Another year in the books, 2018, another season that struck all previous participant limits and probably the most exciting year racing so far. The sport is for sure growing and we get to see newcomers coming in and directly start fighting about the box.
First we went to Göteborg for an early spring race in Änggårdsbergen, the snow had just melted. Almost every stage was on the south side of the forest to avoid the remaining snow, inviting to a bunch of new trails. This year 352 participants gave it all in the slippery trails of Änggården. Quite a lot of Norwegians attended the race, giving it all in the Women's - and U21 class.
Neptron is still the provider of the timing for every competition. Halfway through the series, they chose to double the amounts of transfers after the first timing miss in Vallåsen for a competitor. A compensation well appreciated by the racers to avoid time errors during the race
As usual the race in Göteborg attracts a bunch of fast riders who normally would not participate in something as exhausting as an Enduro Race. Johan Ekman, with history as a slopestyle rider now enters the ESS race trying to motivate his fellow riders to drink Falcon Bayersk during the transitions.
Since the snow just disappeared it was not a colourful event, making the forest very slippery with foggy conditions during the whole weekend.
The crowds during the ESS races grows every year, with Änggården being a very popular area for mountain bike there were a lot of people cheering on the riders in the forest. Here is EWS rider Robin Wallner blasting down the last drop of stage seven, he ended up winning the first race of ESS by 10 seconds.
Vera Leivsdottir was fast this Sunday, winning the Women's race with almost 20 seconds. She seemed to be racing and practicing together with home soil rider Josefine Björkman who might have given away to many line choices and ended up 3rd Norweigan after Anette Røssum Bastnes finishing 2nd.
New for this year is the racing team Francotyp, consisting of Felix Beckeman, Dawid Axelsson and Josephine Björkman. Here is Dawid (right picture)flying down the same section we saw Robin in the previous picture. Dawid ended up 4th and teammates Josephine and Felix finished 2nd and 3rd. Not a bad start. Josephine (left picture) ended 3rd this weekend in a competition that was really hard to predict.
Overall the competition in Änggårdsbergen is a pretty flat race and you will find out early on if you have done your off-season training or not. If you spend some time at the pumptrack you will have a great advantage since pumping is the way to stay up to speed in this forest.
2019 the competition will be held in Lackarebäck instead of Änggårdsbergen, a forest that was full of downhill trails 10 years ago and now we are dusting them of again. It is going to be steep and rough and hopefully we will have a lot of faces looking like this one. 27th to 28th of April is the date for 2019.
Vallåsen is usually the first stop of the series since it's located the most south of all stops, but this year they got the 2nd race and it almost gave the riders some summer feelings although it was only May. The lift was running the whole weekend and the trails we're truly in top conditions, Vallåsen had as usual given the racers some new sections that haven't been raced before.
Vallåsen also got a lot of participants this year with 376 starting riders. Emil Jonsson, also a friend of Falcon Bayersk, seemed dedicated to be the first one finishing all the stages, drifting a way seconds after this photo was shot.
First stage, first rider - Yepp, it's Emil. Rumours say Emil is going to races next year on a hardtail. Maybe in a company full of BMX riders?
The stages in Vallåsen is pretty rough, mostly roots and stone on every trail and even though it looks quite flat it always brings the riders to warp speed. These two picture is from the same stage, going flat out in the open at the top and ending up in a thick dark forest with troubles that lasts for everyone.
Jon Bokrantz finding the lines in one of the hundred rough sections in Vallåsen
Vallåsen's trails aren't very steep but the trails are hard packed and really fast, with only 145 meters vertical drop, 2 minutes stages are not bad at all.
Elin Eng going down the first stage in a section that a lot of racers had trouble with last year, with time things get better and it was a completely different flow this year.
Daniel Bagge shreds down one of many drops in Vallåsen, Daniel is said to have around 400 days of riding a year in Vallåsen bike park.
