Why are people scared of racing National Enduros? I don’t know. I’ve raced four of them in my 33 years as of now and, thanks to the non-time-keeping format (or Start Control/Restart format as those in-the-know call it), they’re as simple as lining up for a motocross race. Well, a 7-hour long motocross race with every real-life off-road obstacle known to man to challenge you along the way, that is. At least the race format is super easy. Here’s how to do it.
1.) Enter the race
While this might sound like the easiest part, it’s actually becoming one of the most challenging steps in the race process. You see, Enduro racing is becoming so popular that many of the events are sold out months in advance. Hosting clubs and the National Enduro Promoters Group (NPEG) cap entries at around 500 riders. The largest Enduro of the year is historically the season opener in Sumter, South Carolina. The Sumter club has had over 600 riders compete every year since 2008.
2.) Get on your Minute/Row
A Minute is a little slice of time that you get to call your own all day during an Enduro. Each row of competitors starts a minute apart. There are usually four or five riders per row/minute. Races start at 9:00 AM, 9:01 is the first minute/row. These riders will have 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, etc. on their front number plate. For the race in Sumter I started on row 35, which was the 35th minute, and we took off at 9:35 in the morning. This is why my number is 35B. Get it? At every restart throughout the race, me and the other racers on my row started at the 35th minute. There’s a guy at each start that tells you what minute is up and you can easily tell where to line up because everyone else has their minute/row on their front number plate. How early you sign up can determine your minute/row. As stated before, many of these races sell out so pre-entering early awards you with the chance of getting an earlier minute/row.3.) Line up
There is one start point in Enduro racing. It’s easy to find because there is a huge inflatable archway over the top of it. Once you find out where the race starts, get there in time for your row to take off (see #2 above).4.) Bring your riding buddies
There is no better way to build up bench racing ammo than to ride the same course as your buddies at the same time with the undisputable winner recorded by electronic transponder. Put your entries in as a group and specify which row you’d like to be put on. If you inform the hosting club that you want to ride together, they try their best to make it happen.
5.) What’s this test, timed and transfer section business?
There are two types of sections at a National Enduro: Transfer Sections and Timed Sections. Timed sections are from point A to point B and are called Tests. Your time through Tests are scored via transponder individually and then added up for your overall time. It’s essentially a bunch of time trials spread out throughout the day. Transfer sections are trails and roads you ride on to get you to the start of each Test. They’re not scored but the clock is always running so if you have a problem on a transfer section and are late to the start of a Test, your row will start without you and you’ll have some catching up to do. Gas stops are placed in the Transfer Sections and there is a trailer service that will drop gas off at remote areas if necessary.
6.) Call the Locals
Nobody knows the terrain better than someone who lives there. If you have questions about bike setup or quality of the course, call someone local or get on the Internet and find some answers through the hosting club. Luckily, the National Enduro series spans from Florida to Wyoming with plenty of stops in between so you have plenty of terrain to choose from.
7.) Talk to the Pros
Accessibility to the best athletes in the sport is top notch at the National Enduro races. Don’t pester them and their mechanics on race day but show up to the race site a day or two early and you’ll likely be able to join them in promotional rides, training seminars and Q-n-A forums the race promoters and clubs put on. You can also RACE with them on race day if you’re lucky enough to get in to one of the top 25 rows. Nationally ranked racers are placed in these rows randomly. There is no other race series where you can get this close (for a few minutes, anyway) to the pros.
8.) Bring the right bike, any bike
As our Easy Enduro story in the upcoming June issue of Dirt Rider will tell you, racing an Enduro doesn’t take much in the way of special equipment. A few simple mods to any off-road bike can make it an enjoyable ride. Make sure it has a quiet exhaust and a spark arrestor and you’re basically good to go.9.) Pack a Lunch and wear a drink system
Last year I tracked my heart rate and calories burned through the Alligator National Enduro in Daytona, Florida. In 5.5 hours I burned 4,686 calories. I had an average heart rate of 154 beats per minute and a max heart rate around 188. I’ve raced three more of these since and they’re not getting easier. It’s not easy to race an Enduro, but it is easy to go race an Enduro, if you know what I mean.10.) What class should I race?
Race whatever class you normally race. There are A, B and C classes and age classes. There is a Women’s class, too. All A classes race 6 tests, B classes generally race 5 and C classes generally race 4. So, the racing is not only faster in the higher classes, but it’s for longer time, too.
That’s all it takes to line up and race a National Enduro. Of course, you need an AMA membership and you’ll need to rent a transponder but those costs and the entry fees for your respective class are totally worth it when you realize you’ll be riding between 60-80 miles of single-track for five to seven hours. It’s the best trail-smile-per-dollar ratio in off-road dirt bike racing.Don’t forget! KTM hosts a spaghetti dinner each night before the National Enduro races to benefit a local charity or club. The cost is minimal ($5 donations and similar) and the amount of food is impressive. Plus, it’s for a great cause at each race. KTM’s dinners are just another reason why Enduro racing is one of our favorite forms of dirt riding. So get out there!More info and Enduro-specific news: www.nationalenduro.com