Shimano Epic Enduro 2016

Pat SP2
Pat + Canfield Riot on SP2

Last year, after completing the Shimano Epic Enduro, it took me several weeks to decide to do it again in 2016; this year I would have signed up for the 2017 edition immediately after finishing the 110km race. Why? Three reasons really: better preparation; slightly easier course; but mainly a more suitable bike.

The 2016 race remained a very similar format to the previous year (fairly standard Enduro format where only the timed Specials count for the race time). What is special about the Epic Enduro is that the whole course is ridden (no uplifts) and the total course is about 110km with 4600m of climbing and takes most people at least 12hours to complete. The course is broken down into 3 loops each of about 35km and 1500m climbing with 3 Specials. Each loop returns to the main paddock where we could rest, eat, fix equipment etc. Although the race is based purely on the time taken to complete the 9 Specials, there are cutoff times to be able to continue on to the next loop. The specials are quite varied, the shortest being through the village of Olargues which takes about 1minute and the longest being the 850m vertical descent from the chapel of St Martin Le Froid which takes about 20 minutes for the top riders. The trails are generally pretty technical and challenging with steep rock chutes and tight switch-backs; and in most cases narrow singletrack with plenty of opportunities to catch wide bars on trees. The longest special is mostly on an ancient Roman path which is "paved" with large stone slabs, however over the centuries these have become very uneven and provide a great test for bike suspension and body endurance -- the descent takes about 20 to 30min including a 1km technical climb in the middle. Having ridden in Australia, Canada, UK and Europe, I would say that these trails are some of the most challenging I have ridden.

Having already done the race the year before I was able to be better prepared second time round: the night before I had proper food and changes of riding kit ready for each time we arrived back at the paddock. The route was also easier; in 2015 we had a 1h30 hike-a-bike which we did twice; this year we only had to do it once, the second being replaced by a rideable climb of about 45mins.

A few months after having completed the 2015 race I decided to do it again in 2016 and my mind was firmly made up when Canfield unveiled their Riot 29er -- this seemed like the ideal bike for this race: robust, 29er wheels and enough suspension front and rear to take the sting out of the gnarly terrain. I received my Riot in about September 2015 which gave me enough time to tune the build and get a bit of mileage on the bike. I must admit that I was a bit concerned about the weight and in the end opted for a fairly light wheelset and tyres -- in fact the same ones that I had used on the Yelli the previous year. The Riot ended up about 2kg heavier (mostly in the frame and shock) but with longer fork and better brakes. The Riot did not disappoint: it climbed surprisingly well (I rode the first 40min climb faster on the Riot than on the Yelli the year before and the hike-a-bike sections weren’t really any worse -- probably because I knew what to expect). I also finished the race in much better physical shape than the previous year testament to the smoother ride afforded by the rear suspension of Riot compared with the Yelli compensating for the additional weight. The Riots wheels also faired better and came through the ride unscathed, the previous year with the Yelli, I broke 2 spokes in the front wheel and put a pretty hefty dent into the rear rim. In the descents the Riot really came into its own, although the Yelli is also a great descended, I was more confident on the Riot (even after 10hours+ in the saddle) and cleaned several sections that I had walked the previous year. What was apparent however, is how good the Yelli is on really tight, narrow singletrack and especially where more pedaling is required. (I was half tempted to use my EPO rather than the Riot -- yes I have 3 Canfield bikes!-- but was a bit concerned about the carbon frame with so many gnarly rock sections.)

Comparing the times I wasn’t really much faster on the Riot than the Yelli (except where the Yelli suffered mechanicals or I really had to nurse the bike due to the broken spokes). The same is also true on my local trails. I think age and fear are holding me back and I can reach the maximum speed Im comfortable with quite easily on either bike. The Riot does have the edge when riding blind because it can get you out of a lot of trouble, if you misjudge something and also despite the weight penalty on rough trails it really does save you energy on longer rides. The Yelli has the edge on flowy, tight singltrack just because it’s a bit lighter and can accelerate out of corners more quickly (or at least you I am more inclined to get out of the saddle and sprint on a hardtail than a dually that feels a bit more sluggish to accelerate.)

