Words: Weston Hill and Meggie Bichard                                  Photos: Sven Martin, Sportograph

Meggie Bichard has spent most of her life chasing trails. From the rocky sheep tracks of the Fells to the endless switchback descents of the Alps, Meggie is most at home on singletrack. Whether on an enduro rig or an XC race bike, the trails are her constant. She started competing on what she refers to as ‘Joey’ bikes in XC, marathon and even 24hr racing before making the shift to Enduro and a number of years as a pro at the pointy end of the Enduro World Series. 
 
This year Meggie has returned to the 100mm race bike in mixed pairs stage racing. From her home in Nelson, New Zealand, Meggie followed the sun to Europe hunting interesting and unique stage races. She is not after fire roads and four wheel drive tracks; Meggie finds races that embrace her core values - chasing quality trails. 
 
Meggie placed 4th at the UCI 4 Islands Stage Race in Croatia and recently won TransPyr, a 7 day, 800km stage race across the Pyrenees. Meggie shares with us some tips and tricks she has learnt chasing trails in the EWS and how it has helped her shift back to endurance racing
 
Be hard core
Strength training has been an integral part of preparation for Enduro and I see the benefits now that I’m back XC racing. Upper body and core strength to muscle the bike around and, hopefully, catch the unexpected slips is important for all riding. It's about functional strength; being able to hold your body stable and control the bike especially on gnarly trails. Those muscles also help reduce injuries when high speed trees and the like jump out. It's a cliche that strength is important, but things like squats, dead lifts, free weights and balance based exercises all help!

 

Blind comfort
Get out of your comfort zone! When racing blind, having not recce’d the course - which is common in stage racing, you want to be confident that you can tackle whatever the trail throws at you. Practicing trails that challenge your skills and mixing up your rides can help. You could take your enduro bike to a downhill trail or ride something harder on your XC bike with your seat down. You will be surprised what smaller travel bikes are capable of. You can challenge your fitness by entering a XC marathon or short and fast local event, just push that comfort zone.
 
Puncture perfect
There is only one thing between your bike and the ground – your tyres. Having good tyres you are confident in is critical: you want to have punctured, plugged, skidded, inflated and worn out as many of your chosen tyre as possible before your race. They should be familiar and predictable. Getting robust compounds, or even dual ply for enduro definitely helps. You can’t prevent punctures completely, or account for all grip conditions but knowing how to repair the tyre and how it reacts in wet, dry, loose or loam is a step ahead. 
 
Training effect
Don’t get hung up on the training. There are always going to be ups and down in your preparation and there are always doubts but you don’t have to pull the plug if it hasn’t gone perfectly; it almost never does. You will be surprised in what your body is capable of and how these challenges in training prepare you for the roller coaster of races. Just get out there. 
 
Fuel the stoke
Ride, race and explore whatever you are stoked on and you don’t have to stick with just one thing! There's no rule to how many bikes you are allowed or where you have to ride them, but you are going to be much faster if you are doing what you are passionate about.