I have known Noga Korem since she was 12. Today, at the age of 25, I meet her after an impressive start to the EWS season. where she got herself into the 4th rank.
Noga Korem, 25, grew up in Israel in a small comunity near Misgav. She lives in Tel Aviv. And works full-time (when she is in Israel) at the “Academic Cycling Components Group” (the only professional road cycling group in Israel) after competing at the end of 2016 in two rounds of the EWS, she decided to participate in the all 2017 sesone of the EWS. I met her after a successful start to the 2017 seosone. 14th place in the first race and 4th place in the second race.
Dan: Hey Noga. It’s been a while since we first met. do you remember where it was?
Noga Korem: sure. It was at the downhill competition in Biria 2004. It was shortly after I started riding. I got a hard-tail bike from Gil Benita. just for that race. his own bike.
Dan: how did it all start?
Noga Korem: I grew up in a small village in the north of Israel. after school we just played at the field or around, on Friday we usually watched tho bigger kids play basketball. one time, a new guy named Oz Dudai came to the field with a cool bike. with disk brakes!! :-). he was building all sorts of ramps. At the end of the basketball game, we quickly asked for a ride on the bicycle and to teach us how to jump. And then actually it all began, slowly getting into it more and more, the first mountain bike I received was for my “Bat Mitzvah”. a Simple hard tail IRONHORSE bike. I used it for a few years for downhill rides, road, cross-country …
Dan: do You have any more hobbies?
Noga Korem: I love to be in a move all the time. do not really like to rest (well, maybe sometimes), I like doing all kinds of sports. especially challenging. I like hanging out with friends, parties, and watch some television.
Dan: When did you realize that bicycles is a way of life?
Noga Korem: It took time. In the beginning I was a bit lazy. I was at Camp, the year I started riding. at training I mostly enjoyed the downhill. not the uphill rides. But fortunately I was under the protection of Oz Dodai. who believed in me from the first day he saw me on the bike. Since the beginning he told me that I could be riding on an international level if I only invest and practice. the Moment when I realized that it’s really what I wanted to do was after my first competition XC in Europe, with the Israeli team in Switzerland where I finished seventh. I saw some of it is fun, challenging and satisfying. Support of Oz , the members of the Group, (Team MIsgav –where I was training until 2016) and of my parents, family and friends around was very helping. Even in school, they were nice and let me do my exams after I finished the racing season. that let me concentrate on the competition.
Dan: Tell me a little about your training routine.
Noga Korem: This year I decided to train myself. My schedule is very variable, depending on the hours I work, competitions, and all things around. I’m trying to run one time a week. I train once or twice a week for intervals, I do one relatively long ride for more than 3 hours (road or MTB). one to tree times training on on my Enduro bike, one of which is a specific training. technical. With my trainer Almog Alpoma. Every training we decide what to work on. turns, drops, jumping… and work on short segments. over and over again until I feel comfortable with or that Almog tell me to move on. I’m doing Cross-fit workouts one to tree times a week with a trainer Yaron Nof, he build a program for me to be good for Endurance. we work on strength for the legs, hands, positioning, and exercises on high pulse, with obstacles. sometimes in combination with the bicycle.
Dan: What is a technical training?
Noga Korem: Almog decide about what we are working on each time. we travel to somewhere suitable, he tells me what to do and he is looking at me train. Until I perform it perfectly.
Dan: What are your favorite trails in Israel?
Noga Korem: Zoraa, Yaad, Horsan and Manara at certain seasons.
Dan: you took part in some EWS races. Last season and this season. Tell me a bit about how it went.
Noga Korem: Last season, in 2016, I attended only the last two races of the EWS. after the last cross-country season, that was long and hard. My first EWS race was in France. I got to enjoy, and see what is this Enduro that everyone is talking about. I did not know what was my rank, and I was very surprised to discover that after two days of competition I finished sixth. The second competition was held in Italy. I got there complete Spontaneous. I thought I had a beginner’s luck, and I was afraid of this competition. The training really did not go as I planned and I had a lot of problems. But at the end I finished seventh. and I was very pleased.
