Enduro: Mountain biking’s activity du jour. It seems like it might just be a large part of the future of racing bicycles up and across, but mostly back down the mountains. As normal with ‘The Future’ it has turned up not a moment too soon, for me at least. Yes, I am clambering aboard the Enduro racing bandwagon, but I’ve been waiting for it to turn up for some time now. Going as fast as possible down whatever trail I can find is pretty much the rhyme and reason of why I mountain bike and finally it seems what I enjoy about mountain bicycles has been turned into a race. No longer must we compromise in order to race. No longer must we choose between endless laps of the same XC course, or a 20 minutes of fear filled DH time on a bike that is ideal for neither. The days of racing in an XC queue or Queuing for a DH race are over, An Enduro race is a Mountain Bike Race.
So yes, this is a blog about doing a bit of enduroing (endurage?). If all goes to plan 3 of the UK rounds, a splash of euro action (read: being destroyed by the euro brigade) at a Superenduro and whatever else the budget will allow. The bike? A 140/120mm Stumpjumper of 2007 vintage since you ask, chosen because it is the bike that I own. It’ll have three chainrings on the front, a nine speed cassette on the back and a normal ‘just a tube’ seatpost, because that is what it has. I could pass those of as disadvantages, but this bike has one trick up its aluminium sleeve; It is mine. I ride it every day, on everything. It is not dug out the shed three times a year, it is the bike that I ride, the bike that I know. And if I come last I’ll keep the ‘no dropper’ card close to hand. Any other preparations then? Aside from the daily bicycle commute through umpteen sets of lights, the monthly fight club that is the local mate’s race and all the ‘just normal mountain biking’ I can fit in, that is a no.
The plan is to race for fun, but nothing makes me question myself like finding out how fast I can actually ride a mountain bike. As I sit waiting at the top of another trail about to twist its way into the darker parts of a English/Scottish/Welsh plantation hopefully the self doubt will not weigh to heavily on my shoulders. If I can keep my chin up both physically and metaphorically and keep it together for long enough to reach the fireroad and marshall at the other side of that particular bit of forest all should be well. Fingers crossed, the lower half of the seniors cat won’t know what’s hit it. Whatever happens, it is better to know where you stand, and nothing makes me push the limits of what I can do astride a bicycle like knowing there will be a few mates waiting at the finish line, with times to compare. I may not be riding particularly fast, but it is fast for me. Thing is, fast is fun, there is something good about ragging yourself silly, putting in every pedal stroke possible, that doesn’t seem appropriate on a normal ‘just riding’ bicycle jaunt.
So there you have it, riding fast, for fun, on my bicycle. Sounds like a good way to spend a few Sundays.