Jill Kinter on Racing Her First EWS
Arguably one of the most versatile bike racers in the world, Jill Kintner proved yet again that she has the necessary skills to succeed on any type of bike with a second place in her first Enduro World Series race in Tasmania. Jill's won an Olympic bronze medal in BMX, is a three-time 4-Cross World Champion and has 20 National Championship titles to her name. Jill took the field by storm at her first EWS and finished in 2nd place amongst the world's best! Stan's NoTubes Creative Director Chris Currie took a minute to catch up with Jill at the Sea Otter Classic (when she wasn't busy winning the DH race for a 7th consecutive year and the Dual Slalom for a 9th time!) to talk about her amazing ride in Derby, Tasmania.
Stan's NoTubes: What went pretty much according to plan?
Jill Kintner: My plan was to survive the day, pace myself, and give it the best effort I could, so that all went pretty well [laughs]. Other than that I had done some big days and learned what I needed to do, but you really never know what something is like until you actually do it.
What surprised you the most about the experience?
JK: There quite a few surprises actually. People/riders were really nice and sort of in it together from what I felt, which was different and unexpected. For me personally I didn’t think I would be that nervous and stressed out, but I really couldn’t sleep and was stressing all the major milestones of getting to checkpoints or knowing how hard to push in my race. Not knowing the courses super well was quite tough because I didn’t feel like I rode my best, but had to just kept moving. I was also fatigued, but surprised how strong I was until the end according to my stages power meter, so that was cool.
SNT: Can you describe some of the prep you did, both you and your bike?
JK: Well my bike was close to a normal trail set up, just beefed up the wheel set up a bit. I just put on a wider Flow MK3 rim, Double Down tires, and the new Shimano M9100 XTR with a 51t cassette to save energy on the climbs. A lot of the riders use DH tires and inserts, but I wasn’t interested in pedaling around that added weight yet, especially with so many flat or uphill-feeling sections in the actual race. I might test some inserts for Whistler maybe. I also use a Camelbak with 1.5L water, snacks, and important tools for self sufficiency. On hot days with minimal chances to fill a bottle, this is best for me. Other than that I just had to get comfortable with longer days and focus on improving my power and efficiency for longer sprint efforts, which I did. It’s also really important in enduro not to climb too hard, you want to stay below threshold and even get off and walk if it gets too steep to save energy. Basically enduro is an energy game that rewards consistency.
SNT: You've had success across so many disciplines. How does this success compare as an accomplishment? Those are long days on the bike!
JK: This one feels really good because endurance is not my natural strength, and I took a risk stepping out of the Crankworx realm to switch disciplines again. I really didn’t expect to do this well so soon, but Derby was such a great place for me to launch into it that I am really happy to see the hard work pay off.
SNT: Being Stan's, people always ask us about tubeless setup. How important do you think rim and tire selection is for an enduro race, and can you give us a little more detail about your setup?
JK: I think wheels and tires are the most important part of enduro actually. You have to find a good balance with tire side wall, tread, pressure, spoke tension, rim strength, to match your riding style. I chose the Stans Flow MK3 rim and Maxxis 2.5 Double Down High Roller 2’s because I am normally not too hard on wheels, and this was OK. Before, I used the Exo tires and Stans Arch MK3 rims for Trail and even DH last year, because I like the rim a bit narrower, but the Flow rim matches the 2.5 width better and is more durable. [Editor's note: Flow rims are 29mm wide internally and Arch rims are 26mm wide.]
SNT: Any advice for riders thinking about racing their first enduro?
JK: Focus on fundamental skills, get your suspension feeling good on most everything, and focus in the moment. One of the hardest parts of enduro is that you are racing fatigued, and unexpected things can happen. I dunno [laughs], but use practice wisely.
Riding photos by Bryn Atkinson
Interview photo to Kenny Wehn