Even from the point-of-view of spectator, where I mostly find myself these days, I can see that this is a mentally and physically demanding sport that pushes the human body to the limits.
This is not to mention the fact it also pushes the engines and frames of the motorcycles to the extreme too (so hats off to the manufacturers as well).
These guys ride all day, over shocking terrain and pause only to refuel the bike or body during hurried pit stops. It’s exhausting just typing a sentence like that.
This day-long action is also a fine argument for those riders who like value for their money. Think about it, you pay about the same to enter an enduro as you do a motocross but you only spend three 20-minute bursts on the bike at a motocross while, for the enduro boys, it’s all day in the saddle (minus the time spent falling down banks in my sad case).
Speaking of which, I was gobsmacked when watching these riders scramble up a steep and rocky cliff face at a national champs event a wee while ago.
It was terrain so extreme that even the slightest failure to maintain forward momentum resulted in an agonising tumble 50 metres back to the bottom. It’s gut-wrenching, soul-sapping and disheartening stuff for these guys when, already thoroughly exhausted after hours of riding, they come across a seemingly impossible obstacle like this. And there’s no turning back. That’s simply not an option.
One man had the foresight to pack a tow rope into his bum-bag and he used this to tie to his bike’s forks so that a handful of fellow riders who were also stuck on the hill could help drag his bike to the top. This exercise was repeated until the entire group of them had all muscled and dragged all the bikes to the crest of the hill.
The good guys came first because they have the low digits and are sent off on the course first (it mystifies me why they should get this privilege) and, of course, they made it look simple when they came to this sheer cliff I mentioned. Stands to reason they had no trouble. They are good riders afterall.
But then it struck me: Of course they make it look easy; these guys hit the obstacles while they’re still clean and fresh. It’s the ‘lesser’ riders, the ones with double digits on their bikes, who get to the hillside when it’s been rorted, rutted and shredded by 50 or 60 bikes before them. Now there are your real supermen.
How about this for an idea: Have a reverse grid enduro. Take the results from the previous round of the series and set them off with slowest riders first and fastest riders last.
I know the fast guys will quickly catch the slower guys and this will cause bottlenecks at creek crossing and on rutted hillsides but, for half an hour at least, the intermediates and novice riders will get some clear air and fresh trails to ride (and the good guys catching up can give them a hand to get up the hills … yeah right). Oh well, just a thought.
Here’s another random thought too: Let’s invite the All Blacks along on an enduro. Let’s see how tough and manly they really are. A comment made to me the other day annoyed me. It went along the lines of ‘oh what kind of sport is that anyway, when you’ve got an engine to do all the work?’
I’d like to invite that (chubby) mate, along with the All Blacks, just to give enduro a go too. Let’s see how quickly the realisation dawns on these people that off-road motorcycle riders are true athletes and a bike engine (regardless of what size it is) is only a small part of the equation.
It would never happen of course. I doubt my mate (who’d struggle to squeeze into a phone box, so the superman quick change is out of the question) would even be able to ride out of the car-park unassisted anyway.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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