OFFROAD 101, Come ride with us the ECEA.

Motorcycle riders come in all shapes and sizes, and fortunately there are bikes and events to suit all of us. You name the terrain or conditions and without a doubt, there will be a motorcycle fit for the task and a rider ready for the challenge. The East Coast Enduro Association (ECEA) offers off road riding opportunities for all abilities and ages; from non-competitive trail rides to the rough and tumble bar banging action of our Hare Scrambles, from 4 years old to 80 years young!

There are close to 35 events on the ECEA schedule hosted in the Mid-Atlantic States from late February to November sponsored by our 19 member clubs. These events include our family fun days, our non-competitive dual sport trail rides, our cross country enduro series, sprint enduros and our championship Hare Scramble races. We offer the broadest choice of format, terrain, and challenge available in the United States. Whether you are a beginning rider or an experienced racer, we would love to introduce you to the exciting world of off-road motorcycling.  The following is an introduction to the various events and disciplines offered by the ECEA.

Family Fun Days– Our family fun days sprouted from our youth Hare Scrambles Series. They are more of an informal get together with some riding than an emphasis on riding only. They provide a chance for our riders and families to have a relaxing day socializing, playing and enjoying the camaraderie that we rarely have time for at our competitive events. It is also a great opportunity for new folks to get to know us and learn about the ECEA and our events. Activities usually include fun and games, barbecue and food, meet and greets from some of our riding heroes (stars like Andrew DeLong, Jesse Groemm, Mike Lafferty, Jerod Stoner), riding school and tips, and fun play riding.  There are no requirements to enjoying one of our family fun days- just come ready for a great day with great people.

Dual Sport Trail Ride–  A Dual Sport trail ride is a non competitive trail ride giving us all the chance to do what we love- ride with our friends.  The courses are generally 80 to 120 miles long and consist of a mix of single track trail, two track dirt roads, fire cuts, power lines, and in some cases, public roads. Some events are single day and some are two days. The two day events usually host entertainment in the evening. The sponsoring clubs lay out the route so that beginning riders can easily negotiate the terrain and have a fun day in the saddle. For the heartier souls the courses split to “hero sections” providing a greater challenge featuring enduro style terrain on single track trail. A route sheet is provided to all entrants showing mileage, terrain descriptions, direction of the course, and turns. The courses are also clearly marked with directional arrows, wrong way indicators, and caution or danger signs where necessary.  A lunch stop for refueling your bike and body is provided with your entry fee. If the lunch stop is away from the start area, the sponsoring club will either provide a gas truck to transport your fuel or host the break at a location where you can purchase fuel. It is not a race, so you can spend the day riding your pace with your friends. The clubs usually request that you leave the start area by a certain time in the morning, so they can ensure all participants safe return at the end of the day. Most dual sport rides will require a licensed, insured motorcycle, as they usually include some sections of public road. It is best to contact the sponsoring club for specific requirements. Entry fees are usually $40-$50 per day and include food at the lunch break.  A dual sport ride provides an awesome value for the money. Where else can you find prepared, marked trail, have your fuel transported, eat a delicious lunch, and ride your dirt bike all day?

Enduro– An enduro is a race against the clock testing the rider’s ability to negotiate technical terrain and maintain a predetermined time schedule. If you have ever seen an off-road car rally the format is very similar. Most enduro courses are a single loop between 60 and 100 miles long, and, in general, are more challenging and physically demanding than a dual sport. The route consists of a series of test sections that may include a mix of technical single track trail, grass track, or other natural obstacles. Usually there are check points at the beginning (check in) and the end (check out) of each technical section where the rider’s time is recorded.  The competitors attempt to maintain the predetermined schedule and arrive at the check points on time. Every minute a rider is late to the check point counts as a point. The rider with the fewest number of points accumulated through all test sections for the day is the winner. Arrival time is recorded to the second at some check points in order to break ties if rider’s accumulated points for the day are even. The test sections are connected by easier transfer sections composed of any mix of roads, dirt roads, power lines, or two track trails where the predetermined time schedule is easily maintained. Like a Dual Sport the rider is provided a route sheet and the course is clearly marked with directional arrows, wrong way indicators, and caution markers. There are also refueling locations either back at the start area or remote, in which case the sponsoring club will provide a gas truck. Normally remote gas stops are accessible by pit crews. Riders traverse the course in groups of 4 or 5, dictated by the sponsoring club, at one minute intervals. Of course, speed and ability lead to separation in the test sections, but the riders regroup for the transfer to the next test. You may choose to ride with your buddies on the same row (or “minute”) by entering the enduro together.

