1 Question - What Would You Like to See as the Future of Practice for Enduro Racing?

Sep 24, 2015
by Matt Wragg  
Ever since the birth of what we recognise as the modern discipline of enduro back in 2003, practice is a topic that has continually come to the surface. With the arrival of the EWS pushing the sport onto the international stage in recent years it is one that has come even more sharply to the fore. With an ever-increasing level of professionalism and pressure for riders to perform, the topic of practice and trying to create a level playing field for racing becomes more and more complicated, with factors such as sportsmanship, economics, insurance and accessibility to amateurs all needing to be taken into consideration. There is a fine balance that needs to be found, one that keeps the sport firmly in touch with its rider-focused roots yet meets the increasing demands of a high-level international racing format.

We ask nine of the most influential people in the sport what sort of balance they would like to see.

1 Question

Jerome Clementz - Enduro World Champion, 2013
In his own words, "a little guy who likes to ride bikes." Jerome Clementz is quite simply Mr Enduro, maybe the best-recognised enduro racer on the planet. Along with Remy Absalon and Rene Wildhaber, he was one of the first riders to concentrate on the discipline full-time, well-before the arrival of the EWS. With the 2013 EWS series title and multiple Megavalanche and Trans-Provence wins, he is also one of the most decorated riders in the sport.

bigquotesI don't think that we can find an answer that will suit everybody. Personally I chose Enduro because I like to ride new and different trails. I like to visit most of the singletrack a place can offer. My passion for MTB is not about doing the same trail 20 times to ride it perfectly and as fast as possible but more to ride something for the first time and making the most of it. I love to try to read the terrain and adapt my riding on the moment. Adventure and discovery are keys point for me. The feeling of hitting a section pinned on the first try is the most exciting thing on a MTB in my point of view. What motivated me to ride is to go and find new trails around the world, see some amazing place, meet people and riding something different as much as possible. Racing at the highest level is what allows me to travel, visit the world and realize my dreams.

Regarding racing and EWS, it's a pipe dream to pretend that blind racing is an option. First the locals will have a big advantage and then you can't forbid people to ride open trail all year long just because a race is coming. So I definitely think that a limited amount of practice is the right way to do it. Now the problem is that with more demands on the riders (sponsors, fame, money, visibility, title...) everybody is trying to get advantage of the schedule and the rules. Nothing illegal as I don't believe racers are cheaters, they just maximize their chance regarding what the rules offer. The definition of Enduro is different depending from where you're coming from (DH/XC/Trail riding, North America, Europe,NZ,racing, adventure,pro,amateurs...) and between riders we have a lots of differents visions on what Enduro should be. My main concern with practice actually is not about how much you should get, but more how to keep the race fair for everybody. It should be clear and should respect a certain vision of equity between all the participants.

Personally I'm not interested in doing 8 races a year and spending my time between ,scouting the area of the next race to get advantage on the others, making sure I know perfectly all the trails of the area before the official practice start. This is not what motivates me to race, and to do my best I need to enjoy what I'm doing. I think personally that if we tend to this direction it will also remove the attention of a lot of people on the discipline as we will not be connected anymore on what most of the people are doing and this is one of the main reason of the actual success of enduro. What I would like to see, and I don't say that this is doable, is that the EWS rider arrives on the venue the day before the official practice start and race on the same line. So for this I like an option like announcing the trail 2 months in advance, you can leave them open for the local rider and tourist but the top rider (Top 30-50) should not be able to ride them, then you open the practice for 1-2 days or a week, so all the rider can do the same amount of run (no shuttle outside paved road off course). The rules will not be enough, as you can't control a trail for 2 months and this will engage the loyalty of the rider to respect this agreement set in the rule (You don't respect it, you get caught, you're officially a cheater, disqualified from the EWS).

Walking the course should be forbidden as we are rider not hiker and nobody like to walk down a sick trail anyway... In my opinion this will leave the opportunity to the riders to do more race and event for their partners, give a better vibes at the race and maintain the connection with the average rider. And if you come to a place before to ride, you can ride trails that are not in the race and enjoy your travel to discover something that you'll not race on. It's not the perfect solution as it leaves a grey area for cheaters, but this also mean that it's not only EMBA or the organiser that are involved by setting more rules. It also the time the rider take their responsibilities to protect their discipline and give it a chance to move forward. We spoke a lot about "the enduro spirit" and if we don't find a system that is the same for everybody that will mean we lost our mission to protect this "spirit"

Once again I don't say this is the only option we have, this is the way I would like to see the sport going, but I also accept that people may have a different vision. This is how I can see myself staying involved in racing at high level and enjoying doing it. If the sport is going in a different direction, I'll not blame anyone, but I may choose to step back from this kind of racing. Fun and pleasure is what always motivate me to give my best and ride my bike, so if I don't find myself into the sport, I'll not mind giving up EWS to keep riding my bike and enjoying it. Enduro is just a racing format of MTB, which can bring a lot of satisfaction and accomplishment but for me there is plenty of other ways to be happy on my bike.

Darren Kinnaird - General Manager, Crankworx
Kinnaird, a Whistler local himself, is the main man behind Crankworx, arguably the most important event each year for many competitors and fans alike. He's been instrumental in what has become the highest payout in all of downhill racing, with equal purses for both male and female racers, and is now heading up the three-stop Crankworx World Tour. He is also one of four board members of the Enduro Mountain Bike Association whose aim is to ''establish, develop and spearhead enduro mountain bike racing worldwide,'' and holds a place on the EMBA board.

bigquotesI don't think you are ever going to have consistency across events and that's perfectly fine. That's what has been so great about the Enduro World Series - it's a variety of different venues, formats, cultures held together with just enough common rules to make it the sport of Enduro Mountain Biking. Practice doesn't need consistency; it needs to be equal. It has to be a fair playing field for the professional riders in the race and it needs to be a fair playing field for those amateurs looking to compete. It's important to recognize the differences between pro-riders and amateurs, and that the race for these two groups isn't equal. Pro riders have coaching and managers and do this for a living. Amateurs are looking to come enjoy themselves and challenge themselves for a weekend. For me, it's as simple as providing equal opportunity to inspect, train and explore the tracks for all pro athletes. And subsequently, an equal opportunity should be made available to do the same for all of the amateur athletes. It's super important that the organizers are communicating the practice plans to the EWS and the teams/athletes, so everyone can be prepared.

