RAAW Levelnine Team goes EWS Schottland

Not just for the RAAW Levelnine Team, but also for our Ambassador Jonas Salamon, one of the most exciting events of the year was on the agenda this summer: The EWS in Scotland! Besides the unique challenges of the trails, this EWS has a very special meaning for the team. Therefore, it was no coincidence that the team chose to be accompanied by videographer Jonas to exactly this event. Shortly after, they all told us how exciting the trip was and what hurdles they had to overcome.

 

 

To be accompanied by a videographer, who is also a good friend, is certainly the dream of many racers. Only a few have the opportunity to realize this in their career. A dream that came true for you at the EWS in Scotland, right?

Helen: “Yes, totally. But we wanted to achieve even more. We wanted to bring the race format “Enduro” closer to everyone interested in cycling. Many people don’t know much about enduro mountain biking or only know it as a recreational sport. With the video, we wanted to show how professional and complex this sport has become and at the same time provide insights into our team.”

Jonas: “It was a special experience for me too! The plan to cover a race with the RAAW Levelnine Team had been on my list for a while, and Scotland was the perfect place to do it because of the early arrival, the beautiful landscape and because it was the team’s first race together.”

How was being accompanied by Jonas for you?

Torben: “Of course, it was still very unusual that every situation was captured by the camera initially.  However, the professionalism and experience of Jonas, our accompanying videographer, quickly showed us that we didn’t have to pretend to be authentic. Even though Jonas is a good friend, the tension at the beginning of the trip was clearly noticeable with the camera running, but he always managed to break the ice.”

Was there a script or did you have a shooting schedule beforehand?

Jonas: “Not really, because we didn’t want to set anything up so that it would come across authentically. As the cameraman, I was simply there for everything to capture every important event.”

Jonas, how was your experience shooting with the team?

Jonas: “It was a great experience, but also quite demanding and sometimes stressful to accompany three riders at once. Getting all three of them in front of the camera during the race, as they started very scattered, was definitely a challenge. I also had to fight my way through the forest from stage to stage to get the shots. But I think everyone who has seen the video can see for themselves that we had a lot of fun, that the team is super friendly and that we had a good and funny time.”

 

 

Why were you so keen to do the project at the EWS in Scotland?

Helen: “The EWS in Scotland was the first race of the season and, therefore, also the first opportunity to introduce the team internationally. In addition, the wonderful landscape lays the foundation for breathtaking shots on and off the bike.”

Torben: “But also, the whole area around Innerleithen is mountain bike enthusiastic. Cycling is very important there, and the range and variety of trails are gigantic. The demands of the trails are also very high overall, as they are often on steep slopes and quite narrow. The high pace that most riders already showed in training was very fascinating.”

Chris: “During itself, the numerous spectators and fans created a great atmosphere on the stages. While mastering the long transfers, we riders also had an eye for the beautiful nature and landscape.”

Scotland also has a special significance for you as a team. Why?

Chris: “Scotland was the last EWS race in 2021. Torben and I still remember the cold and wet nights on the Scottish meadows, because we didn’t sleep in comfortable accommodations like this year, but in a Citroen Berlingo. That bonded together and is in a way the birthplace of the RAAW // Levelnine Gravity Team.”

You drove to Amsterdam by car to get from there to Newcastle by night ferry. From there it was only a few hours by car to Innerleithen, the location of the race. What was the first thing you did on-site?

Torben: “After clearing passport control when leaving the ferry, the first thing we had to do was look for wifi to navigate us to a place where we could buy an English SIM card. After a bit of searching, we were the proud owners of an English SIM and made our way to Innerleithen. Over hilly country roads, graced by low stone mews and flocks of sheep on the wide green spaces, we arrived at our destination. The small village and the stone cottage where we stayed made the Scottish flair perfect.”

 

 

And what did you want to achieve in the race itself?

Torben: “First of all, we were really looking forward to the race. After the long preparation time over the winter with numerous training sessions and many hours of planning the events, we finally wanted to compete at a world-class level again. Being able to make this trip together with good friends, of course, increased the anticipation even more! As it was the first EWS race of the season, the first thing was to get a good feeling for racing at the highest level. Too much tension and nervousness can quickly lead to mistakes and crashes. If there is too little tension, however, there is a lack of focus and the necessary concentration to be able to ride a bike fast. Finding the right balance is a challenge at the beginning of the season. If this results in a top place, the satisfaction is great, of course, but that would be more like the icing on the cake after a good day on the bike.”

