Enduro mountain bike (mtb) racing is a relatively new and highly competitive adventure sport.
It is the extreme end of mountain biking, and has the attention and respect from all levels and all disciplines of the mountain biking community. Riders from all disciplines look to the top level endurance riders for ways to improve their own cycling.
In many ways, it is a significant distance and time extension of the traditional olympic cross-country (XCO) mountain bike race.
Riders race their bikes on a variety of mountainous dirt trails, which combines single track and fire trails.
A traditional XCO race is usually run on a circuit which is 6 - 8km in length. Cyclists will complete multiple laps, up to a total of 50km. Races will take 2 - 3 hours.
In contrast, an enduro race (XCE) or marathon race, will have a race time from 4 hrs - 24 hrs. Enduro stage races can also span multiple days.
Enduro or marathon races will usually fall into one of the following categories;
- 100 km or 100 miles, point to point race
- 4, 6, 8, 12 or 24 hours looping around the same circuit
- 5 - 7 day stage race, each day up to 100km
Depending on the event, enduro races allow for riders to either ride the event solo, or in teams of 2 - 6 riders. Many point to point races will also offer shorter distances, such as 50 and 75km options.
To be successful in the XCE format, riders requires significant skills in all areas of riding. Coupled with the physical and mental demands of such gruelling events it is often considered an ultimate test of ones XC ability.
The flag ship event for Enduro races is the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo 24 hr race - http://www.24hoursofadrenalin.com, which since 2001 has been held in the USA / Canada, and has recently been dominated by Australian riders.
The 2010 race was held at Mt Stromlo in Canberra, with Australian's dominating the international field and claiming the podium in both the Elite men and Elite women categories.
Where do races take place?
Enduro races occur all over Australia, and are run via a mixture of local clubs and private organizations.
Unlike state and national XCO races which are governed by the International Cycling Federation (UCI), XCE races are run independently by individual organizations. The UCI currently has a working committee to discuss the development and support of the XC marathon and enduro formats.
Most XCE races in Australia are sanctioned by Mountain Biking Australia (MTBA). This allows for flexibility in rules, regulations and sponsorship - often allowing the races to far more accessible and interesting to a wider competitor base.
It is likely that you can find an Enduro race occurring within every other weekend. See http://www.enduropulse.com.au/
Canberra is fortunate enough to have the Canberra Off Road Cycle Club (CORC) - which is the largest cycle club in Australia. Combined with the excellent ACT Government funded Stromlo Forest Park facilities, CORC regularly host local, state and national XC events.
Races in Canberra are often held at either;
- Stromlo Forest Park
- Majura Pines (Behind Watson)
- Sparrow Hill (Captains Flat road behind Queanbeyan)
Other common NSW race venues include;
- Coondoo Rd, Nowra
- Del Rio Resort, Wisemans Ferry
- Dargle Farm, Lower Portland
- Yellomundee Regional Park, Yarramundi
- Appin XC, Wollongong
Clubs close to Canberra which host regular enduro races include;
- CORC - Canberra off road cycle club - http://www.corc.asn.au/
- SCUM - South coast united mountain bikers - http://www.scum.asn.au/
- WSMTB - Western Sydney mountain bike - http://www.wsmtb.com/
- BIKE SA - South Australian mountain bike a
Private organizers which host regular and inaugural events include;
- Rocky Trail Entertainment - http://www.rockytrailentertainment.com/
- Wild Horizons - http://www.wildhorizons.com.au
- Choc. Foot - http://www.chocolatefoot.com.au
- Bright Orange Events - http://www.enduromtb.com/
- AROC - http://www.arocsport.com.au/
- Finishline Events
What is the level of event participation and spectator-ship?
Depending on the event, participation can range from 100 - 2500+ riders.
Certain events have become well known and entries are highly sought after, often with event registrations filling within the first day!
Depending on the event, spectator ship and support crew participation will vary. Events which are circuit based and have open trail sections are great for spectators.
The recent Scott & World 24 hr races at Stromlo Forest Park had nearly 3000 riders.
In addition to the riders, solo riders will generally have a support crew of 2 - 3 persons.