Jared Graves - Enduro World Champion, 2014
The man, the machine, Jared Graves is quite simply one of the most talented all-round riders and dedicated athletes ever to compete on a mountain bike. The 2014 EWS world champion, he also is 4X World Champion, an Olympian in BMX and piloted a trail bike to a bronze medal in the DH world champs a couple of years ago. He has been there done that and even though his career is well into its second decade if anything he seems to be getting faster rather than slowing down.

bigquotesA few of us riders talked about this in Samoens. At least for the top pros, I really like the idea of the race venues being off limits for the top riders for a month before the race, in that time the race promoters can go in and cut their fresh trails that usually get built specifically for the upcoming race. I'm not saying the venue should be off limits to all racers...just the top guys, and if they are seen practicing then you are DSQ from the race. The risk far outweighs the reward, and no top rider would go anywhere near the venue. That gets tricky though when some people live where the races are happening, it would be unfair to make them not ride, or have to travel somewhere else just to ride, so that's a tough one, maybe some exceptions need to be made for certain venues, and a well thought out specific practice schedule be made to make it as fair as possible for everyone. I think a huge thing that almost everyone overlooks is the style of trail that is used. when things are tight and technical with multiple lines, then that's awesome, but it provides a HUGE advantage to someone who has spent more time on the trails, and knows the lines, and that's when things really get unfair. When you are able to see a few corners ahead it creates two things, confidence to ride fast on a trail you have never ridden, and it makes the trail safe to be raced on when you don't know it. Sometimes (like in Samoens in my opinion) had too many sections that had blind drop ins/roll overs/corners/gaps that provided an advantage for anyone who rode the trails in the weeks before.

I very strongly believe also that bike park trails should be used, as Enduro is meant to test the best all round rider, and bike parks are a huge part of Mountain Biking these days, and some guys that are awesome on natural trails, really struggle on fast flowy trails, and vice versa. If bikepark trails are used then we need an allocated practice day so everyone can get a couple runs in . And honestly, if you can't be up to speed on a bike park trail (they are usually quite basic and less technical) in 2 runs, then you aren't going to be at the pointy end at the end of the weekend anyway. I'll finish by saying that the whole debate that is currently going on is a bit overblown too. Here in Crested Butte for example, if you are serious about racing especially at EWS level (I only say this from a pro rider point of view, I understand it's not an option for many amateurs) then you would have made plans to get up to the altitude and get a feel for the terrain by now. If you aren't here now, then that's just bad planning and preparation on your behalf. If you were in Crested Butte right now you would understand how expansive and spread out the trail system is. If you happen to have gone out and ridden trails that they use for the race, then that's plain luck!

Tracy Moseley - Enduro World Champion, 2013 & 2014
When they come to write the story of women's mountain bike racing, Tracy Moseley will undoubtedly be listed as one of the greats. Through her downhill career she won multiple World Cup titles and was crowned World Champion in 2010. Yet in her downhill career she came second to Anne-Caroline Chausson more times than she would care to remember, yet with her move to enduro in 2013 she turned the tables and has dominated her long-time rival, taking the title in 2013 and 2014, and looks set to complete a hat-trick of titles this year.

bigquotesThat is not an easy question to answer as I have spent a lot of time over the last three years thinking about this and talking to people about it and I still don't know the answer. I know for me coming from a background of racing World Cup Downhill for 15 years, enduro appealed to me because it was different, it was the raw, unrehearsed version of mountain bike racing. There were no multiple practice laps and we were racing on a much wider array of trails in every area and not just one DH track, or one XC lap.

I don't want to race multiple DH stages having shuttled to practice them as much as possible before race day and call that enduro racing. That's not what I think enduro racing should be about. I want an adventure, a test of physical and technical ability and a journey into nature and to share all that with a great group of people. As soon as the Enduro World Series began, right from the outset I was so overwhelmed with the efforts people had gone to practice the stages before the race! I arrived in Punta Ala, in a beautiful region of Italy, enjoying the mellow climbs up to the stages to pre-ride them just the once most likely, and found myself getting dusted out by shuttle vehicles driving like mad men getting riders to the stages to practice each stage multiple times... what was going on? Later that year I found myself riding around all the stages in Finale, the only person to not be shuttling. I still just did not get it. I don't think we should be hammering around the lovely places we visit in vans when we are there for a bike race. Where is the green, eco angle on that one?

Sadly since then I have found myself having to join in the madness if I want to be able to be competitive and to be able to race against people who haven't been pedalling around to practice! It's a big deal to win an EWS race and sponsorship and industry interest has pushed the riders to be taking all the opportunities they can to get an advantage. I'd love to see a rule where there is no shuttling allowed at anytime at an event, other than when we are somewhere with a gondola. It would reduce the environmental impact on the places we visit, it would make it a level playing field for everyone whether pro or amateur as you don't need access to a vehicle and driver, and it would bring back the social element of these races as everyone rides around the race loop and has a chat with each other. It would also reduce the impact to the trail in terms of erosion and overuse and we would leave the areas we go to in a better condition and without the need for loads of trail maintenance once we have gone. In order for that to happen people need to display sportsmanship and honesty and have a sense of fair play, as often it's impossible to marshal all of these things.

To further answer the question surrounding practice leading up to an event, this has got crazy. People are arriving earlier and earlier at each race to try and get some sneaky practice in! It is making it so expensive for teams to be at each race for weeks before and once again it becomes out of reach of any non-pro rider. Can we not have the race stages announced one month before the race and then from that day onwards no one is allowed on those trails. You could still go an get a feel for an area if you need to, but the stages are out of bounds. Again this requires honesty and for every rider to buy into the rules and play by those rules... I think I may be wanting a dream world, but I really hope in time all of this will find its way and we will have a fair, fun and testing adventure known as enduro racing.

