Video: Turning an XC Rider into an Enduro Racer - Full Enduro Episode 1

Oct 16, 2019
by Pinkbike Originals  



Zoe Dawson is a Squamish local who has been riding cross country, running marathons, and racing triathlons for years. Recently she's tried her hand at enduro racing, but today's enduro tracks demand an incredibly high level of technical ability. Her XC skills simply didn't translate, and she found herself struggling on the steeps, jumps, and drops that are common here.

To develop the skills she needs to get between the tape, we paired Zoe up with five expert riders: Georgia Astle, Micayla Gatto, Christina Chappetta, Claire Buchar, and Katrina Strand. Follow along with Zoe's journey as she goes from XC to Full Enduro.

Presented by

Filmed & Edited by Will Binamé.

Regions in Article


  • 83 0
 This is rad! It was interesting to see how different Zoe's body position was than Georgia's. I could instantly recognize the XC riding position...Zoe's body was behind the bike and low and tight on steep stuff, whereas Georgia was more centered and looser. It was good to hear Georgia relay that info to Zoe. So cool to see the progression too. Great series and great job Zoe!
  • 34 0
 This is going to be a solid series.
  • 3 0
 That is why during her run time he crashed because her body positioning is way to far at the back she's kinda fighting the bike and doesn't let the bike jockey underneath her, thus she's loosing a lot of front control and traction.
  • 11 0
 @ibis09: Coming from XC bikes myself to my Slash - it has taken me time to learn that body center positioning myself. Pointing the old XC bike downhill and it was hang hard off the back to prevent it flipping you OTB.

On the Slash it has taken me time to get the front weighted but the benefits have flowed as a result with traction and tech riding skills.

It will be great to see how Zoe progresses and the difference in her and Georgia's position was quite marked. Also liked Georgia's comment on the arm usage riding down the multiple drop offs.
  • 2 0
 @gnarterrorist: The arm/bar cues that she gave were the aha moments for me in this first video. Good stuff.
  • 1 0
 @gnarterrorist: Yeah, I agree. It's likely a learned habit from riding xc type bikes with longish stems and steep angles (and high fixed saddle heights). I have the same problem. When I try to go down steep stuff on my '14 Scalpel, which has a head tube angle of 71 degrees, I have to extend my arms and get as far back behind the saddle as possible to not feel like I'll go over the bars. I bet it would take me awhile to trust being centered on an enduro bike.

I bet I'll learn a lot from this series!
  • 84 0
 Looks like Zoe has some prototype 900mm bars.
  • 48 0
 Exactly. Her bars a WAY too wide for her.
  • 7 0
 Was wondering the same. Whatever length they are, they look too wide for her.
  • 16 1
 @bman33: But Greg Minnaar runs 810mm so it must be right.
  • 19 1
 Either that, or she's so far back on the bike that her arms look fully extended the entire time. She'll definitely improve and it'll be fun to watch.
  • 7 0
 Came here to comment the same thing.
Wouldn't people with narrow shoulders be more comfortable with slightly narrower bars?
  • 3 0
 Could use some more rise likely too, she has a hard time unweighting her front end through anything droppy
  • 2 0
 Yes the width of the bars even looks super wide in the POV shots. I wonder if narrower bars and a smaller frame might be better...
  • 25 0
 First Episode should have been a profesional bike fitting and setup, with an experienced race mechanic.
  • 6 5
 Her arms are so spread apart that she looks like she's crucified.
  • 3 1
 899.99 you're right a bike fit would have been preferable, instead of giving her a fresh new bike from a box... That's clearly visible
  • 8 0
 They're so wide and uncomfortable looking this was totally a troll! Given the next episode is the bike setup, they'll show what an improvement a good fit makes (which is a damn good first lesson!).