This season in 2017, the first competition was in New Zealand. the first day of training was excellent. The second day was just not as good. at the first stage I crashed hard on the head. It was raining like crazy, were full of roots and was extremely slick. It was very difficult, Several times I thought maybe I should retire from the race. it is Just dangerous… I just suffered and I could not ride as I know I could.. but after all, I came to New Zealand and couldn’t just give up. I was very disappointed with the way I rode and I was not able to get into the zone. Finally I finished 14th.The second competition was held in Australia. I had no idea what place I am ranked. This competition also rained. the crowd along the trail was great. In the end, I hoped I got to the Top 10 , but I had no idea. after I washed the bike, several people stopped me and complimented me on the result. I did not understand why. And when I was told I finished fourth I told them that it must be a mistake and we should wait for the final results. when I finally decided to go check, and I find myself in fourth. I was very happy and very surprised.
Dan: How did you get into Enduro?
Noga Korem: Last year, at 2016, I rode cross-country at Olympic level. I won the championship in Israel. I competed at the World Championships, but it did not seem right for me. I felt that I spend a lot of energy in training and life, and can not get in shape and achieve the results. At some point it became physical and mental strain, and I stopped to enjoy it and I decided to take a break after the worst competition I ever had. in the US. When I returned to Israel, I continued to ride occasionally with friends but just riding for fun with no particular target, one evening when we did “barbecue” with friends from team-Misgav, They convinced me I should compete in an enduro race. I sent an email to the organizers of the – EWS . To my surprise, I received a confirmation to come and race. Although registration was already closed. Nimrod Ben-David from GIANT ISRAEL heard about it and immediately let me choose a bike from his shop for the race. I did four training days on the new giant reign bike I got. I arranged everything in a few days, and I went to race in France. I got to the first competition of the EWS. Luckily accompanied me a good friend named Aliran Shkdan. I really enjoyed the first day of training on track. on the first stage I did quite a few mistakes, I was very nervous, but it was good altogether, and in the evening when I checked the results I was surprised that I was ninth. a few seconds from sixth place. I surprised myself. And although I have only come to enjoy, I got up in the morning with the goal to reduce those seconds, I finally finished in sixth . at the race in finale in Italy had some logistical problems, I did not get my bike on the airport, so I did the first day of training on a cross-country bike. Then the organizer of the EWS give me his bike. But on the second day of training, I was with my equipment and the situation has improved. Finally I finished seventh . I was very happy I was able to finish again in the Top 10 despite the preparation was not successful.
Dan: What is enduro in general? uphill? Downhill?
Noga Korem: I think it’s a combination of cross-country with downhill. There are usually two full days of training. where you spend all day on the bike, and immediately after that, two days of competition. Each race is different. Usually you ride from 09:00 am to 16:00 pm. The uphills are relatively easy. Talking with other riders and a good atmosphere. The race is actually only on the downhill. you get a clock that measures the Stage and finally the rider with the fastest time on all stages wins. That means we have to give everything in every downhill stage. Including pedal every possible moment with full force. at XC race for example you can rest on the downhill. Another important thing is tactic. what is important is the total time. So you should know that if you crash hard, not give up and continue to push hard in the rest of the stages..
Dan: Do you have sponsors?
Noga Korem: I am a privateer, without a group. But I have personal sponsors who support me with equipment and three sponsors who help me pay for part of the trip.
Dan: how is it to be a privateer rider competing in races of this caliber?
Noga Korem: its hard to be alone. all alone, to fix all by myself. Change tires, etc. but the truth is I’m used to it. from the age of 17 I compete overseas. Cross Country races. alone. Luckily I knew the Baron family who became a second family for me. they lived in Switzerland and I would go to them and travel from there house away to races. Apart from them there are always nice people who are happy to help. sometimes I get stuck and competes with equipment not quite right. For example, recent competition riding with a not working seatpost and I could not fix it. but altogether it’s part of the challenge and experience. in Israel it is fun. sponsors care about me, I just leave the bike at the shop in Netanya or Rakefet and they return it as new.
