Formerly known as the Enduro World Series (EWS), the pinnacle of enduro mountain bike racing has seen numerous changes over this past offseason and is now officially the UCI Enduro World Cup. Coming off a packed 2022 season, Fanatik team racer Andrew Cavaye had an off-season full of change himself, switching to a new frame sponsor for 2023. After having spent several years on Forbidden’s high-pivot frames, it has been a refreshing development for Andrew to join the Canadian-based We Are One racing program. Andrew and I sat down to discuss his new bike, some highlights from last year, and plans for the 2023 season. Of course, in typical Andrew fashion, he also had a quality crash story or two to share as well.
Last time I interviewed you, you were about to head to the Tweed Valley for the first round of the 2022 EWS season; how’d that race go for you?
Tweed Valley was a bit of a weird one; the tracks are fast but with tight trees and very wiggly, so you’re just tree-checking your shoulders and hips everywhere. It was just a unique riding style I wasn’t used to. I did fine, but it was definitely very hard to go fast. I had a top 40 stage but the result got taken away because a bad crash on that stage forced them to cancel it. So had that result stayed, I would have finished much better overall. It was a wake-up call on the pace because you feel like you have a solid run, but it was only good enough for mid-pack.
What are the nerves like before the first stage of an Enduro World Cup?
I want to stay warm and moving and get it over with. The nerves are interesting; it’s not so much the “nerves” but just the mental game of being in the right headspace. That’s the biggest focus I’ve had for this offseason. I have a sports psychologist now that I am working with. That’s the biggest limiting factor for me right now; I just have a lot of, I’d say, intrusive, unwanted thoughts that can impact how I ride. So I’m just working on combating that. It depends on the race. If I’ve had a good practice, I’m confident on the tracks, and I’m having fun, it’s normally not too bad. Usually, if I just get on with it, it’s not too bad. No one likes to sit up there for ages.
You finished 45th in Whistler last year; how did that result feel?
I had two huge crashes; I definitely could have finished top 30 if I didn’t crash. A bit of that (result) was being more comfortable being closer to home and on similar terrain and better, more enjoyable tracks. I just got caught out on stage two. I had an amazing run, and then, two minutes from the bottom in this bike park section, I felt good and pushed super hard and got hung up and tossed over the bars. Somehow my bike landed on its wheels and just snaked off down the mountain on its own. So I ran after through the bushes and then had to hike it back to the track.
The last stage of the day was a huge full pull from the top to the village. And I got a minute from the bottom and body slammed on Monkey Hands. I got straight up and finished, I had managed to put a big gash in my arm that needed ten stitches, but it was still good enough for 45th. That was the last stage of the weekend, and it was the same as the first stage, and even with the crash, I went 15 seconds faster than I had the first time I raced it.
How do you pace yourself on longer stages?
It’s a little bit hard to gauge because the stages are so long and physical that you have to conserve a little bit. You could smash something super fast, but you just won’t be able to hold on for the whole race. So you kind of got to be smooth and relaxed. So you have stages where you feel like you are chilling but flowing through stuff nicely, and you’ll get good stages. Whereas if you are going too hard, you are gonna blow up or won’t be able to hold on to the bars anymore.
What’s it like to watch the top 10 Enduro World Cup guys ride a section?
Honestly, I don’t see them that much, but at Trophy of Nations, I got to follow Jack Moir, and the difference between him and me is that he flows so much better. He holds his speed. For example, I’ll hit a corner and need to generate speed back out of it, and he just flows at a constant speed. He never really gets hung up.
What was it like to get the chance to represent Australia at the Trophy of Nations?
It was a great experience. Being on Jack’s team was especially nice because he was on Canyon and had all the factory resources. So when we were practicing and got to the bottom of a track, there’d be a team van waiting and a guy to take your bike and some lunch, and they would drive you to the next track. So that was pretty nice.
I’ve come to find Jack just does full pulls. We were just doing fifteen-minute race run blind full-pulls for practice. I was hanging on to them, but I was like, “Mother of god, I’m dying.” The interesting aspect of following people is you can’t really see the track with people in front, so you are just fully trusting the person in front, especially if they are going fast. You can’t see what they are hitting until you hit it. But yeah, super fun, great trails.
