Pinkbike Academy winner Evan Wall showed throughout the PBA challenges that he has what it takes to be a pro enduro racer, and has spent his first summer training and racing full time. He missed the first block of the EWS season due to Covid restrictions, but hit the second half of the season hard and has been progressing each race this season from 63rd in both Loudenvielle races to 14th this past weekend at the season finale in Scotland's Tweed Valley. We caught up with him to ask about his first season with a factory team, his mindset toward racing, and what the future might bring.
First, congrats on placing 14th at the Tweed Valley EWS! How did the race feel?
Thank you! Wasn’t fully expecting a result like that, but so stoked. Going into it I was hoping for a good ol’ mud race, and we got just that! The changing conditions, tight and quick trails, plus the hectic crowds definitely made it the most fun racing of the year!
What are your riding strengths and weaknesses? Do you feel that the race played to your strengths?
I’ve always done best on technical, tighter trails, or downhill style stages, as opposed to bike park corners or wide open stuff like what we had in Loudenvielle. I also seem to enjoy riding in “bad” conditions, either absolute slop, or blown out dust, so I reckon the conditions and tracks in Tweed worked out well for me!
What was your favourite race stage and why?
Pro stage was my favourite for sure! It was full gas top to bottom, felt like a downhill track. The crowds were lining the track heavily which always makes it more fun. It was raining hard enough that there was water on the ground instead of mud, so the grip was quite predictable.
Your other results this season have been strong, but 14th is next-level, not to mention 6th on the Pro Stage! How did all the pieces come together to click so well for you this weekend?
I slowly progressed every race which felt good. I got on with the trails here right away, felt like I’d ironed out most of the weird mistakes I’d been making at previous races and was in a good headspace going into it. They threw me into the Top 30 Men starting Sunday which was a bit extra pressure but it just made me want to push harder.
Were you expecting a top-15 EWS result this year?
I was aiming for it for sure, but wasn’t laying too much pressure on myself going into the season, as I haven’t raced since EWS Finale in 2019. It was unexpected but felt good and feels achievable to be in the mix going into next season!
Zooming out a bit, how has your season gone overall?
Missing the first block of racing was definitely a bummer, but I stayed motivated and trained as hard as I could. I put a lot of effort into media projects to produce some deliverables aside from racing as well which was cool.
The race season started out sort of slow in Loudenvielle with P63 at both. I had trouble finding how hard to push and found myself either too conservative or making silly time consuming mistakes. In Crans Montana I felt like I was finding my pace, but again made some silly mistakes and was getting a bit frustrated with myself. P48 was a step in the right direction, and I was excited to continue the progression. Finale I felt quite good, managed my energy well and was relatively mistake free and consistent. I was stoked on a P30 there, and was happy if I could do that again. Tweed was some icing on the season and left me with good motivation for the offseason!
How much have you traveled outside of Canada to race before this season?
Previously I’ve raced EWS Northstar, and Trophy of Nations in Finale, but other than that just raced EWS Whistler and Canadian National races.
What have the biggest changes been for your racing since signing with Orbea this season?
Having the support both in the off season and at the races was a huge change. It took a lot of stress off of the details surrounding the races, and let me focus on training, recovery, and preparation for the races. The mechanics and management of the team are so dialled and it was a pleasure to experience.
What has it been like to train and race full time compared to what you were doing before?
It has been amazing. I definitely saw the benefits that focusing 100% of my time and effort into biking can make. I was more busy this year than ever before with training, projects, and racing. I never had issues with motivation, knowing that I could be still swinging a hammer instead of smashing out intervals.
Has your mentality toward racing changed since signing with a pro team?
The mentality has remained fairly similar. I race because I love it, and always have as much fun as I can. I definitely have a bit more motivation to do well now, and am certainly pushing myself harder since I’ve got a taste of being with a Pro Team and want to continue being in this position in the future.
You may not be able to say yet, but do you have sponsorship plans in place for next year?
Unable to comment on this at the moment.
What are your racing goals for next season and onward?
This year just fuelled the fire in me even more than before. Next year the plan is to get a full EWS season under my belt, and continue building on that for the future! In the off season I am planning on some media projects as well, so stay tuned!
Thanks, and congrats again!
Thank you for the time eh! Been great to catch up!