There are two types of enduros- time keeping and non-time keeping (National Format). In the time keeping format the riders must maintain the predetermined time schedule throughout the day, even on the transfer section as they can be penalized for being both early and late to a checking station. In order to be competitive in a time keeping enduro the rider will need to be equipped with time keeping equipment which could be as simple and inexpensive as a watch and odometer or as costly as an enduro computer. In the non-time keeping format the riders may arrive early at the check in to a test section with no penalty. The check personnel will ensure they start the test at the proper time and the penalty points will only be accumulated for lateness at the check-out. The ECEA enduro series features both time keeping and non-time keeping events.

Requirements for enduros may also vary depending on the event and constraints of the sponsoring club. Some enduros are “closed course” and are open to unregistered bikes.  Other events which utilize public roads or property may require registered and insured vehicles and a motorcycle driver’s license. Entry fees are usually $45-$50 and you will also need to get an ECEA enduro license which is available at no charge at each event. Specific information regarding event format and requirements is available from the sponsoring clubs or the ECEA web site, www.ecea.org.

A great feature of enduros is the diversity of the entrants. There is a class for every ability, from C(beginner) to AA (pro), just about every age (16 to 70+), and a wide variety of motorcycle (2T, 4T, 200cc, 250cc, Open). At every event you will find serious racers, but just as many casual riders out to enjoy a day in the saddle with their friends. Enduro riding has an etiquette; if a faster rider catches you, make room for them to pass, then you can both continue to enjoy your day of riding at your comfortable speed and desired level of competition. You decide how you treat the event; as a hotly contested race against the clock where every second counts, or as a fun day riding with and laughing at your buddies.

The ECEA Sprint Junior Enduro series is designed to introduce the youth rider to an off-road enduro-style event.  It is a timed trail ride testing the rider’s ability to negotiate technical terrain on a kid-friendly marked trail course.  This is not a place for a kid to learn how to ride a motorcycle but it is a place for kids with some experience to ride trails with other kids. It can be as competitive or laid back as your child wants.

The Sprint Junior Enduro offers a low-pressure environment, no mass starts, kid-friendly courses for Pee Wee (4-8 year old)  and Junior/Youth ages (up to 15 years old on Jan 1st).  The riders will start and finish at the same location and can take breaks between laps to report in with their “pit crew” (aka their parents) for words of encouragement, a quick snack and hydration.  Boys and girls compete together on the course and are scored by class/age. The route may consist of a mix of technical and flat, open, single-track trail, grass, sand, rock, and/or other natural obstacles.  50cc (Pee Wee) kids have their own event and course and are given 90 minutes to complete it. All others are given two hours to complete the required number of laps.  Course length for 50cc class is typically about 1-3 miles and the Junior/Youth course is usually 3-6 miles in length.  Laps can take 10-15 minutes for 50cc and usually 15-30 minutes for Junior/Youth age as they have a longer course.  The number of laps are varied per class/age and designed to give kids enough riding time to have fun but still given 30 minutes of total break time within their allotted total time, if they choose to do so. Kids will line up at the start (check-in) and race until they get to the finish (check-out) lap.

