The Enduro World Series start list largely consists of athletes with varying levels of gravity experience behind them. Some are former downhill competitors or motocross racers, and a healthy handful continue to race DH and ride moto throughout the season. A seemingly smaller percentage of riders slide over from the endurance side of our sport, often turning up with loads of fitness, skills, and newfound challenges. We recently interviewed former XC athlete turned gravity pro Andréane Lanthier Nadeau to find out what the endurance to enduro transition looks like.
Andréane Lanthier Nadeau, or ALN as she is often known, has the best overall season results on her fierce three-person Rocky Mountain/Race Face Enduro Team. The talented gravity pro stood on the podium following four EWS events in 2019, and won the daily overall title on day one of the two-day race in Zermatt, Switzerland. With only 220 points between herself and second place rider Noga Korem, ALN will be looking to cut seconds wherever she can this year.
What initially drew you to mountain bike racing?
The first sport I really got into was, believe it or not, figure skating. Once I reached the level where I needed a private coach, that’s at like 7 years old, and these coaches bill every 15 minutes, my mom decided to fully switch gears. We said goodbye to skirts and skates and my mom signed me up for a cross-country skiing development club. The head coach of that club, René, was also the head coach of a mountain biking development club in the summer. At the end of my first nordic ski filled winter, René simply asked what I was doing in the summer, and that’s how I go into mountain biking! I think I owe a little bit of credit to my mom who used to mountain bike back in the ‘80s on a sick Specialized Rockhopper fully rigid mountain bike. To her, it seemed like a great idea to get her kid into a sport like mountain biking, and I’m so grateful for that!
How many years did you race XC prior to switching over to gravity?
I started XC in 2003 and raced up until 2015. My first international race was in 2010, so before that, I raced at the regional, provincial, and national levels.
Which elements of your XC racing carried over to the gravity track?
I think when I first started racing enduro my fitness carried me a long way. I was doing pretty well because I was so fit and could pedal out of anything even though I wasn’t hitting everything properly on the bike. Interestingly, I think that most of us transfers from XC to enduro undergo a switch and as we spend more time on the bigger bike we lose a little bit of that XC fitness and gain more skills. Nowadays I would say my skills and how I handle the enduro bike are what makes me go faster, so I make it a point to still work hard on the fitness side of things.
What are some of the ways you train differently now, compared to XC prep?
It’s hard to do as many hours on the enduro bike vs. the XC bike. It’s a much more intense style of riding and they definitely don’t go as fast up the hills. I would say I do fewer hours, and that I now have the freedom for my training to be much more varied. There’s something to be said about cycling-specific fitness, but to do well at enduro you have to be a really strong all-around athlete. Like you have to be able to hike up with the bike on your shoulders or hike for long periods of time, or track-walk if you need to, and to go through a four day streak on the bike for races.
Which element of enduro bikes/components took the longest to get comfortable with?
Any change on a bike feels incredibly weird at first, but usually, in two or three rides, it’s back to feeling normal. The climbing position on the bike felt quite different, but kinda good because you’re much more upright. Initially, I didn’t like to ride with my dropper post all the way down because it felt weird to lose that reference point that I was so used to having in XC. That didn’t last long, now my dropper is slammed all the way down!
For XC racers who want to try enduro, what specific handling techniques or tricks should they start working on?
Work on hand strength and upper body exercises to avoid arm pump and be able to move the bigger bike around. And I would say gradually increase the difficulty of trails you’re riding, it’ll help you figure out the limits of the bigger bike.
What bit on your bike do you find most important?
My suspension. Our team is lucky to be running Fox suspension. My fork and shock are the one thing that can help me adjust my bike to any terrain.
Which EWS venue should our readers go check out on their next vacation and why?
Oh, tough one! Gosh! They all have something so different to offer. I really have a soft spot for any Italian rounds. So I would recommend going riding in Val Di Fassa, La Thuile, or Finale Ligure. Good food, good trails, good espressos, and good people!
When you get a chance to wrench on your bike, what is your favorite repair to perform?
I used to be pretty good at wrenching when I was working my way up before scoring a pro team contract and even in my XC days. I would put my bikes together, or figure out how to fix something. Now my bike is wrenched to perfection by Adam Trotter so I don’t do much. I’d say putting a new bike together is the sweetest, all new components from the boxes. I also get a lot of satisfaction from figuring out something myself, like taking out a Cushcore and doing a tire swap.
What book are you currently reading?
I am currently finishing a long overdue read that I purchased a while back. It’s “The subtle art of not giving a F*ck“
What is something interesting about you that most race fans likely don’t know?
I can fall asleep literally anywhere, in under a minute. It’s a blessing and a curse, really!
What is your favorite thing about the Rocky Mountain racing program?
It’s based in North Vancouver, and everyone involved wants us to have what we need to be able to achieve our potential.
Readers can follow along with ALN via social media and the EWS results page as she races across the world through 2020. The series begins with a warm stop in Chile at the end of March, so be sure to tune in and cheer on your favorite athletes.