If you wanted to avoid all mention of enduro in the world of Mountain biking this year you would be hard pushed. Great as it is to see the UK’s Tracy Moseley doing so well and to be inspired by her and the other hugely talented competitors in the World Enduro Series (WES), the reality of pointing your bike down a super-steep and technical descent, having never ridden or even walked it before, AND riding against the clock is probably a bit daunting to most of us… So how can we, the weekend warrior masses, get a taster of this fantastic sport without scaring ourselves stupid? Well, here at Pedal Planner we’ve done the desk-yards so you don’t have to… Here’s our guide to super friendly “entry level” enduro events.
Some of the UK’s enlightened event organisers have recognised that entering a national may not be the best way to pop your enduro cherry, and have set about organising events that will be enjoyable and rewarding for riders with a range of technical abilities and who fancy having a go at enduro without scaring themselves out of their open-face helmets.
What is a Funduro or Mini Enduro?
There are no hard and fast rules here of course, however the sort of characteristics that these events might typically involve include:
- Opportunity to pre-ride special stages, in your own time, not worried about seeding times
- Though “Specials” may be reasonably demanding (and therefore fun and rewarding) in these events they are likely to have “chicken-routes” (option to take an alternative [slower] line to avoid the more challenging obstacles) or are “rollable” (i.e. no gaps or drops so severe that getting airborne is the only way to clear them).
- Shorter distances to transition between “specials” and/or more generous time allowances mean that they are much more doable for riders with modest levels of fitness. These more compact routes are also more spectator friendly, meaning you get more support from your family and friends.
- Many have classes for hardtail bikes, meaning that XC riders can have a go and be on an equal footing.
- Most lay on informal or formal coaching sessions as part of the practice
- Ultimately a more relaxed approach; there is nothing like a bit of fancy dress to wipe the race-face off the racer who is trying to psyche you out in the pits!
The approach taken by organisers may differ but ultimately they are all doing a great job of achieving the same thing; friendly and supportive events where riders can have the best possible time, improve their riding, get a rewarding start in enduro racing and have a lot of fun in the process; we salute them all.
The original Mini Enduro…
ONE Industries Mini Enduros event organiser Chris Roberts is building on the success of the mini downhill series with these events, three races held at the Forest of Dean and Bike Park Wales, complemented by two night time races run at Llandeglla and the Forest of Dean. The events involve 3 “specials” and literally have a class for everyone: hardtails, e-bikes, under 12s and over 50s.
And to make sure the kids are well catered for, Gareth, manager at the Forest of Dean Pedalabikeaway Cycle Centre, is organising a couple of “Little Fodders Go-Ride Racing Mini Enduros” on the 5th September and a follow-up the day before the ONE Industries mini enduro on the 17th of October.
…But it’s “Funduro” that is really taking off north of the border
…And with good reason. Muckmedden Events have been organising fun mountain bike events on Scotland’s east coast since 2011. Their funduros have a super-friendly atmosphere and trails that are just technical enough to make riders feel elated, not deflated; they are the perfect events for the Enduro curious novice to try their hand at racing. These events are all about having fun, not shaving tenths off stage times.
Muckmedden pride themsleves on their family friendly approach. Organiser Aaron Gray commented; “Lots of our entrants bring their family to our events as they know there will always be kids races and other activities to keep them amused. Our events offer a high quality spectator experience by providing creature comforts such as undercover seating areas, baby-change facilities, high quality food and drinks providers, mobile bike-tracks, professional race commentary, kids bike races, professional coaching and other fun attractions.”
With three funduros still to run in the 2015 calendar, there is plenty of time to get involved.
Or you could “get a little camp” at Dunoon Camp Enduro
It seems that dressing-up is the “new big thing” with our Scottish friends; if you fancy getting a bit camp alongside your enduro antics, then No Fuss have just the thing for you. Camp Enduro is a way to celebrate people who love to ride bikes, people who have fun and who might even be thinking about trying a race one day. The weekend is for mtb’ers with beginner to intermediate skills. It will give you the chance to ride your bike and learn new skills in a friendly and supportive environment. The No Fuss crew are keen to emphasise that there will be no place for macho behaviour; indeed this being Camp Enduro there is an expectation that the ladies will be sporting the finest Euro Moustaches and gentlemen must wear a splendid tutu.
Well known faces of mtb coaching will take riders through the technical elements in practice on Saturday, followed by an evening of entertainment and a meal in the Argyll Hotel in Dunoon, where you can also take the option of staying the night. The evening will include a selection of films and some speakers. You will also be able to chat over the day’s coaching with each other, and the coaches. Race day follows on Sunday, riders will have up to 4 hours to complete the 12miles/20km with 2800FT/ 850m ascent before the podium presentations.
Or go west, with Enduros in the south.
Riders with a more southerly disposition need not feel left out. The Dirty Rascals Weekender, coming up in early October at the famous Newnham Park venue on the southern border of Dartmoor offers a couple of enduro events which will appeal to gravity first-timers as well as seasoned racers. Meanwhile across at Enduro1 HQ, Carlos is working hard on your behalf to secure land access for Autumn Mini Enduro races to be held in the south east , to compliment his south west biased three round “full fat” Enduro1 Series.
So it is clear to us, whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your dressing-up dirty secret is, if you are interested enough in enduro to be reading this then you OWE IT TO YOURSELF to have a go at one of these fantastic events. The fun is guaranteed, and you never know it might just be your first step towards your debut at the WES!
Our thanks to Aaron Gray at Muckmedden and Ian Potter for the images of their events. To Fi and the No Fuss crew, and Chris Roberts of Naked Racing for their help and input to this article.