The required number of laps is posted on the lapboard by the start of the course. Each child will get a scorecard that will be taped to the front fender and lap times are written on the card.  Electronic scoring will be made available at some events as well. Adult sweep riders and crews are on course throughout the event.  A professional announcer is at the events giving commentary of the race as they start and finish over a PA system adding to the thrill of the race! Events are family-friendly usually with good viewing of your rider in various spots. Sprint Junior Enduros are always on Saturdays, the day before the Adult Enduro on Sunday.All kids get a beautiful large plaque at the awards ceremony and the opportunity to get on the podium for a great photo opportunity to close out the day. $1000’s in prizes and giveaways are available and randomly given out.

The ECEA offers the Sprint Junior Enduro series and the popularity is growing very quickly because it offers parents to have their kids enjoy a controlled but fun place to ride.  Also, if the parents themselves are interested in the Adult Enduro event on Sunday then they can bring their kids for a fun weekend where they cheer their kids on Saturday, then camp out and compete themselves on Sunday.  It is fun for the whole family all in the same weekend to hand down the legacy of off-road motorcycle trail riding and competition in an AMA sanctioned event.

Hare Scrambles– For those preferring the thrill of head to head competition, the ECEA Championship Hare Scrambles Series offers the highest quality, most diverse events in the United States. From the sugar sand of South Jersey to the Maryland and Delaware loam to the mountains of Pennsylvania- we’ve got the variety of conditions to hone your skills and challenge your talent and classes for all ages, from peewee (4) to golden masters (70+) and abilities, from C (beginner) to AA (pro).  Pewee and Youth events occur on Saturdays, while the adults compete on Sundays.

A Hare Scramble is a mass start event where riders complete as many laps as they can over the duration of the event. The courses are generally natural terrain and less technical, more open, and faster than an enduro. The competitor completing the most laps with the lowest elapsed time is the winner. Riders start in rows staged with those in their competitive class departing at one minute intervals. The length of the course and duration of the event varies based on age and ability. Pewee courses are usually 1 to 2 miles structured for close supervision by parents and sponsoring club personnel. These events are usually 45 minutes long. Youth courses (up to age 17) vary in length from 3-6 miles and run for 60 minutes. The adult morning race (C riders, Specialty classes) lasts for 90 minutes and the courses are usually 5-8 miles long. A recently added “Sportsmans Class” to the morning event has evolved into a big hit. The Sportsman’s Class pays no awards or points and is purely for the enjoyment of riding motorcycles and bragging rights.  The main event, featuring our B, A, and AA/Pro riders, runs for 2 hours with courses usually 6-12 miles long.  All classes, peewee, youth, and adult, with the exception of Sportsman, award their top finishers with trophies, plaques, and merchandise. A and AA riders receive cash awards.

The ECEA takes tremendous pride in and places great emphasis on our pewee and youth programs, whose participants have gone on to become top level national and international competitors. We have been privileged to have many of these champions return to their roots to encourage our new young guns and teach riding schools at our events. The Association and clubs strive to promote safe, fun events in a family atmosphere while nurturing strong competition and sportsmanship. We believe that the lessons learned in a healthy sporting environment contribute to building character and strong values.

There are no motorcycle registration or insurance requirements to compete in a Hare Scrambles. An ECEA Hare Scramble number is necessary and can be obtained from the web site (www.ecea.org) or at any event. The rider may choose between an annual number fee or a one day trial. Event entry fees are $25-$45 depending on the event.

All ECEA competitive events are sanctioned by the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA), so membership is required and can be obtained directly from the AMA or at any ECEA event. The AMA offers annual memberships or a one day trial at a reduced price.

Series points are accumulated and tracked in both the ECEA Enduro and Hare Scrambles Series for all competitors.  Our champions, young and old are recognized and rewarded at our annual banquet which takes place at the completion of each season. The awards banquet has evolved into a must attend happening featuring tens of thousands of dollars in awards and merchandise, vendor displays, and world class bench racing.

So come on out and check out the ECEA and our great events. We’ve got something for everyone!