Entries are now open for next year's Shimano Epic Enduro, a single-day event that truly lives up to the two slightly-overused words in its name.
The gruelling one-day event is scheduled for 5 April, 2105. Registered riders will face a 100km route that involves just shy of 4,800m of elevation change.
Don't go thinking this is just a test of fitness though, these trails are some of the most challenging there are. Last year's debut race started with 550 riders – only 37 percent of them would appear in the results sheets without the letters 'DNF' next to their names.
Don't just take our word for it though! Sam Morris, experienced bike guide of BikeVillage holidays in the Alps, rode this year's event, and had this say:
“I only found out about the Shimano Epic Enduro 10 days before it took place. I entered via a French internet forum, in a moment of internet-induced optimism, and before I knew it I was on my way to the Languedoc region of France. The event is nearly the same as doing Snowdon five times in one day, with eight special stages – the first done in the dark, the longest dropping more than 1,000 vertical metres in one go, and the toughest one genuinely making grown men cry.
“Highlights of the event included the 45-minute hike-a-bike up to special stage four, which set off from the summit of the Montahut, at 1,095m. We pedalled straight down into the valley below, through wide open exposed heath and blocky rock steps, via a riverside ribbon of mud and forest switchbacks. It was 20 minutes of wheel hopping, committed hucks and shaking lactic acid from my hands and forearms, which shouting “This is mountain biking!” into the skies, generally knowing that things just don’t get any better.
“The penultimate stage was probably the most savage, coming some 70km into the day. It was a rocky one with a lot of hugely steep slabs and step-downs. Special stage two was entitled ‘The Ridge’, and took place at dawn. The best way I can describe it is ‘like Innerleithen’s best and steepest hidden trails, if you swapped out soft loam for jagged metamorphic bedrock’.
“Florian Golay (Team BMC) won, with 13.5 hours on the bike, one smashed rear mech and one hour 20 minutes of timed savagery. Only 202 people finished, yet all I saw at the end was smiling faces and happy banter, camaraderie and sometimes commiserations. Looking for the hardest one day event you’ll ever do? Free up April 5 2015 and get training…”