Olympic, World and European Cross Country Champion, Miguel Martinez still has not finished with the bike. At 43, the mountain biker is now turning to electric. A discipline that he wishes to actively develop.
We are at the beginning of the year 2019. What is new? Have you re-signed with O2Feel?
Yes, I did. Following the 2018 French Championships where I finished third behind Julien Absalon, I decided to continue my electric bike ride. This year, there is the first world championship in history to be held in Mont-Saint-Anne (Canada) at the end of August.
I try to anticipate everything in order to have a good bike and, I hope, be one of the pioneers of the first electric mountain bike races. We do not know how this discipline will develop, but it is a new one and I like it.
How did it happen?
O2Feel had already contacted me in 2011, when I finished my career. I was a little skeptical, initially, with electric assistance. I was much closer to traditional cycling. But the championships of France made me want to try. From the first laps and on a technical circuit of
I found sensations, with the speed especially. It is necessary to combine technique, speed, and anticipation. And all of this with an electric bike, which is much heavier. There are new parameters to manage in addition to those on a traditional bike. I found this new adrenaline and that’s what makes me want to continue.
Would you imagine a Cross-Country Marathon, where battery management would be paramount?
At the Transmaurienne last year, we had runs where we had to manage the battery carefully because there was a big difference in heights. During the last fifteen circles, my e-bike’s battery was empty and I had to manage.
And finally, I had to ride five kilometers without assistance. It’s something I love. This is a good concept because riders will decide to start more quickly or less quickly, and will have to manage their electric bikes. It is something that deserves to see the
Will you be talking with the federation?
Yes, sort of. I would like us to move on that question. We are progressing in steps and this allows us to go far. One can make the height difference on the route, while managing e-bike’s autonomy. I think this feature can have a great future. We have, sort of, to lift the head from the handlebar.
The battery can be consumed much faster than expected, depending on the altitude difference, the temperature, and the performance demanded of the e-bike.
Read also: Can e-bike help climb steep hills? – in this article.
If you take an e-bike with better tire performance, this alone can give the rider 3-4 extra kilometers. There are so many parameters, that e-biking looks almost like Formula 1. That’s why with Julien Absalon, we love to make this progress. There are so many tiny parameters that success is played on lots of small details. We love it!
How will the selection for the World Championships take place? Do you already have some answers from the Federation?
For the moment, it’s totally in stand-by. I have a big question mark right now. How are they going to work in countries like Canada, where the standards are different? The speed is limited to 25 miles/hour (33 km/h). There is also a problem of transportation of batteries. In Canada, it is forbidden to carry 500-watt batteries. So you have to have them at the destination.
Read also: How far can e-bikes go? What is e-bike range? – in this article.
There is also a problem of fairness between bicycles. I am the ambassador of electric bicycle brands that are also available in retail for regular consumers. And some mountain bikers will have 100% “tuned” custom made e-bikes. E-bikes, which will never be sold on the market.
Those would then weigh less and will be better suited for the race. Such e-bikes will have the advantage of carrying 4 to 5 kilos less. In the climbs, such e-bikes will gain 10 or 20 seconds. And the difference may be in their weight.
So there are many parameters. We will have quite a few surprises. But in any case, the discussions are going in the right direction. At one point, all details will be standardized and regulated. It may be a bit disorganized during the first races, but electric bike riders will meet later to agree and define the rules of this new competition.
Read also: What is the regulation for speed e-bikes in France? – in this article.
You come from the traditional cross-country biking. What is your program in this discipline for the year 2019?
I will not do cross country on a traditional bike. The only races I will do on a traditional bike will be marathons. I’m leaving next week in Mexico to do the Survivor Bike, a World Series race. I will then have the second race in Mexico, so I will stay a good month there, on a traditional mountain bike. For now, I ride on my 2018 mountain bike.
I have no sponsor at the moment but I’m still in partnership with an electric bike brand. And it’s not easy to put the two disciplines together. I like both and I do everything to find a compromise with my partners. I tell them I like the electric bike, but I still need to ride a traditional bike.
What is your program After Mexico?
The goal is to go for the largest marathon races in Italy, in particular in the Dolomites. My partner for this race FRM. They are ready to equip my bike. The goal is to bring VIPs the day before the competition, ride with them and then compete the next day.
Will you be on the Forestière, the Roc d’Azur for marathons?
I would like to. But we will see how the electric mountain bikes will develop in the meantime. I did the Forestière last year on the mountain electric bike and I liked it a lot. Everyone told me it was impossible to do with a battery and I finally managed to make 90 loops. I loved managing all these various aspects of the electric bike.
And the last is the family question. Your son did well in Cyclo-cross. What can you tell us?
His name is Lenny Martinez. He has been riding a bike for a year and is progressing well since his start. He was sixth in the French cyclo-cross championship. Moreover, he has a very strong training circle. My brother is with him during the week.
My father plays the role of a mental coach for him. He teaches not to give up and anticipate the next steps. And then I’m here to give him information and advice on the technical side, pre-race. He has a very interesting family circle around him.
For now, he does not win and I’m happy because it pushes him to progress. He seems to have many good qualities that I did not have at his age. He has many friends on social networks.
I was much more individualistic at this level, I only wanted the performance. He likes to open up to others. I know he will perform. In addition, he has this desire to communicate with others. He wants to make biking his job. He progresses slowly, but surely.
Read also: E-cycling is more than a sport, it is a journey – in this article.
Here is quick video showing e-bike in competition with traditional racing bicycles: