#1 - KEY TIME
In an enduro, Key Time is the “Queen Mother” of all time. All clocks and timekeeping equipment associated with the running of the enduro are based on this time. If you want to do well, you MUST adjust your time to Key Time. District Rules state that key time must be set to WWV (the atomic clock in Fort Collins, Colorado).
Key Time will indicate the actual time of the day the Enduro starts. Usually posted at or near sign-up, the club will use this time to calculate the time each rider should arrive at each checkpoint. For a check to be valid, the time at every check must be within 5 seconds of posted Key Time. According to district rules, “Inaccuracy of six seconds is considered a clock failure.”
You should adjust YOUR timekeeping device so that when you start the race, your clock reads 8:00 (or whatever the start time is for that particular race). Essentially, adjust your device to read earlier than Key Time by an amount equal to your starting row. Example: if you are starting on row 15, your device should be set exactly 15 minutes EARLIER than Key Time. This way, when your row starts at 8:15 (Key Time), your device reads 8:00 exactly. This is done so that during the race, your times will match those of the club (and Key Time) - regardless of your actual start time.
#2 - SPEED AVERAGE
In an enduro, the host club provides a route sheet to all race entrants. On that route sheet are all of the speed averages (as well as resets, free time, etc.) riders are expected to match during the event. These are the speed averages you need to maintain in order to arrive at the checks on time. Although this average is expressed in a mph format, you will eventually want to convert this average to a mile per minute format. The reason for this will be discussed in detail in a later Fun5 Enduro Fact.
Usually these speed averages will be fast enough to keep you riding at your fast trail pace most of the time. On some parts of the course you will find it easy to keep on time but on other parts only experts can make the pace (sometimes even they cannot keep the pace). This is what makes an Enduro both a speed event and a thinking event. The thinking part comes in when you try to anticipate where the checks are and have to decide the best pace to maintain to stay on time without "burning" the check (coming in early).
#3 - Start Minute
An enduro rider’s Start Minute (“minute” or “row number”), determines the time that rider is to start the race relative to Key Time. For example, riders with a number of 17 will start the race at 8:17 (assuming the race starts at 8:00). It is also the number the rider must have on the front number plate of his or her bike. In addition to the number, each rider has a letter (A, B, C or D). The letter distinguishes the four riders on each minute.
The number represents the 60-second “window” of time within which a rider is expected to ride. Based on this number and the route sheet (which shows speed averages, resets, etc. for the course), the hosting club can calculate where each rider should be at any particular time. Checkpoints are placed to “catch” (and penalize) riders that are not riding at the prescribed speeds.
Each check has a clock synchronized to Key Time. As mentioned, each row has a specific minute they are expected to enter a check (from 0 to 59 seconds of that minute). Coming into a check, a rider can arrive 1 second past the turning of the minute, or 59 seconds past and still be scored on time (and consequently lose no penalty points).
#4 - Mileage Marker
A Mileage Marker is a sign along the course that displays the official course mileage. According to the D37 rulebook, if mileage markers are used than they must be on 7” X 9” green day-glow cards. It also says that the maximum allowable distance between known mileages is ten miles. However, “known mileages” include not only Mileage Marker cards, but also all resets, check signs, speed changes, known checks, odometer calibration markers, etc.
One very critical point to take away from this Fun Fact, the posted mileage may not be right, but it is official. Consequently, whenever given the opportunity always reset your odometer to the club’s mileage!
The example that follows might be confusing for some newer enduro riders. If it doesn’t make sense to you just remember, the posted mileage may not be right, but it is official. Consequently, whenever given the opportunity always reset your odometer to the club’s mileage! (Yes, it was worth repeating.)
There is a very good reason for doing this. The rulebook states that the mileage at a check can be off by as much as .1 miles (1 tenth of a mile) and still be valid. Enduro clubs know this and have been known to use this rule to cause careless riders to lose extra points.
Lets assume you’re in the middle of an enduro and look at a specific example:
You are in a section with a 12 mph speed average
At 12 mph, a possible check can be located every .2 miles
In a 12 mph section, you cover .2 miles every minute.
This means if you are riding exactly on time, you are crossing a possible check location every minute, .2 miles apart. You’re riding great…feeling strong. BUT, this race is hosted by SMC (Sneaky Motorcycle Club) and knowing the rules, they purposely put a check in this section .1 miles earlier than it should be. You go around a blind turn and BAM….there’s the check! At the speed average in this section, you are now 30 seconds earlier than you thought! If you’re riding in the early part of your minute….you’re in great risk of burning the check (coming in early).