Maybe not an official team yet but a brand that you see more and more of is Void cycling, started in 2013 they already made a name of themselves and now supporting a few riders on the Enduro series. Klas Öberg on the left, who also does a bunch of EWS when there's time is flying down the last stage. On your right, you got Thor Kruse, founder of the brand. Both of them is fighting for the top stops in the Master class
Linn Olstam got her first visit on the box this season ending on a 2nd place, the same spot that she finished on her first Enduro race last season in Flaun.
The fastest guy on Vallåsen was Adrian Hörnqvist, being the professor for a bunch of fast kids on the school of Vansbro with riding bikes on schedule seems to be a great way to stay fast. Luckily not beaten by any student this time either.
Emil Melkersson hucking down stage six and ended up 2nd in the U21 class, Emil is hands down the wildest guy in the series, making every corner look like a washout.
If there was a "Best Atmosphere" award in the ESS, Vallåsen would probably take the first place. Feels like a vacation as soon as your car rolls through the gates to this Bikepark, showing you don't need big mountains to have a kick-ass bike park.
A newcomer to the ESS rounds was Östersund, a city 120 km from Åre Bike park with a pretty small mountain in the centre of town - at least if you compare it to the mountain in the surroundings. But what a place, here you could find things that looked taken from the EWS with super steep sections and areas that looked like another country. Giving the riders a different type of riding on every stage which turned out to give us pretty tight racing.
Frösön was different from the other stops of the series, it was dusty and warm which should be a shocker since we're talking northern Sweden, where you could find snow in an hour drive away. Everybody seemed psyched about this, especially Nils Arden who seemed well trained for dusty steep sections.
Team Vallåsen, if you share water bottle you have space for a speaker on one of your bikes. Playing groovy tunes along the track all day long, making everyone turn their head figuring out what that kind of Hope hub makes that sound.
Local Hero Olle Forsman straight up flying down the stages, starting of strong with the second fastest time at the 2nd stage, showing why this is his home soil. Unfortunately, Olle's day was going to be shut down by a technical on the fourth stage, losing a lot of time on every stage thereafter but still ending up on 11th place.
Josefine Björkman blasting down the dusty stage 6, staying consistent on the box every weekend. Sharing the box with her is mostly Linn Olstam who's a new contender in the Women's field this season. It was no exception this weekend either..
Sometimes our neighbours from the west shows up and gives us a show. Julie Appelkvist from Norway seems to have no problems with the Swedish ruts and dust, winning by 15 seconds against the Swedes on the photos above.
Anton Karlsson ended last season with a 3rd in the overall, a really consistent rider and he managed to stay in the top 10 this race. He's now going all in during the offseason to get on top of the box next year.
Team Francotyp, Felix (left picture) ended up 2nd with Dawid (right picture) less than a second back on 3rd.
This weekends winner was Simon Carlsson, his second year racing Enduro and already up on top. It was some really tight racing but Simon is actually flying while everybody else is riding down the stages. Watch out for this guy because he's entering some EWS stops next year.
The fastest young gun this weekend was Andreas Höglund, winning with over 35 seconds. The future sure looks bright for Swedish mountain biking.
The start and finish of the race were in the city of Östersund, next to the water in "Surfbukten" there was a lot of activities going on around this Sunday. The racers could even drop in for a swim straight after finishing the race, one of many things putting this ESS round to the favourites.
Falun would probably be considered as the mountain bike capital of Sweden, creating mountain bike legends on daily bases. Falun used to be the home of skicross in Sweden and it still is but the mountain bike scene has grown a lot this last decade, having a school with Slopestyle/XC/Enduro on the schedule might be one of the reasons. Jenny Rissved and Ida Jansson are two riders who made a name for themselves in the cross country scene. Emil Johansson and Felix Beckeman also spent a lot of time in Falun. If you do your research you'll realise that most of the top names in mountain bike in Sweden has something to do with Falun and Lugnet.
Like last year, Falun probably got the most spectators out on the stages. You can tell that this city is interested in mountain biking no matter
what discipline we're talking about. Lugnet is a perfect place for the spectators since you can watch 2 stages at once since there's a bike trail every 10 meters.
