A sweeping global trend has seen our mountain bikers get bitten by the Enduro pandemic, and not many trails make for a more favorable breeding ground than the ones in the Himalayan backyard.

May 23, 2020

What the Hell
First came Cross-country, almost twenty years ago, taking you across the countryside on bumpy undulating trails to little known outskirts. Everybody and his dog headed to Godavari on early Saturday mornings and some even claimed to have discovered secret trails behind Nagarkot. Cycling as it was known changed for good and mountain biking was born.

Then everything went Downhill. Moms would never approve of their lads making a 10-foot drop and wives couldn’t watch their stubborn husbands storm over unwalkable tracks against a cliff face. Terms like berm, roll, ramp, rock garden and pump were left only for the adrenaline junkies to comprehend. As were 160mm travel and Lowered BB among others. Things had gotten a bit more intense and steep. Downhill bikers rejoiced.

As the two disciplines of mountain biking got progressively more extreme, a group in the middle felt left out – with neither the unspoken stamina of cross-country riders nor the gobsmacking skills of downhillers. Besides, race organizers had to get more creative with limited options available for the less extreme races.

Along came Enduro

The latest craze among cyclists throughout the world, Nepal no exception, Enduro became a big deal only a few years ago. The promising sport stems from enduro dirt biking and demands equal parts stamina, skills, dough and bollocks to shred trails composed of steep descents and gradual ascents.

Of Trails and Terrains
“Enduro trails are generally one-fourth gradual and undulating climbs while three-fourths are technical descents and flat pedalling sections,” shares race organizer Shyam Limbu of Gnarly MTB. “The trails are more technical than cross-country and involves bigger drops and jump sections. But they’re less steep and technical than downhill trails.” In essence, Enduro is a hybrid of cross-country and downhill mountain biking.

For races, uphills are untimed but have to be completed within a given time slot; whereas downhills are the usual drill, only less intense,” continues Limbu who directed Showdown Dharan 2015 Downhill Marathon race. A handful of enduro races are rumored to be schedule in the coming months. Limbu cites logistical difficulty as the main reason why enduro races are difficult to organize. “They’ll start popping up sooner than later!” he is reassured.

Another fanatic of Enduro riding, current National Downhill Champion Rajesh Magar shares: “I’ve been mostly involved in downhill biking but enduro is definitely a growing sport and gaining momentum here. I make a point of hitting Enduro trails every weekend with my crew. I particularly love riding in Shivapuri and Nagarkot because those trails get me the most kicks out of my bike.”

The Toy
While there’s no hard and fast rules about the kind of bike you need for Enduro, there are definitely some elements to keep into consideration. “Bumpy tracks and jumps mean a fork with 140mm or more travel is highly recommended. You may opt for either a hardtail or a full-suspension bike, depending on our skill and terrains you choose to ride on,” suggests Limbu. Larger width tyres increase resistance for punctures and make rides more comfortable. A dropper post is a nice addition and lets you manhandle the trails with better body position. Likewise, make sure to wear a full-face helmet and body armors such as knee and chest protectors to not let the trail manhandle you if you decide take a fall.

What does it take?
Ask any enduro rider and he’ll prophecize the trails, the bikes and the thrill, claiming it to be his drug, if not religion. Not to mention the adrenaline fix. But take it from the horse’s mouth: “For starters, Enduro – or any sort of biking – is not just chic and expensive apparel. You need right skills and essential gears, let alone considerable experience, to hit the rough trails,” exclaims Magar, well admired for his perseverance and dedication to the sport. Pointing to a plethora of battle scars over the better part of his hand and feet, he continues, “This shows why you don’t underestimate the trails. You need to hone your skills on cross-country trails with technical sections before daring for enduro.”

The most current form of mountain biking has its ups and downs, and everybody else on the edge of the saddle.

Let’s face it. Not all of us have the stamina for cross-country or the skills for downhill. Some of us are getting there but the rest of us are pure lazy.