This looks like it's going to be a cool series, looking forward to the rest!
  • 6 0
 @Rossfeld-biker: agree and then tell her to go ride that bike on all her local trails for a month to get used to it before a descent like that. Maybe do a few days of just single small features and video her body position so she can see what she's doing wrong. IMO should have been a much slower progression and built up to that type of riding.
  • 2 0
 Looking likes 1240mm bars.
  • 2 0
 @Rossfeld-biker: Or it comes after, which than highlights how important it is to get properly setup, suspension wise - fit wise etc and get her feedback on how it changes her ride?
  • 6 0
 I have a serious WTF moment when I see smaller riders on wide bars. You can see that it puts her out of position and reduces control. Her XC roots shine through as well with how low her body is and how stiff she becomes in anything technical. Scared of bailing out the front, bracing for every little impact and used to riding tires with zero traction...
  • 1 0
 @LaXcarp: her fork is too soft and slow.
  • 1 0
 @fussylou: Yeap, that's a bike direct from a his box.
She's got skills but bike ain't set up at all … Brake set up, ahahhaha
  • 3 0
 @salespunk: I can help but roll my eyes with the "XC roots" statement. Go sit on that trail and watch 95% of the riders come down it. They all look like that. The low and stiff body is how people react when they are riding a trail at the edge of their ability level. It is definitely not the preferred way to ride but all of us are guilty of it at some point.
  • 1 0
 @bman33: that was the first thing I noticed too. That would make it harder to weight the front wheel effectively.
  • 23 0
 This is a great concept. Female version of the privateer, but with a unique twist.
  • 18 0
 I would love to see some footage of Georgia doing the same section at speed to contrast. Great video.
  • 17 1
 Georgia Astle - "The Next Privateer".
  • 12 1
 Awesome series and excited to see Zoe's progression. I wondered about body positioning right away watching it. Is that a more xc position? I've seen lots of xc riders with a more active position- it may be that the "less technical" terrain doesn't force learning in it? She seemed to be locked into an "active" position without much movement on an any plane. No fore and aft varying with steepness, very little vertical and horizontal movement on the bike, I felt super nervous watching her initial lap. Look forward to seeing how that progresses. I also get that it is super easy to sit at home and pick out these things from one video and it's not fair at all- but as someone who has done some coaching training and coaching this would be something I would immediately want to address before talking about pressing a bike off a drop, cornering or even line choice
  • 8 6
 yep XC position...many XC riders ride fire roads and easy trails only,so they never get a real progression in the skills area. More noticeable even in the road bike people,some of them can pedal like a hog chased by 450 dogs but can´t ride downhill faster than my 2 year old nice. Some people develop their skills by themselves or simply by watching other people ridding,in the trail sometimes is not so easy if your ridding in survival mode,so Youtube is a great tool.
  • 11 2
 The flawed assumption here is that pro athletes also know how to teach
  • 3 1
 @homerjm: not sure why your comments are downvoted. Although a generalization the comments are sometimes (oftentimes) true
  • 13 6
 Zoe is awesome and this is going to be a killer serie...That said, both girls need to learn HOW TO DO THEIR HELMET UP! This stuff drives me crazy, both of their chin straps are completely loose...In the event of a crash, those helmets would be absolutely USELESS.Come on PB, kids are watching this thinking this is cool
  • 2 24
flag endlessblockades (Oct 16, 2019 at 16:25) (Below Threshold)
 With the modern snugger-dial (for lack of a better term), the chin-strap is pretty redundant and rather ineffective.
  • 15 1

Step one : put helmet on head with strap off
Step two : take one hand ,slowly push up front or side to side and noticed how the helmet comes off your head.
Step three : repeat step 2 but this time with the strap done up and notice how the helmet STAYS on your head.
Step four : repeat step 2 but this time with a 2 inches gap between the strap and your chin.Noticed how much of your skull is expose before the strap finally prevents the helmet from moving further away.

Now instead of your hand slowly pushing your helmet up, try to imagine what would happen if you were traveling fast and smashed your head on a rock without the strap done properly ....You think the helmet would stay in place and prevent serious head injuries?Those straps should be snug and right next to your chin...not 1 to 2 inches off.Having a loose strap allows the helmet to move and expose your head which is the last thing youd want when crashing.

