepares it after races and training, as well as taking care of the logistics. The van has to be packed with everything – tent, tools, oils, tyres, race clothing, etc. It’s a lot of work making sure everything you need is ordered and loaded into the van. And for overseas GPs, I promise it’s a huge work!
Nevertheless, I stay focused on racing and training as much as I can. Every day I swim, run, cycle, ride or go to gym. I have the same physical trainer as MXGP racer Clement Desalle and we spend a lot of time together.
I am my own mechanic, my own team manager, and of course I’m the one who rides the bike. That’s my life. I love it…