‘Let’s see what all this enduro fuss is about’, I thought, where you get timed on the fun bit and can climb at your leisure. ‘Sounds perfect for me!’, I said. However, this photo pretty much sums up my first ever enduro race courtesy of the Southern Enduro team last Sunday. It was like I’d forgotten how to ride my bike!
Have you experienced this? You’re normally a pretty good rider, you’ve got some skills. You know how to work the berms, look ahead and not brake on wet roots and rock … but get to race day and suddenly there’s tape either side of the obstacles.You have friendly photographers sitting in the woods and jolly spectators cheering you on. Competitors fly over stuff that all of a sudden looks impossible, and you just gotta put a foot down! During practice I stood looking at this rock garden for about 15 minutes. Well now, that did me no good at all!
Aside from the fact that I didn’t ride anywhere near my best, I actually really enjoyed myself. The whole event, as promised, was friendly and welcoming. Racers chatted away to me during practice, comparing notes on the sections. The Southern Enduro Head Honcho came to say hi. The other women I was racing with waited for me at the end of each timed section so we could all climb back up the hill together. And I got a couple of photos of me with *actual race face*. (Just take a look at my Instagram feed – I normally can’t help but smile when I see the photographers in a race!)
Francie Arthur, a Torvelo test team rider, won the women’s category and I was only (ahem) 3 minutes down on her in 5th (and last) place. That gives me a solid base for improvement. I think a little race experience will help rid the ‘obstacle heebie jeebies’ (it’s a thing) and I also need to make time to get out on the mountain bike more. I’ve made it easy enough to fit in riding with the juniors, but alas, we’re not quite at the stage where we can all shred the trails together. Yet 🙂