Fred Glo - The Godfather of Enduro
Every movement has its point of genesis. For enduro that point is Val D'Allos in 2003. That was when Fred Glo organised the inaugural Tribe 10,000, the very first real enduro race. While there arguments about the word being thrown about right back to the dawn of mountain biking, and there is no question that similar formats have come and gone over the years, that point in 2003 is when a mass of ideas coalesced into something tangible and it is from that point what we recognise as the modern format of enduro developed. Today he still runs the French Enduro Series and is an EMBA board member.

bigquotesWe need practice for equity, no question. We must forget our dream of racing blind as we have just one planet and not another one with virgin tracks and venues. To race blind, wow, I love it, I love the idea, I have been a big fan since the beginning. But it cannot feed our need for the EWS level - there are no venues for it. There are always local riders or racers who have competed there for years at national level. It is totally impossible to open four or five new tracks or stages just for one race. So for the equity we need practice, also for safety. All the big crashes we have had are during practice runs, it may sound strange but that is the case. Imagine if they were on a blind racing run... carnage. Our goal in France is to try to find the right balance. Too much practice and you kill the fun, you kill the bodies of the riders and so the spirit of this sport. We allow only one practice run and it is enough to learn the stage in my opinion. Guys like Greg Minnaar getting 3th in 2013 at Val d'Allos and Richie Rude winning in Samoens proved this. From what I know they had never ridden those place before, so it's working.

Then to be pragmatic, don't ask the pros not come two or three weeks before or six months earlier to ride in the Whistler or Samoens bike park. In France for the french round we just close the bikepark to racers for one week when we are building the stages. So it probably is a plus to come before, but not enough to win a race. We cannot close any bike park or area for one month just because we're going to organize an EWS! The track builder must be innovative if he wants to use well-known trails, this is what we do with Alex Balaud and sometimes the guys who know the trail are in trouble because we change many things! Anyway, the other pros will not have reason to complain in this case, you can do the job or not it's your choice, but don't speak about fair play in this case. For amateurs to ride at an EWS-level race and expect some good results it will be a big investment of time and money. If you're not ready for that you can ride at a national level or be happy enough to share a racing EWS day or weekend with the best riders of the planet on crazy trails. I think you cannot complain that rules are made for the pros only in this case, it's part of the game at this level. So as a conclusion, I think that it's not so difficult to all agree on practice rules, if we're looking at the complete workbook and to the benefit of everybody and not our each particular case. Those who say "you just have to..." are wrong ."

Mark Weir - American Badass
Mark Weir has been there and done that. As one of the first Americans to make a living riding "all-mountain", he holds the honour of being the first American ever to race an enduro - he was the first rider to head over to France and race the emerging discipline back in the mid-2000s. From that moment on he fell in love with the discipline and while he spends most of his time working and raising his family these days, he's still one of the fastest enduro racers on the North American continent when he isn't busy surviving fires and falling trees that would have broken lesser men.

bigquotesA clear answer to this question only creates more. How do you cage a style of racing that was born from freedom and non-conformity? Back when Fred Glo introduced this style of riding to me I never felt such a strong bond with fellow competitors. With no track practice or prior knowledge of these tracks the only comfort was knowing you were not alone. This was a feeling that in my opinion would not last, mostly because of numbers and the underlining want to win. Back then the problem still existed. Riders were coming to race venues weeks before riding every track these venues had just to be more at home with unfamiliar terrain. I think now it's called vacation practice and done months before instead of weeks.

To think why I loved this style of mountain biking, after all that's all it really is. You could work all week spend time at home with family or what have you. Then get in your car and drive Friday afternoon and race knowing it's a fair fight. Of course you will always have the local contingent, but this is unavoidable. The perfect fix is private land with no access until race day and taped tracks never touched by tires. This is my favorite style. This is Fred's vision and I find the most fun.

Another option is the Italian style like Enrico Guala does. Epic loops with segments that are raced. This could be done more easily by just not exposing the loop till race day. No reason to go when you don't have a clue where to. This could work in the States, there would be common trails but at least they would not take the abuse from tape raping. Then I think the last way that could work but never will... A class judged by its peers. The on-sight class. To prove you have not been there in a year is something of course that would cause controversy, which at times can be fun in its own right. The class would have a hefty prize/cash pay out and be looked as the purest class. If you have been there within a year you're out. If you live there you're out. It's the working class hero that needs this. Hell, they have classes for everything over-weight class, even a legend class for Christ's sake. What's the difference? Judged by fellow racers means you better be honest, cause if you do get caught it's a huge loss of respect and class. This I know would be hard to do. Being straight up and truthful seems to be a struggle for some. Cheating in some people's eyes will always be justifiable.

Last is the issue of land use and local economy. Practice brings revenue. Land issues and permitting bring almost impossible on-sight solutions. In the end it could be a split group. Some want practice some don't. But one thing will always be a constant. Time. How much do you have and how much do you want to give away just to race between the tape? Your family and friends are waiting and time stops for no one.

Matias Del Solar Goldsmith - Race Organiser, Montenbaik
When the EWS headed to Chile for the first time in 2014 some people expected the racing to be a bit rough and ready compared to what we are used to in the northern hemisphere. What people found couldn't have been further from that. Mathias and the Montenbaik team have put together one of the slickest race organisations anywhere in mountain biking, they are at the heart of a rapidly growing and vibrant enduro scene and they also organise the mind-blowing Andes-Pacifico multi-day stage race.

bigquotesFirst as a definition we do not call it Training or Practice and instead it is Course Recognition giving the riders the option to check the special stages and be aware of the technical part of them. Then we; Nacho, Eduardo and Myself are fully agreed that course recognition must be limited and controlled. Today's mountain bike enduro must respond on what the venue and facilities can give and the race concept that the local organiser want to present. For example a format I like a lot is the French concept where riders get to re-con the stage just before they race it. Other places in well-known bike destinations running the recon the day or two days before the race should be just enough. Something that is clear is that all venues are different and so the race concept to be present, saying that mountain bike enduro must adapt to each location having well-regulated matters like organisation, trails, timing system and last but not less important, a high standard on security and rescue plan. Events should last only three to four days as it keeps it more affordable to all, for both amateur and pro riders, keeping the budget down to earth. In those days the riders must plan the best way to minimise their energy consumption and get as much info as possible about the stages.