This example can happen even if you adjust your mileage at every mileage marker. However, the rules also state that, “When a mileage is protested, the rider has the option of choosing the measurement be made from the previous known mileage or from the known mileage before the previous one.” This means clubs can shorten the mileage at several of the previous 3+ known mileages - enabling the club to place a valid check even more than .1 early! The racer who has failed to adjust their mileage to match the club’s now has an even greater chance of coming into the check early (and losing points).
Therefore, to minimize the impact of this risk, whenever given the opportunity always reset your odometer to the club’s mileage!!!
#5 - What is a RESET?
Resets are the C and D riders’ friend. A reset is where you will move your odometer reading, forward - just like you instantly raced ahead on the course while time stands still. You could come into a 1.2-mile reset in a 12 mph section and you instantly makeup six minutes!
At 12 mph, a rider covers .2 miles per minute
1.2/.2 = 6 (six minutes)
Now if you came in on time, you can rest, do some repairs on your bike, drink some water and/or eat a snack. If you were ten minutes late, you are now only four minutes late and you should stop just long enough to set your odometer then get moving and get caught up. Make your time count. Professional riders in the Six Days have been known to change two tires, and install a new air filter in a 12-minute reset! If you have an extra minute, you may not want to try a top-end rebuild, but look ahead on your route sheet and think ahead about what is coming up and how you want to attack it.
The D37 Rule book (in part) states:
1) “The purpose of a reset is to allow the rider to make up time without actually having ridden the reset distance.”
2) “Reset mileage must appear on the rider schedule.” (This means the route sheet.)
3) “Reset mileage can only be used to add on mileage.”
A hosting club will (usually) use resets for 1 and/or 2 reasons:
1) Because a reset gives the rider time, clubs will put these in to give the rider time to rest, or get back “on time.” Often (but not always) these will be placed after a tough section, a “special test” or somewhere where there is concern that a bottleneck may occur, or
2) Hosting clubs will also use resets to adjust the course (or route sheet mileage) to help in the design of the course. Because a reset affects only odometer mileage and not actual ground mileage, the placement, or "Possible" of every check following a reset is affected. This gives the host club the flexibility of where to place subsequent check locations.
This brings up another point….the difference between route sheet mileage and ground mileage. Route sheet mileage refers to the final mileage indicated on the race route sheet. Ground mileage is the actual miles ridden during the event. The difference between these two is the total distance of the resets in the race. For example, if the route sheet for a race indicates the total mileage for the course is 80 miles, but there are 10 miles of resets, the course mileage is 80 miles and the ground mileage is 70 miles (80 – 10).
One other point from the D37 rulebook…"Resets cannot fall on a fraction of a mile other than a whole tenth. A check or a gas stop cannot be at the same place as a reset." If you’re creating your own route sheet (and everyone should do so – at least once) remember the last point that a check and a reset cannot be at the same point.
[FONT=verdana, geneva, lucida, 'lucida grande', arial, helvetica, sans-serif]#6 - What is a SECRET CHECKPOINT?
The object of an enduro is to arrive at hidden checkpoints along the course at the correct time. You lose points for arriving at the checkpoint late OR early. The person who loses the fewest points (in each rider class) is the winner.
A Checkpoint is a point on the trail where the club marks the minute that a rider enters the checkpoint. A “Secret” Checkpoint is the most common type of checkpoint and is marked with Red and White flags. If you enter the check exactly on your minute, you lose "zero" points. This is called “zeroing” a check.
·If you are late to a Check Point, you lose one point for every minute you are late - late is bad.
·If you are early to a Check Point, you lose two points for the first minute early and FIVE points for every additional minute early - early is VERY bad.
·If you are more than 60 minutes and 59 seconds late to any checkpoint, you have "houred out" and are DISQUALIFIED (DQ).
·If you are more than 15 minutes early to any checkpoint, you are DISQUALIFIED. And no, how early you can get in is not cool - everyone will think you're an idiot. Finishing without a DQ and getting a trophy even though you don't have an odometer is Way Cool.
·If you are caught cutting the course, you may be DISQUALIFIED.
·The check crew will score your arrival time as soon as you cross the line between the flags. If you are early you should ride as slowly as you can to let the clock catch up but don't stop forward motion or put a foot down or the crew will probably count you as across the line.
#7 - What is an EMERGENCY CHECKPOINT?