The first stages had some flat sections where you could get some pedals strokes in, Adam Eriksson didn't seem to bother too much.
Lugnet could be Faluns busiest place, having some amazing Cross country trails, three different downhill trails, a pumptrack, a lift and a café - during the summer. On the winter it's the cross country skiing Mecca, and as you probably already figured out they got two huge ski jumps.
The last stage in Falun gave the riders an alternative to start at the same time. An outer line to an inside or the opposite, into a corner made for one and a half rider.
The guys from OK Hammaren seemed to be used to this area and terrain, having a solid 6th, 4th and 3rd. Heres Johan Palmberg on the last stage on Lugnet with the support from the crowd on top.
Felix Beckeman works as a trainer for these fast kids at the Mountainbike school. Also, he's the 4X World Champion 2017 and he lives in Falun so it doesn't feel weird at all seeing him on the top this weekend.
Ebba Johansson has nothing to do with Falun, that didn't stop her from riding like a beast and ending up on 2nd this weekend, her first time on the box in the series. I believe we'll see her up there a lot of times next year.
Adam Larsson had some solid riding during the whole race, taking the win in the really exciting U21 class. Adam also spent his fair share of time in Falun, being one of these students having biking on schedule.
Last year in Falun was Linn Olstams first Enduro race where she ended up taking home the 2nd place, this year she went all - winning by a 40 seconds margin.
The fifth and final stop of the Series was hosted in Gesunda, also located in Dalarna Gesunda got a very technical type of riding mixed with some fantastic machine built trails. Gesunda has been one of the stops on the Swedish Downhill Series for ages, giving the riders quite a challenge riding down on Enduro bikes. This was also the Swedish National in Enduro making this race three competitions in one with the overall also being settled.
This time Gesunda gave the racers shining sun all day making this race a pretty dry one, this is when Gesundaberget is at its best.
Gesundaberget is packed with trails, sometimes you have to accelerate to dodge the Magic Carpet.
The Women's field was as usual, on Nationals, stacked with fast riders. The race for Swedens fastest women is sure a tough one.
Dry and sunny, racing in t-shirt should be mandatory.
Fredrik Haga has no time for a blueberry stop, rumours say the media team had maybe two hundred of those stops..
Soon to be D U S T
This is the Enduro Sweden Series champion 2018, Simon Carlsson. Ending this race with a 6th place and that was well enough.
Robin Wallner have probably raced in Gesunda over a thousand times, maybe forty in Downhill and about Ninehundredsixty in the "Wallner brothers races". Ending on 2nd place this week.
Josefin Björkman, who also have a bit of history racing on Gesundaberget. She looked confident the whole race and took home this tight race and got a Nationals jersey to her collection.
Downhill Nationals winner of 2018 Johan Geschwind took home the 3rd place this weekend.
The winner of this week was Zakarias Johansen, winning 5 out of 6 stages - If it's Swedish Nationals you better.
1. Andreas Höglund - 1920p
2. Olle Sparrmark - 1720p
3. Gustav Juel Nielsen - 1650p
1. Adam Larsson - 1950p
2. Emil Melkersson - 1770p
3. Oskar Grannas - 1620p
1. Daniel Sjölander - 1900p
2. Christian Backman - 1640p
3. Thomas Crone - 1620p
1. Simon Carlsson - 1810p
2. Felix Beckeman - 1790p
3. David Axelsson - 1690p
1. Linn Olstam - 1790p
2. Josefine Björkman - 1770p
3. Ebba Johansson - 1690p
Nationals Elite Results:
1. Josefine Björkman
2. Ebba Johansson
3. Linn Olstam
1. Zakarias Johansen
2. Robin Wallner
3. Johan Geschwind
2019 awaits 7 races with 2 new venues in southern Sweden, also adding two new race classes: Master Women and a "Short track race-class" for people wanting to try this thing called Enduro. This will be a great year - that's for sure!
Text & Pictures by Johan Gustavsson