Before you neg prop me , I invite you to go to your garage, put your helmet on and do this test...

I may have just saved your life...Your welcome.

Again Zoe is Rad, this is going to be an awesome show and I see a large majority of riders riding around with a loose helmet...So, Im not trying blame her but youd think PB would have more professionalism and pick up on those things...have you EVER seen a car show with the driver driving around without his seatbelt on?
  • 4 18
flag endlessblockades (Oct 16, 2019 at 20:42) (Below Threshold)
 @neroleeloo: I wear a full face that doesn't come off, but my old Bell Sixer stuck to my dome without the straps being so tight that they gave me neck zits. Great condescending rant, though.
  • 2 4
 Both those ladies need to full face that shit too! Those are gnarly runs! She already went down on her first timed run. Even the pros go down! She's going to mess up that beautiful face. Smile
  • 9 0
 Great video & awesome advice. Looks like Zoe would also benefit from cutting her bars down.
  • 16 6
 Already better than the Privateer series Book It
  • 5 0
 Good job PB, I like the idea of kind of flipping the Privateer premise on its head this time; i.e. Adam was already a shredder skill-wise but needed strength/fitness/mobility, while here we have a super-fit XC racer who needs the endurobro skills. Looking forward to the series and seeing how all the pros find themselves as coaches.
  • 7 1
 Yeah Zoe!! Such an incredible rider and a true ambassador of the sport. Thank you Pinkbike for putting this series together showcasing some amazingly rad women
  • 4 0
 Ok, finally some female pro tips on enduro riding, it's something us ladies have been looking for. I also appreciate everyone's advice from the couch. Now I have an idea of what I look like when I hear the butt buzz of a 29er!
  • 5 0
 Very good, even if you understand the spoken word very little you can immediately understand the gestures and movements. Very, very good.
  • 4 0
 Great idea for a series. Yes, Georgia's level of riding contrast to Zoe's learning curve.Nice work. The next one, bike set up, a lot of riders need help with that.
  • 3 1
 The whole time she was getting coached I was waiting for the pro tell her to assume more of a neutral position. She was sitting too far back probably making the descent not as easy especially on that trail. But what do I know...
  • 7 0
 We address body position in an upcoming episode!
  • 3 1
body position
being gripped by fear
ignoring fundamentals

learn some fundamental skills (firstly how to move your weight around the bike) on less consequential terrain
try flat pedals

now i will wait for the downvotes
  • 3 0
 Super cool! More content like this will get more women into the sport. Especially around my area there’s lots of room for improvement within this matter.
  • 1 0
 Those bars are wide for such a small person, please, someone help a gal out!

It's cool that Zoe is interested in this progression, it'll make her a better and faster XC rider even if she never races enduro.

Great place to pick up skills, love those root bundles in the dry ... in the wet not so much Smile
  • 3 0
 Yeah Zoe! Looking forward to this series. I met Zoe this summer the day before they filmed this. She's super nice and from what I hear she's a shredder with no fear.
  • 4 0
 This series needs a technique and line choice consultant. Where is Ben Cathro ?

  • 1 0
 That serie is pretty fine and I already like it! I rode that trail 19th hole in Squamish and it s pretty steep and challenging.... I think we had a few months ago a guy racing for Norco making a video here showing lines choices... Anyway that s gonna be good improvement cause we see on the teaser she s gonna ride drop in clinic at Whistler! What an achievement! Good job girls!
  • 5 0
 More of this!
  • 1 0
 Great Episode. I would love to see more. Especially explanations for line choices. A viewer like myself could learn a lot. PS: The bars are a bit narrow from a year 2030 perspective, but if it suits you Smile
  • 2 1
 This will be a rad series - I’m stoked to learn some stuff from it as someone just getting interested in giving enduro racing a shot...even as an old, slow and broken-down dude. Good stuff!
  • 4 0
 How in hell can you live in Squamish and ride XC?
  • 2 0
 Such a great episode Geo and Zoe! Hard being in front of the camera but you girls nailed it. Can't wait for the comments when it comes to our episode hahah
  • 3 0
 Zoe is a super rad Squamish Shredder and super nice as well Smile
  • 1 2
 CANADIANS PLEASE HELP*** I need some good trails/trail centers to ride near Montreal, I am heading up there from New York this weekend, please throw me a bone for trails nearish (2hrs) from the boarder. Any help is appreciated
  • 2 0
 Check out Ski Bromont
  • 1 0
 Bromont, Sutton, Kingdom Trails (VT)
  • 2 0
 Oka very close to Montreal, Sentier du Moulin and Vallee bras du Nord close to Quebec city but maybe to up north.
  • 2 0
 1 hour drive north of Montreal (my backyard) Ski Chantecler, St-Sauveur, check trailforks for this one: Spenard Trails (on Chemin Dauville, Ste Adele (really really my back yard)

