After a successful debut in 2017 the Bosch eMTB challenge has already reached its halfway point for 2018. The events at Riva del Garda, Italy (30.4.2018) and Solothurn, Switzerland (5.5.2018) clearly displayed the popularity of this race format executed by Bosch eBike Systems while supported by bicycle manufacturer Trek. In Riva del Garda, 137 eMountain bikers participated in the race. In Solothurn 66 eMountain bikers competed – and there are two more eMTB challenges coming up in Willingen, Germany (20.5.2018) and Bad Goisern/Salzkammergut, Austria (14.7.2018). Key to the success of this format is its broad focus: "The eMTB-Challenge offers maximum fun for everyone. The trails are easy enough for experienced hobby bikers to ride while still challenging for professionals," says Claus Fleischer, CEO of Bosch eBike Systems. “eMountain bikers of all ages and abilities had great fun riding the trails and transfers - and experienced battling against each other on the different stages.”
Steve Jones and Neil Donoghue report about their participation in the eMTB challenge
The Electric Mountain Bike Network (EMBN), a YouTube channel presented by Play Sports Network, reported from the BIKE Festival in Riva del Garda and had their presenters participate in the eMTB challenge themselves. Steve Jones, a former downhill racer and eMTB pioneer, achieved 16th place in the Advanced Men category and Neil Donoghue, former UK Gravity Enduro champion and World Cup downhill racer, finished in 24th place.
New category especially for the first try
A new feature aimed particularly at those who are new to eMountain biking is the addition of an "Explorer" category along with the existing "Amateur" and "Advanced" categories. Riders in this category take part in the eMTB-Challenge without a time trial. They are still allowed to bypass all stages, but must instead of racing against time pass a number of additional orientation points. Families, partners or groups with varying performance levels can therefore sign up for the eMTB-Challenge together and enjoy the unique racing atmosphere, regardless of individual experience with eMTB.
Varied trails for every preference
The eMTB-Challenge offers impressive versatility. The riders must cover around 35 kilometres and negotiate an altitude differential of 1,000 metres. Riding technique and orientation are important, as are fitness and smart battery management. The stages offer a mix of uphill and downhill sections. The only enemy is time itself: The races are ridden against the clock without any prior training. In the transfer stages, the emphasis is on good orientation rather than just speed. Various orientation points have to be found along the route – missing one will earn the biker a 10-second time penalty. The rider with the fastest overall time is the winner.
As well as fitness and motor performance, the uphill stages mainly test eBike riding skills. Obstacles and small steps challenge the riders just as much as tight corners. A ‘No Feet Zone’ after the start must be completed without touching the ground, otherwise a time penalty is applied. Afterwards, riders can choose between a difficult route and a easy route on several sections of the trail.
Downhill sections are an important part of the Bosch eMTB Challenge. The downhill stages lead down into the valley over bumps, stones, roots and steps. Here, a hard or an easy route can be selected depending on experience and performance level.
There is no time measurement in the transfer stages, but the riders’ coordination skills are tested as these stages are completed according to a map. Riders have to find various orientation points close to the track. For every missing point a time penalty will be added to the time recorded on the Uphill and Downhill stages.
In search of flow
In order to offer all riders the best possible flow experience, the trails are designed for various levels of difficulty: While beginners will have the opportunity to adapt slowly to challenging trails and fast bends, advanced bikers can prove themselves on shorter, but technically challenging track sections. Participants are not allowed to check out the stages in advance, but instead start the challenge ‘blind’ - so that anticipatory riding and spontaneous reaction to the trails is vital. Times are only recorded on the individual stages and the individual sections are added together to get a total time at the end. The transfer stages between the stages completed according to a map and without timing, so that the teams can enjoy the ride together and prepare for the next stage.