D3O Ambassador and Enduro rider Rémy Absalon races as part of the SCOTT SR Suntour team. His career includes 12 Mégavalanche victories, four French Enduro Series titles and four European Cup downhill marathon championships. We caught up with Rémy for the latest issue of IMPACT Magazine, which is available to download from our Resources section.
How did you get into riding and racing?
My parents were sporty, but it was actually my neighbours who got me interested in mountain biking. I began when I was 12 and entered the French young riders’ championship where you have to do all the disciplines: downhill, cross-country, trials. That was a great learning experience.
When I tried my hand at Enduro, I quickly realised it was the kind of biking I wanted to do. It’s the ultimate endurance test, with both uphill and timed downhill sections. We live in Les Vosges which is perfect for training. My whole family now ride, by the way!
How did you balance the sport with a busy life as you were growing up?
I was very lucky to have parents who were willing to take their kids to training and competitions. Around the age of 15 or 16 my results started to really improve and when I began Enduro, the bike brand Commencal contacted me. I was one of the first sponsored Enduro riders. I was still a student then so that was wonderful! I spent almost ten years with Commencal, then I began to build my own team with support from SCOTT, SR Suntour and of course D3O.
Education has always been a priority and I have a masters degree in business management and communication. I learned very early on about the importance of planning and good organization.
What are the major events in the Enduro calendar?
The Mégavalanche, held in Alpe d’Huez and Reunion Island, and the Enduro World Series which consists of eight events. I have raced the World Series for many years now and I have spoken with my partners about a different schedule for 2019. We will target some of the newer events that have a strong media profile, and maybe do four or five rounds of the World Series rather than all eight. This will help strike a good balance between big events and those where I can do more PR and build our team profile.
You also have to fit in family life. We set up Scott SR Suntour five years ago with my wife Marine. In the past, everything was done for me – now we do everything ourselves. PR, partnerships, providing brands with content. I’m now 34 and we have a young child, so that’s a bit more work too!
I also have another company, IRWEGO, running mountain bike camps and holidays in the Vosges. It’s awesome! Advance planning isn’t exciting but it’s the best way to avoid waking up tired each day. And to keep it all fun.
How do you train?
Luckily the demands of Enduro mean training is never boring. You have to combine physical training with technical training, so I ride every type of bike, plus motocross for strength and interval training for fitness.
I have studied physiology, so I know how my body works and I also work with a trainer as it’s important to have someone else’s input. And it stops you being lazy and putting off a hard training session till tomorrow!
How have you managed to enjoy such a long career?
I have been lucky to suffer only a few major injuries – a broken collar bone, a foot and a hand. Quite small things really. Wearing the right protection has been vital. The type of protection riders must wear varies according to the event but in France we have to wear a full-face helmet, gloves, knee pads and back protection.
Even when it’s not mandatory, my choice is to wear all my protection. I think it’s rash to ride without it – it helps not only prevent injuries but also perform to the max.
Enduro racing involves long days on a bike so comfort is also really important. My SCOTT Sports Soldier 2 knee pads featuring D3O® technology give me both security and comfort. I can pedal and climb easily and keep my knee pads on all day.
What does your equipment mean for you?
I’ve ridden with this level of protection for five years now. It gives me confidence knowing I am wearing it. No-one wants to crash, but I have crashed with this protection and I know it works.
I can ride without saying to myself ‘be careful, this is a rocky section’. I can push my limits all the time. This is why I value D3O® protection. It protects my ability to compete, and by association my family, my travels and my way of life.
So what’s next for you?
Now that I have cut down my World Series commitments, I’m really looking forward to discovering new races and mentoring young riders. We have a young guy in our team, he has won the French championship so the next step is to get him up to world level. I would love to see him at the top!
What are your top tips for riding?
If you’re new to mountain biking, it’s more important than anything to have fun. Buy the best protection you can afford, because you want to have fun for a long time!
Remember at that stage that you are a beginner – don’t try anything silly like a ten-meter jump, your technical skills will come as you practice. More experienced riders should never stop learning. A coach will help improve your riding technique and teach you the latest training routines. Camps and clinics are good, too – maybe come to one of mine!