What Is The AMA National Enduro Championship?
The cool thing about enduro is that even though there’s a wide range of disciplines they all boil down to folk riding bikes in the wood. Whether you’re into time card enduro, hard enduro, sprint racing or even endurocross – the sport is relative to everyone.
And while the main disciplines like Hard Enduro, Enduro, and Endurocross are clearly different, racing within those categories can vary too. In the US, the AMA National Enduro Championship differs from traditional time card enduro in Europe and the rest of the world. In order to make sense of it all, Enduro21.com caught up with Jason Hooper of Digitaloffroad.com to break it down for us…
Who runs the AMA National Enduro Championship and how does it differ than traditional time card enduro?
Jason Hooper: “The NEPG took over the running of the AMA National Enduro Championship about five years ago. At the time the series was struggling – the format was too confusing and most riders didn’t want the hassle of dealing with time cards and route sheets. The NEPG restructured it into a simpler special test format whereby the fastest rider wins. Since then it’s really grown and now almost every round of the series is sold out.”
How many rounds are there?
“The 2013 championship is run over ten rounds. It started in February and ends in October covering the east side of the US. Each round is a one-day event – there are no two-day events on this year’s calendar.”
What is the format for the day’s race?
“The first row of riders start at 9am and are flagged away in groups of five. They basically follow the route that brings them to six individual special tests. Each one is unique and only ridden once. The first twenty rows are for amateur riders only. Pro riders are then mixed in with the amateur riders from rows 21 onwards.”
What restrictions are on bikes?
“The only restriction they have these days is a spark arrestor – drivers license, lights and vehicle registration are not needed. There used to be much more strict regulations on the bikes but that all went away with the restructuring of the series. Usually the course is entirely off-road. But if there is a section of public road then event organisers secure a permit to allow the transfer of unlicensed bikes and riders from one section to another.”
How does the special test work?
“Riders start five at a time and underneath their visors they have transponder stickers to read their start and finish times.”
Does that not get a bit crazy at times?
“Yeah it can do. Some special tests are up to 15 miles long so the Pro guys will be passing guys that started over ten minutes before them.”
What are the special tests like?
“The majority of the tests are mainly forestry-based and can be nearly 15 miles in length. There are only a couple of grass tests a year. Also the tests are usually too long to walk so most riders race them unseen, but a few of the Pros will check out the more difficult sections beforehand.”
Finally, is Charlie Mullins unbeatable!
“He messed up at round eight and had some problems, which marked his second defeat of year. But it seems like if he doesn’t have some sort of mechanical problem, he’s damn near unbeatable in this style of racing.”