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The Mega Jura Challenge with Francois Bailly-Maître – Video

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Words by Francois Bailly-Maître: Jura is the place that has seen me grow. This region means a lot to me; I like everything about it here. I started to use some parts of today’s enduro trails many years ago as training for XC. Reaching these trails was my training goal; it pushed me to ride longer. I became an enduro rider in 2011 and, as well as racing the Enduro World Series races, me and a group of friends began to organise a race: Enduro Jura by Julbo was born in 2014. This was the starting point of a great development of mountain biking in the area. Since then, the trail network – managed by local organisation, Enduro Jura Mtbhas developed impressively and the number of riders has just exploded!

Since I stopped racing, I started a mountain bike guide/shuttle company on Enduro Jura’s trails. I’m convinced about the quality and the diversity of our trail network, which I ride with my clients almost every week. Our mountains are not as big as the Alps, but it’s still really long and hard to ride up on a normal enduro bike. The altitude difference is about 700m, so you can’t ride more than one or two trails unassisted. There is always road-access which is great for shuttles, but in terms of tracks, it’s either too steep or too technical for a normal bike. E-MTB is a game changer because those trails are now possible, and even fun, to climb.

Francois Bailly-Maître

I had the idea to create a nice tour in the area featuring the best descents and climbs. It would be a chance to show everyone that the soon-to-be-named ‘Enduro Jura MTB Trail Centre’ is an amazing place to ride, featuring different terrains and stunning landscapes. I set up a varied tour which features very technical and steep tracks, flowy and fast sections, hiking routes and purpose-built bike trails. It all connects together to form a route I’ve always dreamed about: 99.8km with 5000m of climbing and 5800m of descent, on eleven different trails.

The Ride

I’m quite experienced in long rides – I did some long MTB races like Transvésubienne and La Forestière – but I’ve never pushed to 5000m of climbing in a single day before so dealing with this was a big question. Although I know there is no comparison when you’re on an e-MTB compared to a normal MTB, I still had to keep in mind that there are eleven trails and quite a lot of rocks, roots and turns to deal with.

On top of that, I didn’t want to use the e-MTB as a shuttle. I wanted some extra challenges and to use the EP8 for what I think it’s best for, so I chose some nasty, steep, single trails to access the top of the enduro trails. However, I knew this would consume quite a lot of battery (as would me weighing in at 80kg). In the end I played it safe and took four batteries. It seems quite a lot for 100km, but the 5000m of ascent and the technical parts are very demanding. I didn’t use the batteries until they were empty, I swapped them early to avoid any need to stop on the long, hard climbs.

Francois Bailly-Maître

I planned for a 5h30 ride. I probably started a bit too fast, very excited by the speed you can carry on climbs, but I know the descents very well so there were no big surprises there and I could carry good speed. Even so, I was late on my schedule! This really was a testing route. Anyway, it wasn’t about setting any records, but rather enjoying every second of riding. And I can say that I achieved this; I had so much fun in both directions! Going up the trails was so rewarding – even if I had to push hard physically, I never imagined I could ride up these tracks. By midday, my legs were already very tired, but the e-MTB kept me just fresh enough to still enjoy the descents.

Finally, I finished my tour in 6h20min of riding time. There’s no time for rest here in the Jura!

Presented by Shimano.