Off-season catch-up with Leigh and Joe

A few months have passed since the last EWS round at the picture-perfect Zermatt, Switzerland, and the legendary Trophy of Nations at Finale Ligure, Italy. These two events closed the 2019 racing season and set us down to the so-called offseason. The off-season is off-season only for us mortals, but those who take the racing 100% seriously, like our team racers Joe and Leigh, this is the hard season. Or is it?

We had a chat with both of the gentlemen, talked about Joe’s healing process after the injury early this year, Leighs new 450cc, the training routines of both, and of course, life in general. Let’s start with Leigh with an impressive season, with overall 12th and reaching the TOP10 results in EWS.

In a rush? Leighs and Joes suspension setups, por favor! Make sure to also follow them on Instagram for real-time updates: @leigjohnsonmtb & @joenation1.

Pole Enduro Race team is sponsored by Pole Bicycle Company, Sweet Protection, Mavic, Fidlock and Huck Norris

Leigh Johnson, how do you do, sir?

“How do you do Leigh? Any treats for me?” – Read on to see how Leigh has set his suspension up.

Hey, it’s good, had an amazing season, took some time off at the end, and now back into training for next year again, looking forward to being at the races already!

You sure did. Congrats, man – We can’t wait for the next season either! 

Thanks, hopefully, we can make 2020 even better!

Now that the 2019 season is over and it’s raining cats and dogs, how’s your off-season training going on? Have you been on a bike much? Or do you prefer some other method?

Haha, yes, that is too true. Unfortunately, it’s been raining so much at home lately it’s quite depressing but just get on with it. I do 6 sessions a week on the bike and some gym sessions but always to try to get out and ride rather than turbo* because I’m happiest outside.

*Turbo = Turbo trainer or static bike

Playing in the mud can be fun from time to time, but when it’s constantly like that – it gets hard to find that motivation to get out.

Yes, for sure, but we do it because we love riding bikes, so we can’t complain.

That is very true. What kind of rides do you do? Is it low paced riding or intervals or a mix or what?

It’s a mix of everything; weekdays are mainly gym and shorter sharper rides and weekend trying to get some good hours of riding each day.

I also heard that you got an MX – tell us a bit more about that?

Yeah, that’s right, I fit a full day of Mx enduro In every week, try to do some big rides, I think it certainly helps training-wise too, it can keep you so strong, I enjoy it so much, it’s like a treat day in my training program haha!

Sounds cool. I believe too that it has a positive effect on your usual training. And on a mental level also, as you said. Which MX is it?

Yeah exactly! I think it’s important to make the training as enjoyable and fun as possible, and the MX definitely helps that. It’s a new Yamaha Wr450f.

I really don’t know anything about those bikes, but it was a crucial piece of information to ask, hah. Lauri (CEO) told me to ask you that have your arms gained more length now with that 450cc, hahaha! 😀

Haha yess definitely, it’s tearing me apart, but I love it 😜

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A post shared by Leigh Johnson (@leighjohnsonmtb) on Nov 24, 2019 at 11:03am PST

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A post shared by Leigh Johnson (@leighjohnsonmtb) on Nov 17, 2019 at 12:02pm PST

Now, let’s get back to racing; Right on the start, you mentioned that you are already waiting for the next season. 2020 will again have 8 events in total plus the Trophy of Nations. How do you feel about that, and which race do you wait for the most?

I think 2020 is going to be a big one, it’s hard for a racer to be on form for every race as each one is so different and demanding but it’s a challenge I’ll be ready for. My Favorite races usually are in Europe and the alps, I like that style of riding, and feel more at home there.

I can only imagine how hard that can actually be. Like there’s a week in between of the first two races if I remember right? That’s quite a start! Do you want to share your goals for the next season? 😛

Yeah, that’s right. It’s important to be able to recover as soon as possible after the first race to be ready to go again. Of course, so this year, I conquered the top 10 at 2 races, next year my goal would be to do that at every race, it’s not going to be easy but it’s definitely possible.

Leigh got his first EWS top10 ranking at Madeira this year. 2020 he aims to be on top10 on every race. Good luck mate!

I wished you’d say that! Fingers crossed 🤞Only one topic left here: How’s the bike been? It’s been what…half a year now riding Stamina, right?

I’ve been riding the Stamina 180 since March, the first time I rode it was at the Andes Pacifico race and was a massive fan instantly, it proved itself to me then and still never stops impressing me. A full EWS season later and I’m so comfortable on it, the set up is dialed, so that also makes things easier going into next year knowing that my bike is THE best it could possibly be 🤘

Thank you, Leigh! It was good talking to you!

