While the Enduro format is fairly new to these shores, the Euros latched onto it some years back and the UCI, cycling's governing body, will add it to their race calendar in 2014. Meanwhile over the ditch the Aussies are still a bit confused as to the use of the term, and if you turn up to an Enduro over there you'd better be packing a 29er and expect to be out-back for 100km or more.
Enduros are basically a loop or point to point mountain bike race that combines a number of liaison or un-timed stages with a few timed special stages, usually downhill, thrown in. The winner has the lowest combined time of the special stages. The liaison stages can also include uplift, shuttles or chairlifts, but there will always be pedal power required.
The Gravity Canterbury BikeCycle Craigieburn Enduro was held in the Craigieburn Forest Park utilising the new track network created by the Castle Hill Community Association. For those who don't know the area this is beech fresh singletrack heaven. Stages included favourites like The Luge track, old tracks brought back to life - Dracophyllum Flat and Dickson's ('96 Nationals) Downhill - and the increasingly popular Hogs Back. The race briefing included the official opening of 'Sidle 73' with the Department of Conservation on-hand to show their support, heralding a new era of mountain biking tracks being built on conservation land.
On Saturday morning riders were shuttled to the event start at Sidle 73, and settled into a half hour climb up the anti-Luge, a fairly harsh wake-up call but beech forest singletrack all the same, and not the hardest or hottest liaison stage for the day. The whole course took over 4 hours to complete, with riders trickling in to the finish in Castle Hill over a number of hours. At the sharp end of the race Wyn Masters took out the title by a good margin in just over 20 minutes of timed racing, with Joe Nation unlucky with a mechanical on Stage 2 costing him a podium spot after recording fastest time on three of the five special stages.
Rosara Joseph continued to prove herself in the Enduro format by dominating the women's field. A solid turnout from the junior men, and an introduction of an over-50s class at the prize giving showed the true appeal of the Enduro format.
With 120 riders turning up to the event's first outing it would be fair to say that this event is going to be huge in 2014.
Special mention must be made to: Nick Sutcliffe, brainchild of the event (and whom on any normal day would give the Enduro title a nudge) and Nick's band of merry men; Gravity Canterbury, the best DH club in the country; DOC for their support, and for granting a 10 year concession for the event (fingers crossed); and finally the Castle Hill Community Association, with special mention to Paul Webber and Amanda Power, who have given our mountain bike community this huge resource in the Craigieburn basin. All profits from the event have been donated back to track building.
You can download full results here.