Why are French mountain bikers so fast?

RockShox film looks at secrets behind their speed

Set in the Italian town of La Thuile, French Lessons is the latest film offering from RockShox. Featuring Fabien Barel, Pauline Dieffenthaler, Bryan Regnier, Yoan Barelli and Walker Shaw, it’s a goblet of pure mountain biking champagne.

With awesome trails, enviable riding skills, and of course a little vin rouge, it claims to offer insight into the French approach to riding, and share some of the secrets of their success. 

Related: 7 essential skills for enduro mountain biking

France boasts more than its fair share of incredible mountain bikers. Nicolas Vouilloz and Julian Absalon, Lois Bruni and Anne-Caroline Chausson – the list of riders with World Championship titles is a long one. So what is it about the French approach to mountain biking that makes them so damn fast?

La Thuile, being in Italy, may seem an odd choice for a film about French riders. However, its proximity to France – combined with technical terrain galore – draws riders across the border like the enticing aroma of tarte tatin, and it’s popularity has soared since its inclusion in the 2014 Enduro World Series.

Besides, the essential joie de vivre, which is (of course) allegedly essential to French mountain biking triumph, translates to trails everywhere.

Enduro racer Pauline Dieffenthaler delivers what is probably our favourite line from the film: ‘When guys say I ride like a girl, I take it as a compliment!’ Regularly placing in the top 10 at the Enduro World Series, and with riders like nine-times World Champion Anne-Caro as her countrywomen, it’s safe to say a lot of people wish they could ride like these women.

The moral of the story, according to RockShox, is learn French. And possibly drink wine. Though probably not while riding bikes – leave that to the experts.  

Related: Best of Red Bull Rampage – five incredible videos

Aoife Glass

Women's Cycling Editor
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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