If you happen to be following the enduro scene in Spain, you maybe know that there are two main enduro series. One is the official Spanish Enduro Championship, that has been on for five years. The other is Endurama series, that has been running for three years already, more focused on having fun, like a bunch of old friends that gather together several times each year to share a ride, beers and chat for a while. And of course, with timing, special stages, and everything you will expect from an enduro race. In order to get everything running, behind curtains you always have volunteers and the organization, that spend endless days and months before the race making sure that everything runs smoothly, as a Swiss watch. I managed to sit down with the man behind Endurama, the one that had an idea and managed to make it real. Let's get to know Sergio Zurdo.Who is Sergio Zurdo? Where are you from, where do you live?
Hi, Yarik. Well, I'm a guy that is starting to feel bit old and bold. I'm passionate about anything with two wheels, but in particular, I'm in love with bicycles. I enjoy the mountains, being surrounded by family and friends. I was born in Madrid, moved away and then moved back due to love.How and when did you start your relationship with the bicycle world?
My father has been a long time cycling fan and supporter. I remember seeing him in the 80's with an Orbea road bike when I was a little kid, but to tell you the truth, I didn't pay much attention. In the early 90's there was a boom with mountain bikes and I remember when I tested the first one in Cercedilla, a small town in the mountains where my grandparents had a house. What an experience it was! I ended up all sweaty and exhausted! But seems that we both enjoyed it so my father bought two identical bikes other than their colors. And since then, I never looked back.Many riders got to know you as a race organizer, mainly due to the Endurama series, but I know that you also raced some years ago. How was it for you?
Well, to tell you the truth, I'm totally useless on the bike. As an excuse, I can say that I have never done any actual training of any kind. I see other friends doing it and they are quite good, I see it on each Endurama race. I didn't touch the bike for several years and when I made my come back after years practicing karate, my body refused to adapt to the characteristics required for cycling. These are two totally different sports.
As a rider, on one of the first enduro races held in the Madrid area.Do you still race when you have time in between all the events you organize?
Nope. Impossible to race and organize a race at the same time. Although, this summer I'm going to try to participate in a race in Italy. Many friends told me that I was just coming up with the times in between stages for each reason. But no, I actually ride and test each and every one of the tracks for each race I organize. I also can say that this year is my worst year, talking about my fitness, I've done less than half of the kilometers of what I usually do.From all the races you have participated in, which one has been the toughest and why?
Mud, mud makes me suffer. So EnduroAstur, an enduro race in Northern Spain, known to be a rainy and wet region, had made me go through hell. To simply put it, I can't ride with mud, I simply don't know how to ride in muddy and wet conditions.As a racer and organizer, which of the races that you've experienced has been your favorite?
I would say that as a rider, my best thoughts go for a race I participated about 20 years ago, in the Coronas Championship. I don't know exactly why but I had so much fun. As an organizer, this year has been really good, in Ojen we had such a nice time. Cuenca also was amazing, all volunteers worked hard making everything great. We even had a marriage proposal from one of the riders to his girlfriend on the paddock!And your worst experience?
There is no such thing as a "bad race". Each race has its own peculiarities and specificities and you need to manage each and every one of them. I would say the past year in Cuenca we had some issues with the chips and timing stations along with an infernal hot day, it was hard. I really exploded.What about Endurama, when and how you had the idea?
It was about four years ago, a bit unexpected. I helped organize a race in the Valencia area and then I noticed that in the central region of Spain there was a lack of enduro races but lots of interest. So I joined forces with a close friend Roberto, and here we are.It has been three years in a row organizing the Endurama series, you must have tons of history and anecdotes. Care to share some of them?
Jejeje...well, I have all kind of situations indeed. Racers that didn't know each other and now are each other's closest friends. Some unexpected and astonishing objects I have found after everyone has rushed away. Being told 24 hours before the race and having the, not so pleasant, surprise from a local authority telling you that the race can't be done. There is too much in my head.How do you face the organization of Endurama series, I guess it's a titanic task that involves a lot of people.
