Photogrpahy by Marie Batista // BAT-COM
The French eMTB racer Levy Batista only embarked on a career in mountain bikes at the end of 2015 after he found he didn't have enough time to focus on his work and compete in motocross racing. Despite being a previous French Motocross Champion, Levy made the switch to mountain bike racing and was planning on competing at EWS-e and eMTB races this season for the Tribe Rocky Mountain PowerPlay Team. We caught up with Levy to talk about his move in eMTB racing and his plans for the future.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from France, in Nancy and I am still around there now.
Who do you ride for?
I am riding for the Tribe Rocky Mountain PowerPlay Team, focusing on eBike and EWS-e events.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have a PhD in statistics, so I work on my computer all day long, computing some math equations, then by 6 pm I go for training either on the bike or at the gym. Then I have some rest with my family or I do videos for my YouTube channel
How did you get into mountain biking?
At the end of 2015, I was searching for the best second career possible. After more than 20 years on a motorcycle, MTB seemed to be a great option. I was right, I am having a lot of fun and better results come every year.
Why did you decide to make the move from motocross racing into mountain biking?
With motocross I think I was nearly at my best level possible spending that little time on the bike. At the time, I was at school all week, I couldn’t train other than running or going to the gym. I could only be on the bike by the weekend and my level was a bit lost between amateurs and professionals. I was able to have top lap times at qualification but during the race, the lack of riding showed up with mistakes. In the end, I was like: 'Ok, now I can’t progress if I don’t ride more (and I can’t ride more), so either I stick with my level, or I challenge myself switching completely to another discipline.' Here I am.
Do you think there are any skills you can bring across from motorbikes to mountain bikes?
Of course, I was able easily to jump every jump, even putting some whip in the air at the very beginning, but on the other hand, I was really slow in the corners. I was entering corners really fast, but there was no speed to exit. So I had to learn how to corner on MTB. It is a long process but clearly, my background helped me a lot and is still helping me to be an MTB rider and even more an eMTB rider.
What are your strengths?
I am determined and really focus on my goals and I work hard for it.
What are your weaknesses?
I am not talented, and I miss a lot of riding skills on an MTB. It’s been only 5 years, I still feel like a junior.
What’s been the worse crash you've had?
Probably the big OTB I had on a supercross triple jump during a race. I missed the gear into the kick. Being short with the front wheel on such a big jump is gnarly. I fractured both of my wrists. But hey, I had more than 10 fractures, and some ligaments are missing. For that, I spent a lot of time on réhab.
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
I love to go to Les Vosges, a medium mountain one hour from home. There are so many sweet spots to ride over there. But what I prefer is doing races. When you can ride fast all day long on unknown trails without searching for it.
What bikes are you riding right now?
I felt in love with the Rocky Mountain Instinct BC, such a great bike. And I am so glad, I am able to have the same geometry for enduro and enduro eBike.
Who or what inspires you?
So many people and so many things, I try to take the best from every people I meet or see. If we stick with motocross, Ricky Carmichael brought me the work dedication when I was really young, then Ken Roczen helped me to contrast keeping the fun, and Antonio Cairoli inspires me with his loyalty with people that trusted in him before the successful story.
What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?
I enjoy to create. I am doing a lot of videos, or media things.
What do you do to rest and recover after a race?
Nothing, I sit all day in front of my computer at work. That’s my body recovery.
How do you get focused before a race?
My race routine is my way to be focus. From the week before I start preparing the bike, the gears, the car, I am constantly thinking about the race. By trying to let nothing to the hazard, you are in a mood that keeps you focused.
Where do you think the future of e-bike racing is headed?
I think and I hope it will stay really close to the enduro. With racing on the same race tracks during the same weekend. I think the EWS-e format will be just the perfect use of eBikes. With a format that mimics what is done with motocross enduro, with tight times for the transfers and normal enduro specials (plus one short technical special eBike). In the future, there will be eBike specialists, and classic enduro riders will have to adapt to be able to perform in the eBike format.
How were you feeling coming into the 2020 season?
It has been so much time that I am training that I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know if I am good or not. During training, sometimes the feeling is so great, and sometimes I feel so slow. I really miss the racing feedback that tells you: "ok you are good" or "you're not even close".
What are your plans for the future?
My objective is to upgrade my level, and being fast which is equal to having fun for me. I also want to spend less time on a desktop and being part of the development of a bike would be a great adventure.