To be a fish out of water in your own pond is a strange scenario indeed. But when the Maxxis World Enduro Championships came to North America, that's exactly what the majority of North Americans were. Sure, we were on our "home" turf without having to cross neither puddle nor pond to race against the Europeans. And as exciting as this was for a hopeful enduro fan, the Europeans reminded us that location isn't necessarily a source of advantage.Up until now, if North Americans wanted to race against the best off-road competitors in the world, they were forced to race through a series of hassles. They had to crate up their bikes, box up the gear and tools and ship it all to some far-off destination once a year for the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE). Once there, whether it were in Brazil, Slovakia or somewhere in between, North Americans were faced with the culture shock of unfamiliar food, the dreariness of jet lag and the challenge of terrain unbeknownst to their riding eyes. Of course, that's if their bikes even got to the country they're supposed to be riding in. But all of this finally changed. This year the Europeans were coming to us, and they were bringing the WEC, their revamped and resurrected off-road series, with them. Not only that, but it was finally their turn to crate up the bikes, cross the big blue mass of sea and set up the pits in a strange land and deal with all the inconveniences of not being home.In theory, all this home-turf mumbo-jumbo should have leveled the playing field and put us Americans (North, that is) in the hunt for some podiums. But in reality, the Europeans have their form of racing dialed, they are totally accustomed to traveling and their on-bike talents are in a league of their own. Also, whether it was due to injury, disinterest or conflicting schedules, some of our top-level talent bowed out of competition and left the diversity of the field rather diluted. In other words: In the world of World Enduro we have a lot of catching up to do. Is this not making sense? Don't have a clue what the Maxxis World Enduro Championship is or how it's run? Well, we thought of that. Check out an insider's explanation on page 87, courtesy of our funny-talking English friend, Jonty Edmunds.When the Maxxis WEC landed in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada, the world was watching. This, the fifth round of the WEC series, marked the first of firsts. It was the first time a WEC round had been held in Canada as well as the first time in North America and a very real test-run of what races could and would be included into future WEC seasons. Canadian off-road, the hosting promoters, volunteers and the community of Parry Sound pulled off a stellar event. Marshals littered the course (as a photographer covering the special tests, I could hardly frame a shot without stepping on one of them). And the security, organization and professionalism in the air made it hard to believe that this was actually a first-time effort. Parry Sound had the showmanship of an Anaheim supercross, the comfort of the most local of motocross races and a course fit for a king. It was so impressive that E3 class champion David Knight matter-of-factly boasted it as one of the best WEC events of the year. That's saying a lot for a first effort.Undoubtedly, the Canadian course had a lot to do with the excellent reviews by riders and teams. The special-test sections were spectacular. First was an enduro test that reeked of challenging terrain. Technical trails mixed with a consistent sprinkle of potato-sized boulders made for a loop that had top Americans Kurt Caselli and Nathan Kanney scratching their heads at the end of the event. Both riders admitted to struggling through the test, as did many others. The thing was this: With the rocks, you couldn't really get up to speed and get in your flow. If you tried to push it, the terrain would smack you upside the head and potentially put you down.Next was a motocross test that made a bikeless brother like myself want to go riding worse than the scent of premix. Man, was it cool. I could have sat there all day, and I almost did. Instead, though, I commuted like an investment banker on Wall Street, back and forth from the motocross test to the extreme test, a rental car and a driver with an English accent as my subway system. Speaking of extreme tests...The extreme test in Parry Sound was the most picturesque form of torture an enduro racer has ever undergone. In fact, it was so pretty to look at that it almost made the bulbous mounds of angular boulders look like a pleasant riding surface. It was short, under two minutes if you're David Knight (just over two for American ber-mortals Caselli and Kanney), but required direct attention to avoid crushing one's self upon said rocks and/or drowning in the clear waters of the Georgian Bay. It was awesome to watch, and the public beach setting made for a superb spectator hangout. I was fortunate enough to see the motocross and extreme tests every lap. Every time I arrived at the extreme, it made all the "wish-I-were-riding" feelings I suffered at the motocross test go away...until I returned to the motocross test, that is.