Dan: What is the SETUP of your bike?
Noga Korem: Almog Alfoma and tamir Zingr setup my bike for me. I trust them. And abroad, I have left it generally only inflate the tires.
I am riding on the GIANT REIGN Advenced 1 with the original 2016 parts. rear shock with sag of 30% and 20% at the fork with two tokens. Brakes are aimed at slightly higher in favor of comfort for steep paths. I’m still trying to get used to it. The tires are Maxxis . Rear high roller . Front minion both EXO tubeless. the rims are DT swiss . If there is mud and rain, I switched to Maxxis shorty . Tire pressure is just what I feel right by feeling and according to the track. The width of the handlebars, I do not remember. Just ride with what I got on the bicycle and what was recommendation by friends.
Dan: Tell me about an unpleasant riding experience.
Noga Korem: I have a lot of experiences, some of which, of course not as good. For example XC races in the rain and mud that have become a running contest with the bike on the back ?.or getting to a race with high expectations that are not quite match fitness level I was at that time.. at the EWS in New Zealand, I did not enjoy. The weather, the feeling that I was not in the ZONE. I even wanted to quit in the middle. I asked myself if I choose wrong, and if I want to continue. Luckily SHIMANO team were in the Feed Zone and cleaned my bike and fixed the brakes, which was most significant. But I learned something from any bad experience. For example, always leave some dry clothes. Wash the bike between stages. Or what should you strengthen in your body and what to change in training.
Dan: a Rider you admire? a role model?
Noga Korem: Since I was a child I’d rather not talk about riding. I was just riding. Just want to ride. So there is no one specific. Mostly I learned a lot from people I’ve met over the years. Trying to take positive traits from every one to adopt.
Dan: What are your ambitions?
Noga Korem: a Good question. I ride because it was just fun. But now that I got where I am, I want to be at the top. So my ambition this season is to be in the top ten.
Dan: Tips for those who want to start racing?
Noga Korem: just get out and ride, do not think about it too much, and try to enter a race. you can get last place at that race. But you learn from that a lot and it will improve you. and you will enjoy at most chances, however I would recommend getting to the trail before the race, check that you are able to do it in full and subscribe to the appropriate category and over time you get a higher category.
Dan: What made you from an amateur to the rider you are today?
Noga Korem: I think from the beginning I was not really an amateur. I always liked the pressure of competition, the challenge, and satisfaction after. You could say it’s in my nature. From a young age I practiced as part of a group of riders. at Most of the things I am quite professional. But today, after several years as a rider, I try to be more loose when needed and enjoy the ride.
Dan: What’s the difference really between a privateer and a professional?
Noga Korem: a pro is getting paid to ride and his first priority on his agenda is the training and then everything else. This year I started working “full time” for like nine hours a day. so Needless to say it is hard to to find a balance between my work and training. So as I see it I’m not a professional rider, but I’m trying to act as one. I usually practice until 10:00 am and then going out to work. Usually I do not really have time for other things. During periods where I’m abroad I have a little more freedom and free time. But that’s the price I choose to pay to compete at these levels. I currently only financially organized for the first half of the season… so I hope to find more help to finance the rest of the season ..
Dan: Do you have a boyfriend?
Noga Korem: Currently no.. it is not easy to find a partner who can get along with this crazy lifestyle.
Dan: Something to add?
Noga Korem: Yes. I have a dream running in my head for several years. to Help the young girl riders to move forward, to reach a high international level. And see many more women at the start gate.
Dan: Noga. We are very proud of you, and can only wish you luck in the upcoming season and beyond.
Those who want to catch up on Instagram of Noga: