Martin Maes Gets Ready for the 2020 Season on his eMTB

Mar 11, 2020
by GT Bicycles  
Photo Matt Wragg
Photos & words by Matt Wragg

You don't win races by just training hard. You need to train smart. The simple truth is that if you go out and hammer every day you're going to burn out and underperform when it really counts. To arrive at the “big day” in the best possible shape, rest and recovery are as important as those lung-busting interval sessions and muscle-burning gym workouts. Yet for elite athletes, rest doesn't mean sitting on the sofa in their underpants binge-watching Netflix.

Photo Matt Wragg

The technical term for those days is active recovery, and, if they are being candid, they are the days many athletes hate most on the schedule. If you are training hard, you don't want to stop cold turkey as the body will switch into repair mode and shutdown. Once it does, it's hard to get going again - you can't just switch it on and off. So, when a rest day comes around you need to do something to keep the limbs moving and the blood flowing. The balance is that you don't want to do too much – if you overdo it's just another training day and your body won't have a chance to recover. In the past, this meant time on the indoor bike or, if you were lucky, a spin on the road bike around the flattest, most uninteresting roads you could find...

Photo Matt Wragg
Photo Matt Wragg

Martin has found a way to inject the most important of all ingredients into his training program - more fun. "On any rest day, you want to go for a nice recovery ride, so you just take the Force GT-E, turn on Boost mode and keep your heart rate very low," he explains. "I ride my e-bike maybe once a week or once every 10 days. For me, a classic ride would be around maybe 35, 40 kilometers and about a thousand meters of elevation. It's so refreshing to have a bike like this."

Photo Matt Wragg

Not only is he having more fun, but he's gaining an edge too. He puts it quite simply, "You work on your skills at the same time." And with his Force GT-E, it's not just going down where he is working on those skills, "I really like to add in some very technical uphill sections because it's unique to an e-bike. I feel like when you approach a very technical uphill on an unassisted bike, you feel like you're just struggling and you're pushing a lot, which is good sometimes when you want to do some intervals, but it can't always be like that. Even if you're in great form you still need to stop, you need to have a little break to recover. But on the e-bike, I can just climb forever. I can do 500, 600 meters of elevation, no problem. And if you ride in the Boost setting, it's just so quick. The elevation you can get and the distance you can cover is pretty awesome."

bigquotesI ride my e-bike maybe once a week or once every 10 days. For me, a classic ride would be around maybe 35, 40 kilometers and about a thousand meters of elevation. It's so refreshing to have a bike like this.

Photo Matt Wragg
Technical climbs are no match for Martin and his Force GT-E

Trail access is always a concern for e-bikes, something every rider needs to be conscious of. Fortunately for Martin, it's not an issue where he lives. "The trails where I live in Belgium are not so popular, so every time there is a bike in the forest, people are just happy to see someone out there riding, enjoying the forest. A lot of people complain they don't like e-bikes, but when they get to ride one of them, they're pretty awesome. I feel like it's such a good compromise to have an e-bike because you can actually go everywhere, and you have so much freedom doing it."

A worry many people have about e-bikes is the weight, but it is something Martin sees both positives and negatives in, "I feel like the added weight of an e-bike has advantages in some types of riding and, obviously, some disadvantages. For example, the trails I ride at home, especially over the winter, are extremely wet, and we have some extremely steep parts as well. With the added weight on the bike, I feel that if something goes wrong it's hard to save it or to get it back if you are out of control. I feel like with an unassisted bike, you can get away from some situations much more easily. But at the same time, I feel like the extra weight in an e-bike gives you a little bit more stability as you're going down. So, it's very interesting, and using an e-bike is quite new to me as well. I feel like it's a new challenge so it's quite exciting."