Between riders, support crews and spectators, the number of people at one of these events is significant.
What is the rider demographic?
At any event there will be riders from 21 to 50+.
Generally speaking, the shorter enduro races (100km / 4 hour) are populated by a younger crowd. 35 years or less would be the dominate age group.
However, as the distances and times get longer, so does the dominate age group.
In the 24 hour format, the 35 - 45 age group has the most competitors. Generally speaking, the top enduro riders are in the 35 - 40 age bracket. It is rare to find a top level 24 hour racer under 30.
Are there any organized teams or sponsorship?
There is limited team and sponsorship opportunity.
Generally, prize money for events is not significant. Event winners for the larger private events may win up to $8000.
Some bike shops will form teams and provide support to their riders.
Local Canberra bike shops which provide team support include;
- ACT Bike Superstore - http://www.bikesuperstore.com.au/
- Bike Culture O'Conner - http://www.bcact.com.au/
- Maladjusted Dickson - http://www.maladjusted.com.au/
- OnyaBike (Belconnen, Tuggrenong, Civic) - http://www.onyabikebelco.com.au/
There are some privately funded teams, such as;
* Rockstar Racing - http://www.rockstarracing.com.au (Toyota/Giant)
* Torq nutrition - http://www.torqaustralia.com.au (Torq/Cube/SRAM)
* Swell-Redshift design - http://redshiftracing.net/
* Radical lights - http://www.radical-lights.com/rlfr/RadicalLightsFactoryRacing.php
* Enduro Pulse - http://www.enduropulse.com.au/
* Marathon MTB - http://www.marathonmtb.com/
Manufacturer support (ie Giant) is limited to a few elite riders - with most sponsorship going to UCI / XCO events and riders.
Overall, rider sponsorship in enduro racing is adhoc and limited.
Mainstream media attention of the enduro races is increasing.
Aside from industry specific media (web and print), during 2010, the following races gained local and national media attention;
* World Solo 24 hr - National and World media coverage, SBS TV coverage
* Kona Mawson Marathon - National media coverage, SBS TV documentary (also aired overseas)
* National Solo 24 hr - National media coverage, DVD documentary
There are a variety of national and international sites which are actively following and reporting on enduro races. These include;
What are the costs involved?
- XC Bike ~ $6000 - $8000 (24 hr solo riders will run two (2) bikes at the race)
-- race wheel set $1500
-- general component maintenance $1000 (brakes, gears, suspension etc)
-- tires $60 - $140 each (new tires are run any any major event)
- Race entry ~ $20 - 50 (club race), $100 - $400 (private / national event), $1000-$2000 (supported stage race)
- Race and training food ~ $200 / month (gels, electrolyte mixes, protein mixes etc)
- Coaching ~ $250 / month
- Power meter ~ $1000 - $2500
- Misc kit
-- knicks ~ $200
-- jersey ~ $150
-- shoes ~ $250
-- heart rate monitor ~ $300
-- winter riding gear ~ $300
- Lights - $700 light set + battery
- Travel and camping accommodation - car or air travel to events
A 24 hour race requires about 3 months preparation. Training rides ramp up to > 20 hrs/week.
Outside of 24 hr race preparation, weekly training time on the bike is 15 - 20 hrs.
Most training is done on a road bike, and to be effective the use of a power meter is essential.
Training sessions are highly structured, focusing on areas such as VO2 max, endurance, tempo and recovery.
What makes a good enduro rider?
The top Elite enduro riders are those with good skills in all areas of XC riding.
- technical skills
Regardless of technical skill, an all important factor in enduro races is nutrition. Much research has been performed on ultra-endurance athletes and what their bodies require to complete these sort of events. Carbohydrate and electrolyte intake is essential, and must be taken in the right proportions and the right times.
Behind every top rider is a top pit crew. In the longer races, a pit crew is essential. Their role is to feed the rider, and monitor their food and drink intake - adjusting accordingly. They also provide key motivation and support to their rider. A pit crew will also be responsible for mechanical duties.
In a 12 or 24 hour race, riders will run multiple bikes, swapping them over periodically to allow them to be mechanically checked and serviced.