Kye Goes TPI at Sea to Sky
Aussie Kye Anderson has just wrapped up his third hard enduro race in Europe this year. Racing the Red Bull Hare Scramble and the Red Bull Sea to Sky aboard a 2018 KTM 300EXC TPI, Kye has been working with KTM technicians on developing the all-new machine.
Fresh back from Sea to Sky, this is Kye’s recap of the iconic event…
Red Bull Sea to Sky is held in Kemer, a tourism town based on the Turkish Riveria in the middle of Europe. It’s three days, three races, and a different course every day. First the beach race (a ridiculous Enduro cross track on the beach), second is the forest race (a technical cross-country track) and finally the main event, the mountain race. Where you literally start at sea level and ride all the way to the ‘sky’ on top of Mt Olympos, 2365 metres above sea level.
TPI in Turkey
On arrival to the pits, I met up with my mate Andreas Hartl, who has transported my bikes and gear all over Europe since the start of 2016. KTM had put some fresh plastics on my 2018 300exc TPI making it almost too nice to ride in this brutal terrain – sure to give it some nice scars. I threw a couple of parts back on that I bought from AUS but the majority of parts I had left on it from Red Bull Romaniacs making this process nice and quick, so that I could get out and test the changes KTM’s R&D had installed.
My South African roommate, Barend and I, headed out to a giant riverbed near the beach. We spent the afternoon riding icy, slippery limestone rock gardens and finished off with a little spin down to a beach jetty where a bunch of locals were getting the catch of the day.
The beach race is just a crazy insane event to be a part of on its own. Take a regular Enduro cross track and then push it to a whole new level by doubling the size and amount of every obstacle and then place it on the softest stone like sand, then you’re close to the chaotic action. The crowd absolutely love this part of the event, as it is just like a crash factory with everyone going down. Even the top guys come undone as this race is simply impossible to race flat out for 15 minutes plus one lap without a mistake, they just simply make fewer mistakes plus having a trials background is a necessity.
I had a bit of a rough go at the beach race after getting a good start. Unfortunately, I found myself caught up in everyone else’s carnage, plus definitely some of my own, giving me a sub-par result which I was frustrated about, to say the least.
After the beach race, I knew I would have to do better to get a good starting position for the main race the following day. The forest race track suited me nicely coming from a cross-country background having some fast flowing sections plus some technical rock gardens and climbs. It’s very demanding on the body with the days’ temperature in the 30’s.
Some people could be mistaken and think some of this track is hard enduro but it’s actually far from it and they would be in for a shock the following day.
I pushed super hard but also rode smart with only a couple of small mistakes for the whole two hours, passing several riders in the first half of the race putting me inside the top 20 outright (19th), giving me a decent start for the mountain race. This was a bit of a relief after the beach race, as I felt like I may have forgotten how to ride this stuff.
The start of the mountain race is hectic, starting literally on the beach with small Mediterranean waves lapping beside us, to racing through city streets and roundabouts jumping over what seemed to be 100 logs laid out on the tar before heading into the mountains and tackling the most rock infested countryside on the earth.
For the beginning, I was having some trouble with my wrists and hands (previous ongoing issues) and having really bad pins and needles but I knew once they settled down I would be fine and fortunately after about 45 mins they came good and I was able to get into my flow and started motoring. This gave me a chance to make ground on the trials guys.
Then the final two checkpoints arrived and it quickly changes back into the trials guys favour. Enter the one and only no help zone, ‘Alcatraz’. Essentially, meaning no way out, I guess as once you get into this super steep and loose rocky climb that goes forever, the name enters your mind and then reinforced, even more, when you get over the first climb only to be faced with another steeper yet shorter climb. The final checkpoint is also a real killer, wiggling and winding around boulders and hills with the Redbull arch finish line in the distance, teasing you as it disappears into heavy cloud cover and then reappearing again and again.
But after hours of rocks, rocks and more rocks and some good battles with some riders, I found myself on top of the mountain deep in the clouds in 17th place out of 200 riders holding a gold medal in one of the toughest races on the planet. It really was such a nice feeling getting on top of that mountain again and getting a better result than last year against such a stacked field this year makes it that little bit sweeter.
Hard work and persistence pays off!
If you are hell bent on watching the general news and giant stereotypical media outlets, Turkey may sound a scary place to go. But trust me it couldn’t be further from the truth. The Turkish lifestyle is so laid back and relaxed and the people are genuinely happy to see tourists, going out of their way to make strangers feel welcome. Though if you got your opinion from their driving style you might think otherwise, as road rules and driving skills don’t really exist or aren’t really exercised. The afternoon after the forest race I was riding my bike up the road to the service station, full Turkish style with no helmet, wearing thongs, shorts and singlet only to be met by police with bulletproof vests and machine guns at the entrance to the service station as I approached. I just thought I’d just wave and ride on in like a local and start filling the bike up. Well, they waved back and I did my business. As I left they pulled a bus in, I didn’t hang around to find out what happened but they were much happier to see me than the bus, that’s for sure.
Sea to Sky is widely regarded as the world’s most enjoyable Hard Enduro and I will definitely vouch for that. At the end of each race day, you have time to swim in the ocean and kick back for an hour or so and relax. The whole town is a holiday town, and all of the resorts are just giant holiday/party centres, starting at about 10 am going late into the night. You go to sleep with the distant sound of bass from the speakers. All day every day there are beach, foam & pool parties, it really is relentless partying. My buddy and I resisted temptation all week focusing on the race and keeping ourselves busy and distracted from the devil’s ways. But after the final race we had to experience some of the local cultures, after all it is all part of the experience, right?
Euro season comes to an end finishing on a high
Well, my 2017 hard enduro season is over and what a ride it has been. Right from the beginning getting the then pre-production 2018 KTM 300exc TPI organised one week before I left for ErzbergRodeo, to racing the ‘Iron Giant’, being on the road in Europe for almost two months training and sightseeing, finishing that stint with Romaniacs and finally wrapping it up last week in Turkey for Sea to Sky. It’s been a roller-coaster for sure learning to deal with so many different cultures, different races and different people, plus riding the all-new TPI. If one word could sum up everything it would be ‘LEARNING’, learning hard enduro.
All of this would not have been possible without a few key people to get through the initial stages; Transmoto’s Andy Wigan got the ball rolling with KTM Austria’s Jennifer Dick, making it possible to get my hands on this bike when it looked like my cards were dealt and I had nothing, but it ended with a straight flush. This opportunity then connected me with KTM’s head of R&D Rupi Walkner and his main man Dominik Bachmaier who have been awesome in helping me with bike advice and testing along the way with other opportunities.
I also have to thank my partner Lesley, for not only sticking by me and tagging along on all of these crazy adventures but providing me with both Nutritional and Off Biking Coaching, and although sometimes things are tough and testing it’s all worth it and it is just part of the journey.
But finally I have to thank myself for working my absolute butt off for so long not just financially but training as well, making this whole adventure possible is just a result of pure hard work and determination to do whatever it takes to make big plans possible.
So if your reading this and want to have a crack at these races, get out there! Throw your ‘Facebook life in the bin’ and use that time to train and work your butt off and see what can be made possible, after all, I’m just a little privateer from down under who works full time with big aspirations.
Let’s see what 2018 will bring to the table. I can guarantee my passport will be getting a bunch of stamps.