Month: January 2021

ABOUT BEING ENDURO GUIDE #3

In previous two articles we shared our experience on how to:

  • get know the group you guide
  • properly set the order of riders in it
  • properly roll them in riding new destination
  • establish leadership for making their tour safe, exciting and quite educational.

So, suppose we have more than 5 riders in group which means, by our rules, that two guides are engaged. We know every rider’s skill level, fitness and personality.

Sometimes all riders are approximately at the same level, so the waiting after hard and challenging sections is minor. The more notable the skill differences are, the longer is the time needed for less skilled to accomplish section.

In that case, guide usually chose between two options:

  • to either continue with same tracks difficulty (remember that no rider will ever confess that he doesn’t catch up)
  • or to reduce hardness because of less skilled

First option means that less skilled riders will most likely suffer and struggle instead of ride and have a fun. The edge between learning and gaining experience through hard work and struggling along with suffering is blur. Rider doesn’t gain skills or has a fun if he is at the edge of exhaustion after every technical section. As all we know, in Enduro, lack of riding techniques can’t be compensated by larger amount of muscles and fitness. So as the day goes, the more frustrated the rider will be. We don’t want that.

Second option (reducing the tracks difficulty) may look like compromising solution, but just temporary, because skilled riders will soon get bored. No doubts that group of friends understands it all and was initially prepared for waiting or excessive suffering of certain members, but still perfect ride is the one where everyone ride a bit over his (her) abilities every day.

Therefore, engage Task 4 – group splitting.

Splitting group into two (usually) or even tree (rarely) allows you to get rid of excessive stress among slower riders caused by constant chasing and struggling. Even that factor alone makes riding more exciting and fun for both groups. Not to mention the fact that smaller groups are easier to handle.

In slower group riders finally focus on riding techniques and fun, they finally stop thinking about their faster friends waiting at the top of the hill “15 minutes already”, suddenly that fall not so often and somehow manage to absorb tips and proper riding techniques.

Faster group can ride their own pace and tracks, and can finally load themselves as much as they want.

Riders want to make breaks from time to time, exchange excitement and stories. Usually there is a tracks plan for every day and If the group have to be split, then the way that both routes will follow same general direction meeting each other at some points and riding jointly some sections together.

So, splitting the group allows:

  • handling large group easier (and safer)
  • fairly group similar skill level
  • making riding more fluently for all groups
  • making slower riders focus on riding and riding techniques instead on surviving
  • seeing more places, reaching higher mountains peaks 🙂

Will continue.

ABOUT BEING ENDURO GUIDE #2

Here comes another one about who’s chief in the woods 🙂

So, now we know few crucial things about every rider in the group we guide:

  • Riding skills
  • Fitness level
  • Personality

As mentioned above, all this allows us to correctly choose warm up, riders order in a group, tracks and pace.

Next one sounds provocative some way, but still helps riders to focus on riding and stop doing stupid things (yes, it happens) like heroic attempts to conquer uphill that exceeds their skills, jump over some river or so.

Task N3 is to make it clear who is guide, whose instructions are the only to be listened. With all due respect, riders often had never ridden mountains like ours before and for that reason, they didn’t get it seriously enough. I mean, we don’t require non-smiling faces, of course not, but basic understanding of where we are and what we’re doing is minimum.

What are the so-called instructions and rules that should be followed:

  • Signs given by hand
  • Going off bike if requested (steep and dangerous downhills)
  • Riding some obstacles around if rider is consider as not enough skilled or too tired for that
  • Allowing help even if rider doesn’t want to get help
  • Helping another rider in difficult situation
  • Riding always with helmet and googles on
  • Strictly following guides trail if requested
  • NOT riding some section at all

Allowing everything just to please client is actually a disservice because at some moment mistake is inevitable. If you don’t pay attention to stupid and dangerous acting and riding performed by just one rider, believe me, very soon you’ll have a bunch of wild and naughty riders of apocalypse. And that can result not only as a problem with locals (people and animals) but as injuries as well.

So, we never hesitate to kindly ask one or two riders to slightly change behavior and riding. We usually explain what difficulties may occur if something happens – fixing the bike (the least of our problems), problems with authorities (if speeding through villages), evacuation in case of injury.

I have to say that we’ve had only few problematic riders but, thanks God, we’ve never had any accident or injury which required evacuation.

OK, now the group warmed up, got used to the bikes and understood that rules are just to make all riding days safe, fun and with increasing difficulty. Challenging every minute.

Task4 is to give riding tips to less skilled riders discreetly. There are always sections that are challenging and require slightly more experience that we have. In front of these, I see thrill in the eyes very often. Caused not only by awareness of lack of skill as much as by being not good enough in front of friends. Of course, that’s ridiculous, but it’s expected as well. In that case, you got to explain some specific facts about that section, give some tips about particular techniques needed. However, the main thing is to encourage less skilled by explaining briefly what should be done and what is the goal for that particular place.

  • Riding next to rider through difficult parts also helps with confidence.
  • Waiting for him at some place where he will need help for sure.
  • Walking next to rider while telling him what to do. Calming him because it helps to focus.
  • Giving him another try
  • Emphasizing what’s good
  • Fixing the bad

What do you actually get by this?

You’ll have really happy rider who has just probably won, overcome some fears and learnt new things. Therefore, we always pay attention to giving tips and helping when someone it really needs. We do it all day long, we don’t help as much as we encourage and teach.

ABOUT BEING ENDURO GUIDE #1

What it’s like to be an Enduro Guide? That’s the question I’m asked by riders on almost every tour.

Usually Enduro companies are small teams doing what they like the most – ride. But not only riding means guiding, there is much more. There are some listed:

  • Marketing
  • Talking and writing to riders from whole world
  • Lot of talking and writing
  • Arranging and synchronizing tour dates
  • Bike preparations
  • Van, trailer and tools preparations
  • Organizing the guests arrivals
  • Arranging special requests for accommodation and food
  • Shooting photos and videos
  • Checking the bikes after rides, maintenance
  • Paper work
  • Preparing and exploring new tracks

I’ll write about some of them in next articles, but there is one that I consider as most important – that’s the relations between you as a guide and the riders. I always say, and that’s my rule N1, that riding is fun as long as all riders are safe and no injuries occur. Which means establishing mutual trust between guide and riders.

It starts long before you meet the guys – while arranging tour over mail or phone. You got to be responsive, flexible to satisfy all reasonable requests, honest to say if something you’re not able to fulfill and respectful towards other companies who might be your competitors.

Let’s suppose that job was perfectly done, guests arrived, they’re all on the bikes, engines started, I’m waving for takeoff. Let’s roll 🙂

We’ve had more than 350 riders from all around the world, all ages, all fitness and skill level and still we get something different every time.

First task that have to be done accurately in first 30 minutes of first riding day is skill level proper evaluation of each rider in a group. It allows you to correctly choose warm up, order of riders in the group and tracks. We always remember that people sometimes arrived from very distant places, Australia and Canada for example, and that they had been preparing for a long time before actually all happened which means you just HAVE TO help them to get used to bikes and terrains and to roll them in very smoothly. We also remember ourselves years ago when we got excited while trying to catch after more experienced riders in a group which sometimes caused disappointment, damages and injuries. We don’t want that (remember rule N1).

The more experienced you are, the less time you need for that first task. Ok, we did it. What’s next?

Then, after we find out their skills, we have to know their fitness and what kind of persons they are. That’s task N2. In order to do that, we rise a difficulty a bit, mostly by using some particular uphill. Some of them have to push and struggle, some would ride it without a problem. There you see who asks for help after being exhausted, who will never ask, who helps without asking, who just ride up, turn off engine and start to look in telephone, who gets pissed off and so on. The picture started to piece together.

Now we know who do we have to pay attention to, who to wait at some particular places which are usually uphills, who would need just a technical tip and who on contrary wouldn’t listen even in nuclear war.

Knowing fitness level, for example, allows you to make breaks without asking no one. Why it is so important? Because no rider will ever confess that he needs a 3 minutes rest and will continue until armpump causes accident. So you got to look after all group but especially the less fit one, and when you notice that he is exhausted, just say that we make a brake without asking it. You saved his pride and what’s even more important – his health.

Will continue.

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