The essential guide for your first enduro race
Are you taking the leap this year and riding your first enduro race? Maybe you’re not fit enough to ride like a pro, but you can certainly ride like a Bro. Ladies and Gentleman, this feature will guide you to maximum racing fun!
Are you taking the plunge this year and having a go at your first enduro race? While you may not be fit enough to enduro like a pro, we show you how to enduro like a bro (there’s no sexism here, girls can be bros too)! Far from the high-stakes, high-pressure carnival of the Enduro World Series, the grass-roots enduro scene is stronger and more fun than ever. With a host of great races, it’s the perfect way to spend a summer weekend with your mates. Not only will you get to ride the best trails in the area, but you’ll also get to see if you’re faster than your buddies while having a lot of laughs and making a bunch of new friends too. You may be expecting this ‘how to’ article to be all about tactics, nutrition and seeking out those hidden milliseconds. It’s not. Let’s leave that for the wannabe pros. We’ve put together an alternative guide to ‘enduroing’ for those who don’t want to pretend they’re a pro racer. This is all about having fun, making buddies and being a bro.
You’re in……now what?
So, you’ve succumbed to peer pressure and have signed up for your first enduro race. Are you nervous? Are you consumed with trepidation and anxiety? “Am I fit enough?” “Will I be able to make it round the course?” “Will anyone talk to me?”, “WHAT AM I DOING?” Don’t panic. The minute you arrive you’ll discover that the grass-roots enduro racing scene is a super friendly one. It draws in riders of all abilities, with some battling for the top spots and some simply enjoying the buzz of riding between the tapes and trying not to crash. If it’s your first race, often it’s best to pick an event near your home trails so you know what to expect.
Bro tip: If it’s your first race, don’t sign up for an Enduro World Series round. Instead look for one of the new festival events, combining fun racing with the magical ingredients of beer, food and music. If the trails are too hard, at least you can celebrate with your mates in the evening.
Peer pressure is everything
Speaking of mates, racing is a lot more fun when surrounded by friends. Fact. Not only will they keep you motivated on the climbs but they will also be there to mock you mercilessly when you ride into a bush. To best enjoy your first race, round up a posse and head down as a crew for some good times and banter.
Bro tip: WIf your friends can’t be persuaded, simply ‘borrow’ their credit cards and sign them up anyway. Sometimes it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than get permission.
What bike do I need?
If you’re reading ENDURO magazine, well done, you’re already well informed about the latest bikes on the market and no-doubt you already have a ‘race-ready’ bike in the shed. While it may not be an ENVE’ed up #superbike, for grassroots enduro’s all you need is the bike you normally ride with your mates. Whether it be a 140 mm trail bike, hardcore gnar-tail, or cutting edge 160 mm enduro beast, they’ll all work (though not a DH bike, that would be hellish!). There are now categories for eMTB’s too if you like to ride with a bit of assistance. As your experience grows you will start to learn more about what works for you and what doesn’t, but in the beginning, just bring the bike you love. If your bike is really sub-optimal, there’s a lot you can do to polish the turd and make your bike faster without spending any money. Spend some time setting up your suspension (we explain further back in the issue how this works) and make sure your tire pressures are optimal. Regardless of what you’re riding, make sure you give your bike a proper once over to make sure it’s race ready before strapping on the number board.
Bro tip: If you want a special treat, stick some fresh tires on, for that ‘fresh sneaker’ feeling. Fresh rubber will make a world of difference to your confidence and grip and we love pairing the MAXXIS Minion DHR II and DHF tyres – a combination you can’t go wrong with.
Do I need to be fit?
These days, to win an elite race you need the skills of a bike ninja combined with the body composition of a fillet steak. Watching ‘Deathgrip’ a million times on the sofa will not make you any fitter, so be sure to get out on your bike as much as possible leading up to the event. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it, and indeed your whole summer. However, don’t burn yourself out during practice and be sure to save some energy for throwing shapes on the dancefloor during the Saturday night party – oh yes, and lest we forget race day.
Bro tip: You don’t need to spend the next month turning yourself inside out on the turbo trainer to get fit. One great tip is to try and ride your normal trails and descents without stopping for a natter at the tops and bottoms of the trails, keep the momentum up to build some fitness.
What should I carry, and where do I put the kitchen sink?
STOP! To enduro like a bro you need to follow the golden rule: carry as much as necessary and as little as possible. Don’t be that fool with the 20 kg pack which thrashes around like an angry chimp on their back as they wobble down the track. Likewise, don’t be the guy shouting “Hey, can I borrow a 5 mm” at every rider passing down the stage – nobody likes that guy. If the race is a short loop, all you really need is the tools to fix a puncture, a multitool, some trail snacks and water. If you are going higher or the weather is looking questionable, you’ll need a small bag with your phone and a jacket inside too. You can get creative with the duct tape and lash tubes and tools to your bike, but there are also some great ways of attaching all you need safely to the bike.
Bro tip: For maximum bro points, lash an emergency ‘enduro banana’ to your top tube with tape. Writing “death or glory” or “if found upside down please turn over” on the banana will add more kudos.
It’s not a race to the first corner
Imagine, you’re lining up at the start line, watching rider after rider take off. Nerves are building. Then it’s your turn, knuckles white you roll to the line. “3, 2, 1, Go!”. You pedal like a maniac, faster than ever before, you’re a racehorse exploding down the track, you’re a pedalling beast, then woooah, you hit the first corner way too fast and ride straight off the track in front of everyone – stylish! We’ve all done it! It’s easy to have the red mist descend while racing but take it easy, it’s not a race to the first corner.
