Jérôme Clementz’ guide to enduro racing

How to train, when to push hard and how to get your head right for racing, with enduro superstar Jerome Clementz.

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Don’t rush

A common mistake people make is to try to go five times quicker than their normal speed when they start racing. You need to increase intensity and concentration, but don’t try to go too fast. Keeping the flow, trying not to make any mistakes and not rushing if errors do happen in stages will always make for faster overall times.

Think smart

Don’t try to remember everything. Focus on key points like short punches or climbs, really awkward corners or technical sections. I take a quiet moment at the start of a stage or on liaisons to visualise the places where I can make the maximum difference in terms of time. I try and remember everything mentally from practice and usually no more than three major points or it gets too complicated.

Bike set-up and balance

Sometimes the bike feels awesome and you feel comfortable, but it’s not fast. The suspension goes in all the holes and can be too soft to pump if it’s super grippy and comfortable. You need the confidence of feeling the bike is working well to race hard though, so this is one of the hardest aspects to judge for each race. I aim for just the harder side of comfortable and try not to change too much between rounds, once I find a good set up.

Calm before the storm

Usually I’m quite a sociable, approachable person, but I take myself off somewhere quiet five minutes before each stage to visualise what’s coming up, but also to motivate yourself. Get yourself in the race zone, a place where you’re not rushing but still pumped up and energised. Then focus on what you need to do: that’s not trying to be fast all the way to the bottom, it’s what you need to actually be quick – pumping hollows, breathing properly, changing gear at the right time, being smooth through turns.

Preparation: quality not quantity

I don’t train huge amounts time-wise, but I do top up with gym work and maximise my time spent on the bike too. For me, doing a two hour ride at 170 or 180 heart rate is too much, instead I’ll pedal around at medium pace and then sprint final climb sections at full gas and tip straight into long descents. I found the shorter bursts of intensity built more race speed, and also this way teaches you to ride when fatigued. A key ability for consistency is being able to perform when breathing hard and with a high heart rate — you can train your body to cope with that physically, but you can also train yourself to keep your concentration too.