Enrico Guala - Superenduro Co-Founder
To many people Enrico is simply the ever-enthusiastic little man on the mic at many of the worlds top enduro events. To those who know him however, he is one of the early enduro pioneers along with Superenduro co-founder, Franco Monchiero, an EMBA board member, a tireless advocate working to get people onto bicycles, a razor sharp businessman and, above all else, a passionate devotee of all shapes, sizes and types of bicycles.

bigquotesSince the birth of Superenduro back in 2007 the practice topic has been a hot topic. The discipline is still pretty young and for its nature and the infinite possibilities for organiser to play with the ingredients. It is and will remain the most interesting, fun and accessible discipline of MTB. With this in mind and the fact that, because if it's accessibility, it combines pro and amateurs, the practice topic need to be cleverly treated and not messed up. I do not think there is a unique answer to the question. Here is why. If I look back at the beginning of the Superenduro in 2007 there was a lot of pioneering, no pros or amateurs, just riders who wanted to spend some 5-6 hours on the bike, riding amazing trails with their friends riding together and racing against the clock to decide who was paying beers at the end of the day. But as the industry started to evolve product and release faster enduro machines and the organizers started to multiply all over the globe the discipline suddenly became the hottest topic. And gained a lot of coverage, bringing professionalism into the sport. The other big step was the birth of The Enduro World Series that rewarded for the very first time in 2013 the World title. With pro riders who are paid to win races, every little advantage counts, it's the sport. In any discipline it's the same.

Practice became suddenly the hottest topic. And since the beginning of EWS we worked to "trim" the format, experimenting very different solutions. From 3 weeks open practice in Punta Ala to blind racing in Crested Butte. And all in between. When you think about the nature of the sport, land access, venues, the extension of the territory where stages can be in the same race, lift access or rally format, pro and amateurs, you easily understand that there is not a single solution for practice. Today I think that each organizer need to take into consideration the nature of his event and set practice accordingly. Keeping in mind that the local riders advantage will always be there but that, at the same time, it is important to guarantee all riders at least 1-2 runs per stage to be able to race it safely and comfortably. There are a few key points I think we, as organizers, need to take into consideration when setting practice: tier of the event (regional, national, international), riders target (level and provenience), land permission and trail access, number and technicality of the stages. But at the end we must not forget that enduro is the most difficult discipline to organize, at any level, and that requires a lot of knowledge and commitment from the organizer to provide riders and racers a good experience.

Anneke Beerten - Hollands Fastest Mountain Biker
We're still not sure how a country as flat as Holland produced a rider as fast as Anneke Beerten. A two-time 4X World Champion, the reigning Queen of Crankworx, a perennial frontrunner at the EWS and a former World Cup downhiller, she has been there, raced that during her illustrious racing career.

bigquotesI have to be honest and tell you I still feel very new in the Enduro discipline. This is my third year racing and Im still learning and figuring stuff out. It's fair to say that Enduro does take some experience. Coming from BMX, downhill and 4X I've always been used to getting heaps of practice in and getting to know every single inch of the track. So having to learn a 15 minute enduro track in one run was scaring the sh*t out of me. But I went in open minded and was doing surprisingly well in the French enduro races were we only get one run in. I also noticed that my body struggles if I have two or three days of practice before racing even starts, you need a totally different game plan for these events. I've been thinking about what I would like to see as the future of enduro practice, but to be honest I kinda like the variety of different kind of styles we have now. On the level and speed that we are racing at, at the moment I think it would be safer if we make sure we get enough practice in. It's crazy to think that we throw ourselves down multiple long downhill stages with sometimes no idea where I am going or what's coming up! Some people might remember my huck to flat at the final stage in Rotorua... this was just because I only rode this stage once and I had no idea were I was going (and being a little tired after six hours on the bike). Luckily I rode it out, but for the safety of the riders the organization will need to calculate how much practice we will need and how much they can give us. At the end of the day we are all willing to take some risks, but safety is on top of my list and having more than one practice run will be the solution.


  • 159 6
 Way too much reading for 8:15 in the morning. I'll be back at lunch.
  • 6 3
 Yeah… my eye-balls hurts.
  • 12 10
 and its Enduro...
  • 11 2
 The day enduro became serious... May we all hang our heads in shame.... but really though, if you have the time its an interesting read.
  • 13 0
 I dig Clementz's perspective. Riding new, technical trails fast and clean is, in my warped perspective anyway, the measure of a riders pedigree. Otherwise its just exercise. Trying to be the best or the fastest on a given trail is cool I guess, but I feel surrounded by people who ride the same trails, in the same direction over and over again and then they think they're the shit. Cool?
  • 13 4
 Read all of it if you want to go full enduro.
  • 6 2
 Answer: Less usage of the word Enduro. Bro
  • 8 2
 No team robot? That's the only reason I read these opinion pieces.
  • 4 10
flag kolya (Sep 24, 2015 at 8:22) (Below Threshold)
  • 7 1
  • 7 1
 Helmet DRS?
  • 3 1
 Easy solution post the trails in the race one month out. Make riding these trails illegal if you are going to race, if you are caught automatic DQ. Open practice three days before the race starts. It is then up to the rider to decide how much time they want to spend practicing because like all the others were saying if you practice too much you will be spent by race day. Like they always say it doesn't matter if you win practice
  • 95 2
 Great point from T-Mo, shuttling , shouldn't be allowed at all it's am mtb race, vans have no place whatsoever, if you ain't fit enough to ride up, take up golf
  • 18 0
 I thought that was the best (and most easily enforceable) point of the whole thing. No-shuttling would at least force people who want multiple practice runs to work for it.
  • 6 0
 Or put back those granny rings.
  • 4 17
flag rickaybobbay (Sep 24, 2015 at 8:09) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah. But if there are long laps and huge climbs in a day you could see more injuries and less competitive runs as people are either too tired to ride hard, or get wrecked because they try to ride hard on an empty tank.
  • 6 20
flag jlhenterprises (Sep 24, 2015 at 8:49) (Below Threshold)
 If you can't recover in one day, you're not in shape
  • 10 0
 She is on point, I also like Graves idea of making practice off limits to the ultra elite. Its too much work to police everybody but giving the top 25 of a no practice handicap of no practice could really shake up race results in a good way.
  • 7 3
 @jlhententerprises - This isn't XC going half throttle. Riding a full enduro course a few days in a row is damn near impossible at the speeds it takes to do well. These EWS guys are some of the most fit guys in mountain biking. At Crested Butte, the top guys that raced other 5 day enduros said that they were more taxed after day one at Crested Butte than day 5 at other enduros.
  • 2 2
 Best point.
  • 4 1
 @dualsuspensiondave - Then Crested Butte sounds like a M-Fer. But all I can say is after breaking my leg last year, I see the whole training thing a lot differently now.

