Beginner’s Guide to Enduro

Photo: Dan Dobinson

Enduro is the word on most Mountain Bikers’ lips, but it can also describe the type of recreational riding you do. Do you ride your mountain bike up the hills so that you can blast it back down as fast as possible? Do you check out the down-hill Strava segments and give little regard to the uphill ones? Does your bike have the gnarliest grippiest biggest tyres that you could find to fit your bike? If the answers are Yes, then you are Totally Enduro Bro! So then what is Enduro all about? As a racing format it is all about timing the downhill sections. It mixes just the right amount of technical skills with some fitness and a little bit of bravery. You cover between 20km and 30km for the whole ride and are expected to get to the top of each hill under your own steam and at your own leisure, but you are only timed from the start to the end of each descent (each one called a stage), and the lowest accumulated times gives you the winners. Most Enduros are made up of 4 or 5 stages, followed by the compulsory beer and banter, and then a prize giving and lucky draw where you actually stand a chance of winning something. Entering an Enduro is easy enough, and they are regularly being hosted all over the country, but being Totally Enduro Bro is all about following these critically important guidelines:

THE OBVIOUS

You need a mountain bike, preferable a longer travel full suspension with any size wheel. But a rusty hand-made steel hardtail with a big travel fork will also do. You need to protect yourself, so a good pair of knee and elbow pads will only make you more Enduro. A high coverage trail helmet (even one with a detach-able chin guard) is also highly recommended. And you need a crew; riding an Enduro on your own is pretty lame so get your riding posse together and make some noise.

TRAIL ETIQUETTE

Enduro is all about having fun. Rushing around and getting uptight is for trail runners. The fit guys will get to the start of the stages first and the slower guys may have to wait a bit before setting off down the stage. For example, we don’t want people to push into the front of the line, but if your mates are up ahead, then move on by … in the end we all want to ride with our mates. Also if you are faster than the person setting off ahead of you, give them a bigger gap and communicate with those waiting behind you. And if you feel that you are slower than the person following you, give them a heads up and ask them to give you a break. No one want to pass, or be passed, when in the middle of a race run. Lastly, let’s all greet one
another along the ride and shout some support if you spot someone in the middle of their run.

THE UNWRITTEN

Style is a big factor in Enduro. Extra (unofficial) points are earned for elaborate/bright matching riding kit. Brands that you can’t get in SA will make you even cooler. And bicycle customizing and bling upgrades don’t go unnoticed, especially if they are rare, local and/or expensive. If you ride with clip shoes and pedals you are probably gonna be a bit faster on the Enduro, but if you are one of the cool kids who ride flats, you have to show this off with drifting and foot-outs around every turn.

THE UNFORGIVABLE

A helmet without a peak looks really really stupid. Short-finger gloves don’t belong on the mountain and barely belong in a gym – get yourself some proper long-finger mountain bike gloves for goodness sake. No wearing lycra goes without saying but the trail shorts you choose need to be long enough to cover a bit of the knee pad too. We don’t want that awkward exposed bit of thigh to get a bad sunburn. But the most unforgivable act of Anti-Enduro is short socks. Secret socks should secretly remain in your cupboard at home. You want long socks that get halfway up your calf and finish a little below your knee pad (that sexy “hoop” tan around your calf is totally Enduro). Ankles must be covered for the Enduro, until you can show them off in your flip-flops at the finish. If you have been wondering if you’re Enduro enough, now you know the small steps needed to become Totally Enduro Bro. Get your sh*t together and let’s see you out there at the next Enduro event with your crew bantering about where you could have been faster, who you beat and whose short socks/gloves/shorts looked really stupid.

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