This year has been a huge learning experience! From our race seasons beginning until this day I have been learning how to become a fast Enduro racer; from going to bike parks; to jumping off ledges to racing dual slaloms. It has been quite a challenge, physically and mentally. It all started on the first day of our race season on my trip to the Jim’s World Bike Park and ended when I achieved season’s “dream list” goals of 1 Scott Enduro Cup series, and 1 California Enduro Point Series Podium!
Learning The Ropes Striving to be the world’s best XC racers my coach knew that Nye and I had to develop world class descending skills. He knew that the top XC racer in the world, Nino Schuter was a downhill’er before he became a 3x World Champion XC racer. He has proven over and over that his extraordinary descending skills and XC fitness makes the fastest XC racer in the world! So late last summer our coach decided we needed to focus on Enduro racing to develop the skills necessary to become the worlds best XC racer, just like Nino Schuter!
When we first started preparing to race Enduro, Nye was a better descender than I was and even beat me at a local Super D Race. On the day of our first scheduled once a week training session at the Jim’s World Bike Park, I had to go to an eye doctor appointment. Nye was able to go! The next week we went there I was surprised to see that Nye was already able to jump a 4ft tabletop! I immediately thought I would be able to do it. I was wrong, it wasn’t easy at all! I started on the same 4ft tabletop that Nye did and tried to see how quickly I would clear it. Learning how to jump with flat pedals and to control my bike in the air was one Super Hard Task! From 7 years of using clip-in pedals while XC riding and racing I was used to pulling up with my feet, but now when riding my BMX bike with flat pedals when I tried to jump, my feet just flew off of the pedals. I was so frustrated! I felt like a bug hitting a windshield when I smashed onto the top of the table top! It was even harder for me mentally because Nye had more experience and was better than I was! Not being more experienced and better than him filled me with Determination and within the first day I closed the gap and was able to jump as well as he was! I was really looking forward to the day when I could easily handle my bike in the air! Over the next few weeks we went, something clicked, I felt like a bird that just learned to fly, and suddenly I was able to control my bike in the air and clear that tabletop and many more!
It wasn’t long after that I was able to jump a series of gaps ranging from 4ft to 20ft wide, and Nye wasn’t far behind!
Getting The Hang Of It Once we learned to jump at bike parks, we took that to our trail system and started to learn how to jump off a 6ft Rock drop on one of our local trails. It was really hard for me to jump it the first time because I was such a chicken back then! Once I got the hang of it, jumping off ledges and rocks, wasn’t that hard.
It was super fun! Now it is my favorite thing to do on my bike! I also learned it is about technique; like to keep my weight as far back as possible, carry enough speed and keeping negative thoughts like: I Don’t Know If I Can Do That out of my mind! It hardly seemed we’d been training long, but then in early April our first Enduro at The Sea Otter Classic was upon us! Being my first Enduro race I was nervous, but once I started racing my nervousness faded once hit an awesome section of the trail which had lots of table tops and sweet jumps! I was Stoked to have 13th against he fastest juniors in the country. That let me that know that my training was on the right track and I was excited that future Enduro podiums were within my reach!
Being Competitive Racing Enduro is a, rad and awesome experience, but if you want to be competitive there are certain techniques you will difinantly want to use! My first priority is to pre-ride the course, riding the course 5, 10, even 15 times is the best thing you can do, because the more you ride the course the more time you’ll take off of your race time, I find the fast lines and get the know the course so well it is like the back of my hand. I have also learned that to be the fastest and competitive racer I have to, keep developing the skills I’ve talked about previously, race Dual Slalom which teaches me urgency, how to corner better and how to manual! Dual Slalom is awesome! I loved being able to race neck and neck with my competitor it pushes me really hard and is an Awesome adrenaline rush! Aside from being super fun, it taught me one super important skill, to be more urgent. This skill has helped me go faster in Enduros. Getting in a habit of being urgent was great because it made me pedal as hard as I could in every possible place the trail offered! It is a great way to go faster, but I have to admit it is really tiring if your not in top shape.
Battleborn Enduro was the first Enduro race I competed for the win in. Being a local I knew all of the stages like the back of my hand! Being familiar with the trails made me go super fast and came away with a sweet 3rd place. My last Enduro race of the year was the Kamakazie Bike Games Enduro Race, from the moment I finished my first stage I could tell I had improved big time from the last time I raced there at the Enduro National Championships. Having had ridden the course previously at Enduro Nationals was a huge advantage! It helped me because I knew all of the fast lines, where all of the obstacles were, and I could tell that each stage I raced at the Kamakazie Games I felt WAY faster, smoother and more confident than I did before! It was the most fun I’d ever had at Mammoth! At the end of the year I ended up with 4 top five finishes and two Point Series podium finishes. I was 2nd in The Scott Enduro Cup Series Junior Men Under 18 class and 5th in the California Enduro Series Cat1 Under 18 Expert Men class! Next year I hope to improve even more and win both Enduro Point Series! .
I’ve learned a ton this year about improving my skills and about racing Enduro. I’m looking forward to next year so I can improve more and put my skills to the test again! What I’ve learned this year just proves if you put your mind to it, no matter how hard physically or mentally it is anything is possible!