I am probably in better shape now than I ever have been in my life. I always thought I was in good shape and I was always fast, but its even better now. . My recovery after the injury required (forced me, really) a daily routine of therapy and weights that started at 5am every morning for 3-4 hours, 7 days a week for 8 months. First I had to re-learn how to walk, then I could do a mile, then walking wasn't enough so II started hiking every morning up steep 30-40% grades all well riding bikes in the afternoons. I have continued this schedule and now I'm focusing on next season. I wasn't sure even 2 months ago if it were possible to compete ever again.

Now I do 1-2 hour enduro style loops everyday with steep climbs to get to the stages, and usually 2 or 3X on weekends. I just did my Vo2max and it is at an elite level. My resting heart rate is now at the lowest ever. I just started timing my runs again and I can't believe how fast I've improved once i got a couple months in at this pace. I actually have more energy now than ever, I'm never tired, and cant I wait to race again. I've seen Curtis Keene while out there where I sometimes ride, He is an animal. If I can even come close to his fitness level, I'd be happy.
Anyway, I'm sure you are right about Crested Butte, but my point is when you train "like" a pro, the results are undeniable. (For the record, I am in no way a pro, that is why "like" is in quotes). I never had this kind of discipline until I was forced to, just to walk again. And the best part is- it's even more fun riding now than ever before.
  • 55 15
 Blind. Enduro is raced blind. Otherwise it's a multi-DH without lift assist.
  • 6 1
 Agreed. The whole issue of blind 'features' can be avoided that way. Blind turns can be safely navigated by scrubbing speed as necessary, blind drops or doubles are a whole different thing. IMHO how much speed you can and dare to carry in a stage is an important part of these races. There's a balance between your physical abilities in the specials, the ability to navigate the course and it's obstacles, and finishing a long day on the bike without bonking.
  • 5 0
 Agreed as well, but too hard to enforce, this is the whole problem.
  • 10 3
 Spray some bear mase in their eyes, a real enduro race is raced literally blind.. So what happens when they use the same trail for the next years race? That is not really a blind race is it? Wouldn't that give the OG racers an unfair advantage? Another question I have for the "enduromaniac" is according to your rules do they get to walk the course at all? Personally I would never try to ride a trail that I have never ridden at race pace, I know thats not "the spirit of enduro", but as a non pro I would either be really slow or wreck so I see no point of even trying one of these races.
  • 5 0
 Read the opinions of the racers and you'll see for multiple reasons how blind racing can never really be achieved.
  • 14 2
 I like how Anneke Berten very humbly says "I still feel very new in the Enduro discipline" and I scroll down to the comment section and find comments saying "Enduro IS this ... if not it IS this...".
There are always those Almighty Know it All veterans in the MTB World.
Why is that?
  • 2 0
 Keep the diversity! I like Kinnaird's answer...every event can be different and that should be embraced. Makes it more interesting and presents different challenges, adds regional flare, allows for organizers to be creative...I know it can make it confusing for riders, especially if there are major differences in rules, but I think worth the trouble. Would be great if some events could have blind racing, even if only on one or a few stages. With all the diversity some events will favor different riders, or maybe locals will sometimes dominate, but so what...by the end of the season the true all-around best riders will still trickle to the top and local nobodies who did well at one or two events, or even just one or two stages, will also get their moment of glory and be able to tell their grandkids how they once beat Jared Graves by 8 seconds.
  • 1 0
 Racing can be blind if it's on private land that bikers aren't normally allowed on. I did one enduro just like that- blind racing on private land. It worked quite well because any large or dangerous features were marked on the course map and had a little sign before you got to the, the rest just relied on you to read the terrain.
  • 1 0
 IMO racing on private land makes a lot of sense if it can be done, I'm less likely to pay if I could ride the stages anyway outside the race
  • 4 1
 I have a race this weekend that I haven't had time to check the course or anything. My first enduro will be raced blind at race pace and in the rain. Im stoked.
  • 2 0
 Dude have fun! Racing blind is incredibly fun and scary. With that written, I haven't done it in a long time but its something you gotta do at least once.
  • 1 0
 Riding blind is the most fun you can have, but for racing it's just not happening. Unfortunately red tape and health and safety bullshit would kill it right away.
Also, @Shredthenoob have fun, and I'm so jelly.
  • 25 1
 ahhh too early to article. No comments to tell me what to think . ...
  • 8 14
flag WAKIdesigns (Sep 24, 2015 at 0:38) (Below Threshold)
 I reckon...
  • 9 11
 Too true! Just thought you'd all want to know too, that I'm having a massive work poo...
  • 5 8
 (Aren't they the best)
  • 7 2
 Shit, he hasn't updated us in over an hour... hope he's okay.
  • 1 0
 @wakidesigns, are you refering Bryceland?
  • 16 1
 Firstly , good article and worth the read to hear the opinions of those inside the sport. Secondly, I feel this issue is supremely damaging to the discipline of Enduro. From a follower/ spectator perspective, how can you get excited about a sport that isn't played on "a level playing field". From a competitor perspective, imagine you arrived at a venue two days ago, road in practice and are now climbing in a group up to the top of stage 3...
"When did you get here?", you ask. "Oh, I got in about three weeks ago, I've got top end of 20 laps in on this stage by now". From a competitors point of view, are you actually competing?
  • 1 0
 I think what's even more damaging to Enduro is shuttling. That's not Enduro. It's like cheating.
  • 14 2
 Limited practice to establish and check blind drops and areas of high tech, there's nothing worse then hitting a blind lip to be on a wrong exit line or to know to ease off or continue #FullGas
Blind racing isn't a viable option anymore as the courses are never truly blind to a % off the racing field.
  • 9 0
 Tracey's was the only one I read completely and skimmed the rest so apologies if I missed something important but I like her suggestion, feel free to practice as much as you want but you've got to ride your bike around it. It's the simplest method to enforce and gets back to what enduro should be. Not just multiple DH runs.
  • 10 2
 I used to be pro blind racing for the obvious reason - ultimate test to read terrain adjust your pace and bike handling skills.
Now that I´ve raced a few races within a series I changed my opinion.

What in theory sounds great, just isn´t applicable because of:
A) - safety reasons!!!: No sign can explain "be aware of the river gap, wich is easy when hit with the right amount of speed as long as you jump to the right, because else you´ll hit a tree" within a fraction of a second when you`re racing by. Actually this should be enough reason to NOT RACE BLIND.
B) - local trails: Enduro is (at least to me), racing local trails in the surrounding of the race-venue. Some might be bikeparktrails, some trail-area-trails, some secret-trails on private land, and some might even be built overnight for high profile races.
BUT YOU CAN´T BUILD TRAILS for 5 stages, every year at 8 to 10 venues, that none of the racers have ridden before.
Also this point is sufficient for me to understand that blind racing doesn`t work.

