Photo Epic: Making of the Most of 24 Hours of Freedom with Adrien Dailly

May 15, 2020
by Matt Wragg  




Sometimes luck runs with you. Sometimes, well it just seems to be laughing at you. It's been a tough road for Adrien Dailly since he broke his elbow mid-season in 2018. It's a nasty enough injury in the first place with a long recovery time - he injured it in June and not only was that the end of his season, but he was barely cleared to race when he took the start gate for round one of the EWS in Rotorua last year.

Coming into the season his plan was to ride himself into contention and, from the outside, riding to a fifth overall may seem like a fairytale, but the truth is he wasn't happy with it. The hope was that as he rode he would get back to 100%, but it soon became clear that the tendon in his elbow was still off, leaving him with his tricep at about 70%. Trauma and surgery had left it too short and every time he hit a big compression he was in agony. Come the end of the 2019 season he was back under the knife again to try and fix it. Again, it didn't quite take, but as the season approached he was weighing up the best strategy for surgery, whether to get it done and compromise his whole season, or tough it out again and get it done after.

As the COVID crisis started taking its toll on the racing season, it became clear that he was going to have some extra time, so he booked himself in for the surgery as quickly as possible. He was scheduled to be operated on 17 March. On 15 March France went into complete lockdown and all elective procedures were cancelled as hospitals braced themselves for the worst. In France the lockdown was one of the strictest in the Western world - sport was only allowed for an hour a day within a kilometre of your house and the legality of bike riding has been a touchy subject (the interior ministry announced that it was illegal, but later it was revealed that there was no base in law for this, but that's a story for another day). 50 days of polishing his bike and dreaming about riding it. As the end of lockdown came up on 11 May and the race season was delayed until, well, let's see... He grabbed the first surgery spot going, 13 May. That left him just two days to have as much fun as possible before facing another six weeks off the bike.

Southern France woke up to torrential rain on the 11th. The kind of rain that makes riding on the shifting rock and sand that typifies the region not only sketchy, but at risk of landslides, rockfalls and falling trees, cutting his time down to enjoy his bike to just 24 hours. So with just one day to ride your bike what do you do? You ride all of them, of course.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
When the sun is shining, the roads are quiet and you have that backdrop road cycling is not just a training tool - it can be fun too.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Road cycling will still be on the cards for him post-surgery - it's fairly low impact for his elbow so his surgeon has cleared him for it.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
While Adrien is known as an enduro racer today, he came up through BMX racing and is more than comfortable on little bikes.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
"Bouge ton gras" translates to move your fat, although why it is painted on a tunnel just outside Blausasc is anyone's guess...

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

0% Loaded prev 1/11 next


One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
After a good French (ie. 2hour) lunch, it was time to get out the serious toy.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

0% Loaded prev 1/9 next


One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Under the French confinement rules you were only allowed to go within a 1km radius of home - fortunately for Adrien and his mechanic, Craig, this DH track was right within their radius. So through the confinement they have been slowly cleaning and tweaking the track ready for today.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Risk was a constant discussion through the day - obviously in the current climate he didn't want to push the envelope. But seeing what he considers well within his limits was eye-opening. It's hard to tell from this angle how sketchy this gap looked to me - it is between two crests straight into a deep patch of dirt - but he had been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and made it look effortless, reassuring me that this was well within his comfort zone, then proving it by cleanly sailing over it a dozen times.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
The nose. This looks kooky in a photo (and I probably can't explain it too well), but it's a surprisingly technical maneuver he has been trying to emulate from Semenuk videos. The idea is that the nose would go high, tapping the peak, while the rear wheel remained on the original trajectory.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
If you want to really appreciate how much better at bikes Adrien is than you, you really need to stop and appreciate what he's doing here. Anybody can skid into a corner, drop a foot and create this kind of destruction, although on this kind of hard pack covered in loose gravel it's still fairly trickly. But if you follow his Instagram you might have seen the speed he was doing this at. To get this sideways at that speed with your feet still up is simply another level control. He then repeated it, almost identically, about five times.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
As the sun set, we headed up to a final spot to play on some small freeride lines we had been discussing during lockdown.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Unfortunately we were too late getting there for some of the features he wanted to try (we were having too much fun on the DH track so ran late), and others were too soft after the rain, so without the sun we had to use our light.

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
Again - feet up, flatout on hardpack...

One day to ride with Adrien Dailly. Nice France. Photo by Matt Wragg
We met up at 8 in the morning and here we are after 9 at night - that counts as packing a lot into your day in my book. Since we shot this piece, Adrien has already been under the knife and the surgeon was so pleased with the results that he is optimistic Adrien won't need the second part of the procedure next week, meaning he is only looking at a month off the bike, rather than six weeks. Here's hoping for a speedy and full recovery for him.



16 Comments

  • 15 0
 Here's hoping surgery went well.
  • 5 32
flag racecase (May 15, 2020 at 9:24) (Below Threshold)
 You make it sound like he is racing in the women's class now.
  • 9 0
 Met him and rode with him in les Gets the year he won the first two rounds of EWS, the guy was so cool and so friendly, he is really a true champion, a master of bike riding while still keeping his feet on earth. Hope to see him back to the top really soon
  • 7 0
 Damn. I wish I had a DH track within 1 km of my house.
  • 15 2
 Build one!
  • 6 0
 @JacobyDH: Security isn't too happy when I ride urban DH. Forget about a whole trail.
  • 6 0
 Yes Adrien! So sick. Stoked to see Matt behind the lens here too!
  • 6 0
 Great photos Matt!
  • 2 0
 He's becoming one of my favorites to watch. The LaPierre Zipp team will be battling it out at the top this year... or next depending upon when all this chaos settles.
  • 3 0
 One of my favorite riders! Hope the best for him in the coming seasons. So much potential
  • 2 0
 Amazing photos and history Matt. What a drama this elbow hã!! Such a long fight! Great fan of Adrien. Hope all the best to his recovery.
  • 4 0
 Stunning photos
  • 3 1
 I think Adrien is turning into Nate Hills
  • 1 0
 Great Job Matt, inspired.
  • 1 0
 The EWS..."Bro Stache" still lingers and spreads...

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2020. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.011781
Mobile Version of Website