Cory Rimmer

Five Things I Learned Racing Enduro

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.

rimmer-2

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.

rimmer-brevard-2

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.

rimmer-1Photo 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.

rimmer-3

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!

rimmer-5

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!

rimmer-4

Final Thoughts:

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.

Kona Super Grassroots Rider Cory Rimmer Wins Brevard Enduro in North Carolina

So this year I have changed my focus a bit, from XC to enduro racing. With limited time to train for longer endurance events and stage races, enduro racing fit perfectly with my schedule. The transition hasn’t been a easy one however, I’ve had to work on my jumping skills and reading the trail at much higher speeds, but mainly I’ve had to work on my mental game the most. If you want to do well at an enduro race you have to be mostly mistake-free, but there is a fine line between going too easy and pushing too hard and crashing. This is a balance I’ve struggled to find until this past weekend in Brevard, North Carolina.

rimmer-brevard-1

The Brevard Enduro put on by 3rd Coast Enduro Series was a race I was really looking forward to. I was familiar with the terrain, but due to the high amount of traffic the trails are getting these days, lines are constantly changing. I had pre-ridden the Thursday before and was feeling good about my riding and line choices. Pre-riding also gave me the chance to dial in my Kona Process 153 DL. Due to the rough tracks and high speeds I had to increase the air pressure in my fork and slow down the high speed rebound on my CaneCreek DoubleBarrel Air shock to control the high speed hits. I also switched out my tires to a Maxxis High Roller II with DH casing in the rear and a Minion DHF WT with DoubleDown casing in the front. I took no chances, as the tracks were 95% downhill and very rocky.

Stage 1 was Black Mtn Trail to the bottom of Avery Creek Trail. Everyone was thinking it was going to be a wild day as it had rained all night and things were a little greasy on the climb up. However to my surprise, once I started the stage the trail was in great shape! The tires were digging in great and really boosted my confidence. With the downhill casing tire on the rear I was able to forgo the traditional line that snaked through the rock gardens and was able to just point and shoot right on through. This made for some wild times, but I was able to hang on all the way to the bottom.

After a long transfer and a bit of hike-a-bike with some incredible views, I arrived at stage 2 known as “Upper Black”. This would be the shortest stage at just over four minutes, but was easily the hardest one. It starts off with some fun singletrack with high-speed corners, and then quickly gets you pointed down with some rough rock chutes. As you descend, you gain a lot of speed as you approach the most challenging part of the track. You enter a series of three to four foot drops with landings which can best be described as rocky ditches. Not much of a line as you send off the drops, I just held on and cashed in my luck that I had been accumulating all my life. After some pucker moments I was spit out to scan my chip and finish the stage.

rimmer-brevard-2

After telling war stories and describing our near misses with the ground, we all made the short transfer to the third and final stage also known as Middle and Lower Black Mtn Trail. This would be the longest stage of the day at just over seven minutes. At the start everyone was still trying to recover from the arm pump of the previous stage. This would play a factor with my run, as I was barely able to hold the bar at some points. While the upper section was mainly blowout rocky trail as it is tight and steep, the bottom section was more groomed and had more pedal sections. The bottom section also had some smaller jumps that became much more difficult because at that point I was just a blown up blob on a bike trying to make it to the end. Barely able to hang on I had made it to the final scanner and rolled back to the start/finish area.

I had to leave for a collegiate race nearby before awards started and this meant I left before I knew how I had finished. I found out from a friend the next day that I had won the race overall! I was blown away and extremely stoked for my first ever enduro win. The tracks were some of the best all year and the talent ran deep in the pro field, so getting a win here was awesome and a big confidence booster! With two races left in the series, I’m sitting 3rd overall, so now with a win under my belt I will be looking to finish the year out strong!