Leave it to the Europeans to come up with a mountain biking race that moves along at a more leisurely pace.
Granted, Enduro racing features thrilling and technical descents down steep trails. But the hybrid between cross-country and downhill mountain bike racing is also notable for its relaxed stretches of untimed riding.
The mix of styles and paces arrived in the U.S. about 10 years ago, and it began to pick up with events like the Scott Enduro Cup Presented by Vittoria race, which returns to Moab for its third year on Saturday, May 9.
Enduro Cup Competition Director Ali Goulet believes the combination of timed downhill stages and untimed transfer stages offers the broadest possible appeal to mountain bikers of all abilities and skill levels.
“Enduro racing is the most fun format of racing and doesn’t require you to kill yourself on the climbs,” she said. “People actually get to enjoy the race.”
To shake things up this year, Enduro Cup organizers moved the Moab-area course from the Magnificent 7 trail system to the Klondike Bluffs area near the northwestern boundary of Arches National Park.
Event producer Mountain Sports International worked closely with Grand County Trail Mix and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to set up the new racing location, which features slickrock, wooded areas and dirt tracks, along with outstanding views of Arches and Salt Valley.
“It should be something that’s fresh and exciting to see,” Mountain Sports International Public Relations Coordinator Amy David said.
The move might be paying off with higher registration numbers. Two weeks before the big day of the event, registration had already surpassed total participation in either one of the last two events.
In order to keep the event manageable, organizers capped the number of racers at 175. As a result, registration spaces are disappearing in a hurry, according to David.
“We have a handful of spots left,” she said.
Mountain Sports International Event Director Ben Nelson said his group wants to create the best-possible experiences for athletes, while advancing the sport of Enduro racing.
“Hosting the Moab stop at Klondike Bluffs this year is an incredible opportunity for Enduro Cup, as we continue to provide fresh and challenging race terrain for our athletes,” he said.
This year’s race will begin with a casual ride to the first timed section along the course – one of four along the route. From there, timed sections are largely downhill, with little in the way of climbing.
According to David, the downhill stages involve more full-throttle challenges that test racers’ technical skills.
“It’s a little bit of a more hardcore style,” David said.
Those sections are broken up by untimed transfer sections of the course, which are a big draw for some participants.
“Cross-country is a big draw for our athletes,” David said. “It’s more social.”
Riders will be broken up into different categories, with different start times for each group.
Notably, there will be divisions for amateurs and experts, including an open category for professional and highly experienced riders.
“If you’re a beginner, you won’t necessarily be intimidated by going up against a professional,” David said. “You can definitely go at your own pace.”
By the time they’ve crossed the finish line, amateur riders should be able to complete the timed stages in about half an hour altogether.
The race is expected to wrap up by early afternoon on May 9; spectators are welcome to watch the action from the finish line. A barbecue, raffle and awards ceremony will follow the race; all of the raffle proceeds will benefit Grand County Trail Mix.
Enduro race comes to Klondike Bluffs area on May 9
“Enduro racing is the most fun format of racing and doesn’t require you to kill yourself on the climbs … People actually get to enjoy the race.” — Enduro Cup Competition Director Ali Goulet
What: Scott Enduro Cup Presented by Vittoria mountain bike race
When: Saturday, May 9
Where: Klondike Bluffs trail area
Cost: $99 per rider; Advance registration is required
Information: endurocupmtb.com/moab-may-9/ or www.facebook.com/EnduroCupMTB
Additional details about the race will be posted on Enduro Cup’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EnduroCupMTB as they become available. For more information, go to endurocupmtb.com/moab-may-9/.