MTB enduro’s and multi-day stage races – mountain biking heaven or a whole lot of hard work?
Well some would say both.
There is no doubt that completing one of these events will push your limits both physically and mentally – which is precisely what makes these events so desirable. There is a reason that mtb events like the Cape Epic, BC Bike Race and TransAlp get sold out so quickly.
These events are well organised, feature challenging riding and are held in spectacular locations. Add to that a global reach, TV coverage and a media machine to feed the thousands of followers and viewers and you have the makings of a spectacular sporting spectacle
What is an Enduro?
Well in Australia the majority of mtb events are considered endurance or ‘enduro’ races – with distances around the 100km mark for 1 day events there are also a plethora of 24 hour events and an increasing number of multi-day stage races.
In Europe and the US they have a different definition of Enduros for mountain bikers, which combine time sections (both downhill and climbs) where riders earn points and he/she he has the most points, wins. There is a strong bias towards the full face helmet rider at these events, however with a lot more climbing involved.
Given the nature of these courses, the use of a full suspension trail bike (those bikes that sit in the 5” to 6” travel category) offers a rider an ideal ride, given the trail conditions and nature of the course.
Although it offer pains you to see at some events riders on a lightweight XC rig, effortlessly passing you on descents with the greatest of ease – hey if you can ride like that – more power to you!
Enduro and Multi-day MTB Events
Below is a collection of some of the world’s best mtb events that could be considered enduro events or multi-day stage races. Completing any of these events will be a significant achievement both physically and mentally – have you got what it takes?
TransAlp – Germany, Austria and Italy
Often viewed as one of the jewels in many a mountain biker’s crown, the TransAlp is a classic European mtb stage race. The TransAlp is a two person team format that will have you riding over high alpine passes, through charming villages, amongst the spectacular alpine region of Germany, Austria and Italy.
8 Days – 600Km / 372 miles – 19,500m / 64,000ft elevation gain
BC Bike Race – British Columbia, Canada
This event is hailed as one of the best, riding through BC’s famed mountain bike locations and singletrack, ending in Whistler. Recent options include the Challenge or Epic category where the Challenge is a ‘lite’ version of the full BC Bike Race. Be quick, as this event sells out fast.
7 days – 335Km / 208 miles – 9325m / 30,580ft elevation gain
La Ruta de la Los Conquistadores – Costa Rica
Mountain Biking in Costa Rica sound appealing doesn’t it? Well for some yes , for those who are riding in La Ruta it can be you own little personal hell. La Ruta is described as the toughest Mountain Bike race in the world. There is close to a 40% attrition rate – it is made clear that this is not for the novice mountain biker – so there is not likely to be a ‘lite’ option anytime soon. This coast to coast race follows the route of the Spanish conquistadores – hence the name. With 2012 celebrated as the 20th year that this event has run, it is a testament to the organisers of making it one of the longest standing mountain bike endurance rides on offer.
4 Days – 385Km – 11,887m / 39,000ft elevation gain
Trail Masters – Wales
A new event for 2012 takes on the concept of an Enduro race with timed sections or ‘special stages’ interspersed with longer non-timed section, within the singletrack trail network of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales. This event is the brainchild of John Lloyd who was previously the event organiser for the Trans Wales event
3 Days – 220Km / 137 miles – 7580m / 25,000ft elevation gain
Cape Epic – South Africa
The Cape Epic has been described as the Tour de France of Mountain Biking and was created by Kevin Veermak after experiencing the joys of stage racing, riding the La Ruta in 2002. After the inaugural race in 2004, the Cape Epic has evolved into one of the biggest mtb events in the world, both in terms of participants and viewers – thanks to its stage format, impressive country, corporate sponsorship and television rights. The Cape Epic is similar to other multi-day mtb stage races incorporating a two person team format. The course is changed each year, but you can expect approximately 800km / 435 miles of riding over 8 days. Please note that this event is also quick to sell out so get in early.
8 Days – 800Km / 435 miles – 15,000m / 49,000ft elevation gain
SuperEnduro All Mountain Series – Italy & France
This series of events is centred on the Enduro and SuperEnduro concept. For the trail and all mountain rider, the SuperEnduro event mirrors those rides that you have with your mates on the weekend – riding together in a relaxed format with selected sections that are timed. This SuperEnduro format is new for the series and is a welcome addition in providing more inclusive events for the trail and all-mountain riding community.
Terra Australis – Australia
The Terra Australis is now in its fourth year and takes place in some of the most diverse and spectacular country in Australia’s alpine region – yes Australia has an alpine region! The stages for 2012 have been reduced from 7 to 5 and will include the T3 (3 day format) to allow riders to get a taste of mtb stage racing, without going all out. Previous years have seen this race cover some of the toughest terrain in Australian mountain biking, including the circumnavigation of Mt Buffalo, a 107Km/66 miles stage with a 3974m elevation gain. The new revised format will allow a broader spectrum of rider to experience this great event and will be based out of one of Australia’s great mountain towns of Bright in North East Victoria.
The above is just a handful of the great races and mtb enduro events on the mountain biking calendar. The increased popularity of the euro style All Mountain Enduro events will continue to increase as we see downhillers of the late 90’s and 00’s getting older and appear to be shifting from gravity only riding, to a more all mountain experience. The format of group riding with timed sections, such as the Superenduro concept is a great approach and will be a sign of new events to come.
What are the epic mountain bike events that you are looking forward to? Any other worthy contenders for the list? Please post your comments below.
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