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Shane Watts Reviews 2017 ISDE | Features

Veteran superstar Shane Watts gives his take on the 2017 International Six Days Enduro.


Day 1

That morning was the highlight of my week – it was then that I was in equal first with all the other riders. I got a huge cheer from the crowd at the start line, which propelled me away from the start with a great feeling as I headed into a full week of shit results and embarrassing performances. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that I’m past the glory years.

Of the 250km of “trail”, at least 150 would have been on pavement using main roads, back country roads, weaving through quaint villages and down alleyways. Even going at a fair clip we only came in with 7-12 minutes to spare at each checkpoint. If they had it timed tighter someone would probably have died from having to race through all the little villages with blind turns and oncoming traffic.

There was some techo trail sections that included real long, steep, rock infested, sphincter-puckering downhill sections that ensured massive carnage back in the pack, with many of the less-skilled riders bulldogging and cartwheeling their way down. My fellow club team members, Scott Campbell and Ben Kearns, who started way back said it was a total war zone. Just to give everyone a final kick in the arse for the day, the blistering ambient temps made changing tyres a real ordeal for many. I still can’t believe it took me a full 15 minutes for a rear tyre change because the mousse was so big that I couldn’t get the levers in.

Day 2

I got really frustrated with my inability to ride the way I wanted to. Say this with a heavy Euro accent – “The mind speak, but the body no listen!” Yep, that’s how the day went. I now believe they are called Special Tests because they show how special the top guys are. But you gotta love the ISDE. Locals line so much of the trail, just hanging out cheering and encouraging all of the riders. You might get down on yourself but, 500m later, there’s a random kid cheering you on like you’re the greatest there ever was. I got the Junior Team’s ‘lost boy’ Wil Ruprecht to find his way to the pressure washer at the end of the day and blast me down. Perfect – fresh, clean gear for the remaining four days.

Day 3

The Tour de French countryside continued around all of the farm roads in a new region, through all of the villages and back paddock access ways. At least a good portion of these roads and trails were dirt even if they were easier trails than the off-road sections from Day 1/2.

The Tests were actually dustier than Day 2 despite being new. I decided to ignore the results and to crown myself the people’s champion to help offset the embarrassment I was feeling. It was now my job to acknowledge and interact with the supporters, to provide photo op moments, to give out high-fives to all of the kids, to build international relations for the greater good of the world. I was actually happier with my riding in the Tests but ended up with a worse result than the previous day – what do you do?

Shane Watts

Day 4

A smattering of rain provided for primo conditions on the new Day 4/5 trail sections, although the Special Tests were again extremely dusty. Euro fans are awesome, they are so passionate and will emphatically cheer on each unknown rider like they are modern-day gladiators going in to the final battle of death. From 10-15km away out on the trail you could see massive plumes of dust billowing into the sky as if that clown Trump had pushed the button and nuked the whole place, yet we’d arrive there 20 minutes later to packed paddocks of dust-covered locals and visiting enthusiasts, air horns blaring, chainsaws screaming, national flags proudly waving. The ISDE is not a race, it is a happening, it is a must event!

Day 5

Something that made this ISDE not so monotonous was that you just did one loop of the trail each day. Just as it was getting boring, a new day would come along and freshen things up. Day 5 would be the final loop, and it was easy to click off the countdown to the end. This time we got to go full Euro with a great descent down a medieval stone stairway between the buildings in the middle of one of the towns. This is the kind of unique stuff that you only get to do in Europe, the stuff you remember for a lifetime.

Day 6

The track was pretty rinky dink really with a very one-line grasstrack layout that included a couple of extremely poorly positioned jumps. The start gate was also poorly positioned, with only the first couple of inside gates pointed towards turn one. The rest were heading north to Paris.
With a bit of focus and some effort, I managed to nearly snag the holie from the 28th gate pick in my moto. I ended up getting into the first corner in about fourth position.
One of the clowns in front of me then binned it on the slick, watered hardpack. I ran into the back of him and tipped over for a very innocent crash, my only one of the whole event.

This moment about summed up my race because by this stage I just didn’t care about the result. I was very happy and content to just get up and cruise around the rest of the race in last place basking in the glory and atmosphere of this great event.

It was a fairly uneventful day of racing but the ride of the event went to Spanish whiz kid Josep Garcia in the E1 moto who pulled next-level passes and line selection to come from back in the pack to easily pass the best riders in the world for a dominant victory. It was purely spectacular and a thing of beauty to watch!

Read the full ISDE wrap in ADB issue #458 – on sale now.