Photo Matt Wragg

For a rider like Martin who is keen to throw himself into all kinds of mountain biking, e-bikes are just one more discipline to explore. On top of his already demanding schedule, racing a full EWS calendar, plus select World Cup DH and Crankworx races, he would like to try racing e-bikes too. "I was extremely keen to do the e-EWS this year but, unfortunately, it conflicts with other events. For example, I wanted to race in Finale, but the problem is that we have practice for the Trophy of Nations on the same day as the race. I think when they do the Valberg round, which is going to be separate from normal EWS, I'm racing somewhere else. I would have loved to do it just to discover a new format and race other people, but, unfortunately, I don't think that's going to be possible for 2020."

Photo Matt Wragg

Photo Matt Wragg
Not a bad way to end the day.

Martin’s Force GT-E is more than just an e-bike, it’s a new and effective training tool. Using the bike for active recovery rides, Martin can continue to hone his skills in a fun way without overexerting himself. It will be interesting to see if the new tool will pay dividends at the EWS this season. Who knows, we might even see Martin jump into a few e-races one day!

Photo Matt Wragg



58 Comments

  • 96 8
 This Ad is brought to you by GTBIKES.COM
  • 26 6
 Agreed. Yes, he is a pro rider and is contracted to ride and promote their products. I get it. However, this 'article' is so vaguely veiled bullshit it's laughable. I don't blame Martin...but ..yuk
  • 17 3
 Number 1 benefit to Martin: GETTIN PAID GETTIN PAID
  • 2 1
 GT: at least tell us the specs, price, etc.
  • 5 4
 What I got from this "article" is E-bikes are like mopeds: they are fun to ride but you don't want your friends to see you on one.
  • 59 5
 Sound logic. At this rate the only races that'll go ahead this season will be on ebikes. They won't have to be cancelled due to zero spectator interest.
  • 1 1
 @metaam Spectators have zero influence on cancellations be it e-bikes or vanilla, the UCI and EWS are the people spoiling our fun, that said, human life is worth more than a hot lap.
  • 53 9
 E-bike ad disguised as athlete training article... ... We're dumb... but not that dumb
  • 35 0
 I disagree..we are pretty stupid.
  • 5 1
 @oscartheballer: had my credit card out to buy this bike, realised I'm not thaaat stupid.... Bought face masks and vitamin C instead
  • 12 5
 Hey man I know some people are fanatically against Emtb but I can tel you without a doubt that riding one makes you a better analog bike rider. I have been riding for about 8/9 years now and started emtb about 6/7 months ago. When I got the e bike at first I only rode it for about 6 weeks and that one day that I went back to my analog bike I was literally wondering why it felt like I was Ripping so hard on the lighter bike. Ebikes are heavier so the muscles you use to handle a regular bike become stronger making a big difference on how you feel on a lighter bike.
Hope this helps bud!!!
  • 2 1
 @oscartheballer: That's incorrect, we actually have low intelligence
  • 2 0
 @Makio: i bet the climbs felt shit though
  • 7 1
 @Makio: I hate that analog term - call them muscle bikes if anything.
  • 3 1
 @Otago: Acoustic bikes
  • 2 0
 @Makio: when did we start calling them analog bikes?
  • 1 0
 @Makio: Actually useful, thanks.
  • 1 0
 @Makio:
Totally agree. just bought an ebike for my wife to help her keep up and get up the steep punchy climbs she always has to push. She loves it. It is neat to have both types of bikes in the house. I'm a long way from giving up my traditional bike but when I want to run up a 1 mile climb and smash a few runs down, man you can't beat the ebike. Way more bike time. normal three runs and I'm toast and call it a day, the ebike you just keep on riding until the battery goes dead.
i'm a traditional bike guy for sure but I am so glad we bought one for my wife that I can steal once and a while to go and have a riot on.
People shouldn't slam them until they have given them a good run. I haven't met one hard core traditional bike person that didn't have a big smile on their face after riding an ebike. They may not be ready to put the money out for one BUT they sure had a blast on the bike.
  • 12 0
