Enduro? What’s Enduro?

“Enduro this.” “Enduro that.” “That’s so Enduro!”

Everyone’s talking about it, but what is Enduro?

Enduro is a form of mountain bike racing where timed segments are broken into stages that are predominately gravity-fed. Participants ride to the next descent via uphill transfer stages, hence the “endurance” element of Enduro. Whether you are a roadie at heart seeking a new, adrenaline-filled challenge or a downhill racer looking to test your endurance, Enduro racing can offer something for every cyclist. With elements of all mountain bike racing disciplines, the fun factor of getting to chill on the climbs and rail the descents, and grassroots races popping up all over the United States, riders of all ability levels can join in with confidence. But before you sign up, here are some items to put on your to-do list.

  • Know what you are getting into before you sign up for the race. Here are some things to look up before you commit:
    How many stages are there? What is the overall length of the race? Some races may only cover 15 miles and have a total of about 20 minutes of timed stages, while others could be up to 40 miles and an hour of timed descents over rough terrain. Choose your first Enduro based on your strengths!
  • What are the trails like? If possible, it’s always a good idea to ride some of the trails that will be used in the race. If the venue is too far away, don’t be afraid to send a message to the race organizer or contact a friend who knows the area. It is better to ask than show up and be over your head – or be bummed that the trails aren’t technical enough to feed your inner adrenaline junkie!
  • What is the elevation profile? Many Enduro races will post the elevation profile of each of the stages. This will help you figure out how steep the climbs and descents are within the stages, as well as how much elevation you will have to pedal to get back to the top of the next stage. It’s good to know, especially if you are not much of a climber!
  • Will shuttle vehicles or ski lifts be used during transfer stages? Not all Enduros are pedal-only affairs. Races that provide some climbing assistance can be a good choice for gravity-oriented riders.
  • What will the race categories be? Although it isn’t important to everyone, gauging the level of competition can help you set your race goals.
  • Read the race rules and don’t skip the fine print before registering for your first Enduro! Because all Enduros are run a bit differently, they all come with their own unique set of rules. If you’re banking on eating a sandwich and walking each transfer stage, you might want to ensure there isn’t a time limit on the transfer stages! Other race rules may require specific gear, which we will cover more below.

Get the Gear

One of the great things about Enduro racing, is you can usually ride the same bike and race with the same gear you would rock at the local trails! However, if you’re planning a trip to an out-of-town race, make sure you have the right tool for the job.

For example, if you are participating in a local Enduro without much elevation change, you could opt for a bike with less travel (100-140 mm of front and rear suspension, like Liv’s Pique, Pique SX or Embolden). If the trails are steep, and technical, you’ll want a bike with a bit more squish (140- 160 mm of travel, like Liv’s Hail).

In addition to your bike, make sure you have the appropriate accessories for race day. Some Enduro races may require full face helmets, while others leave that decision up to the rider. Many riders carry a pack that allows them to strap on an extra helmet – riding uphill toting your full face on your back and racing each stage with a lightweight trail helmet (like Liv’s Infinita MIPS) securely strapped in.

Other items to consider purchasing if you don’t already have them are:

  • Knee, shin and/or elbow pads – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Long sleeves and baggy shorts – if you come from a road or XC background, stock up on these items so you can fit in with the Enduro crowd… and add a bit of protection. Looking for options? Check out Liv’s Tangle Jersey and Passo Baggy Shorts.
  • Goggles – eye protection is key.

Set a Goal

When planning out your race schedule and deciding which Enduro to race, do some soul searching. What are your motives for racing? Meeting new people, upping your fitness game, improving technical skills, seeing how you rank against the competition, or just getting in a good ride and enjoying the party – all good reasons to sign up for an Enduro! If you decide, “I just want to try something new and have fun.” Write it down. That way when you start stressing about the competition you can remind yourself, “Hey, that’s not my goal!”

Do it Together

What would make signing up for your first Enduro more fun? Doing it with a friend! Enduros are the best type of racing to do with a group of your best buds. During each timed stage, it is just you and the clock, but each transfer stage is an opportunity to chat it up with your friends, talk about the highlights of the previous stage and get stoked for the next descent!

Bring Your Skills

Whether you’re a newbie in the MTB scene or a professional rider trying out a new discipline, there is always room to up your game when it comes to trail skills. On Enduro courses, you’re likely to encounter rock gardens, drops, jumps and off camber technical sections. What’s more, you may not have the opportunity to pre-ride stages before the day of the race. Being comfortable on your bike and having a strong skill set will help you stay calm when the adrenaline hits – and go a little faster!

So before the weekend of your first Enduro, why not take your skills to the next level? With the number of women’s weekend and one-day mountain bike clinics growing thanks national and international programs like Ladies AllRide, GRIT Clinics, I Choose Bikes, as well as local group and private clinics, the opportunities are endless! Not sure if you need a coach? Check out former World Champion Downhill racer Leigh Donovan’s intermediate mountain bike skills videos.

Ready to Sign Up?

You did your research, read the rules, have your bike and gear set, wrote down your goals and convinced a friend to join along. Yup, you’re ready. Here’s a list of Enduro Series races in the US to get you started:

  • Sturdy Dirty Women’s Enduro Series, USA (Seattle, Oakridge, Big Bear)
  • Big Mountain Enduro, North America (Santa Fe, Aspen, Crested Butte, Mt Rainier, Mexico)
  • East Coast Enduro Series, USA (Blue Mountain, Bryce Bike Park, Burke Bike Park, Highland, Mountain Creek, Plattekill, Snowshoe)
  • California Enduro Series, USA California

For more Enduro tips and information, check out Liv & Giant Factory Off-Road Team Rider Rae Morrison’s Enduro Racing Guide!