US Cyclo-cross national champion and 2013-2014 UCI World Cup overall winner Katie Compton (Trek Cyclo-cross Collective) has raced many different cycling disciplines, but this past weekend she added one more to her resume: enduro mountain bike racing.
"This was my first enduro, I have friends who race them and enjoy the scene, so I wanted to give it a try," Compton told Cyclingnews. "The one in Moab is an easier one (more pedaling, less full downhill) for me to do and also fun. I thought it would be a good way to test the waters without committing too much."
Compton raced round 1 of the Enduro Cup in Moab, Utah. She finished in third place, after winner Heidi Rentz and runner-up Heather Irmiger.
"After racing this weekend, enduro definitely moves towards the top of my list of fun racing. I think every mountain bike racer should give one a try, they are pretty fun and a great way to spend a weekend," she said.
Of the many enduros that comprise the booming enduro scene, Compton chose the one in Moab because she knew the area and that the riding would be "super fun". It was also at the right time of year and she could drive there and camp, keeping costs down.
Compton, best known recently for her 'cross accomplishments and longer ago for her track cycling achievements, is no stranger to mountain biking. She has previously won the US short track mountain bike national championships.
"I thought it was fun, great riding, just enough racing to be hard but also plenty of time to be social, too. It's nice riding at a leisurely pace to the start, racing full gas on short sections then riding at a comfortable pace during the transitions. It's pretty social and like a group mountain bike ride on the flats and climbs and then you race the fun downhill trail sections."
"I think this type of racing caters to a big group of riders. The stages are short enough where you don't need a ton of fitness to have fun and the race environment is very social and welcoming for all riders. Yes, the terrain is technical but it's natural trail riding which most mountain bikers can handle without being intimidated. The faster you ride it, the more technical the trail."
The Colorado-based pro has no trouble in most races when it comes to fitness, but she's still honing her technical off-road skills.
"I learned this weekend that my technical skills were my governor instead of my fitness and that was a nice change," she said. "And that a bike with more travel is a lot of fun to ride downhill."
So is she likely to follow the many pro riders who are switching from cross country and downhill racing to enduro racing? Probably not, but another enduro is likely in her future.
"I would definitely race another enduro. I don't know which one yet and if any fit into my summer plans, but I'd love to race one again. At this point, we're only going to race events within driving distance," she said.
In her single racing experience, Compton quickly grasped the appeal of enduro, which is booming in popularity worldwide.
"I think enduro brings mountain bike racing back to it roots. You get to ride in some amazing places and ride real trails in the woods or mountains. For me, one race made mountain bike racing fun again. I forgot what that was like."
The format is a big contrast from hour-and-a-half Olympic style multi-lap cross country mountain bike racing or 20-minute, all-out timed races around short track mountain bike courses.
"I'm a big fan of all the cycling disciplines and think they all compliment each other," said Compton. "Enduro requires a high level of technical ability, good fitness and speed. It also requires an ability to read a trail quickly so you choose the best and quickest line through the technical parts. It requires a variety of skills to be good at it and not just the ability to jump things or take risks with which you aren't comfortable."
"I like the fact that you can take risks if you want to, or not and simply choose to pedal harder. Some enduros are much harder or more technical than others but a beginner rider can easily choose one that suits his or her ability, be safe and have fun."