For second year Pulse Cycles takes part at the EWS. Dobromir Dobrev and Simeon Pavlov participated in the fourth edition of EWS, which was between 28th of June and 1st of July. For first time of its history it happened to be a race in two countries at the same time – Slovenia and Austria.
Here is Dobromir’s story about the experience of the Bulgarian racing team:
This year the round in Slovenia was the closest to us, so there were three Bulgarian racers at the event– Me(Dobromir), Simeon Pavlov and Ivan Kolev. The participation in such a race takes some serious expenses and preparation, so we’ve made something like National Team. We traveled together, slept at the same place, practiced together and helped each other. We’ve invited Bobi Krumov to join our group. Playing as a massage therapist, mechanic and driver, he helped us fell like a real team.
The event started with two training days in Thursday and Friday, followed by two race days in Saturday and Sunday.
The promoters of the event set up 3 stages per day. Two of the stages were located in Slovenia, but the last ones were in Petzen, Austria, where the start/final area was located.
The stages were in three different areas, so we’ve had to plan the training day very well. We decided to spend the whole Wednesday for walking thru the stages.
As of this year, according to the new rules, there is only one training run for each stage. It is a practice for all contenders to walk down the terrain which is very important for noticing some specific lines that can be used during the race.
We managed to check out all four stages, located in Slovenia. We liked what we saw and that made us eager for the race – trails with many natural turns that makes them very technical, many roots, rocks and off camber sections, including many fresh sectors that we expected to get changed after the practice.
The weather was nice and the trails were dry, but unfortunately, the weather forecast for the next days was not good, and the rain started in Wednesday night.
Going to stages 1 and 2 for a practice in Thursday, we knew that we’re going to face lots of slippery roots and muddy sections. Our fears were true. Riding at some places was even harder and more technical, and it turned into fight to stay on the bike and keeping good pace without going outside the track. There were few very difficult sectors on both stages, where even the most experienced riders were trying not to fall down.
Stage 3, which we didn’t have a chance to walk, was longer and more difficult and technical than the previous ones. The terrain was rocky, super steep with many narrow, technical U turns. There was a flat section at the end with lots of pedaling needed, which was very physical.
After we finished the first training day, everybody was pretty tired with some bruises on our bodies, but nothing serious. We were happy that Bobi was with us, who helped us a lot to get in shape. After dialing the bikes and some good rest, we were ready for the second training day.
The transport for this round during the practice was forbidden, except using the lift for stages 3 and 6.
Pedaling for the transfers in the training days made the things even harder. We’ve had to push our bikes for about 30 minutes on a very steep uphill to reach stage four.
Stage four, called “The Ridge”, was one of the most beautiful tracks in the race – freshly open single track with lots of bilberry bushes around. The upper part was spacious and very enjoyable for riding, but after the middle the track was getting steeper and steeper with lots of sharp and technical turns, which were very hard to ride in wet and muddy conditions.
Stage five was the shortest – less than two kilometres, but it was one of the muddiest, however the riding was relatively easy and fast.
We headed to the final sixth stage, called “Thriller”. That was the longest (over six kilometres and 15 minutes of riding) and probably the most technical and physical stage of the whole race. The upper part of the track overlapped with stage 3 from the first day, where were the rocky sections with steep U turns. That part was so physical that my arms already felt like they are about to explode, and from there downwards there was a less steep section, but it was full of bumps, holes and different off cambers, which drained my last forces. For first time we were happy to see a flat section were we’ve had to pedal, so we could rest a bit from the rodeo and get ready for the pumping coming up next. For the final part the stage was going thru a newly built dual slalom with few nice jumps and speed berms.
It was a race time and fortunately the weather was looking good, and it was expected to be sunny for both racing days. That gave us some strength, however we were already pretty exhausted.
Me and Ivan rode one after another and moved together the whole day. Moni was in a different category, so he started shortly after us.
However it was partly dried, the roots in the first two stages were still very slippery. The layout of the track in the steeper and technical sections was completely changed after more than 400 people went thru in the training day. The few short climbs were so muddy and soft, that the pedalling was nearly impossible. I don’t like racing under such conditions, so I felt that I’m riding way to slow and safety. I’ve also made lots of mistakes what it cost me time, but I managed to go thru stage 1 and 2 without falls.
Moni also preferred to ride safe. He didn’t have any serious problems and falls, and he felt good on the track.
Unfortunately, stage 3 was the most unsuccessful for me. I made some ridiculous mistakes, which led to going out of the track few times that cost me a lot of time. From the middle of the track onwards, there was a problem with my forks – the rebound started working on full speed, which made the riding on the steep turns and bumps extremely hard, and that led to few falls. Near the finish, Ivan had even caught up with me. Anyway, we finished the day successful. We waited for Moni, who seemed very exhausted at the finish line, but he did successful all the technical parts of the track.
My forks that turned out to be with broken charger, was repaired very fast and absolutely free of charge by Sram. Fortunately the rest of the crew didn’t have any technical problems, so we were ready to rest for the next racing day.
On Sunday the tracks had withered, so we could ride a bit faster, but unfortunately we were already very tired. Our goal was to take the first two stages without falls and mistakes, and to keep as much power as possible for the longest and hardest stage 6.
The atmosphere was very pleasant. The organizers had taken care to provide enough support posts loaded with food and energy drinks. Transfers were fairly easy and one of them was going thru the tunnel of an old mine, which was pretty cool and even made us forget that we are racing.
We even managed to get together before the start of the final round, and share some thoughts about the race, which motivated us to successfully finish the race.
So, “The Thriller” was even more dried, but that doesn’t mean it was easier, especially when we’ve had to switch to race mode and ride without having a rest.
I bet on a safe ride again, and tried to choose lines with less bumps and holes, which was going to help me to maintain my strength. Unfortunately, at the end I started feeling slower and less powerful, so I’ve started making silly mistakes, but I still finished successfully.
Moni for whom that was a first race of this rank, also finished successfully, and most of all, he was very happy.
Although our rankings didn’t look very good and are far from our goal, the experience we have gained was very valuable. I managed to finish 144th out of 250+ competitors in my category (Men) and 34th place for Moni out of 41 (Men under 21)
Our conclusions from this race are that the level of the EWS is rising extremely fast, the stages are getting more difficult and technical, and the competitors stronger. There are no random people without preparation and some help from sponsors here.
We are very happy with our racing bikes – Pulse RS1, which once again proved themselves in exceptionally harsh conditions, and gave us confidence to shred harder even at the most technical sections.
What we need to focus on in the future is getting physically stronger and gain more competitive experience.
We would like to thank our general sponsors Pulse Cycles, as well as WTB-Bulgaria, RooBar,White Lavina Bansko and Bike Ventures and all of our friends who supported us and helped us to make this trip!
You can read more about the event at EWS.