Preparing For The International Six Days Enduro

US ISDE team manager Antti Kallonen talks ISDE prep.

Antti Kallonen and Ryan Sipes
US ISDE team manager Antti Kallonen talks to US Trophy Team rider Ryan Sipes before one of his runs on the Sprint test.Shan Moore

The United States established itself as a formidable force in the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) after the 2016 US World Trophy Team won the division in Navarro, Spain, behind the riding skills of Taylor Robert, Kailub Russell, Thad Duvall, and Layne Michael.

The object now for US Team Manager Antti Kallonen is to keep the US squad at that winning level every year. This past September, at the final round of the Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series in Laurens, South Carolina, Kallonen held a “Six Days Camp” to prepare the riders and mechanics for this year’s event. The camp is something Kallonen has been doing for the last few years and it obviously pays off.

The 2019 US Trophy Team members are as follows:

US World Trophy: Ryan Sipes, Kailub Russell, Taylor Robert, and Steward Baylor.
Junior World Trophy: Josh Toth, Grant Baylor, and Ben Kelley.
Women's World Trophy: Jordan Jarvis, Brandy Richards, and Becca Sheets.

Dirt Rider made the trek to South Carolina to check out Team USA's progress. Here's an interview with Antti Kallonen, who explained the process of the camp.

Taylor Robert
The riders have a 15-minute designated work period they can use to perform maintenance on their bikes at the end of each day. Taylor Robert times himself while he performs his maintenance routine.Shan Moore

How has the camp been going this year?

This year the camp is actually going very good, and it started with the first two days of racing in conjunction with the Sprint Enduro race. It’s great that Jason Hooper (Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series promoter) was able to work with me and also the land owner to let us stay a couple extra days. A few years back, the camp started as a two-day event, and then we added a third day. So now this camp really started on Saturday when the guys started walking the tests and then, of course, the two days of racing. The first two days we didn’t get to do lots of the drills that we normally do for the camp because they were racing. We mainly focused on just racing and walking, and racing with the special Six Days tires. It was good to see Sipes using the [Six Days] tires during the actual race and able to clock the fastest overall time. Now can someone argue they are really that bad? Also, at Six Days, after each day, the riders have to walk tests in the evening, and I’m having them do that here at the camp, just to get used to the fact that the day is not over once you stop riding. Overall, it was good. We’re also going to do some testing in the next two days with a couple of riders to find their best setup. Then we’ll focus on the line choices, what works for who.

Are there any differences to how it's been in years past?

I think overall what I’m expecting is for this camp to be a step higher in preparation than previous years. Now the camp is actually five days—one day walking and four days of riding. We’re also incorporating some of the things that we feel like we fell short at last year. We were a little bit caught off guard on certain things, so we’re trying to just do a little different with this camp. We are using a little bit of video to point out some lines the riders are taking. Now we can see how much can we improve. We’re actually going to break down the course in segments and using segment times. We’re going to see what lines are best for each rider; just because a fast rider takes a certain line doesn’t mean that line is fastest for everyone, so that is what we are going to see using the timing and the video. A certain line is not for everyone; it really depends on the rider, so I can’t go and tell the women to do the same lines as the guys. In that case, they have a different approach to the turn. That’s what we’re really focusing on now.

Taylor Robert
The top riders change front and rear tires at the end of each day, and Taylor Robert is able to change a front and rear in about 10 minutes.Shan Moore

Were there any unique challenges for any of the team riders at the camp?

We kind of threw our rookie Jordan Jarvis to the wolves. She’s never ridden off-road, so this week was the first time. She’s progressed a lot in a short time, especially in the cross test, so I’m expecting by the end of the camp that she’ll have the cross test dialed. She kind of knows how to hit the marks and get the whole five minutes put together as one lap. Then obviously we’re going to be working hard on the enduro test with her because that’s completely new for her. Then overall as far as looking at the men, today was good. You look at the results, it’s Ryan [Sipes], Kailub [Russell], Taylor [Robert], Steward [Baylor]; they’re all up there. This was a very stacked race overall. We had Thad [Duvall] here and other fast riders as well. Grant [Baylor] and Ben [Kelley] did well too. Ben is on a 450 now, so it’s a new bike and he needs to get used to it a little bit more.

Is there anything specific that you think the teams or individual riders can improve on?

I think it’s those little things that we are working on. Some riders do better when the track gets rough, or some riders do better when it’s right off the bat at the grass track. So we’re going to find the weaknesses of each rider and then we’re going to work not as a group, but as an individual. Like, “you have to work on the smooth grass tracks,” or “you have to work when it gets rough.” Also, in the past years we always started strong. We were contending for the lead. It used to be we were slow starters. Now we’re fast starters and we’ve got to figure out what happens on day two or day three and why, and we’re going to work on those [issues]. If we can carry over our speed to day three, I think they can carry it to the finish. I think the key is to stay consistent, no crashes, and no big ups and downs for the riders in the first three days; that’s our goal. Obviously, then once you get that groove going, day four and five will kind of just come automatically.