Riding with heroes: Aus Gravity Enduro Series Round 5

Stromlo Enduro-2

Podium! L-R: Vanessa Thompson, Claire Whiteman, Rosie Barnes, Jaclyn Schapel, and me, stoked to finish in fifth. Photo: Matt Molijn.

Enduro is getting increasingly serious. Last weekend in Canberra I saw a guy in full Lycra and compression socks pushing his bike up the hill to save energy for the descent. He then took the smooth tarmac the rest of the way to the top instead of the fun, punchy singletrack that goes to the same place.

Commonwealth Games cross-country representative, Andy Blair, was heckled for looking too downhill, before swapping to his Swell-Specialized skinsuit for the second timed run. Take that hecklers.

Riders obviously love their gear and selecting the best and most individual looking piece for the job. As Enduro finds its feet globally, the industry is flooding the market with products that are not quite downhill, not quite XC. Sunday’s National Round in Canberra showed off an eclectic mix of products, strategies and rider-types as a result.

Enduro. Where riders take style even more seriously than in the Sydney road scene. Photo: Kath Bicknell.

Enduro. Where riders take style even more seriously than in the Sydney road scene. Photo: Kath Bicknell.

It’s the last part of this combo that makes me enjoy these races the most. Standing on the podium come Sunday afternoon, I was surrounded by girls who have raced just about every discipline of cycling that exists, right up to World Championship level. It was a pretty awe-inspiring mix.

The men's field assembled strong riders from different backgrounds too. L-R Ryan Walsch and Tim Eaton (tied for fourth), Dan MacMunn, Ben Cory, Dylan Cooper.

The men’s field assembled strong riders from different backgrounds too. L-R Ryan Walsch and Tim Eaton (tied for fourth), Dan MacMunn, Ben Cory, Dylan Cooper. Photo: Kath Bicknell.

The racing was fun too. I loved practicing trails I normally ride blind and shaving a good minute or two off my run times as a result. And because Stromlo has about a million other trails that weren’t part of the race, the transit stages and spare time at the end of the event kept the highs pumping.

For me, one of the biggest attractions of these races is sharing the weekend with people who love the satisfaction of smooth, skillful riding. I’m not sure who your riding heroes are but these types of riders are mine.

Track two had a quick climb to get the heart pumping early on. After that it was all about holding your speed down Pork Barrel and Double Dissolution.

Track two had a quick climb to get the heart pumping early on. After that it was all about holding your speed down Pork Barrel and Double Dissolution. Photo: Kath Bicknell.

I got a little enthusiastic at Trapeze lessons recently. Getting my hands through the weekend was part of the challenge too.

I got a little enthusiastic at Trapeze lessons recently, so getting my hands through the weekend was part of the challenge too. (This photo was from Sunday, before I tore them further two days later. Who would have thought trapeze would be so brutal?) Photo: Gaye Camm.

Thanks to everyone who made Stromlo such a fun place to hang out for the weekend: riders, trail builders and event hosts, Rocky Trail Entertainment. Thanks to Gaye Camm for loaning me her bike again. Despite my resistance at taking this stuff too seriously, I’m enjoying thinking about what bike I’ll buy to use as my own. Cue another year of new experiences and skill-building discoveries ahead.

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Results and series points are here. See you at the final round in Cairns?

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