I competed in my first Enduro mountain bike race and I can see why this type of competition/race is growing in popularity. My twitter-esque review of the Enduro format: grab any bike you have, bust your gut on a closed course with lung-searing downhill segments, and compare notes with new/old friends as you leisurely ride back up to to do it all over.
As cross-country race season quickly approaches (March 1st = US Cup starts), I’m beginning to target specific things in my training. High intensity efforts are being added in as well as more practice on bike handling skills. This weekend, I had the option of competing in the 50 mile marathon race held at Vail Lake or the Enduro. I can continue to practice my endurance riding on my own, but it’s hard to really practice race-pace efforts, especially on downhills in southern CA since our trails are well-used. So I grabbed our team’s Trek Superfly 9.8 full suspension bike (all 100mm worth), threw on some 2.4 aggresive tires, and made my way down to Vail Lake on Saturday.
Jason Ranoa, of Socal Endurance has partnered with Team Big Bear, to offer Enduros throughout the state and since they were trying out some new timing chips, they extended this enduro format to 5 runs. An extended enduro…. right up this XC racer’s alley!
We all made our way up the long fireroad (ambulance) and it was the first time I’ve ever climbed it with a heart rate below 160! The leisurely pace was welcome as were the conversations I had throughout the day with riders who were either comparing their previous run or sharing their knowledge of the next run. I appreciated the heads up because the first 3 runs were on trails I had never seen before! Nothing like racing blind…. but it goes to help my downhill skills and reactions.
Enduro #1 was the only one where riders started by category. Prior to signing up I asked Jason which category I should sign up in and he recommended Master’s 30-39 since I hadn’t done an Enduro before. There ended up being 4 of us in this category. Expert had 7. So I started the 1st run after the sport group, and as you’ll see, I had to make a couple passes on this run, even having to go through a bush to do so!
Enduro #2: Oops. I had the GoPro on camera mode. That or I rattled so hard down the top technical section (most technical of the 5), it destroyed the video?
Enduro #3 was fast up top with a tricky rutted out section I had to jump over after starting the segment on the wrong side. This run, of the 5, dropped the most vertical feet in the shortest distance, I think. It then dumped into a fireroad that was super fast (read anaerobic fast) and had several sick jumps and doubles that you could catch some good air on. I’d love to come back and do these again.
Enduro #4 features trails I have ridden before: tarantula and tunnel of love. The 12 Hours races always has the Tunnel of Love in it because it defines flow. My fastest times ever on these were achieved.
Enduro #5 found us on the ridgelines that the XC series uses so I knew these as well. Jason was all telling us that there was a long flat fireroad finish so prepare to be out of breath at the end (and it did!). I did lose concentration at one point and had to get off the bike to correct my line – I thought I had seen a huge lizard…. but it was only a big twig. I guess I was getting tired!?!
In the end, I finished 1st in my category, and what I’m most satisfied with is placing 5th overall (I would have finished 3rd in either pro or expert). I’ll sign up for expert going forward. All-in-all, a great training/fun day and I’m looking forward to competing in another enduro!