How are the trails in Scotland different from the others?

Torben: “Compared to other EWS races last year the amount of having to hit the pedals ourselves was very high. All transfers were overcome without a lift or shuttle bus, which made it a long and eventful day on the bike for us.”

Chris: “In addition, the legendary EWS race in Scotland’s Tweed Valley is known for its narrow and technical trails and high physical demand. This mixture shows the classic character of an Enduro race and the versatility of our sport.”

It must have presented you with some sporting challenges too.

Chris: “It was a very difficult race to start the EWS season. Small mistakes could quickly cost a lot of time and on the narrow trails, you sometimes had to overcome yourself to really step on the gas. Nevertheless, it was a very fun race and we learned a lot.”

Did you have to prepare especially for the race then?

Torben: “Yes. Apart from the sporting preparation and the organisation of all the travel, we had to make extra preparations for Scotland. The trails there are sometimes so narrow that a wide handlebar can quickly become a disadvantage. That’s why we had to shorten our handlebars, especially for the race in Scotland.”

What should you keep in mind if you want to take part in the EWS in Scotland? What are your tips and tricks to master the EWS well, especially in Scotland?

Torben: “As mentioned, the handlebars should not be too wide. Basically, you have to be well prepared for rainy and changeable weather. Camping is not really a good idea in Scotland, as Chris and I had to find out last year. It is worth arriving a few days before the race so that you can get used to the surroundings. We really enjoyed the time on the Scottish trails before the race.”

 

 

 

What should you definitely have with you in Scotland? What should you definitely not have been without?

Chris: “Looking at the bike, the FIDLOCK TWIST bottles cannot be missing, of course! Thanks to the mechanism, you stay hydrated quickly and easily and never lose the bottle.”

Helen: “Another super clever accessory was the vacuum smartphone mount for the car and our bikes. It doesn’t matter whether you are navigating on the roads or searching for routes in the forest. The mount always allows you to quickly look at your phone while keeping your hands free from the essentials.”

Torben: “For those who, like Helen and me, have trouble getting up in the morning, another insider tip is a good cup of coffee! It lifts your spirits and ensures a good start to the day. After biking, it was always good to have a small snack, preferably sweets, right by the car, because the 45-minute drive from Innerleithen back to the accommodation is hardly bearable with three hungry athletes.”

You as a team are not only united by your passion for biking and racing, but also by your friendship. You are highly motivated to support each other and to achieve your goals together. It must have been a big shock for you when Helen got injured. How did it come about?

Helen: “We shot footage with the drone on a trail with many fast approaches turns for the video project. Anyone who has seen the video knows the spot. The ground was untypically quite dry. Therefore, the gravel curves were quite loose in places. I was a bit too fast in one corner, slipped off with the front wheel and caught the fall with my left outstretched arm. The impact on my arm was so strong that I completely dislocated my elbow.”

 

Helen, the disappointment and shock must have been huge. How did you deal with not being able to continue riding?

Helen: “Yes, the race was a total dream come true for me. I had been looking forward to this race and the whole trip with the team for so long. Of course, you are frustrated and sad at first. But there was nothing I could do about it anyway, so I tried to concentrate on the positive things and to get fit again as soon as possible.”

 

 

How did the team support you in this situation?

Helen: “All three of them were really great, looking after me and standing by me. I’m incredibly grateful for their support. First, they tried to get me into a hospital, which was not easy. The local authorities didn’t really know how to get to me themselves. Finally, I had to walk quite far even to get to the mountain rescue car. All in all, it took me three hours to get to the hospital. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.”

Chris: “This lengthy rescue operation kept us all very busy and showed us that it is important to know about the local rescue organisations.”

We believe that right away. But Helen, you are already on the right track and we wish you a speedy recovery! Getting to know you as a team a bit more in the video and getting an insight into your everyday racing life was very fascinating. Where can we find the video now?

Helen: “Thank you. It was definitely an exciting and thrilling journey for all of us. You can find the whole video on Youtube “Worauf kommt es an, um eine Enduro World Series zu finishen? | RAAW // LEVELNINE GRAVITY Team – YouTube”