An enduro is a lot like going to a trail ride, with some sections of racing.
Arrive at the event early, as sign-on is usually underway by about 8am. The first riders depart at 10am sharp and you want to have plenty of time to get yourself well organised.
Don’t start your bike when you take it off the trailer. Your bike must be dead cold at the start of the event.
When you sign on you will be given a number to place on the front of your bike. Usually the first 15 or so numbers are given to the expert riders. Basically, three riders leave each minute with each of the three-rider groups set off at one-minute intervals.
Bike numbers: So the number system is 1, 1A, & 1B. These will be the first 3 riders to leave at 10 am. Assuming you are given 22A when you sign on, this means you will start at 10:22. At the Start Time control, when the flip card shows 22, you have one minute to start your bike from cold, warm it up and ride off. A failed start will cost you a heap of penalty points. (Stay calm and do what you normally do).
Now you are into it and your day has begun. The day is usually broken up into at least 4 sections or more, commonly known as Trail sections. What happens now is you have a certain amount of time to get to the start of the next Trail section. Usually at least the first 2 sections the time is quite relaxed and if you are a confident rider, you will get there with time to spare. This will allow you time to refuel and get something to eat and drink without having to rush too much.
Terrain Tests: A Terrain Test is a section of track within a Trail section. This is the racing part and there are usually 4 or 5 of these during the day. You will find a couple of people waiting somewhere on the trail armed with a clipboard and an electronic device. Once they have recorded the number off your bike, they will say “go when you are ready”.
Now is the time to ride as fast as possible without crashing. This section will take between 5 to 10 minutes and you will come to the Terrain Test Finish. Two more people with a clipboard and an electronic device. Stop to be logged out. You have just been timed through the terrain test and every second is 1 point. The least points the better in this game. If a faster rider catches you during a terrain test, be courteous and pull to the side of the track to let them past. That way you won’t ruin his terrain test and you will benefit from following a faster rider.
You carry on and arrive at the next pit area and start of the next trail section (sometimes there are two refuelling locations, so it pays to have two fuel cans). Check how much time you have before starting the next section, refuel and get ready to repeat the process. When the No.22 appears on the flip card again, push your bike through the time control, restart your bike on the other side of the time control and head off again.
Time, Distance & Speed: When you sign on, there will be an information sheet informing you how many kilometres each section is, how many minutes you have to complete each section and the average speed for each section. The riders take notes of this information and use it to plan out the ride. This way you will know when to conserve energy on the trail sections and when you need to be on the gas.
Let’s say you arrive at the next section and the flip card is now reading 27 and you still need to refuel. Refuel quickly if you need to and try to get something to eat and drink. You get to the check, hand in your card and now it’s on 29. So you have lost 7 minutes of trail time for that section. You get 50 points per minute lost, so you have just added 350 points to your score. The Time control will mark your card with 29 and at the next check you will need to check in when the flip card says 29.
You cannot get back the time you have lost and you are allowed to lose up to 60 minutes of time before you have “houred out” and are considered a DNF.
When you arrive at your last time control for the day, you hand in your time card and your day is done (intermediate riders are usually not required to do as many sections as the experts).
The results are usually available fairly quickly and you can see how you stacked up against the stop watch and the other riders. Enduros are great fun. You will get plenty of riding for the day, and it’s a great way to lift your trail skills, fitness, and speed. It’s a great atmosphere.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
© Words courtesy www.silver-bullet.co.nz