You had a couple of second-place finishes in the Cascadia Dirt Cup; what do you think is the difference needed to win one of those races?
Aw man, I think I got it. It’s just that mental side again. Just being a bit more confident. Sometimes I’m a little too conservative because I’m afraid of messing anything up instead of just going for it.
Do you have a different approach for a local race vs. an Enduro World Cup?
Yeah, it’s definitely a little more chill, a little more relaxed. I don’t get too hyped up about it. Obviously, I want to do well and take it seriously. It’s usually closer to home, all your friends are there, and you can have a fun, relaxed time while racing. I like it; it is really good practice for high-level races.
Congrats on the We Are One deal! What brought that about?
I could barely contain my excitement; I just couldn’t wait to get on the bike. It’s a changing scene in the sponsorship market at the moment. It’s just tough out there. A lot of brands are limiting budgets for marketing, and people are getting cut, and there’s a lot less options for sponsorship. So I knew that going in, and it was tough to figure out something with anyone. We Are One has always been a bike that I’ve been like, “Yeah, I wanna ride that bike.” I hung out with their team a bunch this last year, like we did a week in Schladming, so I knew their bikes rips. I’m just excited to get going.
Are you going to be racing the Arrival 170 or Arrival 152 this season?
The 170 will probably be my big terrain, enduro series race bike, and the 152 will probably be for more local racing. It’s nice to have the option to just change the links (to convert from the 170 to the 150), but I just knew it would be so much more convenient to have two separate bikes.
What were you looking for when shopping around for your next frame sponsor?
I was just looking for something that pedaled a little bit better and wasn’t quite as long; a little bit more maneuverable. My previous bike was good, it excels in a straight line, but for EWS particularly, you kinda need a little bit more maneuverability. The pedaling wasn’t a big deal, but it is definitely nice to have a sporty bike.
What does your race schedule look like for this season?
So I originally set out to do a similar year to last year, where I had done six EWS races and a bunch of stuff in between. This year I’ve decided to focus more on US and Canadian National races. I’ll be going to Tasmania for the EWS race. It’s sweet, I haven’t been home in a long time, and there are sick trails in Tasmania. I was gonna plan to do the three European rounds of the EWS in June, but I’m just realizing that year after year it is a lot of money to invest. Even if I were to do really well, “really well” being like a top 30, which is already super, super hard to do, that doesn’t really do much for many people. “Even if you say to a brand, “Oh, I got a top 30 one time,” it doesn’t really do anything for them. So, I feel like there is a lot more opportunity for growth and value for sponsors and myself if I cut my cost down and race more nationally. I feel like it’s a good year for that. There are a lot of good local races happening. I think I’m gonna enjoy it a lot more, cutting my cost a little bit. I just think it’s gonna be a little bit of a diminishing return if I do that year after year. It’s gonna be tough. Last year was such a big year, with, like, three trips to Europe and Mexico and a bunch of racing in between. I feel like there is a lot of value in sticking around a little bit.
What’s your goal for this season?
Just to enjoy the process and be stronger mentally I’m not looking for specific numbered results, but just to have my best performance. I feel like the result will come if that’s what I’m doing. That’s the biggest thing I learned last year.
Andrew opened up the 2023 season with the first two rounds of the UCI Enduro World Cup in Maydena, Tasmania and Derby, Australia. Across the two events he had multiple top fifty stage results and placed 45th overall on the familiar Australian terrain in round two.
At the opening round of the Canadian Enduro League at Vedder Mountain, Andrew was on pace for a potential podium when an unfortunate crash resulted in a broken wrist in the final stage. Leading up to his crash Andrew as well and truly on pace, having finished 4th, 3rd, 5th, 4th across the first four stages of the day. His 3rd place result on stage 3 saw him within 1.3 seconds of EWS veteran Remi Gauvin. If it’s any consolation for his crash, Gauvin and Evan Wall crashed on the same turn that claimed Andrew. Dealing with an injury was not what Andrew had in mind when he set his goal of mental toughness, but this slight setback will force the matter. The whole crew at Fanatik wishes Andrew the speediest recovery and can’t wait to see him back between the tape as soon as possible.