Things I Wish I’d Known Before My First Season Racing Enduro
Words by Cory Rimmer.
Along with the leaves, the temperatures have finally dropped and that marks the end of a long mountain bike season for me. This year has been one for the books no doubt! With my new daddy duties and entering my final year of college, I haven’t been able to train as much as I wanted to. When you get to a certain level of fitness, it’s hard to go into a race knowing you are not where you should be, especially as an endurance mountain bike racer. So I looked for a discipline I could better focus on with my limited training time – in came enduro! The transition did not come as easy as I had hoped. I wished I had known what I know now, so if you are looking to get into enduro racing here are a few tips that hopefully will help sharpen your learning curve.
Tip Number One: Always have fun!
I went into my first enduro race having no idea what I was doing and I was okay with that. I was using this race to learn the ropes and didn’t really have expectations. No expectations equals no pressure. This paid off as I finished much better than I thought I would have, a solid fourth! It wasn’t until the next race that I would learn tip number one. With the next course having longer pedal sections and the confidence of doing well at the first round, I had built up my expectations and pressure to do well. This would come to bite me as I as gave it too much on a pedal section and crashed. The worst part, it cost me the win as I had lost by four seconds and ended the day third overall. Lesson learned, always have fun.
Tip Number Two: Enduro pedaling is not endurance pedaling!
Every course this year that was considered “pedally”, everyone told me that I was going to do well because of my endurance racing background, but really I dreaded those sections. See, when you’re doing fifty-mile races, it’s very rare that you will crack a thousand watts more than a handful of times, if at all. In a short enduro stage you’re often hitting eight hundred to a thousand watts. This is extremely hard for me. I have never been an explosive rider thanks to not having much fast-twitch muscles. This was an area in my training that I overlooked and now you don’t have to! There are plenty of sprint and Vo2 max workouts online for you to check out and I recommend you incorporating one or two into your weekly program.
Photo by GoJamMedia.
Tip Number Three: If you can pre-ride all the stages, do it!
Every race during my pre-ride I would have someone tell me, “you don’t need to pre-ride that stage, it’s pretty straight forward.” As nice as it is to save the legs a bit for the next day, pre-riding will save you more time in your race run. Some read the trail differently than others, so what could be an obvious line to them, you would completely miss if you didn’t pre-ride. So ride all the stages if it’s reasonable and don’t be afraid to try a section again to dial it in, don’t wait for your race run to do it. If you can’t clean the “A” line, perfect the “B” line.
Tip Number Four: Master your weakness!
I have always taken pride in being a well rounded rider, but there were some areas I needed to work on to improve my enduro racing. Coming from an endurance background, any type of trail feature that involved my tires leaving the ground was not my strong point. Steep, rocky or technical trails were not a problem for me; however bigger features I had to take a second look at, especially dirt jump style gaps. A lot of enduro courses will have these types of features, so I went out and practiced the local jump trails and slowly moved up to the expert level trail. By half way through the summer I was able to clear everything with ease and transfer that new skill to racing. The point I’m trying to make is take a look at what your weakness is and practice. It will not only help your enduro racing, but it will help your riding overall!
Tip Number Five: Ride the hardest trails you can find.
I have always enjoyed trying to clean hard and technical trails, so this is a fun one for me. Go out and find the hardest trail you can, something that really scares the crap out of you. Once you have found a hard trail, master it! The benefit of doing this is hopefully once you show up to the race; there won’t be anything on the course that you can’t handle. A lot of racers get psyched out when they see an intimidating section. So having built up that confidence can really help when the going gets tough. However, once you master the hard stuff, look for something even harder. Never stop pushing your limit and raising the bar!
So next year if you are thinking of giving enduro racing a crack, I hope these tips give you a bit of guidance and if you take one thing away from this I hope it is tip number one: Always have fun! There is a certain vibe that I have only found at enduro events and if you get caught up in trying to do well or clear that obstacle, you are going to miss it. So chill out, ride with your friends and enjoy being on your bike!
Cory is part of Kona’s Super Grassroots team. Follow him on Instagram here.