Interview: Sebastien Deubel about Gravity Enduro racing in Australia

After our first Rollercoaster Gravity Enduro NSW State Round this year, Sebastien Deubel from Deubel Bicycles shared his race report with us. We’ve known Sebastien, since he swept one of our best friends in Australia, Gisella, off her feet and started riding and racing with us about four years ago. He is a mad-keen gravity enduro racer and one of the most passionate mountain bikers we know and has been a huge supporter of our Rollercoaster series from day one. In the following he answers a few of our questions, which we wanted to share with our racers – a tiny selection from endless chats around campfires and barbecues of recent years 😉

  • RTE: You’re passionate about all-mountain bikes and have raced very successfully in gravity enduro events overseas. What started your love-affair with this type of riding and racing?

SD: It all started with the Megavalanche series in France in the 90s. The Mega was unique because we were 700+ riders starting altogether and had to chase each other at light speed on technical descents and on short steep climbs as well. That was out of control. The kind of riding and racing style you get hooked pretty quickly.
This period of time will stay very special for me, because I was racing this series on the bike I created at Uni, a bike capable to ride everything very well. And I did ok on it, finishing 14th overall at the Mega in France at Alpe D’Huez in 97, doing the holeshot over 100km/hr on snow at the Mega in Switzerland the same year and winning the Series in 98 in the amateur category.

  • RTE: Some people say that Australia doesn’t have “mountains high enough for gravity enduro racing” – yet you love it here? Why?

SD: It’s not true, Australia has mountains high enough for AM/GE [all-mountain/gravity enduro] racing with hundreds of virgin vertical drops of 700-1000m waiting for us. To me, the big difference between AM/GE in Europe and AM/GE in Australia is not the size of the mountains, it’s the experience. AM/GE in Europe has started 20 years ago, but it’s only new here. With time, event organisers, clubs, volunteers and riders have created amazing events in Europe. I love AM/GE racing in Australia because I can chase my mates all year around here. In France for instance, AM/GE racing is mainly in summer. That makes a big difference. Am very positive, I can see AM/GE is already getting bigger and bigger in every State of Australia, for instance we are all having heaps of fun racing the Rollercoaster Series in NSW/ACT already, and am very excited about the new National GE Series starting this year. It’s coming, AM/GE is going to be big in Australia.

  • RTE: You even designed yourself the ideal bike for gravity enduro racing – which elements are the crucial ones?

SD: GE racing mixes technical descents and climbing sections. To do well, you need a bike with great pedalling efficiency, plush suspensions and a specific geometry.

  • RTE: You are French, your wife has Italian background and your bikes are Aussie-made! A winning combination?

SD: It is, yes ! Being French, it means I grew up, as a rider, with the Megavalanche permanently in my mind, which allowed me to understand what ingredients make an all-mountain bike very good. So when it came to design the 2UP, I had 20 years experience in designing all-mountain bikes. The Italian background of my wife adds even more passion and craziness to our project. And finally, our Australian made label is very important to us. We are very proud to design and manufacture the 2UP in Australia. At the end, we are having an immense fun at creating, riding and racing the 2UP. So, yes it is a total win for the both of us.

  • RTE: You have a strong opinion about 26″ wheels. Why?

SD: Everyone knows that small wheels are made for berms, switch backs and jumps. Big wheels are made for straight lines. I prefer riding berms, switch backs and jumps.

  • RTE: On race day, how do you keep your endurance up and stay focused?

SD: Race day is the tip of the iceberg. Everything happening during race day is the conclusion of your preparation. If you are well prepared, you are confident you have the endurance and the technical skills, so you can stay focus on what matters the most during race day, which is having fun ride fast and stay safe.

  • RTE: They say it takes an all-rounder of a mountain biker to win gravity enduro events. How do you train your technical and endurance riding skills?

SD: At my level, the key thing to me is to have fun training and racing with my friends. I try to ride twice a week with my friends where we ride flat out, up and down, on technical tracks, just for fun so we can laugh for days about our riding. I also ride on my own where I time myself so I can monitor my fitness.

  • RTE: You’ve competed in many Rollercoaster Gravity Enduro events with Rocky Trail – tell us why you’re hooked!

SD: I love the concept of racing on different tracks the same day, mixing high speed, technical and climbing sections, where I can start my race runs 1 second after my friends and chase them the whole track if I want. You could not ask for more, the fun is guaranteed.

  • RTE: What’s your favourite track to ride in Australia? – Is it your favourite for racing too?

SD: I’ve been riding only in NSW and ACT so far. My favourite track would have to be at Stromlo. The guys there managed to put together some tracks with insane flow, where beautiful berms are connected to heaps of sweet jumps. It’s always a great pleasure to ride or race there. You can see everyone has fun there, whatever his level or background.

  • RTE: Lycra or baggy shorts?

SD: I’ve been riding for 20 years and never felt I needed to wear nappies;-)

Thanks, Sebastien! See you at the next Rocky Trail start line!

About Sebastien Deubel:
He is the Mechanical Engineer at Deubel Bicycles and has been racing All-Mountain and Gravity Enduro style events in Europe during the 90’s, including the infamous Megavalanche in France, which he won in 1998 in the amateur category.  He moved to Australia to design and build the Deubel 2UP bikes with his wife Gisella, based on his riding passion and racing experience.

Sebastien Deubel on his favourite Aussie race track at Stromlo Forest Park, one of the venues for the Australian Gravity Enduro Series in 2014, hosted by Rocky Trail. Photo: Deubel Bicycles
Sebastien Deubel on his favourite Aussie race track at Stromlo Forest Park, one of the venues for the Australian Gravity Enduro Series in 2014, hosted by Rocky Trail. Photo: Deubel Bicycles
Gisella and Sebastien Deubel (from far right) with two of their Deubel Racing team riders at Rocky Trail's SHIMANO MTB Grand Prix race at Ourimbah in 2013. Photo: Outerimage.com.au
Gisella and Sebastien Deubel (from far right) with two of their Deubel Racing team riders at Rocky Trail’s SHIMANO MTB Grand Prix race at Ourimbah in 2013. Photo: Outerimage.com.au