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Real answers to the big questions: with Eric Enselme


Eric Enselme takes a look back at his Haute Route journey's and the similarities between his racing experiences and professional life.


How many Haute Route events have you participated in?

I've participated in ten Haute Route’s altogether! Including:

Haute Route Alps (2014, 2016, 2017, 2021)
Haute Route Pyrenees 2021
Haute Route Dolomites 2021
Haute Route Stelvio 2018
Haute Route Crans-Montana 2021
Haute Route Ventoux (2017, 2021)

What was your favourite Haute Route and why?

I have a special affection for the Haute Route Alps  2017, which was a turning point in my cycling experience. During my first two attempts in 2014 and 2016, I was unable to train properly and, quite logically, was unable to complete all the stages.

So, I promised myself that I would return for a third time to finally succeed. The challenge was big, given the 2017 edition was particularly long (900km, from Nice to Geneva) and tough (21km of climbing) - with a 173km stage on the first day and a queen stage of 184km and 4600m of climbing.

My wife wisely encouraged me to hire a coach (Buzz Performance in Morzine) who did a fantastic job at adapting my preparation to my professional and family constraints. That made a huge difference, as I not only finished all the stages within the cut-off times, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. The icing on the cake was that we got the unexpected opportunity to ride with Luc Alphand in Serre-Chevalier!

IMG_1439You are a very loyal rider to the Haute Route. What keeps you coming back year after year? 

For me, the Haute Route is like a delicious pasta dish: I never get tired of it and I always enjoy savouring all its ingredients! I would highlight five of them in particular:

1. It's an unparalleled sporting adventure: the unique format of an itinerant race, with a mountain stage every day that is worthy of the greatest professional tours.

2. A top notch organisation: you can feel that the Haute Route team is always striving for excellence - from the briefings, the signage or the aid stations on the route, to the videos and photos after the race. This is also evidenced by the many improvements made from one year to another - such as the optional 'Race Bag' which is now available at some of the feed zones.

3. The discovery of new regions and passes: it was thanks to the Haute Route that I was able to explore the Pyrenees and the Dolomites for the first time -- or to discover little-known passes, such as those of Sarenne or Côte 2000. Nothing beats discovering things by bike!

4. It's an adventure I can share with my family: the Haute Route is designed to be family-friendly, not only offering comfortable accommodation but also and importantly taking care of the transportation of participants' bags from one stage to another. So, families don't have to worry about anything else but to get to the next stop-over town - and to enjoy the beautiful sceneries along the route.

5. The spirit of camaraderie and the diversity of the participants: we often meet people from more than 30 different countries on the Haute Route. Also, at the back of the race where I am most of the time, riders take the time to support each other in tough moments - a bit like the ‘gruppettos’ on the Tour de France. Finally, we feel like a family with the Haute Route team, who is always there for the participants.



"We feel like a family with the Haute Route team, who is always there for the participants."

Eric Enselme (2022)


 

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What does the Haute Route bring to you on a personal level?

To this day, I haven't found a better way than the Haute Route to motivate myself to stay in shape! Also, I always come back from the Haute Route with a sense of accomplishment and a renewed confidence in my abilities. You don't come to the Haute Route by accident. It is the result of a mental commitment and of a physical preparation over several months. During the race, I live in the present, without distractions, entirely focused on the event - enjoying every pass I conquer, every scenery I discover and every new encounter I make. At a time when accomplishments and relationships are increasingly forged through digital applications, the Haute Route brings a sense of freshness and authenticity.

It is often said that there is a strong link between professional life and sports activities / endurance competitions. Do you agree? 

I do see few similarities in the way to cope with the challenges of professional life and those of sports competitions - especially those based on endurance. I often summarise this approach as "The '3 P's."

1. Preparation: Just like at work, proactive planning of your training and of the race is the first step towards success. Then, you should never hesitate to get help from a coach or someone who has more experience than you. Finally, you must train with determination. Zwift can of course be a precious ally. But never forget that there is no substitute for long outdoor rides in the mountains if you aim to conquer a daily average of 3'500m of elevation over several days. These outdoor rides are also crucial to help you develop your descending skills or to help you tweak your gear.

2. Posture: power is nothing without flexibility. In addition to traditional training programs or training camps, I highly recommend adding a daily yoga or stretching routine. That helped me get rid of the dorsal pain from long hours in the saddle. At work, too, yoga can be a much better ally than coffee to stay fresh and efficient over the long run!

3. Positive thinking: Staying positive and keeping things in perspective always help overcome challenges -whether at work or during an endurance race. Riders often find themselves 'in the thick of it' during the Haute Route. Hence the importance to train your mental resilience, not just your physical abilities. When you have succeeded to overcome these tough moments during training, you know you can do it again during a race!

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What does the Haute Route bring to your professional life?

Freshness and resilience. Freshness, because I always come back from the Haute Route in great shape physically - and  refreshed mentally. Resilience, because the Haute Route requires riders to maintain a steady pace over a long distance and for several days in a row. The additional challenge, when you ride at the back of the race, is that you can spend more than 10 hours in the saddle on the longest stages – leaving you little time to recover and to prepare for the next stage. On the Haute Route, you can only succeed if you manage your physical and mental energy wisely - an approach that is just as useful in professional life!

During your participation in the Haute Route, did you meet other runners with whom you stayed in touch, on a personal and/or professional level?

Absolutely! Martin, a rider from Quebec with endless energy, whom I met during both the Haute Route Alps 2016 and the Haute Route Ventoux 2017 - and who has since become a friend. Anna, a witty Mexican entrepreneur, whom I met during the Haute Route Dolomites 2021 and with whom I have stayed in touch with via Linkedin - we share the same passion about diversity and inclusion in business. And, of course, there is Beatrice, Nathalie, Myriam, Solange, Mirella and the whole team of Haute Route physios who knows how to pull off miracles for riders and that I meet again with the same jubilation, from one race to another... since 2014!

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