Training For My First Enduro

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Training For My First Enduro
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Posted: Jul 17, 2016 at 19:55 Quote
I have decided that I'd like to give enduro and dh mtb racing a try next season, and with that I'm starting to think about what equipment and training I'll need to start getting/doing. I'm fairly set on bike, gear, etc, but I was wondering if anybody could give me some help with training, especially seeing as I don't live near enough to the mountains where the races are on to make it worth training there regularly. What's the best way to get the on-the-bike confidence and skills I need without regularly riding the same types of trails I'll be racing on?

Posted: Jul 23, 2016 at 18:46 Quote
Bumping for feedback...

In the same boat as the OP.

Mod Plus
Posted: Jul 25, 2016 at 10:51 Quote
Even if you don't have gnarly trails out your back door there are a few steps you can take to help those first races go as smoothly as possible. The first is to make sure that your base fitness is up to par. Although the actual time spent on the clock at an enduro race isn't that long, the practicing and the transfers between stages can take a toll, and it's hard to be full of confidence when you're so tired you can barely hang onto your grips. Those base miles don't need to be on super-crazy terrain either - in fact, it's probably better if they come from XC or road riding, the type of riding where you can build your lungs and legs without as much risk of injury.

Once those base miles are under your belt you'll be in an even better position to start working on building your skills in more challenging terrain. You'll also want to add in interval training to start developing the power needed out on the race course. But back to the skills training: Think about what area you feel needs the most improvement. Is it cornering? Find an awkward corner and practice riding through it multiple times until you feel like you have it dialed. See what happens when you go approach it from different angles - coming in high and exiting low, or sneaking through on an inside line. You'll start to feel faster, and over time the secrets to maintaining speed will start to unveil themselves. Having someone take a video of you can help too - that way you can see what you actually look like and assess what needs work (spoiler: you probably don't resemble Richie Rude as much as you think). The same goes for improving your jumping or other technical riding skills - start small, and gradually work your way into more difficult features.

Of course, attending a skills clinic or hiring a coach are great ways for riders of all abilities to become even more proficient, and if that's in your budget I'd highly recommend it. As you test the waters of racing you'll be exposed to a wide variety of terrain, and this, more than anything will help to build your confidence. If you can, get to the venue a couple days early and explore the local terrain to get a feel for what to expect. It takes time, and plenty of practice, but eventually you'll be able to drop into a section of trail you've never ridden before and feel fairly confident that you can tackle just about anything that might arise. Good luck, and above all, remember to have fun.

Posted: Jul 25, 2016 at 13:55 Quote
@mikekazimer
Thanks so much for the very thorough response!

Posted: Jul 25, 2016 at 14:04 Quote
mikekazimer wrote:
Even if you don't have gnarly trails out your back door there are a few steps you can take to help those first races go as smoothly as possible. The first is to make sure that your base fitness is up to par. Although the actual time spent on the clock at an enduro race isn't that long, the practicing and the transfers between stages can take a toll, and it's hard to be full of confidence when you're so tired you can barely hang onto your grips. Those base miles don't need to be on super-crazy terrain either - in fact, it's probably better if they come from XC or road riding, the type of riding where you can build your lungs and legs without as much risk of injury.

Once those base miles are under your belt you'll be in an even better position to start working on building your skills in more challenging terrain. You'll also want to add in interval training to start developing the power needed out on the race course. But back to the skills training: Think about what area you feel needs the most improvement. Is it cornering? Find an awkward corner and practice riding through it multiple times until you feel like you have it dialed. See what happens when you go approach it from different angles - coming in high and exiting low, or sneaking through on an inside line. You'll start to feel faster, and over time the secrets to maintaining speed will start to unveil themselves. Having someone take a video of you can help too - that way you can see what you actually look like and assess what needs work (spoiler: you probably don't resemble Richie Rude as much as you think). The same goes for improving your jumping or other technical riding skills - start small, and gradually work your way into more difficult features.

Of course, attending a skills clinic or hiring a coach are great ways for riders of all abilities to become even more proficient, and if that's in your budget I'd highly recommend it. As you test the waters of racing you'll be exposed to a wide variety of terrain, and this, more than anything will help to build your confidence. If you can, get to the venue a couple days early and explore the local terrain to get a feel for what to expect. It takes time, and plenty of practice, but eventually you'll be able to drop into a section of trail you've never ridden before and feel fairly confident that you can tackle just about anything that might arise. Good luck, and above all, remember to have fun.

Thanks for your help!

Posted: Jul 25, 2016 at 15:21 Quote
As someone who has raced a few enduros a year over the last few years I can agree with what Mike said above. I will add the biggest things that helped me improve my racing over the years:

1) Fitness

Fitness will likely take you farther than any other aspect of your training (unless you are already a hammerhead roadie with lungs and meat pistons worthy of the UCI circuit). I always thought I was pretty quick. In my hometown of Revelstoke BC, which has some of the best trails in the country, I rarely ever rode full descents top to bottom, because it always seemed like a waste of 30 mins of climbing. And if I did ever clean entire descents, they were usually 1-2 minute segments of trail, after which I would stop and wait for my buddies to catch up.

Fast forward to my first enduro race. The qualifier was a single segment 7 minute descent, with a 30 second climb 70% of the way down. That had me dropping gears and nearly passing out with another 2 minutes of racing before the segment was over. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Learn to conserve energy wherever possible, and sweat more in training. Some segments are long, some segments are short. Learn to pace yourself accordingly, and have the legs to do so.

This brings me to my second point.

2) Smooth = consistent = fast, especially when you don't know the tracks like the back of your hand.

If you frequently Strava or DH race you may have already learned this, but for many people full throttle sprinting is not the fastest way down the trail. Learn to remain calm and collected through any section of trail, whether you are familiar with it or not. Find tranny wherever you can, pump the bumps, pay attention to what gear you are in, and try and float over the rough. I have seen too many people think they need to sprint right out of the gate like a bat outta hell only to bail or make a crucial error before reaching the bottom of the track. Additionally, lowering your chances of falling lowers your chances of getting hurt or beating up your bike, which increases your chances of success. The more zen mode you are, likely the faster you are. Just look at photos or vids of world cup athletes in the start gate for proof.

3) Pre-ride whenever possible, especially if you have local homies.

Track beta is key. Not every course is well marked out and knowing whether to go left or right into a rock garden can save you from losing that zen mode, or flatting, or ripping your derailleur off, etc. It pays to know the little hops over stumps, when you want to pedal, and when to avoid braking even though you really really think you should slow down. This lets you take calculated risks you likely wouldn't take had you never seen the track before, and more importantly keeps your mind grounded when your tires aint.

Hopefully my failures over the last 2 years can aid your successes! Good luck and have fun!

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