Endurance Racing is this funny form of riding a bike where you go around in squiggly-shaped loops on dirt tracks for hours on end. Every now and then, these races are one traverse of a much larger squiggly loop (sometimes known as a marathon), but multilap events are the most common and the easiest logistically. It’s basically standard cross-country racing, but extended to a distance that rewards some different skills, or makes up for the lack of top-end speed that people like me have. In general, endurance racing rewards stupidity and stubborness – two traits I have in abundance.
The thing is, it’s actually a lot of fun. Usually the pace is sufficient to encourage conversation with other riders, and you get to ride your favourite bit of track over and over again. There’s enough technical engagement in the track to keep you interested, as well as plenty of challenging climbing and descending.
Endurance racing is also notable for being – fundamentally – “an eating competition on a bike” (see wickedrides.com.au for the author of that quote). It’s all about managing the body’s needs for the next few hours, and getting the appropriate quantities of sticky liquid, bananas, nutella sandwiches and muesli bars down. Mmm!
How to get into bike racing?
Most mountain biking in Australia falls under the the envelope of Mountain Biking Australia (MTBA). This national organisation is an umbrella over a number of small, district-based clubs. In Canberra, the organisation is Canberra Off-Road Cyclists. These clubs run local events, do development, advocacy, and help build and maintain local trail networks.
Joining MTBA also gives the advantage of event insurance – useful for that romantic date you’re about to have with that tree…. and many event promoters use MTBA licensing and insurance.
Who are some race promoters / event holders?
Many mountain biking events in Australia are run through local clubs. Regionally, here’s a list of very proactive clubs:
- Canberra Off Road Cyclists (Scott 24 hour, 24 Hour Nationals, many, many 3 hour races)
- Southern Highlands Cycling Club
- MTB Wagga
- South Coast United Mountainbikers (SCUM)
- Western Sydney Mountain Bike Club (WSMTB)
- Hunter Valley Mountain Bike Club
Some more include the Wollongong Mountain Bike Club, Central Tablelands Mountain Bike Club… the list goes on!
My favourite race series is run as an exhibitions of the trails of the NSW clubs: The Chocolate Foot Singletrack Mind Series.
Other events are run in New South Wales – including the excellent Jet Black 12 and 24 hours – by Rocky Trail Entertainment.
It’s worth getting out there and giving it a go!