Hardly Hard Enduro

Author: Mitch Ladyman

Author: Mitch Ladyman


I have a dream and that dream is to be able to hold onto a Beta 300RR or a KTM300EXC as it blasts me near vertically up a talus or scree slope, from one bench to the next, in an old abandoned mine pit just like they do in Erzberg.

I have a dream and that dream is to be able to pop and hop over tractor tyres the size of a small Sydney terrace, just like Taddy Blazusiak. I have a dream; and then there is reality. In reality, I will never achieve such feats of Hard Enduro prowess.

In reality, I would be well satisfied if I didn’t have to grab a fist-full of front brake every time I encountered a massive log across my path. I would be all the more satisfied if, on approach, I was able to accurately pick the right line up a gnarly hill climb and chug my way to the top like the little red engine that could. I would relish the ability to do either of the above without first having to stop and dig out my protractor and slide rule.

To learn how to do any and all of the above (i.e. become a Hard Enduro rider) you need to have a little bit of courage, a lot of tenacity and lashings of humility. You must be prepared to get a little bit injured, but not hurt, and you most definitely cannot be precious about your bike. Appreciate that, unlike you, it was built to bend. You, however, will not. You will break, but you will also heal.

Courage in Hard Enduro is the willingness to take a chance, not once or twice, but frequently, all the time knowing that you are going to fall off and get on and fall off again. Courage is the willingness to idle up to an obstacle, whilst trying to maintain balance and posture, and then twist the throttle wide open and drop the clutch.

Tenacity is the ability to get up again and again under the sole premise that you WILL get it eventually. What went wrong that time? What didn’t you do or what could you have done better? You know it turned to custard; you felt it was coming on the approach and by the time you hit the ground you had already figured out what you need to do differently next time. Tenacity is when you peel yourself off your bike and give it another crack.

Humility is the ability to accept two things. The first is that there are many people better than you at what you are trying to do. Yes, you probably do look like douche as you clip a tyre and send the back-end east causing you drop like Brazil’s Neymar Jr. did at nearly every game in the 2018 World Cup. Yes, you will probably look like a tool as you lay under your bike because a series of slippery coppers logs quick unpicked your apparently seamless approach.
Recently I spent a great many hours putting together a bunch of obstacles on my block. I lashed and lifted and dragged and propped and pegged and pounded stakes into the ground to create six separate runs. I tackled each run individually at first and I crashed hard and frequently. I lifted too high over a log only to plow my front end into a tyre. I lost the front and back at the same time on a run of slippery logs set at slightly opposing angles.
I launched a little too high over a crate only to drop my back end into the centre of a tractor tyre, bringing my bike to a halt whilst I continued to move forward. I even flipped the Freeride completely backwards over itself when I gave the bike a little too much gas to lift the front off a drop-off which I refer to as the pit of death. Looking at it, it reminds me of that shark tank / toilet scene in Ace Ventura.
But little by little I learned from my mistakes. The smallest adjustments made for the biggest effects. For instance, the ramp over the concrete pipe offered immense grip and the bike flipped because it had so much traction. Next time around I tried the obstacle in second gear and came off the end super flat and effortlessly. After many failed attempts I got all six passes consecutively and it did not take that long to achieve.

The other reason why humility is such an important attribute for the Hard Enduro beginner is this: when you conquer a set of seemingly insurmountable obstacles your chest will swell with pride and, because you have (no doubt) filmed your attempts (as did I), you will want to show them to your spouse and all your mates. This is a bad idea, because when you play the moment over in front of an audience the obstacles will appear very underwhelming, no matter what angle you have filmed them. It wont look impressive and you will be left to wonder if, in fact, you achieved anything at all.

Here, see what I mean.

Here is a tip, don’t bother showing your mates the video. They won’t get it. They won’t appreciate it. They can’t possibly comprehend all that you are going through to hone your skills. Instead, invite them over to your place, put the bike between their legs, point them towards the obstacle and tell them to have a crack. If they don’t conquer your obstacle course you will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment and you will be motivated to make the obstacles bigger. If they do conquer your obstacle course, then you are compelled to make it bigger and harder. Either way you win as your skills will only improve.

Weeks out from some intensive training with Neil Price and Mind on Matter (https://www.motod.com.au/catalogue/coaching-seminars/) I know the obstacles are only going to get bigger and my skills are only going to get better.

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