THE MIRACLES COME THICK AND QUICK IN LOURDES.

Unsurprising, really, for a place with a direct line to the biggest G.

We first witnessed priests swigging pints and smoking tabs when we visited Lourdes for Dirt Mag (RIP) before the inaugural World Cup here. The 2022 race brought another eye-opening sight as the world’s fastest mountain bikers hurled themselves at possibly the scariest course on the UCI DH World Cup circuit in probably its best-ever conditions.

    Is it possible that race runs are now designed to include sketchy moments? Are racers pushing such fine boundaries these days that they know exactly where they can go just that little bit too hard, then keep it safe (at only 100%) everywhere else?

    Either way. Watching the Lourdes finals, with the track perfect and riders going at unbelievable pace, was, frankly, terrifying. Speed, like all the good things, is something you can have too much of.

    But as we stared jaws-dropped at the top women and men bouncing and bucking and somehow avoiding rocks and ruin in finals, it seemed the level had once again been elevated during the winter break – riders were on the limit, but they knew exactly where the line was. (Thibaut Dapréla simply chose to ride outside the realms of feasibility.)

    It was a breath-taking start to the season documented by Sven Martin, Boris Beyer and Sebastian Schieck in these stunning images and interview snippets.

    Enjoy this zine, order a copy of the printed version soon, and read all the details of the event in Hurly Burly this autumn.

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ABOVE LEFT: That’s one satisfied worshipper. Godspeed, Amaury. Back with a bang after two years of injury. – Boris

ABOVE: Three for three… Camille Balanche has taken the season opener three years straight now. She obviously has her offseason plan dialled. Still needs to work on her goggle straps though (hover over image). – Sven

LEFT: Jackson Goldstone. Nosing ahead by a full two seconds for the win in Junior Men’s. – Boris

TOP: That’s one satisfied worshipper. Godspeed, Amaury. Back with a bang after two years of injury. – Boris

MIDDLE: Three for three… Camille Balanche has taken the season opener three years straight now. She obviously has her offseason plan dialled. Still needs to work on her goggle straps though (hover over image). – Sven

ABOVE: Jackson Goldstone. Nosing ahead by a full two seconds for the win in Junior Men’s. – Boris

ABOVE: Vali Höll riding fast loose and aggressive won her qualifying, but in the final it was a little too scrappy and she dropped down to a disappointing (for her) fourth. It will only fuel the fire, though. – Sven

ABOVE: The Enduro Kid Antoine Vidal surprised many with his second-place seeding time at World Champs 2021 but with a top-10 qualifying and final in Lourdes he proves to be quite a threat on a downhill bike. #AFFROAC. Another Fast French Rider On A Commencal. – Sven

RIGHT: The Union crew have become rather adept at sewing national sleeves onto jerseys. Glad to see that with the increased support they haven’t fully lost their privateer roots. – Sewn

ABOVE: The Enduro Kid Antoine Vidal surprised many with his second-place seeding time at World Champs 2021 but with a top-10 qualifying and final in Lourdes he proves to be quite a threat on a downhill bike. #AFFROAC. Another Fast French Rider On A Commencal. – Sven

HERE: The Union crew are adept at sewing national sleeves onto jerseys. Glad to see that with increased support they haven’t lost their privateer roots. – Sewn

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TOP and MIDDLE: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Finn Iles so happy after a race. You could feel this was such an important result for him going into the 2022 season. Only one step to go. – Seb (interview by Sven Martini)

ABOVE: Rock walls and rock-littered B zones. Commitment was what this track needed, even when the turns didn’t have full support. You can tell by her style that Myriam Nicole is 100% ready for 2022. Listen to the audio. – Sven

ABOVE LEFT: The epitome of Speed and Style: Tahnée Seagrave. – Sven

ABOVE: School’s out for the summer and the Pivot kids are busy with a bit of detention work washing the bus.– Sven

LEFT: Reece Wilson is an absolute pleasure to watch on a bike. Loose style even when he’s at the races. When you ride like this at home in the mud it become second nature to ride on the edge when at the races. – Sven