As mentioned in Fun5 Fact #5, the object of an enduro is to arrive at hidden checkpoints along the course at the correct time. You lose points for arriving at the checkpoint late OR early. The person who loses the fewest points (in each rider class) is the winner.
A Checkpoint is a point on the trail where the club marks the minute that a rider enters the checkpoint. An Emergency Checkpoint is also known as a Tie-Breaker Checkpoint. Unlike the “Secret” Checkpoint (which is marked with Red and White flags) the Emergency Checkpoint is marked with Green and White flags. The key difference between the two types of checkpoints is that in an Emergency Checkpoint, riders are marked down to the second. If you enter this type of check exactly 30 seconds into your minute, you lose "zero" points AND zero tiebreaker seconds. Remember, if the checkpoint flags aren’t one of these two types (red and white, or green and white) the check is not a timed check. Any other color flags are not timed checks! Don't be fooled.
One thing to keep in mind about Emergency Checkpoints, unless your are tied with another rider on POINTS at the end of a race, Emergency seconds DON’T MATTER! THE ONLY TIME SECONDS MATTER IS TO BREAK A TIE IN POINTS. This is why (as discussed in a previous Fun4 Fact) many riders will purposely come into an emergency checkpoint only 5 seconds (+/-) into their minute. They are losing 0 points (because they’re in their minute), but are dropping 25 tiebreaker seconds on purpose. The strategy is that by starting the next section 25 seconds earlier, they might save a point by exiting the next section a “minute” earlier. For example:
Rider A comes into the tiebreaker exactly 30 seconds into his minute….he drops 0 points and 0 tiebreaker seconds. He rides the next section and enters the next check 3 minutes late (let’s say 15 seconds into the 3rd minute) – dropping 3 points in the process.
Rider B comes into the tiebreaker 5 seconds into her minute….she drops 0 points and 25 tiebreaker seconds. By coming into the check 25 seconds earlier than Rider A, she has given herself a 25 second “head start” going into the next section. She rides the next section at exactly the same speed as Rider A, but because she started 25 seconds earlier, and she enters the next check only 2 minutes late (missing the 3rd minute by only 10 seconds) – dropping 2 points in the process.
All other things being equal, because rider B only dropped 2 points, she finishes higher than Rider A who dropped 3 points. Because they weren’t tied on points, the 25 additional tiebreaker seconds that Rider B dropped didn’t matter. Obviously this strategy doesn’t always work…but if you think you’re entering a “special test” section (one where the you think the club might try to cause riders to drop points), you may want to give it a try.
#8 - What are Test Sections, Check-ins and Check-outs?
This Fun5Enduro Fact will discuss three unofficial terms often used by experienced enduro racers…Test Section, Check-in and Check-out.
The portion of an enduro course between two consecutive checks is often referred to a “section.” As mentioned in Fun5Enduro Fact #2, each section has a speed average (or multiple speed averages) that determines how fast a rider is expected to travel in that particular section. In most enduros, the host club has several sections where the speed average has been set so high (given the terrain covered) that even the best racers cannot keep on time (and therefore lose points). The host clubs put these sections in to “test” the racers’ skills. This is why they are referred to as “Test Sections.” These sections can also be referred to as “Specials,” or “Special Tests.”
As a racer, you don’t know if a section is a “Test Section” until you are riding that section. Don’t expect to see a sign or be told that you are entering this type of section….its up to you to identify when you’re in a section that you cannot keep pace and to strategize accordingly. These sections have the effect of separating the very best racers from the rest of the riders. Obviously, in these sections the fastest racers will drop the fewest points, and therefore they will record a better score than the slower racers.
The check just before a “Test Section” is called a “Check-in” because in effect it is “checking racers into” the Test Section. Though frequently a Secret Check (see Fun5Enduro Fact #6), a Check-in can be an Emergency Check (see Fun5Enduro Fact #7). Enduro rules state that “Secret or known checks cannot be closer than three miles apart.” This is why you can observe many racers taking advantage of this rule by riding the first 2.8 +/- miles after a check (a possible “Check-in”) very fast. Because they know there cannot be a check for the first 3 miles (so there is no fear of hitting a check early, or “burning” a check), they want to ensure they are not “losing” time if the section ends up being a “Test Section.” This can be a HUGE advantage over your competition that does not use this strategy. We will cover some additional more advanced strategies in a future Fun5Enduro Fact called Riding the Possibles.