So now Im looking forward to next year where I will be in the 50+ category; I need to work on my dually riding style a bit to get a bit more speed out of the Riot (I still ride it like a hardtail) especially on flatter, tight, narrow singletrack where more pedaling and acceleration out of corners is required -- Ill have to do some training on the Lourdes downhill track over the summer. And I think Ill have to invest in a dropper seatpost for those 5-minute pedaling bits that are dropped in the middle of some of the Specials.

Compared with last year I finished a bit higher placed 146 overall from 571 starters; 279 of whom completed the whole event (37th in the 40-49 age group). You can read about last years event on the Canfield Yelli Screamy here

A few seconds of me riding through the streets of Olargues during SP6.

Olargues: epic scenery, epic trails

Specials and Climbs

 2016 Canfield Riot2015 Canfield Yelli ScreamyDifference
Downhill Specials   
Mezeilles: 3.4km (-430m); fastest time (2016) 8m36s
Narrow, rocky but fairly flowy. Not too technical. Sharp 200m climb at the end. (night)
minor crash
10m22s -6s
Ecoliers: 3.8km (-580m); fastest time (2016) 10m40s
Steep and rocky at the top, flowy in the middle, tight and technical with significant drops at the bottom with Sharp 50m climb at the end (night)
14m39 16m21s -102s
Le Mienne: 2.7km (-400m); fastest time (2016) 6m17s
One of the most flowy (with Mini Jurasic) more dirt than rock, nicest one to ride on a HT, 500m climb on slight incline on fire-road in middle (bit too long to sprint!)
7m58s 8m13s -14s
St Martin Le Froid: 7.2km (-850m); fastest time (2016) 20m52s
Ancient Roman road with eroded paving -- very bumpy. Some slightly challenging drops. Fairly long: 1km (and sometimes technical) flat-to-uphill in middle.
Dropped chain, minor crash
Broken spoke, minor crash
Olargues Urban: fastest time (2016) 1m02s
Short, fun urban downhill through the streets of Olargues Shorter in 2016 so probably times are very similar or maybe faster in 2015
1m15s 1m36 longer in 2015
Mini Jurasic: 0.5km (-90m); fastest time (2016) 2m00s Short, fun tight single track on mostly dirt. Sort climb at end which I think caught me out both times! 2m40 2m41 -1s
Pylones: 3.6km (-500m); fastest time (2016) 11m54s
Starts of flowy and tight through narrow trees with some interesting off-camber sections. Then pedally (300m), with some very technical rock step-ups. Then steep, rocky down with some pretty technical drops
19m31 26m11s
Second broken spoke, had to re-true front wheel mid-special
Colombieres: 3.3km (-480m); fastest time (2016) 11m09s Mix of flow and technical drops right at the end. Couple of technical rock-garden climbs as well as a longer non-technical climb. 18m04 20m04
Walked the very last bit which has some big drops because of damage to front wheel
CretesXXL: 2.4km (-500m); fastest time (2016) 6m54s Very technical at the top, lots of rock drops, then fast flowy singletrack on the second half (but with fairly significant exposure) 10m18s Did not ride in 2015  
Liaison climbs   
Olargues-Mezeilles climb: 6.6km (+530m average 8%)
Steady tarmac then smooth firetrack climb
36m34s 37m05s -31s
Mezeilles-Ecoliers climb: 6.0km (+490m average 8%)
Generally smooth firetrack climb, some undulations then hike-a-bike near the end
51m41s 58m56s -435s
Le Mienne climb: 6.9km (+460 average %7)
Steady tarmac then smooth firetrack climb
climbed more slowly on Riot to ensure daylight for SP3
52m59s +195s


 2016 Canfield Riot2015 Canfield Yelli Screamy
  2016 Canfield Riot 2015 Canfield Yelli Screamy
approx bike weight14.5kg12.5kg
TyresMAXXIS Ikon 2.35(f&r)MAXXIS Ikon 2.35 (f&r)
WheelsPacenti TL28 36h on Hope Evo hubsPacenti TL28 32/36h on Chris King (f) and XTR (r)
Gearing32 x 11-36 10speed shimano32 x 11-36 10speed shimano
BrakesAvid Juicy7 200mm (f&r)XO Trail 180mm ®, 160mm (r)
ForkRockShox Pike 140mm x15mmRockShox Reba Ti 120mm x20mm
ShockRockShox Monarch Plusnone!

Some other writeups

Many more pictures and writups (in French mostly!)



Florian Golay

Damien Escalier

Mélanie Pugin

Damien Saint-Patrice