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Last year's Andes Pacifico Enduro in Chile. Photo: Sven Martin

Enduro is fast becoming the most popular mountain bike discipline in the world. Why? Because it appeals to the all-round mountain bike rider. Pedalling uphill with your friends before ripping down some rocky, root-strewn trails - what's not to like?

With the Enduro World Series kicking off this weekend, we've put together an introduction to enduro - plus a few interesting things you might not know about the world's hottest MTB comp.

 

What is Enduro?

Enduro is an form of mountain bike racing, described as an "all-mountain" discipline.

It was thought up in the 1990s when riders wanted a new sport that combined the techy bike handling ability from downhill and the endurance side of cross-country.

It's designed to test the world's best all round mountain bikers - with amateurs entering alongside professional riders.

 

How does the race work?

The Enduro World Series sets the world's best racers head-to-head in seven competitions across the globe.

Riders race over a series of stages. Whoever has the combined fastest time over those stages is the winner. These are primarily downhill courses with few uphill legs.

Riders are only allowed one bike and one set of wheels (unlike other disciplines) so they need to think tactically about equipment choice and physical effort when riding the course.

 

When does it take place?

It all kicks off this Saturday 19 April with round one at Santa Cruz Montenbaik Enduro in Nevados de Chillan, Chile. The rest of the 2014 season is as follows:

Round Two - Tweedlove Festival, Scotland, UK (30 May-1 June)

Round Three - Enduro Series Valloire, France (21-22 June)

Round Four - Super Enduro La Thuile, Italy (12-13 July)

Round Five - Colorado Freeride Festival, Winterpark, Colorado, USA (26-27 July)

Round Six - Crankworx Whistler, Canada (9-10 August)

Round Seven - Super Enduro Finale Ligure, Italy (4-5 October)

If you want a more detailed explanation of how Enduro came about, check out this informative piece in Bike Magic.

[part title="It Only Started in 2013!"]

The Enduro World Series is practically a toddler in the world of mountain bike races. It was formed in 2012 with the first season taking place last year.

Enduro races have been taking place across different countries since the late '90s, but it was the first time that riders from the around the world had come together for a professional world championship series.

Catch up on last year's comp with this video from Dirt Magazine above!

[part title="It all started through crowd funding"]

Curtis Keene navigating his way through the streets of Punta Alta. Photo: sram.com

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OK, we're not quite talking about a Kickstarter project here, but it's not far off.

The Enduro World Series organisers have gone for a non-exclusive crowd funding approach to funding the event, which is pretty rare among international sporting events nowadays. 

Fourteen rider-focused companies have provided direct support to the Enduro Mountain Bike Association (EMBA) to make the whole series happen.

The idea was to not lose the grassroots spirit of the competition - and so far, it seems to be working!

This means each individual round holds the sponsorship rights to their event. So the race format, course design and technical regulations are controlled from within, rather than through a third party organiser.

[part title="It's coming to Chile and the UK for the first time"]

Photo: TweedLove

Increased sponsorship this year has allowed the Enduro World Series to spread to Chile and the UK for the first time.

Nevados de Chillan in Chile is the first stop on the world tour. We had a taster of the country back in February at the Andes Pacifico Enduro. Now the riders will be taking to the Nevados de Chillan's volcanic slopes and lush forest singletracks for two days of six stage event.

Then come May, competitors will make their way to the steep hills in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, just south of Edinburgh for round two at the TweedLove Festival. Alongside serious world series action, there will be backcountry exploration tours, kids bike jams and even bike-specific pilates sessions.

[part title="30% of participants hail from the UK"]

Brit Tracy Moseley is currently the reigning female champion of the EWS. Photo: nsmb.com

We already knew the Brits were big fans of Enduro. After all, the current reigning female world champ is British rider Tracy Moseley who dominated the leader board last season.

Interestingly, out of the 39 countries represented at this year's EWS, Great Britain make up a whopping 30% of competitors taking part.

That's twice as many as any other nation taking part with USA dominating 15% of entries, France 12%, Italy 12% and Canada 10%.

[part title="The EWC trophy contains a relic from every stop on last year's tour"]

Photo: Enduro World Series

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Edinburgh-based artist Simon Muir made the Enduro World Series trophy for the inaugural season last year. But it's not your regular silver trophy displayed on a wooden podium....

Simon used four different types of wood - walnut, ash, mango and oak - shaped to look like a woodguard fender with a box at the base containing relics from each of the stops on last year's tour. Pretty original eh!

These include:

- Soil from Punta Ala, Italy

- Rock from Val d'Allos, France

- A bottle of Génépi spirit from Les Deux Alpes, France

- Bark and aspen leaves from Winterpark, USA

- 'Old Man's Beard' moss from Whistler, Canada

- White organic linen from Val d'Isere, France

- Hazlenuts and beach sand from Finale Ligure, Italy