Bro tip: If it’s your first race, chill out, relax and enjoy it. Ride smooth and in control and don’t blow through all your reserves on the first stage, leaving you with the lungs of a hamster for the rest of the day. Be a bro, have fun and ride smooth.
Chill out and ditch the race pyjamas
Fact, having hundreds of logos on your jersey will not make you any faster! We’ve all seen the horrors of what Team Sky kit can do to middle-aged men on road bikes, and we are starting to see it at enduro races too. You don’t need to look like a pro racer to race enduros and you definitely don’t need to have your name on the back of your shirt.
Bro tip: Think neutral colours or even merino for maximum cooling and bonus style points. Leave the neon racing pyjamas to those who are fast enough to not have to pay for their bikes.
Goggles and a half lid are cool
When it comes to helmets, it’s all about personal choice. Wear what you feel comfortable in. Most elite racers at the EWS choose to rock full-face helmets for the added protection and many events even require you to wear one, so make sure to check the rules before you set off. However, at most grassroots events riders wear a normal trail helmet. Check with the organisers to see what they recommend. We love goggles, so If you do decide to rock the trail lid, make sure that it works well with them. The last thing you want when you are riding against the clock is to have to stop to fish mud out of your eyes. Crucially, you’ll also feel ‘full-bro’ with the goggles wrapped around your arm on the climbs.
Bro tip: Pick either a well vented ‘trail’ full face or a trail helmet that is compatible with goggles. Key is something that is compatible with both sunnies and goggles so you can look stylish on the day!
Don’t be a dummy, protect yourself
They say that chicks dig scars, and it’s good for the soul to shrug off the odd graze and cut with an “Ah, it’s nothing”. However, leaving a knee cap behind on the trail or having to pick gravel out of your legs in the shower is less fun. Crashing is (hopefully) a small part of racing, but we all go down sometimes. Make sure you protect yourself with the best protection you can afford. Gloves and knee pads are a must, and if your current kneepads are knackered and old, you should check out the latest options in our group test. Knee pads are more comfortable than ever before.
Bro tip: If you want to protect yourself there are now some great lightweight knee, back and elbow protection options that offer great comfort and protection. Check our knee pad group test to find the best options available.
Be someone’s hero
We’ve all heard the stories of the legends in our sport like Cecile Ravanel and Martin Maes helping other riders in distress. If you see someone struggling, giving them a hand is worth more to your bro karma than rushing past to your next stage. Enduro is like a family and one day the rider in need will be you. Always take the opportunity to save someone’s day.
Bro tip: There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone fix a tricky puncture, or encouraging them up that final big hill. Not only will you make someone’s day, but you will also have a friend for life. Be a bro, and help people out.
Look and listen
When out practising, keep your eyes and ears open. You can learn a lot by watching how the pros and faster riders scout the tracks, set up their bikes and what they carry. You can learn more in 10 minutes talking to good riders than in weeks of forum ‘research’. Make full use of practice runs and session sections that you are not sure about. It can be intimidating when everyone is gathered around a technical feature, but everyone is on your side.
Bro tip: Pro racers love bikes just as much as you and will always be happy to chat about how they prepare and dial in their rides.
Race on flats
Sam Hill is back at the top of his game, blowing the old “you need clips to ride fast” mantra out of the water. Of course, ride what you are most comfortable with, but for maximum bro points, ditch the disco slippers and clipless pedals and get yourself some flats. Not only will you be able to stick out the old ‘safety foot’ if things get a little wild in the corners, but riding on flats will make you a better rider, and teach you how to stay in control. More importantly, it will also mark you out as a proper bro.
Bro tip: If you struggle to ride with flats, book yourself in for some coaching. It’s highly likely you are pulling when you should be pushing. Get a proper lesson and prepare to have your world rocked.
Don’t be a douche when overtaking
You will probably find that whilst you are slower than some riders, amazingly, you may be faster than others. There will be rare occasions where you need to overtake or be overtaken by another rider on a timed stage. There are two ways of doing this: barging in and riding over people like a ‘douche’ or being cool like a ‘bro’ (don’t be a douche!) Etiquette states that should you need to overtake, giving a clear call of “rider” should alert the rider ahead that you are closing in and they should start looking for a safe place to pull over and let you past, the same goes if you hear someone shout behind you.
Bro tip: f you catch a rider give them a shout in plenty of time and let them find a safe place to let you past. Don’t forget to shout thanks too! If you have a faster rider behind you, when you hear the call look for a safe place to let them past – don’t be a rolling roadblock.
Get the best race photos
This is your first race, so let’s face it, you’re unlikely to win. Be a bro and get the best race shots. Most races will have photographers on site. Look out as you bomb down the stages for the photographers lurking in the bushes and pop your best manual or ‘race-face’ at them. Be the king when the social media circus begins during the Monday morning coffee break.
Bro tip: Work the crowd – kids love a good whip, or a crisp high-five if your trick bag is weak! You may lose a few seconds but you could make a kid’s day.
Don’t forget the beer afterwards
Scientists have proven that a post-race beer, tastes on average 36 times better than any other! Well, that may not be true, but grassroots enduros are all about fun and participation, so don’t get stressed if the number on your timing printout at the end is slower than you had hoped – after all, we all have to start somewhere. Don’t jump in your car, crank up Rage Against the Machine, and blaze off in annoyance.
Bro tip: For maximum bro points be sure to grab a beer with your buddies and hang around until the podiums. Don’t forget to high-five the winners – they probably finished the race in half the time you did. There’s nothing like a good post-race atmosphere to round off a great day.
So that’s it, we hope you have an awesome time at your first enduro. Have fun, make friends and be a bro!