Endurance is a funny word isn’t it? It has a lot of implications, writes Kath Fourie. For example, it can imply that if you are an ‘endurance athlete’ you can handle working out for a long time. It can also imply that you are able to endure something, like pain. Or whining. Or snoring. Or generally anything that makes you want to scream.
On the opposite end of endurance though, is reward. The thing that makes the masochism of endurance pleasurable is making it through whatever you have endured to wallow in your glory like a piggy in a puddle of mud. It’s the right to post selfies on Facebook all covered in sweat grinning like a fool whilst rocking the Metallica devil horns next to your face. Wait! It’s also the right to have all your mates click ‘like’ while inside they feel nothing but good ol’ envy. This is the essence of Enduro Mountain Biking.
The love child of XCO racing and downhill racing, Enduro is pretty much the kiffest thing since someone thought about putting two wheels on a bike and removing the safety wheels. It’s the untimed slog of the uphill, and the thrill of timed racing at pace down technical mountainsides without heaps of body armour. A far more individual style of racing, it’s lycra meets long travel, it’s recovery drinks meets beer, it’s the perfect blend of MTB culture.
Somewhere in South-East France, the bright idea of linking up timed sections of downhill track with untimed sections of in-between bits flickered into existence, and with typical style and Euro finesse the Enduro World Series is now in its second year of running. And this is no small affair; it’s big, BIG names racing this series with the likes of UK’s Tracey Moseley winning the women’s series, and France’s Jérôme Clementz winning the men’s series.
Don’t let the format fool you though; just because you’re not timed between runs doesn’t mean it’s a doddle! The linkages are often ridiculously steep, and this can leave one rather frazzled and shaken at the top of the next downhill. When you’re tired it’s easy to make mistakes, and this is where fitness plays a massive role. If you can endure the consistent and exhausting climbs without bonking, you will whizz the downhills so much better than the guy who only ever pedals if it’s to get to the local KFC.
Lucky for us, we have a couple of people in South Africa who are getting Enduro races off the ground here, following the rules laid down by the Enduro World Series. I have entered four in total, one at Giba Gorge and one in the Karkloof in 2012 and two at Cascades this year. And jirre they are fun! It’s pushing gravity riders to train on long rides and it’s pushing XC riders to do drops and small jumps and obstacles they may have ordinarily not wanted to do. And best of all, it is excellent to see young girls and boys smashing the Enduro trails right next to the experienced older riders, and doing a damn good job of it too. We’re forever talking about progression of our riders, or the lack of progressive trails for people to learn on; it’s time to stop bleating and enter an Enduro or two. If your arse isn’t kicked into progression mode I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Ja, ja, if anyone leaves a social media comment about my genetics you’re getting a slap.
It’s fair to say we’re still hiccoughing our way into organising Enduro’s properly in South Africa, the timing systems are still being tweaked but we’re getting there. Mark Sydney, Enduro Series South Africa’s chief organiser, confirms this: “Every timing system has its pros and cons. I am 100% certain it needs to be simple to suit Enduro…the search continues”.
The ever-positive and highly sociable Sydney also adds, “I am confident that Enduro has a big future in South Africa, but I have realised that it is going to take a lot to get larger numbers of riders out of their comfort zones. I need to do so much more with regards to education and articles like this definitely help, so I’d like to thank Full Sus for this”. If you’re interested in being informed about the South African Enduro Series look up the page on Facebook to be told when and where the next event will be.
Oh yes, Sydney also sent me this Whatsapp just before I finished this article “Hey huge favour…please refer to Enduro as Enduro in your article?? (frowney face) I have seen two articles lately that refer to it as Endurance???!!!” Judging by all the exclamation marks and completely appalling punctuation we need to call it Enduro, or else I’m going to have to read Whatsapp messages like that way too often. Spare me Sydney’s punctuation abuse, please!
Sus the Enduro info:
SA Enduro Series on Facebook: www.facebook.com/enduroseriessa
Perfect bike: The one you already own.
Dream bike: Longest travel 650B you can get your grubby hands on.
Aim: To have as much fun as possible and maybe tick a few rider stereotype boxes before switching back to your weight weenie cyclist ways.
Kathryn Fourie has become a bit of a regular in Full Sus lending us her considerable skills for the World Champs and introducing us to the life of a female downhiller. She’s from KZN, works for an NGO has a trail dog and a boyfriend called Mark Millar. Not Millah as she initially indicated on her official press pass application for the World Champs.