Thanks to the likes of Red Bull TV and, of course, YouTube, millions get to watch hard enduro. But so few ride it. Given an opportunity to learn from two of the sport’s finest, Jon Bentman wasn’t going to turn down the offer. But would he regret it? After all, it’s called extreme enduro for a reason…

“We look forward to welcoming you to the ‘Ride KTM EXC TPI with the pros’ event in Spain. A special opportunity to enjoy an action-packed riding day putting the world’s first serial production off-road competition fuel-injected two-stroke machines to the test with hard enduro pros Taddy Blazusiak and Jonny Walker.” Only an idiot would turn down such an invitation (wouldn’t he?). Wow, riding extreme enduro with two of the world’s best, on the brand new TPI-equipped EXCs – what could possibly go wrong?


If you had to pick a starting point for extreme enduro it would have to be fitness. No question, this is hard work both in terms of strength and endurance. So you need muscle and aerobic proficiency, to Olympic standards if you want to reach a professional level. You can then add advanced bike handling skills and finally a fair dollop of bravery. Out of those four requisites I’m not sure I score on any, call me zero out of four.

Anyhow, before we got down to business with Taddy and Jonny on just how to ride extreme we had a warm-up ride around a tricky little single track in the woods above the Bassella Experiences base (in Lleida, Northern Spain) where this ride with the pros day was taking place. Dry and dusty, with plenty of rock and roots and ups and downs, this trail certainly helped identify any rider deficiencies. For me, the first lap of this ten minute loop went well, at a trials pace I was scoping the obstacles and dealing fairly well with them. A couple of drop offs elicited a gasp or two (I was worried the front would tuck under) but actually these were safe. And there were a couple or three technical climbs that while not huge had a sting or two that could trip you up.

Second lap I put on a bit of speed but this wasn’t the best idea; at speed I wasn’t processing the detail of the trail quick enough and so lost accuracy on the climbs, necessitating some footwork. This then impacted on my fitness (or lack of) and so while pushing harder again on the third lap, determined to put in a good time, things got even messier as muscles wearied and the brain – no doubt wanting for more oxygen – failed to keep up. More pushing ensued, this time out of the saddle as well. For the fourth, and last, lap I took it back down to a steady trail pace, took the time to look and plan as I rolled up to the hills, and made my best lap of the set. Slower can be faster.

Read full article in RUST - Issue 30 or download as a pdf here

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