One of the things we’ve always loved about enduro racing is its similarity to the trail riding most of us do at every opportunity. Without the benefits of an uplift, riders need to be able to tackle a long day in the saddle, with the physical and technical ability to handle climbs an essential part of the experience. But as important as it is to cover the miles and cope with the climbs, the focus is inevitably on the challenge and thrills of the downhill sections.

Regular trail riders can learn a lot from enduro racers. From set-up and nutrition to riding blind and tackling super-technical sections, enduro is like everyday riding pushed to the max. We asked experienced racer Toby Pantling for his advice on how to improve out on the trail.

Enduro Racing skills line choice

The quicker line doesn’t always get you home in one piece (Fowler)

Every enduro is made up of timed stages that dictate each rider’s overall time and ranking. But between those race stages are stretches of riding known as transition or liaison stages. The time taken to ride these transitions isn’t counted towards your final race position, although the amount of time you have to complete them is often limited; exceed it and you’ll receive a penalty for being late.

To kick off our enduro skills two-parter, we’re focusing on those transition stages. They may not contribute directly to your overall time, but they’re your big chance to fix mechanical issues or grab a snack before arriving at the start of the next stage to battle the clock once again. Therefore the factors we are looking at here rely upon preparation, maintenance and mental attitude — which may not be the world’s sexiest buzzwords, but that doesn’t make them any less important…

Toby’s Pro Tweaks

You don’t want to be changing set-up on the fly. Here’s your guide to getting the bike right before you hit the trail.

1. Pro tweaks such as swapping the Fox Doss seatpost control for an XTR shifter aren’t just about marginal gains. They are also a way of proving to yourself that you’ve got your bike as sorted as can be.

2. Stick flat pedals on once in a while to remind yourself how loose you can be on the bike. They can also help give you that little extra confidence when riding or racing trails blind.

3. Think carefully about the cable-routing on the bike. Spend some time sorting it properly to keep things quiet and out of the way of potential danger.

Cable roputing toby enduro trail skills

Thoughtful cable routing will help reliability no end (Fowler)

4. Play with your tyre pressures. Get to know what you can get away with, taking into account your weight, your riding style and the terrain you ride on. Don’t just rely on a pump pressure gauge — use a digital one to be sure.