(Photo: Sven Martin)

Cecile Ravanel is an unashamed adrenaline junkie.

In her electric 19 years of pro biking, the 36 year old has taken coveted Cross Country titles left and right – from World Champion to double French Champion, and an impressive three podium places in the World Cup Elite XE.

For Cecile, all that success has a very simple source. It’s the raw freedom of biking; ‘feeling’ the landscape, and getting faster every time.

And she just keeps getting better – after swapping disciplines, Cecile has dominated the Enduro World Series, winning a massive 7 out of 8 stages in both 2016 and 2017.

We caught up with the biking whirlwind to find out where her hunger keeps coming from, what a true biking paradise looks like, and the pains of totally switching discipline in just 48 hours…

How did it feel to win your second EWS and how does it compare to last year?

CR: It’s not the same feeling the second time around. In 2016 I went in with nothing to lose. This year I was under real pressure because I wanted to prove I could do it again, confirm the win and finish the series on a high.

(Photo: Enduro World Series)

Which was your favourite stage at EWS 2017 and why?

CR: Absolutely no hesitation – Whistler. The place is just a paradise for riders, the Crankworx atmosphere is really special, and of course the Commençal family is there for us.

What makes Enduro and the EWS so special?

CR: Every race is just one big adventure. The formats and the rules are so different, and we go to the most beautiful spots in the world. Then you have to add the atmosphere between the riders. There’s a real solidarity between us all.

Watch the full highlights of Enduro World Series Round 7 in Whistler, where Cecile secured her second title…

You took part in the DH World Cup for the first time in August – tell us about the experience…

CR: At the beginning I really just went for the fun – I had never ridden on a downhill bike before…

I got back from Whistler with just enough time to get 48 hours at home, so that Cedric [Ravanel] could build my DH bike and give me the directions for Val di Sole. It was a pretty quick turn around for me to get there and ready for the event. I must admit I didn’t quite perform the way I wanted to. I hadn’t tried the track, so I didn’t sleep the night before – then I got a little frustrated because I couldn’t find my settings, and I didn’t release enough on the brakes.

But after the first run, it was a lot of fun to ride.

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How did you get on with Northwave Outcross?

CR: It’s great! I feel really confident walking up the slope with the bike on my back, even on the rocks. But it really matters when I go down and my feet touch the ground to turn – that can be brutal. If the sole is too rigid, or if it slips, it’s a real risk of injury for me. That’s why the Michelin sole is so important for me when I’m riding.

So can we expect downhill events to be a new focus for you?

CR: Let’s just say I’m thinking about it…

(Photo: Enduro World Series)

You’ve spent a long time riding Cross Country too. What’s been your favourite discipline and why?

CR: It has to be the Enduro. You see more landscape, you get these really strong sensations and feelings as you ride. As soon as I get on my enduro bike, I’m having fun.

Where has been your favourite ever place to ride?

CR: I love riding in Andorra Vallnord.

It’s a complete biking experience: there are “artificial” tracks shaped perfectly with jumps, but then there are also very natural trails. On top of that, the after-ride at the Commencal spot really finishes the days beautifully.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

CR: The change of discipline between the XC and enduro was a massive challenge. I had to learn everything: suspension adjustment, tire pressure, position on the bike, equipment, training, dietetic…it was tough, but worth it.

(Photo: Jérémie Reuiller)

…and how about your biggest achievement?

CR: Winning at Whistler! It’s like being UCI World Champion – but better.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not riding?

CR: Drawing on Illustrator, definitely. I make custom stickers for my helmets (and for other riders!). I do all the templates and the design. I draw jerseys, logos, the table from my house. When I get started, I really don’t disconnect. I can stay on my drawings day and night!

What inspired you to get into mountain biking in the first place? How do you stay motivated?

CR: For me it’s all about the nature side of biking. I ride for the feeling of freedom, and the adrenaline that descents bring. I’m addicted to adrenaline, and to getting better – to be more technically skilled, and faster every time.

So, what’s next for Cecile Ravanel?

CR: You’ll have to wait and see…

(Photo: Enduro World Series)

Raw freedom

One thing’s clear: this French superstar isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Whether or not she’s about to transform her discipline yet again, you can guarantee that the raw freedom of the saddle will keep driving Cecile to achieve the extraordinary.

This is one rider we should all be watching.

You can follow Cecile’s exploits on Facebook (@C.Ravanel) and Instagram (@ravanel_mtb), and check out her team website here.

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