Enduro MTB is a pretty new discipline, as far as cycling goes. It’s kind of a cross between Downhill, cross country and Marathon mountain biking – a stage race format, with multiple events over a weekend, and competitors also riding the (mostly uphill) transfers between the (mostly downhill) stages. If you want to know more about it, there are the wikipedia article, and introductions from Pinkbike and BikeRadar, and this video from GCN MTB.
The Enduro World Series is the biggest competition, a season-long series that takes place in some truly gorgeous locations. It’s only been running since 2013, and it’s very definitely outside the umbrella of the UCI, organised by the Enduro Mountain Bike Association (EMBA), which itself started in 2012, and from the start, it’s been very inclusive, especially of women, but also of fans. It has excellent media, with lots of rider involvement, in the previews of each race, highlights, and lots of things in between, and it makes these available to pretty much everyone. Check out the video page and photo galleries on their website, and drool over that beautifully-MTB combination of fantastic people doing extraordinary things on amazing bikes, in the most incredible landscapes.
One thing that made the inclusion of women easy for EWS was having Anne-Caroline Chausson and Tracy Moseley involved from the start. They’re such incredible off-road legends, Moseley having been Downhill World Champion in 2010, and won 16 Downhill World Cups, and Chausson having won an amazing NINE World Champion golds in Downhill, two in Four Cross, and the first ever BMX Olympic gold medal. They are amazing women, and they’re both real ambassadors for cycling – if you don’t know about them, check them out right now. Here’s a recent Red Bull Bike piece on why Chausson is the greatest of all time, for example. Featuring them was a no-brainer, because they’re both, in different ways, very likeable on camera, and of course, amazing riders.
But EWS didn’t just focus on the existing stars, but also made sure to feature other riders, so when Moseley retired, and Chausson had to step away from the sport to get treatment for ovarian cancer, they’d built interest in other riders – Anneke Beerten is also an off-road legend, but they’ve made it really easy to get to know others on the circuit.
This year there’ll also be TV programmes, with Moseley as one of the presenters, alongside the usual videos, and that will just make it even easier to love. I am still learning about MTB, and the way the EWS (and Red Bull Bike, for MTB and promote the sport, and the MTB media around it, made it really, really easy to fall in love.
I look at how EWS has set themselves up with women’s cycling right at the heart, and I can’t help but compare it to how Velon has started the Hammer Series with no women’s racing (responding to criticism, they said women can still be involved, by paying to ride in the sportifs, and spectating, which just adds insult to injury, to me), or how the UCI are piloting Short Track as a World Cup discipline (especially odd as Short Track is already raced by women around the world).
But now EWS have started something really exciting, that I hope other cycling disciplines emulate. They’ve partnered with Juliana Bicycles and ex-pro Anka Martin to offer amazing access for women to get into the sport, or just have a fantastic time as a fan:
Juliana Bicycles and the Enduro World Series have joined forces to stoke out the ladies this year. We’re offering a day out on the bike with Juliana ambassador Anka Martin to get a glimpse into life at the EWS races. Come and join us to be part of the event and experience the vibe without any of the pressure to race. We’ll be shredding trails, watching some race action, mingling with the pros, sampling some local food, sharing a beer or two, Q&As and much more. Each venue will be slightly different highlighting that specific venue, the country, the culture, and of course, its trails.
How amazing is this? The rides are in Rotorua in New Zealand on 24th March; Tasmania, Australia on 7th April; Madeira on 11th May; Whistler, Canada on 11th August; and Finale, Italy, on 29th September, and they’re FREE to join! They look like both a wonderful holiday for MTB lovers, and athough they say no pressure to race, do offer great way to see what it’s like, for women who might be tempted, which is great for the EWS. It’s that win-win combination of good for fans, good for the sponsor, and good for the sport.
But imagine how this approach could be transferred to other cycling disciplines? I’m thinking about, eg, a ex-CX pro doing this at an IJsboerke Ladies Trophy race at the DVV Trophée, maybe getting to ride the course the day before the race (Helen Wyman already runs CX clinics at USA races, which is similar, but on a much smaller scale), or MTB stars doing it at World Cups – and then there are so many possibilities on the road, both at the Classics and at a stage race. I know that The Women’s Tour is running a sportive in Northamptonshire and a Pink Ribbon Tour in London this year, but imagine they and other races having a day with an ex-pro taking fans around key parts of a stage, then the next day doing a tour of the race village, taking the to key points and following the race online with them from the VIP area at the finish? Or maybe the Tour Series or Women’s Tour (as examples), or Track World Cups/Revolution Series partner with people running free ‘Introduction to race/track skills’ sessions in conjunction with the races? The possibilities are endless!
If you want to know more about the Juliana Women’s Rides, head to the Enduro World Series website, and register here. And if you can’t get to one of those, but would love to do something similar, Anka Martin runs regular Soul Trails MTB and yoga holidays in Scotland, Italy, France, Spain, Botswana and New Zealand – find out more on her website. And check out the Juliana Bicycles films about Martin, Aneela McKenna of Go-Where Scotland and Melissa Munroe of Trans Provence, who run some of the Soul Trails, as well as their own companies’ holidays, and the MTB adventures they offer. Finally, have a look at the whole Juliana Bicycles site, and of course, get excited about the 2017 Enduro World Series, which kicks off in Rotorua, on 25-26th March.
Of course, I don’t get any benefits from promoting any of this, I am just sharing it because I love it – but huge thanks to my Patreon supporters, who do fund me to write this kind of thing!