Tyler Pratt begins his cycling commute with a quick descent from his Swiss Meadows home down Scenic Caves Road to his main street Collingwood office. The view is amazing and the scenery offers a great way to wake up. But beginning your commute with this descent can only mean one thing… that your ride home is all uphill.
“Every day I ride to the beginning of that climb and I think, ‘I really don’t want to do this,’” laughs Pratt. “And it never actually gets any easier. You get faster but it still hurts the same amount. When I get to the top though, I’m pretty pumped. I get a sense of accomplishment every time.” It’s that sense of accomplishment that’s slowly gotten Pratt hooked on mountain biking’s newest discipline—enduro. Before the Canadian National Enduro Series at Blue Mountain Resort in June, we caught up with Tyler over a beer at Northwinds to get his take on this growing sport.
words :: Allison Kennedy Davies
Tell us how you and your new family ended up here.
A love of all things outdoors brought us here. My wife wanted to work at Blue and we are both skiers and snowboarders and I’m a mountain biker. It was where we wanted to be.
Tell us a bit about your cycling experience and how you ended up focusing on enduro.
My dad was a road biker and did some mountain biking as well, not gravity fed, but growing up we were very active. I started cross-country mountain biking—and I wasn’t as fit as the super-fit guys so I moved into riding trails really aggressively and then into downhill and then enduro. I wish it had been around when I was even younger because it is totally what I love—the fitness part of cross-country but the technical aspects of downhill all wrapped up into one sport. I raced downhill for four or five years but later on I started doing DH on my enduro bike as training for more enduro races. I still do the Tuesday night DH series at Blue because it’s a ton of fun.
Give us your easiest explanation of enduro.
In its simplest form, you have to pedal up to the top of the hill and then you have to race down it. Normally you have a time limit to make it to the top, and then your time is the downhill section. Typically the downhill sections—or the special stages as they call them—are a bit longer than a typical downhill run. So there’s still a fitness aspect in the downhill. You’d have four or five special stages in a day so you’d have to climb back up the hill that many times.
What kind of bikes are we talking?
We typically ride aggressive trail bikes, anything with five to six inches of travel front and back and we normally have a dropper seat post so you can lower it for descents and raise it when you’re pedaling back up.
You’re racing the Canadian National Enduro event at Blue Mountain. What else are you focusing on this season?
I have seven races booked for summer/ fall. Blue Mountain is the only enduro in Ontario so you have to travel a lot. This year I’m doing a few different series. With this Blue event being both a Canadian National and an Enduro World Series qualifier, I’m doing a mismatch of races to gather points in both series.
What would be your goal at the Worlds?
Ultimately, I want to go to as many as I can afford to. I have by far the most supportive wife in the world and I can’t say enough. We have a newborn son, and she supports me 100 percent. I can ride six days a week and she’ll look for a way for me to ride more. I raced an Enduro World Series event last year in Whistler. It was by far the hardest day I’ve ever had on a bike… the hardest week actually. All the practice leading up to it made it a 300-kilometre week of riding and a 72km race day with a lot of climbing as well. My goal last year was just to finish it. I got into that race on a lottery. They open it up to a few people you put your name in and they pick a few. I trained really hard to finish that race and I was top 100 in pro men so that got me hungry to actually pursue it. I want to qualify and see how I can do.
What do you think enduro riders will think of the Blue Mountain course?
I think it’s a really good thing for Blue. The Canada Cup downhill that came last year was a big deal. A lot of people from out west and Quebec came here and fi nally realized this is a proper downhill course. I think Blue is maybe even better suited for enduro. We don’t have as much elevation as some of the mountains but we use it really well. We make use of what we have and I think it’s set up really well for enduro.
Any tips for riders who might want to try their hand at enduro?
If you ride at Blue, you’re going to be ready. Just switch it up and do a few Grind laps in there as well. On average, I do one Grind lap for every two chairlift laps. Blue is set up perfectly to be an enduro training ground and we also have 3 Stage nearby which is an unreal enduro training ground, too.