We're super happy and proud to be able to bring you an exclusive interview with Mr. Superenduro and Enduro World Series father Enrico Guala. And it has not being easy, as he's in full season ans super busy. Thanks you very much Enrico!!!. We and our readers appreciate it.
Take a beer, sit down, and enjoy the in-depth interview with Mr. Enrico Guala. Here we go.
AllMountainStyle.com: Ciao Enrico, for the readers that don't know who you are or that don't know your background. Tell us a little bit about you and your "Biking Life".
Enrico Guala: Wow, how much time do I have? Well to make a long story short I can only tell you that bikes have been the soundtrack of my life. At the age of 14 my parents decided NOT to buy me a motorcycle because I had a bad accident when I was a kid and they were super afraid of living the same kind of situation. SO I asked for a trial bike a Montesita T15. That was before the Monty brand. I started to race trial to a pretty good level (4th in the World Championship of my class in 1989) and got the chance to know many people that I still meet in the bike industry. In 1985 while I was trialling around Europe my local shop showed me a new bike. Mountain Bike was the specific name.I bought my first GT Backwoods then and totally fell in love of what a mountain bike can deliver to its rider: Discovery, adrenaline and friendship. In 1989 I stopped racing trials, went to the army and when I came back started to work as a mechanic into a MTB shop. From there I've never quit biking and build my whole life around it. After several professional experiences, in 2006 I founded 4Guimp, with my business partner Andrea.
AMS: We have recently been reading a lot about Enduro, a lot of people think Enduro is what really mountain biking is all about. There are others as italian star Marco Fontana who think cross country is the real mountain biking. What do you think? What is for you mountain biking?
EG: I do respect Marco a lot. I had the chance to meet him at a couple of Superenduro he attended and understood that Marco is a mountain biker, not just an XC racer. I do agree with him that XC is real mountain biking, just like DH is real mountain biking, and Enduro is real mountain biking. As long as you, as biker, fulfill your needs as a biker, you do real mountain biking. Your real mountain biking. There is no perfection but just what you feel is closer to your vision of life, sport and what makes you happy. Is all about happiness. I remember being really happy on my bike climbing fast and feeling I was giving my best on that trail. Feeling the "leg" turning good. I do also remember, as former trial rider is easy to imagine, to be super fucking happy to be the one that cleared the super tech climb with no feet on the ground and again happy for the fast flawy turns and feeling I got from a twisty singletrail rode in Finale Ligure. So for me mountain biking is getting into nature with a bike, no matter how, when or where. But to get the most out of it for my pleasure and riding experience.
AMS: As one of the fathers of Enduro, the alma mater of Superenduro, and part of the governing body of Enduro World Series, do you think Enduro has reached at last the attention it deserves, or it's only the beginning?
EG: I do think there is still a long way to go for Enduro to become a discipline. To be honest I do not want to tell you what the direction will be. Let me just tell you that as a EWS we are really open to listen to bikers about their vision of Enduro and let the discipline shape based on what the "real" mountain biker want it to be. In 2 Alpes we held a very interesting open meeting with the EWS Team Managers and Advisory Board and I want to be able to maintain an open discussion with them and shape the future of the discipline from the bottom up. At the same time we are really open to listen to any interesting and productive idea it might come from any corner of the globe. We do not pretend to be the governing body, perhaps the one able to synthesize all the experience into a race format. And talking about the attention I think we are already at a very good level but I do not know if it is what enduro deserves or not
AMS: How do you rate the first race of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala?
EG: Punta Ala has been an incredible weekend for all of us, you included. It was the weekend that changed the history of the sport forever. Do I sound arrogant? Maybe. But you had to be there to understand. The people, riders, organizers, industry, media, families, common people, all of them got the feeling that we had been living a game changer event. My staff worked on all details in the best way and everything went the way we wanted. The pressure was incredible on all of us. We felt the eyes of the MTB world on us, all the eyes. Even when I was defecating I could feel someone looking at me ;-) It was incredible. I do think that the rally-style format is what can really help to spread enduro globally. Not many venues can have access to lifts and if we really like the discipline to grow worldwide, pedaling transfer are the way to go. In fact is way closer to what people does when they go for a mountain bike ride Pedal up and challenge their friends on the way down. Lifts are good in summertime but I do not like the idea of using them too much, otherwise the local organizers will start to think that enduro is a lighter version of DH. Which os NOT the case at all.
AMS: There's also a lot of talk about the possibility to extensively train Special Stages before the race. Some think Enduro should be raced blind, but for the first leg of the Enduro World championship, the tracks have been published 1 month before the race. Which is your point?
EG: It was a precise, well thought and agreed decision. Punta Ala invested a lot into the organization of the very first EWS and having people there weeks before has been a pay back for them. At the same time we had the chance to present a venue and a destination far from the event pressure that you live when you attend such an high level competition. The venue is incredible and when you visit it as a tourist, you have better chances to discover and enjoy it. On the other hand I do think racing blind is IMPOSSIBLE as well as not fun and dangerous. At least if we are talking about the highest level of the sport. I can enjoy racing bling if I compete for the "salami trophy" in the local race. Not in a EWS. Let's be serious, do you think a pro rider will give it's 100% to compete for the World Champion Jersey on a blind trail? Asked them.
AMS: 26", 650B, 29". Which is for your the ideal wheel size and for which discipline? Are all of them here to stay or weare going to see some size dropping off the list?
EG: The days before Punta the main pic was on wheel size. looks like the media had nothing to do but guessing who was riding on which wheels. Interesting and a bit intriguing. I think that 650b are over estimated compared to 26". At the same time the "explosion" of the mid size format, which is way closer to a 26" than a 29", is a way to fulfill the common wish of a bigger wheel generated by the true 29" advantages over 26", matched with the fear of many consumer for a "too big" wheel. So 650b have suddenly became the "right" size for everybody. Personally I do think that there are 3 parameters that can not be forgotten in the Wheel size choice: riders size, bike travel and intended use. If you play with those 3 parameters and you know what you are doing, today you have the chance to make a fun and fast bike.
AMS: And let us add an spoiler: A World Enduro Series race in Barcelona?. That would be huge.
EG: Why not I'd love to see a prologue downtown with the biggest party ever! And we can do it almost in wintertime. Send me a bid for the organization to us!
AMS: Thank you Enrico for sharing your precious time and knowledge with us. Welcome to the AMS family.
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