When one accepts that point you have to regulate training - or course re-con.
I don´t think this is either controversial or difficult. IT JUST HAS TO BE AGREED UPON - AND ANNOUNCED PROPERLY!!!

So work to do for chris ball and rider representatives(ellected).
There can still be room for varying race-/training formats just like the current series venues.
As long as regulations are in place and ways to execute them are provided according to terms that are agreed upon.
  • 5 0
 I don't think racing blind is safe. For amatuers with jobs it's tough to practice on a Friday and race on Sat and Sun. For amatuers the format I like best is Sat practice, Sun race. Worls great. Second best format is to announce the course a week ahead of time so you can practice the weekend before the race.
  • 7 0
 Jerome seems to have the best outlook on this kind of racing. Bien dit, mon ami!
  • 8 1
 "Walking the course should be forbidden as we are rider not hiker" - Love it !
  • 4 0
 Hmmm... Tough question. . First off, no shuttle runs. Lift assisted runs ok if you are in a bike park. Maybe the track walk with 1 practice run? A lot of courses are getting a little too crazy to race blind.

I do however like the concept of a blind stage if you are using a bike park trail... Just don't announce the stage until race time.
  • 5 1
 I say blind racing but to take the local knowledge away dont let anyone ride the trail for a month before the race only walk it. I know we are riders and not hikers but trails become DESTROYED after too many riders go through. We ride bikes to habe fun in nature not to abuse it. we are becoming the moto rider that destroys the trail instead of enjoying it. just got back from vallnord. the dh worlds track is now full of one meter deep ruts and loam just blown out forever. I love dh and enduro but we need to keep trail destruction under control, please. peace!
  • 9 5
 Why not have a "blind" category where racers don't practice and just turn up and ride on race day.

For me riding a track blind is the true test of a riders ability to read a track and ride it.
  • 5 4
 The "blind" category would need a "stage description" to point out anything tricky ie drops, gaps etc.

This way riders will have an idea of what is coming up.
  • 4 1
 They could just put some signs on course warning of dangerous features.
  • 2 1
 "Huge drop, get off the bike" or maybe the sign should have a printed picture of the landing
  • 2 1
 I did exactly this two weeks ago as I couldn't make the practice day. It's fair to say that it was pretty scary not knowing where to go especially when hitting jumps and drops. However, my time was pretty good because what I lost in not knowing the trails I gained in having fresh legs coming into the race.
  • 1 0
 Bring on the Blind class! I already usually have to race blind, I would go to more races if this were a category. Pro Men Blind, Pro Women Blind, Am Men Blind, Am Women, Blind. Done, easy.
  • 2 1
 I think there would be a steady shift of pro riders to the "blind" class as it would be seen as more prestigious....

It brings back that excitement of riding a trail for the first time. It requires lots of skill and fitness to go fast.
  • 5 2
 Could it not be a case of removing any practice runs, but allowing a track walk of each stage? With them getting a bus to each stage and everyone walking down at the same time? You would at least then get to see any major features you may need to be aware of.

Would remove the potentially lethal riding blind scenario and would also bring back that 'having a laugh with mates' element that Tracey Moseley touched on.
  • 4 1
 As a few comments before me, it should really be 'blind' racing. I feel it is a better representation of your skill/fitness if you are able to put in consistent time on familiar terrain.
Point in case, I took part in a 1 day enduro in an area I've never ridden before and had to ride it blind. almost everyone I was talking to had been riding the trails for a week or so, giving the unfair advantage of practice and that many helped to build the tracks.
  • 1 0
  • 3 0
 Personally i love the feeling of not knowing shit about what's coming next on the trail, because you have to come up whit something to adapt to the situation. Of course a little practice won't hurt anybody and there is always the local guys who know everything, so my guess is that you can't come up with something completely hermetic that nobody knows....i think that jared has a solid point and maybe something like that is the way to go.
  • 4 2
 there's been maturity in the perspective on the practice aspect of enduro, except maybe in some of the comments here. Blindly requesting blind riding without acknowledgement that it's literally practically impossible, is head-shaking material.
The compromise of banning the top few riders (say top 10 for arguments sake) one month prior to the event, at the risk of being DSQ'd sounds reasonable. Those outside the top 10 or top 20 are not there because they lack track knowledge, so the advantage they have by not being banned wont materially change the outcome, or so I believe.
A one month no-ride period (NRP) should also be sufficient time to cut new trails. So those who fall outside the NRP requirement still wont have a massive advantage.
Instead of getting stuck in word games with the internet, i hope EWS puts it to the test in the field.
  • 12 4
 bring back 4x! The bikes are simple, "affordable" compared to most full suspension bikes and its a great spectator sport.
  • 1 0
 yeti951SD, they should but the bike industry has spoken and they just want every one to ride enduro, there is a pretty good national series for 4x here in the UK but it gets overshadowed by the BDS (british downhill series) which sucks.
We also have( well for the moment) two national enduro series which is just stupid
  • 1 5
flag ctd07 (Sep 24, 2015 at 5:36) (Below Threshold)
 Enduro in the UK? There are no hills big enough, it would just be xc
  • 3 0
 Yup - it sounds as tho the idea of the top 30 (or around that) not being allowed to ride the race trails a month before and heavy consequences for anyone discovered doing so, is well received by the riders. I also loved Tracey's perspective on shuttling...chairlifts are great and will likely be used in the race anyway, but shuttling shouldn't be allowed (unless it's going to be allowed in the race). And heavy penalties for racers found not sticking to the rules. They could always implement a rule for 2016 just as a pilot year to see how it works?
  • 2 0
 wolly96, I think what bothers me is here in southern california we only really have one DH racing venue and its nothing in comparison to the BDS. They used to have 4X, but with enduro making all the MTB headlines we don't even have enduro races here. We could race all year long because of the nice weather too! I'm very jealous of how big MTB racing is in the UK. I would trade our hot dusty summers for some wet muddy racing any day!
  • 1 0
 The 4x is impracticable. No tracks, no business.
  • 2 0
 If your fast, your fast. Because the locals get to ride the trails all the time they might be faster, but thats the fun part..see if you can beat the locals. If you're quick 2-3 rides of the trail will get you close to the local level. Having to make trips to all race destinations 2months in advance is like requiring 6 or more vacations a year..expensive and not possible for most. Some of the most fun I had in this year's races was riding trails enough times(2-3) to feel comfortable/confident enough to hit features that I wouldn't have 1st time, those events were the most FUN. Personally not sure on the shuttling..if you only show up to try and shuttle trail then fitness may not be there for riding the main event..which I guess is a benefit to those who don't.
Maybe more emphasis should be put on overall series placings and not so much on individual events.
  • 4 0
 JC: "Walking the course should be forbidden as we are rider not hiker and nobody like to walk down a sick trail anyway..."

