The EWS (Enduro World Series) and the UCI recently announced The Trophy of Nations. A multi-day enduro race with a team racing component. Since 2013 the EWS has been run independently from the UCI and for good reason. It allowed the EWS to develop and hone the series from track selection to race format and rules without the bureaucratic lethargy and bungling that is typically associated with the UCI. Chris Ball and the rest of the EWS staff deserve high praise for taking the mandate to independently foster the growth of this series.
However with interest and participation growing quickly the Enduro fledgling is ready to leave the nest, and is associated with the UCI comes with a few perks; like the ability to crown an official world champion. The EWS has had its own champions and no doubt many of those racers will still be in the running for 2019, Ravanel, Hill, and others will now have the chance to wear the bold primary and secondary colors of the official world rainbow as the UCI has released it for Enduro.
The EWS continues to cut its own trail, rather than crown individual champions the rainbow stripes will instead go to the best overall national team made up of a trio of riders in the following categories, Men’s, Women’s, U21 Men’s, and U21 Women’s. Those who’ve been following the Enduro World Series know that the competitors frequently help each other during races, regardless of team affiliation and the Trophy of Nations format recognizes this sense of camaraderie that has become a hallmark of the series. All of your customary teamwork sayings and memes apply.
The Trophy of Nations weekend isn’t just for the best of the best. There are three tiers of racing, National, Industry, and Privateer; Privateer means that we, if we’re lucky enough to register, spend the 28th and 29th of September racing in Finale Ligure. So, who wants to form a TEAM!
I’ve tried to crack why I think this is so rad, to explain to myself what has me jazzed. The reasons are many but there is something in the teamwork aspect, in the need to work together, the built-in sense of community that makes this format feel special. Come September we’ll see how it actually pans out but this had me thinking about bike racing in general. Is bike racing doing a thing, like a positive thing?
The rise of high school mountain bike leagues, increased awareness and pressure for parity in race payouts, more attention being paid to XC racing, and Pro Tour teams hinting at the possibility of racing gravel? Am I on to something here? What am I missing? Or am I just missing the point? The comment section is here for a reason, your opinions and critiques; they’re encouraged. My thesis remains, racing is turning a collective corner.
In terms of the big picture, of global numbers, of active and engaged enthusiasts has the curse of the yellow rubber bracelet been lifted? Years after pro cycling’s fall from grace and the subsequent public shaming can we look back upon all those oxygenated blood bags being shuttling from chalet to chalet and glimpse a silver lining? Has the nearly two decades of introspection and consideration since those dark days of absurd hubris forced each of us to make an honest assessment of where the joy and pleasure of cycling is to be found? Have we discovered what was always there, buried under an avalanche of toxic CTAs and gauche color blocking? It’s simple, there is joy in riding a bicycle.
One possible result of all this is that the global cycling community settles on an identity where competition is not our gravitational center. The evidence for this already there, just look around at your fellow riders, your friends, what turns them on, how are they spending their time?
That is not to say that competition should or will disappear, on the contrary, I hope it will be contextualized within the framework of this burgeoning sense of allegiance to community and the experience that comes through that, if the toxicity of late-liberal individualization can be turned down even a little I believe we have much to gain.
Special thanks to Sven Martin for all the amazing images in this post. If you like this stuff definitely give Sven a follow he does all the rad things.