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The Mental Requirements of Enduro World Series Riders

Written by Mrs. Fiona Meikle

At the recent Tweedlove Enduro World Series event in Peebles, Scotland, I provided support to an individual rider competing in the E1 category. As a relatively new sport on the World stage, Enduro provides competitors with the task of completing a series of timed stages which includes both long arduous climbs and extremely steep and technical downhill. In between each stage, the riders have to make their way to the next stage, which involves hours of riding rugged terrain and climbing the hills of the Tweed Valley. The number of mental skills required by these athletes is phenomenal. To many novice riders it may seem that speed=fast, this is certainly not the case on the downhill stages of the Enduro. Riders need to be in complete control and have 100% focus to have a smooth and slow ride, which results in a fast time. Going over the edge and into these downhill sections with too much adrenaline or a lack of focus can result in some serious injuries. One of the top riders in Scotland succumbed to injury on the very first downhill section, as did many other riders. On the other hand, the very long and often steep climbs require the riders to be mentally tough to push through the pain and mental barriers and to have mental endurance as well as physical endurance. They need to be able to distract themselves away from the pain and the fact that they have a long way to go and focus on keeping their legs moving, whilst maintaining energy for the next timed section. Not an easy task in any case. Then there is the switch from the long ride between sections to the timed stage. Did they give themselves enough time to switch their mental game from focusing away from the pain to focusing on being in control and having a smooth ride? Did they give themselves enough time to lower their adrenaline levels before starting the technical descent? On the very last timed stage, on the very last corner, approximately 2 feet from the finish line is where I saw the majority of crashes. You could tell by the look on the rider's face that they were anticipating finishing, looking forward to getting down and over that line. But focusing on what is ahead of you rather than what you are doing in the present, led a lot of riders (professional and amateur) to skid and hit the tree just feet from the finish line, costing valuable time. This showed that the riders could not take their focus away from what they were doing without hindering their performance. One false move and they are on the ground, especially on such a tough course like this. Enduro riding is a whole new kind of riding, combining the endurance of cross country mountain biking and the technical requirements of downhill. As a result, Enduro riders need a variety of mental skills to help them perform at their peak throughout the competition. Focus and control is essential on the downhill sections and confidence and the ability to push through pain is required for the long, uphill sections. - See more at: http://www.fionameikle.com/blog/entry/3739014/the-mental-requirements-of-enduro-world-series-riders#sthash.opUBttvH.dpuf

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Qualifications

  • BASES Accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist
  • Science Council Chartered Scientist
  • M.Sc. Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • B.Sc. Sports Medicine

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