ArchivesJuly 2013Enduro MTB race

Enduro MTB race


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Last July 14, Dumaguete had its first enduro mountain bike race. The organizers dubbed it The First Mega Erosion, a bit of a wordplay on the Megavalanche series of enduro races that are popular in Europe.

Mega Erosion — it’s not the most environmentally-correct name to give a race, but hey, we’re mountain bikers; take us seriously at your own risk.

Not many people are familiar with the enduro format of mountain bike racing, with cross-country, four-cross, and downhill being the more popular disciplines, but enduro is definitely gaining momentum both locally and internationally.

If you’re into the counter-productive practice of frequenting mountain biking forums in the Net ( and, you’ll see that enduro threads are pervasive, thick as mud on a bike’s tires during a wet day. The reason for that is because enduro races are just like being out on the trails with your riding buddies, with a pinch of competition thrown in for seasoning.

I’m not going to define enduro, as the websites I mentioned can do that much better than I’ll be able to. I just would like to share our experience, as cliché as that may sound, and give credit to the organizers and the sponsors for making it happen. I was hoping that this esteemed publication would have something on it, the editor being an avid mountain biker himself, but I guess we’re not as sexy as the triathletes that keep popping up on the back page. And I guess it didn’t help that Wangyu and Adi aren’t exactly paragons of PR either; but low-profile aside, they did a great job of getting the race underway.

There were setbacks, of course (the race marshals needed a bit of marshalling themselves, at times), but that’s part of the fun. I didn’t even see any posters for the race; I just learned about it from friends who ended up not being able to join for their own reasons, inane as those reasons may be.

The thing about enduro is that you can do it on whatever mountain bike you have. The whole range of mountain bikes was represented on race day, from hardtail cross-country race machines on skinny semi-slick tires, to full-on downhill sleds with as much travel as an airline stewardess, shod with fat knobbies.

Enduro races always feature a net loss of altitude; it’s predominantly descending but there still is a fair bit of pedaling and climbing involved. It was a common occurrence to see racers on downhill bikes dismount and push their bikes up whenever the trail climbed, while those on hardtails or all-mountain rigs just danced up the same section on their pedals.

Fortunately for us mortals, the nature of enduro racing allows for less emphasis on being a strong pedaller; as evidenced by the amount of paunch observed among the racers.

Good bike-handling skills can compensate for cardiovascular shortcomings, and gravity provides most of the speed, so as long as you can steer a bike and stay upright while negotiating turns, rocks, and ruts, you have a good chance of beating anyone, even one of those sexy triathletes.

The race consisted of two timed stages, and a transition stage that gets you from the end of stage 1 to the start of stage 2. The transition stage is not timed, so the racers get to pick their pace and exchange friendly banter just like the usual ride to their favorite trail-head.

The first big challenge of the day was getting everybody up to the starting point. I’d say that was the toughest part of the whole race. Someone actually had to use a carabao to pull his bike up to the starting point. That the carabao was breathing hard and had its tongue hanging out when it finally got there is a testament to how challenging that climb was.

Or maybe Lucho’s bike was just too heavy. Doki quipped that he thought he signed up for a bike race, not mountain climbing. He couldn’t wait to get back to his clinic for medication.

The trails for the timed stages were proper mountain bike trails. The kind of trails that would chew you up, and spit you out if you didn’t show proper respect (reminds me of my in-laws…).

The fun part was that most of the racers were unfamiliar with the trails! A lot of us were worried we would get lost; Bro. Chan even went to the extent of having other racers overtake him — to serve as his guides!

Our worries were unfounded it turned out, as the marshals ably kept everybody on the right track.

Earlier, I had said that anyone had a good chance of beating anyone in an enduro race. Well, let me qualify that statement: Anyone had a good chance of beating anyone except JR Barba. Nobody ever has a chance of beating that guy.

The stories of him are true; the guy is fast on a magnitude inconceivable to most other riders. The only way any of us stood a chance is when he rode a folding bike for the race; and that wouldn’t even have made his losing a certainty.

This was actually my first time to join a race, and only knew a handful of the other riders. I was quite relieved not to find any overt traces of competitive hostility that you would expect to find in a race.

The whole thing had the atmosphere of a group of riders out for a weekend ride. The ride itself was spectacular, but it was the stories you get from the other riders that made the experience more memorable. There was Lloyd (whose bike I have a huge crush on) who crashed and damaged his chain before he got halfway down the first stage, rendering him unable to pedal for the rest of the stage. He then only found out that both of his tires were flat as well at the finish area! Poor bike. Despite all that, Lloyd still wrapped up 3rd place in his category.

Then there was Bro. Chan. I think he had the most crashes in the race. Which was good because he can describe a crash like Sans Rival can make silvanas. Forget seeing it on YouTube, Bro. Chan can bring a crash alive like no other; he turns rider-bike-ground collisions into an art form. I’d join a race just to listen to this guy describe a crash. He even describes the reaction of the spectators and his surroundings to his crashes. From the old gentleman telling him, “Ipahilot unya na, Dong,” to the way a cow rolled its eyes in response to the disturbance, Bro. Chan provides total immersion into his mishaps.

To cap it all off, there was the much- anticipated tapok at the end of the day. It was more an excuse to drink beer and swap stories, rather an awarding ceremony, really.

Adequate libation was provided by Doki (Salamat, Dok!), his being an anesthesiologist coming to the fore, and making sure everybody partook of his medication of choice. I hope there were no minors there….

I think enduro really is tailor-made for the average rider, and I hope local mountain biking organizations come to the same conclusion, and ride down the enduro trail for their next race.

Na hala, sikad.

[email protected]

Atlantis Resort, Dauin

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