 I was really disappointed to find out that - "for elite athletes, rest doesn't mean sitting on the sofa in their underpants binge-watching Netflix. " I'm going to have to change my training regimen.
  • 14 4
 I don't care if people ride E-bikes. But goddamn, the amount of marketing and promoting that gets stuffed down our throats by manufacturers is absurd. Especially since they don't give a F*** about actually informing people about where/what they can ride on them. They care about the $, not about how it could negatively impact mtb access when anti-bike advocates start a race war over the fact that there are motors.
  • 11 3
 I get it... you ride the EMonster with a flat battery and the extra weight is like a gym workout on a bike. Neat!
  • 12 3
 I don’t like this life anymore....
  • 2 4
 Pretty obvious solution to that problem.
  • 5 2
 Fly to Italian..
  • 2 2
 ... Italia...
  • 12 4
 Gawd look at all the erosion he's causing... makes me sick
  • 8 2
 There`s not gonna be any 2020 season Martin. You can go back eating waffles, drinking beers and getting a fat belly; it`ll fit perfect with your e-bike.
  • 7 1
 Sounds a lot better then sitting in your living room on a trainer! Smart guys those Belgians!
  • 4 2
 Not an ebike fan but that was a pretty honest/candid take by Martin. Active recovery using boost mode is a much more honest approach for a racer than the BS some companies are spouting about how you can somehow train harder on a ebike (Dave Norrona in Squamish being one of these guys).
  • 5 0
 Can I sell you a skyhook?
  • 5 0
 Ride more trail, do more trail work. Right Martin?
  • 1 0
 Screw it, buy one of each, analogue or vanilla and an E-Bike, the latter is still a bike, seems that Europe has embraced them whereas America have so many restrictions on where they can be ridden they are yet to fully appreciate just how good they are, and before you rain shit down on my comment, I'm 53, been riding for 29 years and sometimes I can't be arsed so a little assist keeps the smile on my face.
  • 1 0
 you nailed it. I posted similar to this. I'm traditional bike guy for sure but steal my wifes ebike once and a while and have a blast on it. It's a change and different. new challenges, new riding style, like a new bike day each time you switch from regular bike to ebike and back. Fun all the way around, and that is what riding is all about. The only big negative of ebikes is level of complexity. Software, firmware, hardware, ridiculous expensive stupid non standard parts typical bike industry manufacture total rip off, error codes, sensors, phone apps, etc, etc! The old days you rip it apart and fix it simple. Ebike, well, better call your I.T. consultant to get it figured out! having said all that, they are still a pile of fun.
  • 4 0
 I'm just gonna grab some popcorn for this...
  • 3 0
 There's not much to really say that isn't already self evident.
  • 7 5
 I give them credit here for being truthful. They all but admitted that the ebike is best used when you want to be lazy and not work too hard.
  • 4 0
 Those pics ain't from Belgium!
  • 1 0
 This is dumb in so many ways but I'll limit it to one. A recovery ride would not involve muscling some boat anchor moped around on dirt trails. If he has an actual coach he'd pretty much be saying" What are you doing?!"
  • 4 3
 I see the value of e-bikes in recovery rides like Maes says. You ride a real ride but are recovering at the same time. Gwin uses the ebike as recovery as well.
  • 1 0
 my next mtb will be an e-mtb. if i want to pedal and get a workout ill go for a road ride. i think in 5 years majority of mtb’s will be e bikes.
  • 4 2
 And no fucks were given...
  • 2 0
 Mask - check Hand sanitizer - check Event to go to - oh sheeet!
  • 3 0
 What tyres is he using??
  • 2 0
 The Schwable Eddy Current
  • 2 0
 ‘Gets Ready’ = Charges batteries?
  • 1 0
 So an e-bike is way to inject the most important of all ingredients - this sounds like doping.
  • 2 0
 Oh man I dig that Redbull painted Super DH lid!
  • 1 0
 All you need is the Bosch Tune and miss labeled battery wattage/ hour capacity!
  • 1 0
 You lose a lot of heat in the neck. Always wondered why no one rocks turtlenecks.
  • 2 0
 What 2020 season?
  • 3 2
 Monsieur Maes can eat a coq.
  • 3 1
 that was so whack
  • 3 2
 EbiKeS aRe bAD mMkAy
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