Leighs Stamina 180 setup

Height: 188cm, weight: 84kg


  • Pressure: 100psi
  • Tokens: 2
  • HSC/LSC: open
  • Rebound: 5 from fully closed


  • Pressure: 175psi
  • Tokens: 2
  • LCS: 2 clicks from fully open
  • Rebound: 5 from full open

Joseph “Joe” Nation, what’s up? How’s life in New Zealand?

It’s good times in New Zealand as usual! The weather is warming, and there are new tracks at my local bike park. The good news is that I was able to have the surgery to remove the screws from my broken elbow, and I am currently healing very well. I am easing into riding, swimming, and gym work at the moment.

That’s great news man! How long do you think it will take for you to be able to ride 100% again?

Yeh, it’s awesome, after 7 months I am finally able to twist my arm and see my palm!!* I am hoping to be cleared to be 100% in early January. Healing is going faster than anticipated, which is great.

* Joe’s bones was pinned in the joint due to the bolts that kept the end of the bone attached

Hahaha, it’s the small things like seeing your own palm after 7 months that really matter!

😂😂😂 Totally.

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A post shared by Joseph Nation (@joenation1) on Nov 21, 2019 at 12:32pm PST

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A post shared by Joseph Nation (@joenation1) on Nov 24, 2019 at 10:48pm PST

7 months is a long time to wait. On a scale from 1-10, how much do you wait for the season to start?

For sure, that would have to be in the 9+ range! Really excited to get back up to speed and into the racing again, I was really happy with my speed at the beginning of 2019, and I know I can get back to where I was. It’s always a good vibe with the Pole team at the EWS rounds, so bring on Colombia!

For sure! You had a great race at the Derby, Tasmania, just before your incident. The EWS tour has some great many different locations and lots of different places to visit – which is your personal favorite?

I really like La Thuile in Italy, for the scenery, tracks, and pizza! It seems to be a favorite for many of the racers. Hopefully, it continues to feature in the calendar.

Joe had an impressive result at Derby, Tasmania by being 12th just before his injury. We can’t wait for him to get back on track at EWS Colombia 2020!

Great choice! We are really looking forward to getting you back on track. Thanks for the catch up so far. 

No worries! Just that I can’t wait to get back to riding my Stamina for the purpose, it’s designed for, which is going down hills really fast! 👌👌 Thanks to Pole for the continued support!!!

Rock on! One more thing. This was not actually a question I planned to ask you but could not resist: How are your legs after that long ride yesterday?*

Haha, the legs are definitely a bit stiff today! Certainly a bigger day than what I’m used to, but was a great challenge 👌

* Joe rode 172km with his Stamina. You should give him a follow at Strava.

I laughed out loud when I saw your Strava log and the +9K kcal energy consumption. What did you eat during the ride and after it?

Fuelling the body is the hardest part of the ride, especially as there are no food stops along the way. In the container at the front of my Stamina, I had potato and salami mixture, dried bananas, and electrolyte sachets. Kept me powered for the day! After I felt like I deserved my favorite burger and fries for dinner.

Refueling might be one of the best parts of a long ride. Anyway, that was a huge ride. Do you often do rides that long?

No, I don’t often do rides that big. Only once a year, my friends and I do a massive day like that. I think it’s a bit too much for EWS training, but it’s early in the offseason, so I can still keep it fun like this.

Thanks, buddy. Be well, and train smart!

Joes Stamina 180 setup

Height: 178cm, weight: 82kg


  • Pressure: 82psi
  • Tokens: secret
  • HSC/LSC: +1 / +3
  • Rebound: 8 from fully closed


  • Pressure: 142psi
  • Tokens: secret
  • LCS: +2 clicks open
  • Rebound: +6

Text & interview: Sampo

Stamina 180 – Choice of the race team

Stamina 180 starts a new era in Pole Bicycle Company. EVOLINK set the standard on Pole Bicycles and Machine refined the capabilities and the innovation that had come up but could not be made with welded frames. Stamina 180 is the next step on our path. We have completely redesigned the frame, and now we are going even faster. Stamina 180 is agile, forgiving and inspiring confidence. It feels like you have a magic carpet underneath you when you ride the trails with this beast. One would think that such a long travel bike has compromised the pedaling efficiency. Nevertheless, we can say that Stamina 180 pedals extraordinary well flat and uphill and its amazing on technical climbs. We describe the bike unbelievable.