Posted on August 07 2015
The sport of mountain biking has many diciplines, but most recently, trail bike racing, aka Enduro, has become all the craze. I am in New Zealand at the moment for Crankworx racing several events, and while out training I have also been learning all about race tactics and set up tips from the world's best Enduro racers here at round 1 of the Enduro World Series.
These guys are fit, really fit. They have spent a lot of long hours on the bike getting the arobic fitness, studying their power output, measuring heart rates, getong their gear ratios solid, testing tires, mixing recovery drinks, figuring out nutrition needs, plus doing an insane amount of interval work to be strong on the pedals while descending. Holding power for longer periods of time under pedaling with efficiently is really key. Downhill racing is an all out effort for sub 5 min, while Enduro is still all you got, but with a pace that you can hold for much longer with stages ranging from 3 min to 20 min. Really physical downhills with a lot of pinch climbs which takes it out of you. There is everything in these races, drops, jumps, corners , steep, roots, flat pedals sections,weather changes, plus 400 riders rallying the same trail. Line choice doesn't seem as precise as downhill, but it's better to be smooth and get the pedals in where it counts. Brake when needed, but don't wast energy.
Equipment is really important too as you have to be self supported for like 7 hours with the same bike and wheels. I think there are like 2 water stations or something, but eating and carrying enough food to be eating every hour or half hour is tough. Stuff breaks on bikes too, so having a tube, tool, chain pin, hangar, co2, cable, etc.
I also noticed that some riders come weeks in advanced and ride every trail in the town, which is really unfair for some people, but smart if you have a life that affords the extra time. Local knowledge is worth quite a bit. The French riders are known for finding every angle and line that is within the "tape" too, which makes this dicipline a little tricky to monitor advantage. Saw quite a few sniper lines which were not inline with the spirit of Enduro, but money and fame are on the line. People in this sport are trying to break through to get better support or whatever. Either way, racing the good downhilling bits of the trails with a lot of talented riders and having 6-7 chances to race is pretty cool.
Having a pack small and with a low center of gravity seems ideal. Too big, and you are carrying high center of gravity. Plus the other things I learned, which seems obvious, is adjusting suspension for the extra weight. As you drink and eat more that balance can change, so keep notice of that. Maybe slowing down the rebound in the rear shock as you get lighter . You are not allowed to stash anything in the forest, so carrying it in and out is a big rule.
Other than that, there is a really friendly vibe to these types of racing. You experience so much in a week, and the locations are big mountain places with some incredible scenery. Hard days, but triumphant experience.
Shoes of choice: kestrel or the impact clipless. Kestrel has really good contact with the pedal platform, while the impact has a little bit of float and give and is a bit looser of a shoe that will fit orthotics . Both are really good choices for Enduro:) good luck!! Hope this helped prepare you for a solid race!!