Jackson Hole, already known for its incredible mountain biking, is now poising itself as a major destination for enduro thanks to its second annual Rendezvous Enduro Race, held in September. So what exactly is this modern form of mountain biking?
With roots in European racing traditions, enduro-style mountain bike racing has made its way to the United States, and now all the way inland to Wyoming with the Rendezvous Enduro Race on September 21st at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. But if you’re not a regular on the mountain biking scene, you might be wondering what exactly is enduro racing, anyway?
The concept behind enduro is pretty simple: Get yourself (and your bike, of course) up a mountain to a designated spot, and then race down time-trial style. The races consist of three to six timed stages that are usually downhill but can vary in length, steepness, and difficulty depending on the location. But there are also untimed “transfer stages” between each stage that are mostly uphill, including sections of pedaling, a chair lift, and hike-a-bike (carrying your bike on your back or shoulder).
For that reason, enduro requires skills rooted to several racing disciplines: the physical stamina of cross-country, the mental challenge of stage races, and the bike handling skills of gravity-fed racing.
Why It’s On the Rise
Since enduro exists somewhere between cross-country and downhill, it’s that middle ground that makes enduro so appealing to a wide variety of riders. With downhill having become increasingly extreme and cross-country racing requiring the utmost endurance to remain in the seat for the long haul, enduro is something of an equalizer. Yes, it requires downhill skill, technical prowess, and athletic fitness, but not to the degree as a downhill or cross-country pro. So much so, it’s considered an approachable cycling discipline for starters. Not to mention, the enduro cycling community is actually quite big and has a distinct “the more the merrier” attitude, welcoming amateurs, in-betweeners, and pros alike.
The Rendezvous Enduro Race in Jackson Hole
Put on as a part of the Montana Enduro Series (MES) summer circuit, by the folks at the Montana Bicycle Guild (MBG), The Rendezvous Enduro calls the strenuous seven-mile network of mountain trails at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort home. In 2018 – its first year at Jackson Hole – it drew an attendance of 120 athletes from 13 states and featured four stages that spanned much of the resort’s 160 acres. In particular, stages 1 and 2 utilized the upper mountain’s substantial steep terrain, while stages 3 and 4 took place in the bike park. So what to expect in 2019? You’ll just have to wait and see: Each year, the official race route map is held under lock and key until just days before the race itself, which is standard protocol to avoid locals scoping out and practicing their routes before other racers arrive onsite.