Each race is harder than the previous one, our biggest issue is to have the required environmental authorizations and then all the bureaucracy involved with the local authorities. Each year our relationship with the local clubs, organizers, and volunteers is better and better, so we can trust them with some field tasks, checking the trails, talking with locals, etc, and then we focus on other more related things to the actual race, timing and the insufferable bureaucracy...did I already tell you about that?With so many trips all around Spain checking new locations, you almost don't stop at home. How do your loved ones deal with it?
You are right, from February to June I certainly live more on the mobile home than at my house. My beloved Merche understands it and she supports me all the time. She previously didn't have any relation at all with cycling but she understands me and nowadays she sometimes is the one that pushes me to go further and better with it.There are mainly two ways of doing an enduro race, racing blindly "French way" or racing with a couple days of training to check out the various stages, as done in the EWS. What do you prefer?
As a racer, blindly, no second thoughts. I believe that's the true spirit of enduro and mountain biking. I'm not a big fan of smashing one section in order to take a couple of seconds off. But, as an organizer, it's very difficult to do a blind race, mainly here in Spain.
Having fun is what matters the most, Manuel Plaza and Alvaro Haro, winners in Endurama Adrada Elite and under 23 category. When you ride, which bike do you use?
This year I had a good start and tried some road biking, but panicked because of the possibility of accidents on the road and didn't try again. But afterward, I got busy as the season continued to roll and there have been a couple of weeks in a row without riding. I'm trying to ride at least once a week on my Yeti SB6.26", 27.5" 27.5+ or 29"?
I've been lucky to try all the different wheel sizes. Marketing has worked a lot to kill 26", but I would say that in some years maybe some brand will relaunch them as "vintage"...jajaja! Today on for the moment, 27.5" is the king. I tried an e-bike with 27.5"+ and wasn't convinced. As for 29ers for enduro, you should be careful, geometry is important and it can turn into an elephant on the trails. For now, my preferred bike would be one that couldn't be classified as enduro or all mountain and with 29" wheels.Which rider impresses you the most right now?
Andres Latorre, he seems shy and small, then he jumps on the bike and can get into the top ten of Megavalanche Alp d'Huez. For the girls, Miriam Alcantara is just brutal.Which is your preferred place to ride?
My own backyard, Guadarrama Sierra.What should we expect from Endurama next year? Can you give us a hint of things to come?
Top Secret...jajaja! We are still choosing locations and getting in touch with local clubs and authorities, it's hard work. For the moment, I can say that riders will be for sure surprised but can't say anything else. As for the race itself, we will try to improve all we can, to promote the "No Stress" category and work even more for the riders to maximize their fun.What do you think about mountain biking's future in Spain?
Looking from our perspective, enduro racing, I think the boom has passed, now it's time to consolidate the events, improve all we can. As for the competitive side, I don't think there will many more riders but we should get more and more amateurs trying it. Cross country is a bit more healthy, with more events all over the country. Downhill is somewhat at the same level as enduro. In general, the main problem is that from the organization side, we are having more and more obstacles to get everything done and little or no support from higher levels.How do you collaborate to increase mountain bike awareness and spread the word about it?
Each year we organize a non-competitive event, focused on riders that are just starting in the sport so they can get to know other riders, new trails and new locations to ride. We try to invite some known riders, ambassadors or sportsmen of any kind to talk with them about getting into the sport, how to train, etc. We are pioneers as for the e-bike racing, we have some ideas for these type of bikes, but there are not enough bikes around to organize a single event focused on them.What about when you are not organizing a race, what do you do on your free time?
I spend as much time as possible with my couple, I like to read a lot and walk with Lola, my dog. But right now, I can say the bicycles sucks out almost all of my time, so I can't do a lot other than work. And I like to travel too!What do you expect for the years to come?
Hmmm... I hope to still be working on Endurama events, even better and greater, with the same passion and love as we have been doing until now.Something else you want to add?
Well, thanks to everyone involved in the events, merchandise, sponsors, media, local authorities and of course, volunteers, without them, we couldn't do these events. And finally, thanks to you my friend for being at each and every one of the races, cheering the riders, taking amazingly good photos and sharing your passion with everyone. People like you make this happen.