The first two World Enduro rounds kicked off with a bang. Held half away around the world from your usual US or European venues, the impact was still immense. The recurring theme across both weekends was the amount of local interest, in both Chile and Colombia, no matter where you moved there were passionate and informed spectators cheering everyone on with every form of noise maker you can think of. Competition is normally fierce, although somewhat friendly at the first race of the year. The pecking order is yet to be set, and everyone is looking for that something extra that will give them an advantage. The vibe among most racers is very friendly, you are racing against the clock not another rider so it’s rare you have many conflicts, especially so in public. Practice these days is mixed at an EWS, riders are more likely to be on their own programs with teams, mechanics, soigneurs and photographers all moving pieces of a busy puzzle. You may have riders head out for their single practice runs early in the day, maximising their available recovery time and ensuring the day tends to run pretty smooth should they have a problem and need time for a fix. The down side to the early start is the course tends to change dramatically between early practice and the afternoon, and in some cases course bunting seems to have minor, suspicious changes between early practice and race day without any official communication accompanying such a change. It is incredibly rare officials at an EWS level apply penalties that make public attention, there is quite often whispers through the paddock that don’t make it to the light of day, some from a lack of a reputable source, but in most cases it’s a failure of infrastructure that allows reporting in a stressful environment. Clarification to reporting rules were brought in mid-way through last year’s title fight, post French EWS round after a prominent French rider was penalised for throwing a tyre insert out mid ride, where it was clearly against the rules to do so. He had his penalty removed after review from the French race director. The new rules that came into effect require three separate riders or three separate team officials, each from different teams to see an offence committed and report it, including submitting a payment, before an investigation will be undertaken. How often do you think during an eight-hour practice window that 3 team managers from different teams witness a rule violation? And then get together and discuss what they have seen, then go through filing a public report, where their names and names of their teams get publicly released? Which makes what went down in Colombia ridiculous, I’m not talking here about what Sam Hill did to everyone out on track, but the time penalties applied to a few riders post prologue on Saturday afternoon. Back tracking for a moment, it was made clear to all team managers during a meeting Thursday night prior to Friday’s first official practice that all liaisons were to be pedalled up. No shuttling. It was backed up by an official communication to all riders that same night via email pointing it out in crystal clear terms. No shuttling. After Saturday afternoon‘s hectic and enthralling one-minute run down through the streets lined with thousands of excited Colombians, twenty seconds were added to three rider’s times. There was no official communication as to why there were time penalties, some of us began assuming that the riders jumping hay bales during the prologue had received time penalties. Why some riders thought that jumping the hay bales seemed ok was beyond any logical thought as they marked the inside of the turns. In turn those riders were penalised, but they aren’t the three riders that received the twenty second time penalties. Through whispers in the paddock we found out that the three riders had been shuttled to the top of a stage during practice. Twenty seconds added to their racing time might seem like enough of a punishment, but skipping an hour and a half climb, at altitude, in the rain would surely equate to more than a 20 second time penalty. Pleading ignorance, as they did to the officially communicated rules is a ridiculous defence. A brief interview posted online by the EWS director a day after the race outlined that the race organisation had caught and reported them, with no further public detail as to how and when. A lack of reporting mechanisms and transparency from the organisers will no doubt further drive some competitors to pursue any means necessary to gain advantage, which in turn will quickly put a stop to a friendly rivalry in the paddock, and harm what the EWS has built its inclusive friendly reputation on. For the riders who were penalised, I guess we should cut them some slack though, they apologised on social media, that was big of them.