Once you’ve written about 500 press releases, a hype-switch goes on in your brain that causes you to parse thoughts as headlines. So, in early August, when I stopped writing about enduro mountain biking for the Enduro World Series and rolled my bike to the actual start-line of an enduro race, I felt like I was starring in my own personal newsflash: Reformed Publicist Trades Hype To Ride.
(Several other thoughts followed in quick succession: I really need a tutu. I hope this doesn’t hurt too much. Are that man’s short-shorts so short I can actually see the insides of his pockets? Oh, hey! There’s Susan and Shelley!)
I had signed on to ride the Hot On Your Heels all-women’s bike race in Squamish, BC because a friend was dangerously enthusiastic. In hindsight, the fact that she came 46th (despite only having mountain biked for the last 2 years) explains her pep.
Still, the combination of epic trail link-ups; scantily clad male volunteers cheering us on while proffering crispy bacon, mimosas, watermelon or energy bars at aid stations; and the perfect balance of socializing and quality riding (all while contributing to a cause like Big Brothers, Big Sisters) made me an enthusiast too.
So here’s the hype-free dirt: there’s a reason enduro is the biggest buzz in biking and an amazing way to experience resorts, mountains and bike destinations in the summer time.
Actually, I counted 5 reasons.
1. It doesn’t stand for endurance, but it might as well.
When the Enduro World Series launched last year, it’s aim was to unite and define a sport that had roots in enduro motorcycling – a rally format that sees riders race over several stages, with the fun sections timed, and the “transitions” between those sections untimed.
As most riders say, it’s essentially what mountain bikers love to do: link up amazing trails in great locations on the equipment you normally ride, enjoying the ride up with your buddies, and putting the hammer down to race your mates on the downhill flowy sections.
Think: long fun days and lots of miles.
2. It’s the funnest race format on the planet.
To wit: half the racers in the Hot On Her Heels race were in costume. (Hence my tutu envy, or as one girl quipped, “mine’s a one-one, it’s about half the size of a tutu.”)
During the race, I was playfully whipped by toys and fed bacon by a semi-naked man. I rode, chatted and snacked with two friends for 90% of the day, interspersed with short little bursts of super-focused mountain biking during which I had a marked-off trail all to myself. (Later, I could compare my times with everyone else, but while I was racing, I didn’t have to worry about getting elbowed out of the way.)
3. It’s an excuse to travel to amazing places to ride bikes (in case you needed one.)
Take a peek at the Enduro World Series calendar for 2015 if you want a laundry list of awesome: Rotarua, New Zealand, Zona Zero, Spain, Samoens, France, Country Wicklow, Ireland, Tweed Valley, Scotland, Crested Butte, Colorado, Whistler, Canada and Finale Ligure, Italy.
Or google “enduro” and a mountain bike destination near you. There’s bound to be something on the calendar.
4. It offers up important life lessons.
Like: if a semi-naked man wearing a wig offers to give you a blender drink and a massage halfway through a mountain bike day, even if you are sweating like a hog, say yes, sister… hell, yes.
5. It’s taking the world by storm.
Best proof of this: it’s spawned its own ironic hashtag. #soenduro.
But, there are also folk in Israel, the Phillippines and the Netherlands as excited about the format as those in the world’s Meccas of mountain biking.
Because, at the end of the day, enduro is about having fun on the trails. And that’s what life in the mountains is all about.