Enduro — or as I like to call it, Enduro™ — is the new race format sweeping the mountain bike scene. Or is it a rehash of the leftover Super D someone forgot in the fridge way too long ago?
Is it the lifestyle racing that mountain bikers can easily grasp as the closest thing to what they were already doing, or just an attempt by “the industry” to market a new line of bikes, accessories, and anything colored POC Approved Blue? I’ve taken my share of cynical jabs ever since it became a “thing.” I actually participated in the Pisgah Enduro (no ™) this past June, risking my partially open mind in a very non-Enduro™ specific helmet. Like it, hate it, or having feelings closer to indifference, Enduro™ is here and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Take away all that comes with Enduro™… the clothes, helmets, goggles, saddles, grips, hydration packs, bikes, pedals, shoes, and whatever else can be marketed and sold as Enduro™ specific. What you are left with is a somewhat new format of racing.
Riders are individually timed on mostly downhill oriented sections of trail by all manner of timing chips, mats, stopwatches, fingers and toes. Each race has multiple but different runs that are combined for a total to determine results. Events can be run in a matter of hours or span several days, sort of like an endurance stage race, but with hairy legs, goggles, and knee pads. Since most of the timed sections are on descents, racers will either have to use shuttles, ski lifts or pedal power in order to get from one timed to section to another.
Last year, The Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic neatly dovetailed an Enduro™ race into their standard format stage race. Riders could choose to keep the hammer down all day long, or they could lollygag up the climbs to the timed sections, get their pads and goggles in place, and ride ripshit all the way to the bottom.
Of course, some riders went at the general classification just as hard as they chased the Enduro™ titles all week long… there’s always going to be overachievers in this world. Considering the roughness of the terrain in State College, the rigidity of my carbon fork, and my general status as an underachiever, I did not participate in any of the Enduro™ madness last year.
Except for that one day.
Last year, one of the stages was nothing but Enduro™. It was a day that started with much leisure and joking around in the parking lot and then a conversational climb up to points much higher in the Rothrock State Forest.
A little bit of nervous standing in line and waiting for my crack at the Green Shoot Trail was followed by a heart thumping, eye tearing, forearm punishing descent — and then *beep* — I was on to the next section. The rest of the day would follow the same theme, casual riding followed by an intense few minutes of trying to come to terms with gravity being friend or foe. I have to admit: It was awesome.
So this year, there will once again be a stage of nothing but Enduro™. If it’s as good as last year, my favorite stage ever (Tussey Mountain) might get taken down a spot. Despite my technological descending disadvantage, I might even forgo my underachiever status and swipe my timing chip all week long.
That’s definitely going in the “maybe” column since I already have enough trouble remembering to punch the clock when I get to work every day.