So good
  • 2 0
 To me the word enduro doesn't means tracks or bike park trails to practice on sunday. The real Enduro must be like Rally Dakar, (if is possible the comparison) is dangerous and really hard yes thats enduro!!! if not is just a mix between dh and cross country racing
  • 6 3
 No more practicing of stages, real enduro should be the ultimate test of a rider and therefore to facilitate such a test it must be raced blind.
  • 4 1
 No matter how you do it, most pro racers will come early, days or weeks prior to the event and ride the stages over and over and over with pickup trucks or vans to bring them back up. I like how some pros try to look cool telling how they like riding blind trails, when they haven't raced a single trail blind. They know the trails very well, either by riding there or having someone ride there with a few gopros.

There is no equity in this part of MTB racing, and there can't be. Unless you carve the trails just a day or 2 before the event, you'll always have a lot of people "casually riding the area" beforehand ... Sadly ...
  • 1 0
 Blind courses are definitely the ideal for this type of race. A lot of off road moto races are blind, but are frequently held on private tracks. They aren't practical, unfortunately, for mtb enduro. In Montana here (probably much of the US), most of the trails are on public lands, where it may take a year+ of administrative work prior to even being able to take a tool to the dirt. Building new trails every year for an enduro would be nearly impossible.
  • 1 0
 Same amount of time for everyone to practice, 2-5 days depending on the venue/time between events/climbing. Ban shuttles, I agree with Jared. Lifts are OK in bike parks. Don't give me an excuse that you didn't know the trail. Use a head cam to study it later if you want to know the trail better.
  • 1 0
 The day before the race all the course is announced at a riders meeting with a POV video of someone like Richard Cunningham riding it. Then riders get up to 2 runs down the track that day which are accounted for. Anyone caught cheating is disqualified from the EWS that year. Who cares how they get to the stages. Race day will be brutal anyways.
  • 2 1
 Do what they did for the BC/KR enduro races and that is, announce the course a few days beforehand and then you get in a couple of practice laps to get familiar with the race and can 'safely' race at speed. The last race at Rettalack was done blind and I found it difficult to really enjoy the courses because you just didn't know what was around the next bend. For me as an amateur, not coming from a racing background a few days practice is nice. In reality most people can only afford one day of practice. The trend I see is also going more towards old DH courses and using trail bikes on them, personally I think the courses should be 'pedally' and not just a DH race.
  • 4 1
 Unlimited practices, mandatory lifts and shuttles, beers and burgers at every station, and fullface only....this should settle it.
  • 3 0
 tracey made a great point about shuttling. i totally agree with all aspects of the case against shuttling. if you are shuttling, then it is multi stage DH, not enduro.
  • 1 0
 Hoped on the enduro train three years ago. While initially i got a real kick from it we returned to the same venues year on year. As the trail selection is limited riders could guess which trails where going to be used and they would practice the bag out of them in the weeks proceeding the race. The trail selection got a little tamer to cater for the many sportif riders who enter to simply complete the course. For me it got a bit stale. Experience and skill began have less value than peddle output. Last weekend however after a years absence from enduro i decided to travel to a race at a venue I'd never ridden. The course was a techy one, steep fast loamy and full of roots. I had enough time and energy for one practice run of each stage. The next day was race day and for the most part it felt like blind racing, It was possibly the best race I've ever done. My heart is set on racing as many new venues as possible next year and if i have to travel so be it. Jerome is spot on. DH and XC exist for those who wish to practice to perfection or utilize max peddle output. For Enduro to thrive it need racers racing, boundaries pushed and to find the sweet spot between DH or XC.
  • 1 0
 A simple idea. Don't allow shuttles or lifts to preride stages. This will inherently limit how many laps folks are capable of taking, while giving some preride advantage to those who have the fitness to cover a lot of vertical in a given day...that's got to be worth something doesn't it? It will also keep the bikes from turning into mini-dh monsters that suck to pedal.
  • 1 0
 There's nothing like riding a trail for the first time ,but a easy to moderate trail,because when the trail becomes hard with gaps, suddenly vertical drops with tight corners, well it isn't a very safe ride with these pros ,cause money talks and the pressure to do well makes them fly high and take some serious risks ,I believe that 1 or two practice runs should be ok ,and Tracey is wright pedal up to get down like the normal joe,or aren't these pros real pros. I just wish that " enduro" wouldn't get labeled has the MINI DH ,cause I think enduro has a perfect habience regarding athletes (for now). Best for all ,but go TM and JC
  • 1 0
 It's tough. Part of the reason i loved desert racing on motorcycles is because you didn't know what was coming up. Neither did most of the field. It really challenges you to ride with in your limits and push it where ya know you can. It also helps you develop as a rider, your focus is at a maximum, you're constantly reading and analyzing the trail, keeping look out for the danger's/trail markers, etc, all while trying to breath and stay relaxed. Anyone can ride the same trail hundreds of times, find all the second shavers, and get the KOM. If that's what you're about, stick to strava IMO.
  • 1 0
 1) Climbs should be eliminated if it's not timed or provide lift services for it. The long laborious climbs marketed as good times but IMHO, it's a chore for the riders and wastes the precious energy for concentration on the descents which can be dangerous. And it's ridiculous, at the end of the day it doesn't contribute to any points.

2) If climb is timed, concentration would not be solely on descents. More awesome bikes will be developed and less of a duplicate of DH. Bike range can be stream lined too - just XC, Enduro, Dirt and DH.

3) Climbs should be made reasonable shorter or swap names with cross country.
  • 2 0
 Make the circuit 10 races. One per month. Drop the best and worst finish. This way a mechanical doesn't lead to a seasons work gone. Also winning your local trail won't mean as much if you can't repeat it in other events.
  • 1 0
 Who reads the comments are they worth anything to the decision makers? Sounds to me that the people in the thick of the Enduro segment of mtb racing all have good points and they're more than capable of sorting it out.