At the end of a “Test Section” is another check referred to as a “Check-out.” Obviously, this check is used to “check a racer out” of a “Test Section.” Usually this check will be an Emergency or Tie-Breaker Check…though it doesn’t have to be. Be aware however, that clubs have been known to place two (or more) “Test Sections” back-to-back. Consequently, that check you just entered might not only be a “Check-out” for the previous section, but might also be a “Check-in” for the next section….don’t let your guard down or be fooled by this….it could cost you your trophy!
#9 - What is Free Time?
It is very common in District 37 to have something called “Free Time” between loops of an Enduro. It is very much like it sounds. Essentially it is lake a Time-out. It represents a point where the course mileage remains fixed, but time is allowed to run. Most D37 clubs normally provide Free Time between loops to give riders a chance to get fuel, water, food and/or to rest.
One critical point regarding Free Time…especially if you use an enduro computer…make sure you are aware of your mileage and adjust it accordingly. The rest of this Fun4Enduro Fact primarily pertains to riders using enduro computers and will partially depend on the brand of computer as well as how the rider has programmed the race. I personally use an ICO Pro Comp and the following comments are based on my personal experience.
Once a loop is completed, the computer “thinks” you are now in the Free Time section (where mileage is fixed – or stopped – and time is allowed to continue). However, once a loop is completed, most riders will return to their truck or camp to gas their bike etc. Left alone, the computer will continue to read this additional mileage that rider travels. Most computers will interpret this “additional” mileage (the distance traveled from the end of the loop, and the beginning of the Free Time, back to camp) as part of the next loop. Consequently, if the racer does not adjust the mileage back (to the mileage of the Free Time), the computer “thinks” the rider is somewhere into the next loop. If the rider checks the computer during the break to see how much time remains, the computer will read that the rider has more time than he/she really does. This is because, according to mileage traveled, the computer believes that the rider is now somewhere into the next loop, and not at the mileage where the Free Time took place.
So, always adjust your mileage back at camp during a Free Time (if you’re using the computer to gauge how much time remains before starting the next loop). Also, ALWAYS adjust your mileage when you arrive at the start of the next loop.
#10 - What is a “Possible?” - This one can get complicated.....
I once read an article where the writer asked veteran racer Randy Hawkins what advice he would offer to new riders. Now Randy is a 6 time National Enduro Champion, and has 13 ISDE gold medals so he probably knows a few more things than most of us. His response was quick and emphatic; he said that knowing the rules is the best place to start. One of the most basic (and useful) rules to know relates to check placement. Knowing where a check can be placed (or cannot be placed) is invaluable if you want to do well in an enduro.
I will add that if you understand the concepts discussed in this Fun4Enduro Tip (and the next one), you will have a distinct advantage over many of the riders in your class. Personally, it took me a while to understand these concepts…I just had to read about them over and over until it sunk in. However, once you understand, you’ll be hooked. One side note, if you use an enduro computer (or even a JART Chart), all of these calculations are already done for you. You can use the computer and/or a JART Chart and do very well without ever understanding what we are discussing in this tip. However, I would argue that knowing WHAT a possible is, and WHY it is a possible, will likely give you an advantage at some point. All right, let’s go….
What is a possible? This term refers to a “possible” check location. In other words, where checks are allowed to be placed - according to the rules. The District 37 2004 rulebook states that, “Checks [and speed changes] cannot fall on a fraction of a mile other than a whole tenth or anytime before or after the sixtieth second of a minute.” If you understand what this sentence means, you now know where a check may be located. While this doesn’t mean you now know where checks will be located during an enduro, it does tell you where checks CANNOT be located….and, as we will eventually see, this is almost as good.
