Eureka Springs Enduro, Day One

It was like a giant homecoming, family reunion and party all rolled into one.

This past Saturday and Sunday was the kickoff for the Arkansas Enduro Series, with the first race of the season being held along the gorgeous mountain bike trails in Eureka Springs. It was also the first stop of the Enduro World Series North American Series with pro riders coming out to play along our trails. The weather forecast didn’t look promising for Saturday with dire predictions of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes moving in later in the day, but that didn’t stop the race from going forward; if anything, it made it that much more of a rowdy good time.

Dave and I ran into old friends from last season and there were hugs and squeals all around.

Well, squeals from me, at any rate.

We also made new friends, which was just an added bonus.

Rich and the crew that makes up the ”YARD” program: Young Aspiring Rider Development, a group that he helped create in 2018 for young mountain bike riders in the area.

The race began at long last and from then on, it was fast and furious. Dave and I decided beforehand that I would start out photographing Stage Two and he’d be stationed along Stage Three, and we’d meet up later after all the riders had gone through.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Enduro mountain bike racing, the following information from Liv Cycling explains it as:

Enduro is a form of mountain bike racing, but you will also hear “enduro” used as an adjective to describe a certain trail, bike, piece of mountain biking equipment or clothing. When used as an adjective, the person is comparing what he/she is talking about to something that you would see or find in an enduro racing event.

Enduro mountain bike racing started out in Europe with influence from car rally racing and motorbike enduro racing. The concept was simple: get yourself to the top of a mountain and race to the bottom time-trial style.

In general, modern enduro races involve anywhere from 3-6 timed stages. The timed portions of the race are mostly downhill but can vary in steepness, length, and difficulty depending on location. Between each stage, there will be untimed “transfer stages” that are mostly uphill. Depending on the race, transfer stages can involve sections of hike-a-bike, a chair lift, and/or good old-fashioned pedaling.

Enduro combines elements of all racing disciplines from the physical fitness necessary for cross-country racing, the mental stamina necessary for XC-style stage races and the bike-handling skills to navigate technical gravity-fed singletrack.

You’ll find out that each enduro race has a different style, fitness and skill requirement – and, often, a set of rules unique to each event. For example, some races just require that you cross the finish line of the last stage by a certain time in the day to get your name in the results. Other races have a time limit for each transition stage.

But for the most part, enduro is meant to be a fun, approachable and exciting form of mountain biking.

And when you see the riders go by at lightning speed, taking jumps that seem to last forever, careening around berms and everyone wearing looks of ferocious intensity and concentration, well, it kinda gets your heart pumping.

And I love every minute of it.

Stay tuned for Day Two!

Kenny Belaey, award winning trial cyclist

Cody Kelley, pro rider, placed second in the Pro Men’s division