The ‘Enduro Line’ – What would you do?

The ‘Enduro Line’ is something we laugh and joke about, usually involving poking fun at the Frenchies and talk of bunny hopping the tape. Riders are looking at creating that fast and furious straight line saving vital seconds in the race to whichever crown they wish to adorn their sweaty helmet haired head.

Round 2 of the UK Enduro Series this weekend and the distinct lack of taping on Stage 7, providing racers with the ultimate ‘enduro line, to which the contrasting opinions were stark. I hope James doesn’t mind me using this but his video on Facebook tells the story brilliantly!

As you can see the tape is sparse leading to the perfect environment for riders to get creative with the line choice. That said though, it didn’t take the cycling Einstein equivalent to stand at the trail head and pick their straight line through the trees and stumps.

Now, I’m pretty competitive and given that I (and many other riders) had a fair amount of time in the queue for this stage I left the bike in line and took a stroll down the trail to see the lie of the land. It didn’t take long to see the massive advantage straight lining this part of the trail would give. Amidst the chatter of the rights and wrongs and the pro’s and con’s I set off out of the gate and down the hill. I’ll admit I went for the straight line from the top, I didn’t make it at the first opportunity due to carrying too much speed but later found myself taking a pre-planned shortcut missing out an entire corner. As I cut across the grass I had a fleeting memory from racing the Trans Savoie and the race organiser drilling us with the importance of not cutting the course for reasons regarding land permissions and conservation of the trails. Did I feel guilty? A little. Did it last for long? No, it didn’t, missing out on that line when others around me chose to take it would have put me on the back foot where times are concerned. A race is no time to take the moral high ground, sticking religiously to the most worn track.

UK Enduro_Triscombe21
Thats the tape we were looking out for!

Later I learned of events at the top of the hill after my departure. A group of 20 or so of the more influential riders at the race boycotted the stage and rode in a train to the bottom, seeking out race organiser Neil in order to demand that the stage be cancelled due to cheating. Did I and all my other fellow ‘enduro liners’ cheat? I don’t think we did, I kept my eyes up and took the most direct line in the area I knew to be the stage. There are further peripheral arguments to this debate too surrounding  whether blind racers be allowed to walk the track, whether this also surmounts to cheating as we gain advantage over the competition. I am again firmly in the ‘no camp’ on this score. I have worked hard to get myself to a level of fitness where I can arrive at a stage with enough time to check it out if I feel it necessary. If there is no definitive rule surrounding this then other racers know what to do.

I am more than happy to shred turns and follow the natural line of the trail. If it had been taped out, I would have gladly done so. Finishing the race 5 or 10 seconds off my closest rival knowing I stayed on the main line won’t get me on the podium, there’s not going to be a post script to the results detailing or congratulating me on my line choice. A race is no time to take the moral high ground, sticking religiously to the most worn track. Post race the organisers have admitted the lack of tape was a problem leading to the cancellation of the stage. A disappointment at the end of a brilliant weekends racing but a mistake that the organisers say  will not be repeated in the future. That I do believe as this problem hasn’t reared its head thus far in the series, which has been an awesome mix of great atmosphere and technical, varied trails.

As a further dichotomy to my thoughts and feelings about this topic, I feel rather differently about Strava. On Strava there should be no deviation from the main line, that my friend, is definitely cheating both yourself and your Strava compatriots. I think this makes me a hypocrite so I’m off to take stock of the situation and contemplate this fact!

Photos – Kasia Fiszer Photography

 

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