This week, I was peer-pressured into participating in a Enduro racing clinic in preparation for the Wasatch Bell Enduro Race at Canyons this weekend. What is Enduro, you ask? I had the same question. According to Endurocupmtb.com, Enduro racing, while popular in Europe, is fairly new to the US. Basically, Enduro combines the excitement of Downhill, the fitness of Cross Country and is a much more social style of racing. It is also the fastest growing mountain bike race discipline in the North America. It uses a rally style format involving timed Competition Stages (descents) linked by Transfer Stages (climbs) that are not factored into the overall time. While the transfer stages are not timed, there is a set time limit for each one. One of the greatest things about this race format is that the best bike for this style is actually the type of bike that most people already own – a 5-6in travel bike.
While I am not much of a mountain biker, the race style intrigued me and when I found out about the clinic that was for Women and Juniors, I succumbed to peer pressure and let a couple of girlfriends talk me into it. Let me be clear and say that I do not mountain bike regularly. In fact, I’m currently attempting to overcome my fear of the sport. I figured that if I’m going to continue with the sport, might as well have some pr0-riders like Heather Irmiger, Kelli Emmett, and Katie Holden as my teachers. The idea behind the clinic was to give women who are participating in the race a chance to experience some of the course, as well as introduce others to the style of racing and help with skills necessary on downhill portions of trails.
Since I don’t have much of a bike, I rented a Cannondale Scarlet (ladies, if you get the chance, you should check out this bike – so fun) from Canyon Mountain Rentals for the clinic. About 30 women and five Juniors signed up, and as soon as we were all set we headed up Red Pine Gondola. Our first stage was what will be a “transfer” stage – we took Mid-Mountain from Red Pine Lodge up to Lookout Peak, and re-grouped after the mile climb. Despite the ominous clouds threatening a downpour and lightning off in the distance, we began the clinic. Kelli, Heather, and Katie split us women into two groups based on ability, and off we went. The more experienced group headed down Insurgent to Lower Holly’s, which is the final stage of the race on Saturday, to become familiar with the trail. It should go without saying that I was in the less-experienced group. Heather was our fearless leader, and we spent our time on Holly’s. She spent some time going over the skills necessary to ride through switchbacks, over rock gardens, and handling the bike at high speeds. I am proud to say I handled every switchback and bump in the road with grace and ease. OK, maybe not ease but I didn’t fall! And maybe not grace, but who cares, I did it. And man was it fun.
After this clinic, I now understand the excitement behind Enduro racing. I appreciate the skills necessary for this style of race, but I also appreciate the social aspect of it. Because the downhill stages are one at a time, it gives the riders a chance to get to know their fellow competitors and hang out for a bit while they wait their turn. This is one of the main reasons this racing style is growing in popularity.
Come out on Saturday and check out the Wasatch Bell Enduro Cup Race. Pros, amateurs, women and juniors alike will be testing their skills on our trails. For a full map of the course plus information on trail closures, click here. Following the award ceremony will be our kickoff to the Summer Concert Series with a free show of JJ Grey and MoFro.
For those of you interested in improving your bike handling skills for both cross-country style riding or if you have an interest to check out our downhill Bike Park, head to our Bike Academy where our newly certified PMBI instructors will teach you the basics or help improve your existing skills.
While you are there, check out our rental fleet of GT and Cannondale bikes, which we are proud to say includes a few 2014 GT Force and Sensor Carbon Pro bikes with angle optimized suspensions and the new industry trend of 27.5 inch wheels (650B).
Time to get outside!