Where's the reader opinion poll pinkbike?
  • 6 2
 Beer is enduro. So I want more beer!
  • 5 4
 Enduro events are cool. Let it do its own thing away from regulated Dh and Xc races, that is the spirit of Enduro, it is rebellious Xc racers and 2nd string or retiring Dh racers having some fun. Now lets move on.
  • 3 3
 There's much more to it than that. These top EWS guys are in better shape than the DH guys and it's a complete different mindset to do well. The strength, stamina, bike skills, and mental preparation is different than any other biking discipline at the EWS level.
  • 3 2
 Sorry. I have to disagree. They are all conditioned for the sport they do. We could spout examples all day, but the sports require different training. It would be like putting lewis Hamilton up against Sebastian loeb in a rally cay and saying loeb is a better driver. They are cars, but what you do with them is different. Just check out how Joe Barnes did at world cup level DH and how he did at EWS.
  • 3 1
 So you agree. I'm saying that each discipline is worlds apart. After talking to both EWS racers and WC DH racers, they all say that certain skillets are transferable however one can't just go from one discipline to the other and do well. Joe Barnes is a good example because he's climbed the ranks, he didn't just start racing the EWS. Not to mention that he's always been known to ride big trails on a small bike. Joe also was climbing the ranks in DH as well. Undoubtedly enduro fits his style better. I have no interest in car racing these days so I don't have a clue about that. I really only follow DH and enduro raing.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 I wonder how many of the 30-70 ranked Dh racers will cross to enduro to try and make a better living from it. You don't see so many going the other way though. Apart from those who do it as a job we should all just ride bikes and have fun. Would not like to be an elite downhiller on restricted rides, a winter on the road bike and in the gym only. Far better to ride all year round and accept that I am too old without the skills of the top boys.
  • 1 0
 It will be interesting to see. Likely many will try without success. To crack the top 30 in an EWS these days is a big accomplishment for the top WC DH guys. It's gotten really competitive jus as WC DH is too. I do recall Jared Graves getting 3rd at the DH World Champs on a trail bike. It's almost if you have to race WC DH first to get the speed, then develop the fitness and technique to be competitive in EWS level enduro (if that's what you want anyways). Most of the top WC DH guys want nothing to do with enduro after they have tried it. Most of them have and didn't do as well as they expected and considered it a suffer fest. Of course it would be though because they're mostly power and mobility training. It's in the training for sure all across the board. A guy I know that has finished 50th in a WC DH race, has just recently worked his way up to the top 30 in the EWS.
  • 2 2
 I just don't how this is an issue. Courses come out on Wednesday and the race starts on Friday or Saturday. If you want to preride the courses you do it. If you don't have time to preride all of them you make a selection of which ones are most important. Enduro isn't DH racing and those interviewed have made that clear.
  • 1 1
 Also while it is cool how mountain bike enduro has roots in motorcycle enduro the discipline has moved so far away from it that it is pointless to try to enact moto enduro rules at this point. Transfers and tests are just terms at this point.
  • 2 1
 1. Riding blind at race speed seems kind of silly.
2. But if you really must, then how about sponsors funding construction of a new trail for each race? That would help all riders and the sport/industry as a whole.
  • 3 0
 From what I have been reading it seems like cyclocross races are more true to being enduro.
  • 1 0
 Pack out the schedule. Do 12-15 races in a season and nobody will have time to practice everywhere. Only the home team will have the advantage, which is fair. That happens in every sport. It's part of it.
  • 1 0
 How about only taping stages 1-2 days before the event, in a temporary manner, with final tape changes the day before practice, then only allowing one day practice per day of racing, and no shuttling. Foolproof?
  • 7 3
 Practice on ya mum
  • 3 1
 So nice to see that here in Chile the races are world class, go Montenbaik !!!
  • 3 0
 JC, Graves and T-Mo know where it's at.

The rest? Not so much.
  • 3 0
 Needs bikes that dont cost $7262552.
  • 3 0
 what the f@#k is practice?
  • 4 1
 Can't believe shuttling is not banned!
  • 4 1
 No CG opinion Frown ... scrolled whole article hoping for him...
  • 4 2
 More expensive overly priced tires.
  • 6 7
 sadly, you try to make every thing so complicated. moar hypez are required. the only people that care are the 0.001% of people who race enduro, and the people trying to profit from this gongshow
  • 2 1
 Free or two practices on the tecnicals stages. If you have a short and easy stage you just ride it one time.
  • 1 0
 Do it like they do in motorsport--limit or ban testing (i.e. practice) for the pros.
  • 1 3
 I think there should be teams of two. male-male, female-male, female-female. Even number of stages per day. One teammate gets a practice run of stage one and the other gets a practice run on stage two and so on. End of practice day the teammates "teach" each other the stage by using video shot during their practice run. Race day they leave the start gate together and complete the timed stages together. Can't be separated by more than 10 seconds during the stage and timing stops when rider #2 crosses the line.

This is riding with your buddies and showing your buddy a new trail. Seems in the spirit of mountain biking.
  • 2 1

how about enduro-trail work, the trails take a beating; get loved and left by all the endurrbos.
  • 1 0
 Xgames?? Why hasnt xgames gotten in on sny of this
  • 4 2
 cause its lame, and it wouldn't make for good tv
  • 1 0
 I would like to have more races!
  • 2 1
 Good thing a got a triple shot espresso this morning.
  • 2 0
 no practise at all
  • 2 0
 Just about every level of every professional sport has practice. Timed practice no shuttles.
  • 2 0
 a new name?
  • 2 0
 What a bunch of whiners.
  • 1 0
 Enduro is not only race...i ride enduro since 1989
  • 2 0
  • 1 1
 #teamcareborstel in da house
  • 3 4
 I think they need 3 days of practice, maybe limit the race to one decent... OH! and chair lifts, climbing is boring!
  • 2 1
 Enduro is not DH!
  • 3 2
 enduro is awful. get rid of it, more DH! that was the joke bud.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 Timed practice?
  • 4 4
  • 1 0
 Blind races !!!!!
  • 3 6
 Need the tl;dr version
  • 12 6
 Wrong sport - go to a football forum. Their articles seem short and comment sections are filled with short words
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