What the heck is enduro and where do we sign up?

Self-powered climbs and a timed downhill culminate in the GoPro Mountain Games’ most badass new event.

brian lopes gopro

Brian Lopes: champion, Hall of Fame inductee, video-game character, GoPro Mountain Games Enduro challenger. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Valley Foundation

To quote Derek Zoolander, there’s more to life than going really, really ridiculously fast. Or something like that.

When Brian Lopes turned 17, he’d already been racing BMX for 12 years -- so racing for a trophy? It wasn’t really a motivator anymore.

He decided to pursue biking more seriously and started making some money, realized his passion could be a career, and has been pedaling as a pro ever since.

These days, Lopes is a legend. He’s a multiple world champion, a Mountain Bike and BMX Hall of Fame inductee, an ESPY Action Sports Athlete of the Year nominee and a master of multiple disciplines. Oh, and a video-game character (you can play PlayStation’s “Downhill Domination” as Lopes himself).

brian lopes gopro

“Flyin’ Brian” mixes up his multifaceted biking career by mastering enduro. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Valley Foundation

After so many years biking, “Flyin’ Brian” says adapting his hobby to different disciplines is what keeps the stoke alive, and nothing gets his heart pumping quite like the newest event at this summer’s GoPro Mountain Games: enduro.

“You have to have the endurance of an XC athlete and the skills of a four-cross and downhill athlete,” says Lopes.

Whereas other mountain biking events reward the fastest guy up the hill, enduro is all about the downhill; it’s based on the similar motocross style of riding and will feel like a car rally. Basically, riders are timed on the descent and untimed on the uphill climbs; whoever has the fastest combined time after a series of special stages wins.

What really separates this event from others is that a rider must pedal to the top of each segment -- meaning you’ll be on your bike for an entire day of riding and racing.

brian lopes gopro

Brian Lopes is ready to dominate you at the GoPro Mountain Games’ newest event. Really, do you even mind? Photo: Courtesy of Vail Valley Foundation

“If you’ve never raced enduro, but love to go out and ride for hours, I’d say the best training is to find some trails that are primarily downhill,” suggests Lopes. “Pedal to the top at an easy to medium pace, then go as fast as you can down. Try to get four ups and downs in during your ride.

“Remember that the timed stages are the downs, so when you get to the top of the hill after pedaling your way up, you want to be as fresh as possible so you have energy to pin the downhills. The more fit you are, the more energy you will have for these downs.”

If it sounds technical, don’t worry: Enduro is like the everyman’s mountain biking race. You don’t need a $5,000 bike, and everyone shares the same track. Same goes for the inaugural GoPro MTN Enduro race in Eagle, Colorado, from June 9-10, 2016.

So, to beat Lopes?

brian lopes gopro

Want to beat Lopes on the enduro course? Better start training ... yesterday. Photo: Courtesy of Vail Valley Foundation

“Well, hopefully you will be fit, have some good downhill speed, and put together some clean runs,” he says. “That’s one cool thing about this sport: You can test your skills against all different levels of riders.”

And if we do manage to out-ride Lopes for a piece of that $7,500 prize?

“I’d be happy to share a beer with the winner,” he laughs. “Let’s have a fun race and celebrate the good times -- after we all come down safe.”

Register for the GoPro MTN Enduro race and read the rulebook at MountainGames.com.

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