Let’s break this rule down into two parts. The first half of this rule states, “Checks [and speed changes] cannot fall on a fraction of a mile other than a whole tenth…” This relates the speed average riders are expected to maintain as prescribed by the host clubs’ route sheet. Since these averages are given in MPH, we will want to convert these speeds into something more useful. We do this by converting miles-per-hour into miles-per-minute. To do this, divide the speed average by 60. For example, in an 18 MPH section, you should be traveling .3 miles every minute (18/60 = .3 miles-per-minute). In this case a “possible” is located every .3 miles and every minute. Using the same logic, in a 12 MPH section, a check can be located every .2 miles and every minute. However, if you’re in a 15 MPH section, you will be covering .25 miles every minute (15/60 = .25), or .5 miles every 2 minutes. Since a possible has to be at a whole tenth (and .25 is not a whole tenth), the possibles in a 15 MPH section are 2 minutes and .5 miles apart. Is this starting to make a little sense? If the club throws in a really odd speed average like 17 MPH, the possibles are 6 minutes and 1.7 miles apart. Some common (and not so common) speed averages are as follows:
12 mph = .2 miles per minute = 1 minute between whole tenths
13 mph = .217 miles per minute = 6 minutes between whole tenths
14 mph = .233 miles per minute = 3 minutes between whole tenths
15 mph = .25 miles per minute = 2 minutes between whole tenths
16 mph = .267 miles per minute = 3 minutes between whole tenths
17 mph = .283 miles per minute = 6 minutes between whole tenths
18 mph = .3 miles per minute = 1 minute between whole tenths
19 mph = .317 miles per minute = 6 minutes between whole tenths
20 mph = .333 miles per minute = 3 minutes between whole tenths
21 mph = .35 miles per minute = 2 minutes between whole tenths
22 mph = .367 miles per minute = 3 minutes between whole tenths
23 mph = .383 miles per minute = 6 minutes between whole tenths
24 mph = .4 miles per minute = 1 minute between whole tenths
Let’s now look at the second half of the rule. The part that states “Checks [and speed changes] cannot fall…anytime before or after the sixtieth second of a minute,” essentially means that checks have to land on a whole minute. The implication of this is that you only need to calculate distances (and therefore possible check locations) in full minute increments to see where the possibles are located. (This is why we convert the speed averages into miles-per-minute.) For example, if you’re in a 16 MPH section you will travel .267 miles every minute. After 1½ minutes you will travel .4 miles (.267 x 1.5 minutes). This is a whole tenth, so it is a possible check location, right? NO…because its not at a whole minute (its 30 seconds into a minute) and checks have to land on a whole minute. Therefore, in a 16 MPH section, you need to ride for 3 minutes and .8 miles (.267 x 3 = .8 ) between possibles.
How does this information help you and make you a better enduro rider? Keep your eyes open for the next Fun5 Enduro tip where we will attempt to put it all together when using an advanced riding technique called, “Riding the Possibles.”
#11 - Riding the Possibles
“Riding the Possibles” is an advanced enduro riding technique that puts together all of the other Fun4Enduro facts. If you’ve read (and understand) the other tips, this is where you will use them.
In a nutshell, riding the possibles means riding as fast as you can between possible check locations so that you are riding early. When you approach a possible check location, you slow down and cautiously approach the check location on time. Once you determine there is not a check at that particular “possible”, you pin it and get way ahead before the next possible. Of course, you can only use this technique in sections where you are capable of riding faster than the given speed average.
If you are in a section that has a possible every minute (such as 12, 18, 24 mph), it becomes a very schizophrenic type of approach (speed, slow, speed, slow). On the other hand, if you are in a section with an odd average like 16mph (3 min and .8 miles between possibles), you get to ride like a maniac for almost 3 minutes. Instead of worrying about a possible every minute (like your ignorant friends), you get to rip ahead for 2½ minutes, then slow down, refocus on your timekeeping and look for the possible. If it’s not there, then repeat the process. This type of approach is not only valuable, but can be really, really fun too.
How many times in an enduro have you crested the top of a nasty downhill and saw the checkpoint at the very bottom? If you are riding the possibles, you probably topped the hill early, scrubbed the extra time just getting down the hill, and zeroed your minute. Your friend (who is always “right on time”), crests the same hill, sees the check and experiences some major sphinctering trying to get down the hill in a hurry….and still drops a point in the process.
Many times, in very open and flat terrain, many enduro riders will just maintain a fairly steady pace so that they hits each possible right at the top of their minute without significantly varying their speed. The risk of doing this is that your mind can start to wander. Once you start thinking about anything other than your time, mileage, minute, possibles etc….you’re doomed. If you hit a tough section or miss a mileage marker (that disagrees with your odometer), you are no longer racing, you’re on a trail ride. As Paul Clipper of Trail Rider magazine puts it, “To be absolutely competitive, you not only have to ride fast, you have to THINK. You have to be totally aware of where you are, both on the course and within your minute, from the moment the enduro starts until you finally clear the finish checkpoint….if you stop thinking about timekeeping while you're in the middle of the enduro you're almost guaranteed to lose…” It is this mindset that separates first place from second place.
Consequently, even in open and flat terrain, you can still see many top enduro riders speeding, creeping into the possibles, and then pinning it again. These guys are riding the possibles. This approach makes you keep your head-in-the-game….a requirement if you want to do well.