A mountain bike enduro is one of the best things you can do with a bunch of mates. I have raced many; some as a hardcore team going for podium honours, some as a way to hang out and gas bag with other bicycle loons, drink beer, have a barbeque and ride mountain bikes.
The sport of cycling honestly doesn't get much better than a 24 hour MTB enduro.
So you're committed, but who else? The first great challenge is finding appropriate team members. I have put together some ideas about finding the right people to race with and share the fun.
The first step is to recognise your intention and be aware of your own abilities. It is unrealistic (and a bit dishonest) for a recreational weekend warrior to proclaim podium aims and go searching for hardened whippets to get him there.
TIP: Having a clear vision of your intention in pulling together a bunch of mountain bikers for a race should always be the first step and will help attract the type of people you are looking for. Like attracts like.
The best place to start is your local MTB club. Join up, go on a social ride or two and find riders at your level. Also, check out the MTB online forum in your area. Where I live this is a great place to find or join an already existing team looking for that extra person. They talk about teams in terms of: fun, semi-serious, serious and elite.
Once you know where you stand in the hierarchy of fitness and commitment, it's time to move on and fine tune your team mate selection process.
2. Go for a ride
Go out riding and see where everyone is at regarding skills, fitness and attitude. If you just want to have fun, attitude is probably the most important commodity. But for those looking to compete or be a bit more serious, deciding who rides first, who has greatest endurance for those last few laps, or even who rides best at night are important things to know.
Spending time on the trails is also a great time to find out if your sandbagging is compatible with another's. Nothing quite like internal team rivalry, deceit and deception.
3. Committment and the Pub
Having a Saturday afternoon drinking session at the local is a great way to take the measure of any potential team mates. If someone orders a glass of wine they're definitely out. I like to drink wine, but not when hanging out with guys at the pub, talking about ripping up mountain biking trails and other macho stuff. (If the team mate is a girl, that's different).
It is also a good opportunity to find out who has the biggest cooler and portable barbeque.
TIP: An excellent way of ascertaining committment is announcing a mountain bike ride for the morning after and see who actually turns up. Always make sure you are the creator of this plan, then when you don't show up, that lame excuse sounds a bit more believable.
4. Gear and style
It is well to understand that not all good team mates necessarily need to have a $5,000 carbon dual suspension mountain bike. As long as the equipment (bike) is equal to the task (riding on/off constantly for a day on mountain bike trails), they should be fine.
I would be a little concerned about someone turning up to a cross country training ride in body armour and a full face helmet. Likewise high-vis reflective vests. It's just bad.
5. Are they a roadie or triathlete on a borrowed bike?
I'm a roadie and I love it, but I also know about mountain bikes. The problem is that a mountain biker will just ride over the log, the hardened roadie will hold out a flat palm hand signal and yell "STOPPING" (this is true, I am speaking from experience and have been caught behind it in a race!)
Cyclists used to riding on the road will need some help transferring their skills to an MTB. Teach your roadie mate to turn the handlebars and "muscle" into a corner, rather than just lean as you would on the road. You may find they are so fit that they will out-ride you in a short while!
Any other methods you have when filtering that stock of enthusiastic MTB riding talent just waiting to have a crack at the enduro? Let us know in the comments below: