Curtis Keene spent 10 years dominating the fast-paced world of downhill mountain biking. Then, in 2012, he decided to give the growing sport of Enduro mountain biking a try. The new discipline clearly suited him, and that year he took home the overall championships title in the North American Enduro Series. Around the world, Enduro is still mostly made up of European competitors, so it’s no wonder the nickname American Dream has stuck.
Growing up in Fremont, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Keene played baseball as a kid and rode his bike for fun. He never imagined that one day, he’d ride bikes for a living.
After graduating high school, Curtis, who was then a tall and skinny 1.83m tall and 73kg, began lifting weights in the gym. He bulked up to a meaty 97.5kg.
He attended college for a few years, but decided that wasn’t for him and began working full-time in the family business as an electrician in Fremont. When he was 22, in 2001, a friend invited Curtis to Downieville, California, a tiny town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada that’s become legendary for its downhill mountain biking trails. It was his first glimpse of the mountain biking world and he’d found his calling.
Enduro is a form of Mountain bike racing in which there is a number of timed downhill sections of trail, and a number of uphill transfer stages, which are not timed, but might have time limits to complete. It is a stage-race format where the winner is the rider who accumulates the lowest combined time from the various timed sections. Mountain bike enduro competitions typically take place over the course of 1 or 2 days, however, week-long enduro competitions do also exist. A typical one-day enduro race consists of 3 to 5 timed “special” stages which take place on technically demanding, generally descending terrain. These special stages are linked by predominantly ascending “liaison” stages. Although a rider’s specific performance on the physically demanding liaison stages does not affect his or her result, the liaisons are often associated with a time cut-off (i.e. a latest permitted arrival at the summit of the next special stage). The sport has taken root mostly in the Northwest of United States, and in Europe, locations known for their miles of winding single-track trails alongside old growth forest and bubbling creeks.
According to the Enduro World Series 2015 Rule Book, a minimum of four special stages is required per event, a minimum of three different courses must be used, and the results will be calculated by adding all stage times together for each rider.