What it’s Like Racing the EWS 80, with Athlete Yasmine Adel

"Enduro is who I am. It's part of my identity, like I have little bicycles in my DNA. Sure I can try different things, but this is my journey."
All photos courtesy of Yasmine Adel.

We put a lot of energy into sharing what professional athletes are doing at Enduro World Series races, and there’s a whole other race happening on that same challenging course.

The EWS80 and EWS100 events started off in earnest in 2019, allowing athletes who don’t have enough points for the elite categories to race either 80 or 100% of the tracks on a different day of the week. Prior to this additional race there was a lottery system, wherein athletes who didn’t have sufficient points could win the lottery and and race with the pro riders. The trouble with that program was that the lottery racers didn’t have experience at the elite level, and the speed gap between their local races and an EWS event was too wide. Those same folks often lack the mechanical and coaching support that many elite riders have, further opening the rift between the athletes who won the lottery, and those who won the race. Now, anyone can enter an EWS 80 or 100 category and race for points while gaining an understanding of the tracks, the racing culture, and the pace of those on the podium.

Egyptian gravity lover, Yasmine Adel, has been deep in the European enduro scene for quite some time now, and she’s loving the new EWS80 format. Adel grew up in Cairo, where she says the technical cross-country singletracks stretch out for miles, and the MTB racing scene is steadily growing. She added that, while there are trails outside Cairo, they aren’t necessarily safe for tourists and even Egyptians to ride due to a host of political tensions. Adel’s leap in to mountain biking came rather suddenly, moving almost immediately from spin classes and urban commuting to hitting the local trails five times per week. She recalls being a bit under-biked at first, and she managed to destroy her first trail machine in short order.

Adel on her first bike on the streets of Cairo.

While camaraderie is a clutch piece of the sport for Adel, she has always enjoyed solo shreds as well. “I was out in the desert, twenty minutes outside of Cairo, at 6am by myself. I would go ride for one and a half to two hours, then head home to shower and go to work. The community in Cairo was super small, with maybe 25 to 30 riders, and back then we didn’t even have a bike mechanic. So, everyone would sort of do it themselves, and help each other out. The biking community, MTB Egypt, was just super supportive.” After just a year of riding singletracks around Cairo, Adel was ready to find her first race.

She found that first race in Israel, after moving there for a new career opportunity. In fact, she was awestruck by the number of trails and mountain bikers in Israel. Those trails were her first experience riding in a forest, and she was hooked even harder on this new sport. The topographical diversity wasn’t lost on her. “Israel is small, and the ecosystem there is very diverse. So you have this desert, then you drive an hour and a half and you have hilly areas. Another hour and you’re in bigger mountains, and there’s even a lift-assisted bike park in Manara.”

That’s Adel in he middle, racing in the Italian Dolomites.

Here again, Adel found a warm community of mountain bikers, and a massive race scene. She watched an enduro race and immediately signed up for her first go between the tape. She not only enjoyed herself at the event, but she felt competitive and hungry for more. Adel then joined a team and started working with a coach to learn skills and become even faster. At one point, she hired the official Israeli XC team coach. Adel is unwaveringly serious about progressing in the sport. She started hitting the gym and working on VO2 max efforts to push her aerobic and muscular systems to their limits.

In 2016 Adel traveled to Val di Fassa, Italy, for her first go at the Superenduro series. She had been following the popular Italian national series for a while, and felt ready to see the stages for herself. She recalls, “I think that was the first time I saw a root. Of course it’s not so steep compared to somewhere like La Thuile, but back then I was like ‘wow I’m gonna die.’ It was fun! There was a thunder storm the night before the race, and I had never experienced that. I DNF’d.” That first experience on slick roots didn’t turn Adel away. She returned to Israel to train and started scheming a schedule for more Superenduro goodness.

While Adel was loving the community and trails in Israel, she knew that there are better locations to train for steep gravity racing. A couple of seasons later she quit her job and moved to Finale Ligure, Italy. Adel isn’t bummed about moving to the enduro capital of southern Europe. “It’s really cozy, because it’s a small town. You can ride year round. And the variety of trails, especially between Finale and Pietra — Pietra has more dirt, where in Finale it’s more rocky.”

On the community front, Adel found Finale a little trickier to navigate. Many of the local riders are either guides or professional riders in some regard, and she has been challenged to find folks to simply go for a good old MTB ride with. Her friends are either training or working when they’re riding, and she does miss the party laps with pals that she found in Israel. She mentioned that Finale feels quite healthy, both in terms of the quality of food and the wide range of available activities, and also the laid back Mediterranean speed of life. “No stress” might be the city slogan.

Enduro is who I am. It’s part of my identity, like I have little bicycles in my DNA. Sure I can try different things, but this is my journey.

Adel identifies as an athlete who rides between amateur and professional ranks, making the EWS80 a perfect stepping stone to her goals of EWS100 and potentially the elite category one day. Regardless of what racing level she reaches, enduro racing is in her blood. “Enduro is who I am, like I have little bicycles in my DNA. Sure, I can try different things, but this is my journey. It’s also my greatest challenge. I may only be having micro-improvements, but what doesn’t change is how I enjoy it compared to someone like Richie Rude. That fun factor is the common denominator among all of us.”

Third place in the EWS 80 in Val di Fassa this season.

Adel plans to race the final EWS rounds this season in Finale Ligure, Italy, as well as the Tweed Valley event in Scotland, and possibly a few others. In the mix of it all she’s moving to Westchester, New York, where she plans to race the Eastern States Cup series. Message her on Instagram if you know of good places to ride in the Northeastern US, or you want to show her around your favorite trails. She’s always up for a ride!