Not all mountain bikers approach winter time the same way. Some are content to sit on the couch, binge watching whatever Netflix suggests while counting down the days until the grass reappears from underneath the snow. Others revel in the white stuff, heading to the mountains to ski and snowboard, or donning showshoes and cross-country skis to trounce around in mellower terrain.
Then there are the die-hards, the riders who refuse to accept the idea of an off-season. They're the ones spinning away furiously in basements and garages, fixated on defeating their virtual opponents, or bundling up in clothes suitable for an Everest attempt in order avoid frostbike on their fat bike adventures. Every ride is a training ride, and many of these riders are chomping at the bit to dive into another year of racing.
No matter which category you fall into, it's not going to be long before the winter melts away into spring in the Northern Hemisphere, a transition that also signals the start of the race season. Many races open up registration this time of the year, and not only do you need to be fast on a bike, you need to be quick on the mouse just to participate – entries into events like the Enduro World Series sell out in a matter of minutes.
Of course, racing's not for everybody, and plenty of riders out there are competition averse. There's nothing wrong with that, either – racing's not easy, or cheap, and it's tougher than ever to get a spot on the podium, even at little local races. Still, signing up for a race every once in a while is a good way to step out of your comfort zone, to see how those Strava times stack up in the real world, or simply to get the chance to ride in an entirely different part of the world. Multi-day cross-country or enduro races make it possible to sample a massive amount of trails in a relatively short amount of time, with the benefit of having aid stations scattered along the route. And don't forget the underground race scene, those unregulated, informal events where the entry is cheap, the racing is fast and furious, and the prize is usually drinkable.
Last month's poll question revealed that a large number of Pinkbike readers were planning on racing enduro this year, which made me curious about how many many races people were planning on attending. Are you a committed competitor, traveling every single weekend in the summer, or do you pick and choose, participating in a couple races, just for fun?