By: Brandon Ontiveros
The 2012 North American Enduro Tour (N.A.E.T.) is back and going bigger in its second year. The N.A.E.T. is designed to gather athletes at many of the continentâ€™s best race venues for the rapidly growing mountain bike discipline of Enduro racing. This yearâ€™s partnered events include the Canadian Open Enduro as part of Crankworx Whistler, the Santa Cruz/Shimano Oregon Enduro Series, the Specialized Enduro as part of the Colorado Freeride Festival in Winter Park and Utahâ€™s Bell Wasatch Enduro taking place at Canyons Resort in Park City. Most of these races emerge on world-class bike parks throughout North America, with the exception of the Oregon Series, which is unique in itâ€™s own right by using the stateâ€™s best trails that are tucked deep in the rugged Cascade mountains all via shuttle.
Individual events will be based on a Gold or Silver level point structure, Gold being worth 300 points and Silver 150. Of the eight premier events tied to N.A.E.T., the Canadian Open Enduro, the Specialized Enduro and both the Hood River and Mt. Hood venues of the Oregon Enduro Series will be Gold level events, setting the bar based on difficulty of courses, average number of participants, media output and the level of prize money.
Because Enduro racing tends to equally favor the technical, physical and endurance athletes, it levels the playing field between cross-country and gravity-fueled riders. The most well rounded riders will be rewarded in a simple format that involves timed (descending) stages linked by transfer (climbing) stages that are not factored into the overall structure. While transfer stages are not officially timed, there is an allocated time limit to get to each checkpoint.
This unintimidating race format recruits new racers and seasoned pros alike from all biking backgrounds and many from across the globe. Simply put, this style of racing combines the excitement of downhill, the fitness of cross-country and camaraderie like youâ€™ve never experienced at an event before. Just ask last yearâ€™s winner Mathew Slaven, who quietly edged out a huge stack of the worldâ€™s best all-mountain riders and commented on this being the most fun and challenging style of racing heâ€™s yet to compete in as a professional mountain biker.
In terms of the trusty steeds used for this genre, Enduro racing requires less specialized equipment than other disciplines, opening competition up to a broad range of athletes who might not be able to afford a quiver of bikes. Five and six-inch travel bikes are ideal and bike manufactures today are making strong, stiff and lightweight bikes that can pedal efficiently and tackle the gnarly downhill sections the courses throw at competitors.
The kickoff to this yearâ€™s North American Enduro Tour will take place in Bend, Oregon the first weekend in June, which will then be followed by subsequent events every month through mid-September. Registration is now open for all respective N.A.E.T. events, so please check the following websites for more information on this yearâ€™s tour.
North American Enduro Tour: www.naetmtb.com
Oregon Enduro Series: www.oregonenduro.com
* June 2 & 3: Bend, OR
* June 23 & 24: Ashland, OR
* July 14 & 15: Hood River, OR
* August 26: Sisters, OR
* September 8 & 9: Mt. Hood, OR
Bell Wasatch Enduro: www.bellwasatchenduro.com
* July 21: Canyons Resort, UT
Specialized Enduro: www.coloradofreeridefestival.com
* July 27, 28 & 29: Winter Park, CO
Canadian Open Enduro at Crankworx Whistler: www.crankworx.com
* August 10 & 11: Whistler, BC