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The beginners guide to Enduro Racing #1 – Basic questions

Beginning something new can be hard – the first steps into the great world of enduro racing are no exception. That’s why we created this beginners guide to enduro racing. You may have many questions like ‘what are the requirements for a race’? ‘Am I fit enough to survive a race-packed weekend’? In this new series we’ll provide you with the answers to these – and many more – questions, getting you ready for an awesome season!

Idyllische Landschaft bei Enduro Rennen - keine Seltenheit!

Great landscapes are no exception at enduro races

What, if anything, is an enduro race?

While the exact schedule of a race varies from event to event, there is a basic format that almost all races stick to. A typical race consists of a number of timed stages, connected with untimed transfer stages to form a circuit from the start to finish. The transfers can (and should!) be done together with your mates, and without the pressure of a clock ticking you can just have a good time on your bike! On the timed stages though, every second counts: The riders start separately (usually with a 30 seconds gap) and try to reach the finish line faster than the competitors. At the end of the day, the times of all timed stages are added up, and the fastest total time wins.

Fitness Level – have I trained enough?

Physical demands vary from race to race, and from series to series. Usually, you can find information (e.g. meters of altitude needed to be climbed, track length, number of stages) on the website of the race – this should provide you with a rough idea what to expect. Most of the race-rounds have 30 kilometers and about 1000 meters of climbing, and take around 3 hours to complete a circuit. It’s a bit like a big Sunday ride with your mates, with some competition thrown in. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it, but you do not have to be an elite racer!

Many races have an extra day for practice scheduled, where you can (and should!) practice the stages – so keep in mind, that you have to ride the course two times on a single weekend!

Watch out: Some races limit the time for the transfer stages (e.g. Superenduro, Bluegrass Enduro Tour) – thus increasing the physical demands! So if you’re not sure about your fitness, try and start on a race that offers unlimited transfer times.

Gemeinsamer Aufstieg auf einer Transferetappe - auch hier besteht Helmpflicht. Harte Socken strampeln auch hier mit Fullface!

Transfering from stage to stage with your mates and other riders can be big fun!

What technical skills do I need?

Most of the races in Europe take place on natural trails without any built jumps or berms. Tracks are designed in a way that everyone can enjoy them, but only good riders are able to go really fast. Usually there’s an easy “chicken line” around difficult passages like drops. If you need them, use them, even the fastest rider was a beginner once! But always keep an eye out for faster riders who need to overtake and let them past when it is safe.

As one day usually isn’t enough to memorize all the timed stages, the ability, to quickly scan unknown trails for the best line is very important too – this is especially true for races without practice.

Focus Trail Team Fahrer Fabian Scholz auf dem technisch anspruchsvollen Kurs der Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series in Riva.

Focus Trail Team rider Fabian Scholz racing in an technical section at the Specialized-SRAM Series in Riva 2013.

What kind of bike do I need?

This can depend upon the event, but generally the bike best suited for most of the races are those with 140 to 170 millimeters of travel. Depending on your technical skills and personal preferences, you may want to go for a bike with less travel too. Just as important as the amount of travel is the geometry of your bike – it should provide a good balance between uphill & downhill performance. Pure-bred downhill bikes won’t offer any advantage on most of the trails, as even pedaling them to the start is a pain. If you’re looking for an affordable race-ready enduro bike, check ENDURO issue #009 for a good overview!

Registration

The last point for part #1 of our guide is registration for the events. Usually, the online registration opens a few weeks before the race. So you should keep an eye on the website of the race – it is always first come, first served, and the spots are limited!

Some events, especially in France and Italy, require a UCI licence from all participants. You can get one from your national cycling union or you purchase an one-day licence directly at the race.

The next part of the race guide will be all about the different race formats – stay tuned!

Words: Julian Meyer / Aaron Steinke Photos: Christoph Bayer

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