TOP: The epitome of Speed and Style: Tahnée Seagrave. – Sven

MIDDLE: School’s out for the summer and the Pivot kids are busy with a bit of detention work washing the bus.– Sven

ABOVE: Reece Wilson is an absolute pleasure to watch on a bike. Loose style even when he’s at the races. When you ride like this at home in the mud it become second nature to ride on the edge when at the races. – Sven

TOP: Jackson Goldstone moved to the Santa Cruz Syndicate for 2022 and boy, what a start. One race, one win. And surely plenty more to come. – Boris

MIDDLE: The depth of talent in the junior categories is strong right now. Gracey Hemstreet took a massive win in Junior Women’s, a full six seconds clear of Phoebe Gale and not far behind the elites. – Boris

ABOVE: Benoit Coulanges has come a long way in the last couple of years from an under-the-radar underdog to one of the riders you always need to look out for. Even within the crazy strong field of French riders he keeps delivering. – Seb

ABOVE: Camille Balanche making shapes in one of the many sections (i.e. start to finish) of Lourdes that look difficult but are actually impossible. Back-to-back season opening wins for Camille. Seriously impressive. – Boris

TOP LEFT: Late night shopping, Lourdes style. – Sven

SECOND: Tahnée Seagrave laser-focused on the 2022 season. – Boris

ABOVE LEFT: Thibaut Dapréla with his all or nothing approach. I don’t think I’ve seen many riders pushing the envelope quite so much before. Is this what it takes to be on the podium or get the win now? Is it sustainable? – Sven

ABOVE: Not the result Loic Bruni was looking for in front of the French crowd. But if anyone is motivated to come back even stronger and deliver next time around then it’s Loic. – Seb

LEFT: New colours, new incentive. Luca Shaw back where he left off in 2021 with another podium here in Lourdes. – Seb

TOP: Late night shopping, Lourdes style. – Sven

SECOND: Tahnée Seagrave laser-focused on the 2022 season. – Boris

THIRD: Thibaut Dapréla with his all or nothing approach. I don’t think I’ve seen many riders pushing the envelope quite so much before. Is this what it takes to be on the podium or get the win now? Is it sustainable? – Sven

FOURTH: Not the result Loic Bruni was looking for in front of the French crowd. But if anyone is motivated to come back even stronger and deliver next time around then it’s Loic. – Seb

ABOVE: New colours, new incentive. Luca Shaw back where he left off in 2021 with another podium here in Lourdes. – Seb

TOP: The most entertaining rider on track. Kade Edwards combining steeze and speed with a strong result in 13th. It’s just such a joy to watch him ride. – Seb

ABOVE: Amaury Pierron is the showman of downhill. What a day and what a way to make it back to the top step after so many injuries. – Sven

HERE: FAN-TASTIQUE! The hillside was mobbed by a mass of adoring downhill fans for pretty much the entire weekend. Some reports suggest attendance in excess of 40,000 (incl. 12,378 chainsaws). The mayhem on track was matched tenfold off it with a deafening roar of support the whole way down this challenging course. Pilgrims from far and wide were rewarded with fine spring weather, perfect track conditions and the show they all wished for. What a race! Thank you Lourd…es. – Sven, Boris, Seb and the Misspent Summers team

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– to get your copy of Hurly Burly, the downhill World Cup and World Champs yearbook, now. 260+ pages of the best photography, writing and reporting from every race.

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CORE TEAM
FOUNDER-DIRECTOR: James McKnight
CO-DIRECTOR: Ben Winder
CHAIRMAN: Mike Rose
SOUND SCIENTIST: Victor Lucas
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Chris Jones
DOOD OF DOODLES: Jon Gregory

TEAM
Morgane Charre: Production
Harriet Jones: Design
Sven Martin: Photography
Boris Beyer: Photography
Sebastian Schieck: Photography
Tom Caldwell: Tea&Biscuits Boy

CREW
Anna Buick, Chris Hall, Pete Scullion, Ric McLaughlin, Paul Aston, Chris Kilmurray, John Parkin, Chris Jackson, Pedro Ballin, Alan

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