And drop me a line when you get here... let's ride!
  • 1 0
 Depends pretty much on what you like to ride and your skill level.

The closest to Montreal is Oka (approx 40 minutes). You love to shred the A-Line at the Whistler Bike Park? Well, you will not like Oka too much. Rather X-Country and not too technical.

Further north is e.g. Chantecler. Have not been there for a while but it seems that this is more technical.

In the east of Montreal there is Bromont (approx 1 hour). Downhill for all levels!
  • 1 0
 @YouYou: Pretty sure Bromont is closed for the season. Usually MSS bike park up north stays open a few weeks longer.
  • 2 1
 You can also check out Coaticook if you're coming up through Vermont past Stansted. But really, you posted in an unrelated article, you gave no information about what you like to ride or what your skill level is, you haven't mentioned checking Trailforks or any number of easy resources, and you haven't replied to all the helpful suggestions, so not too sure what you're expecting here. YouTube is literally jammed with awesome recent Quebec videos.
  • 3 0
 Real fun to watch. Good tips for the average rider, like me. Wink
  • 2 0
 I like the idea, however I think it will be a long way for her from being a passenger to being a rider
  • 4 2
 Not exactly my definition of "made it through".
  • 2 0
 Zoe's bars look too wide for her.
  • 2 0
 Isnt that just called "Getting Better"?
  • 1 0
 Love it, thank you. The advice Zoe gets should appeal and be relevant to a lot of riders.
  • 1 0
 Talk about rapid progression, you're shredding Zoe! Keep the rubber side down ok? Great vid, looking forward to Ep.II.
  • 2 0
 Represented Canada? Curious
  • 1 0
 Her accent is from the far, far, far southwest part of Canada, eh?
  • 2 1
 I know... Honestly there were times she sounded Aussie.
  • 1 3
 I was thinking the XC rider was going to give the Enduro racer Enduro racing tips. XC racers have to drop into descents with no recovery, at max heart rates etc. The XC courses these days are pretty gnarly. Takes a lot of skill to descend when you don't have the luxury at the top to chill and recover. Look at Geoff Kabush, he routinely crushes/wins Enduro races, even at 40+. Enduro is fun discipline for former World Cup XC and DH athletes to retire and stay relevant.
  • 1 0
 Cool, looking forward to seeing the next episode. Best of luck with your project.
  • 1 0
 I have no clue what it was about but that was hands down the best video of 2019...
  • 5 4
 Jeez get some protection on girl. Namely a full face.
  • 1 0
 So excited for this series already shared with my friends!
  • 1 0
 Very cool stuff! More lady enduro racers!
  • 1 0
 Her fork looked locked out during the timed run....
  • 8 9
 She's probably already better than many guys who ride enduro bikes! Looking forward to the next ones!
  • 5 0
 It can't hurt that she's f-ing jacked
  • 2 1
 Never go "Full Enduro".
  • 1 1
 Doesn't she already win enduros though?
  • 1 0
 Even then though there's a big step up from locals to nationals, then onto EWS. Ella Connolly has done the same. Was a GB Squad XC racer 4 seasons ago, did well in some UK enduros, then got some support to step it up on the National level races, before tackling EWS. 3 seasons in and she's now a podium contender.
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