The International Six Day Enduro (ISDE) is the very first and longest standing annual competition in the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) racing calendar dating back to 1913.
Originally called the International Six Day Trial (ISDT) the event is a team-based competition whereby competitors set aside their personal rivalries to compete as a nation. Though the format of the race has changed since its inception, the ethos of the event remains the same.
Designed to fully test man and machine against the elements, early editions of the event were tests of machine reliability and speed tests held on open roads. The motorcycles had to be manufactured in the national team’s own country – a rule cancelled post World War II. The initial running of the ISDT was held in Carlisle, England and was won by the Great Britain team of WB Gibb, WB Little and Ch R Collier.
Though the event saw a high rate of machine failure it proved itself to be a success and since then the FIM have held the event on an annual basis with its only hiatus during World War I and World War II. In 1924 a second category called the Vase Trophy was introduced as an additional class for national teams with riders using motorcycles from other countries.
The 1939 ISDT did take place in Salzburg, Germany amidst the ominous threat of war. Germany provisionally won the event but due to official declaration of war much confusion surrounded the results, which could not be approved on the spot and were definitely cancelled after the War.
In 1981 the word “Enduro” was officially adopted, and thus the event changed its name from the ISDT to become known as the ISDE. Four years later, the Vase Trophy was renamed Junior Trophy for riders under twenty-three years of age.
In the World Trophy story, Great Britain held the most victories with sixteen, just one ahead of Czechoslovakia with fifteen. British team’s last win was in 1953, while Czechoslovakia’s first win was in 1947, and the last one was in 1982. Italy comes in third with fourteen victories, but their last win was in 2007 (World Trophy) and 2008 (Junior). Beside Italy, current top teams are Finland, Sweden, France and Spain.
With the advancement of modern machinery, today's courses are solely “off road” and sees riders covering as much as one thousand five hundred kilometres during the event. The ISDE continues to be a true test of rider skill, speed and endurance along with requiring a competent level of mechanical knowledge to maintain their motorcycle for six continuous days of competition. Riders must solely maintain their motorcycles for the entire week with no mechanical assistance allowed.
The final day now culminates with a motocross race. It is one of the last remaining competitions whereby both professional and amateur competitors come together to compete shoulder to shoulder at the same time. Though Scandinavian countries have earned the most Trophy wins in recent times, awards are also presented on an individual basis in the order of gold, silver and bronze medals.
Gold is awarded to those who finish within ten percent of their class winner’s time, silver to those within forty percent and all remaining finishers (within the allotted time) receive bronze. British rider Paul Edmondson holds the all time ISDE record of sixteen individual gold medals.
In 2007 a Women's Trophy class also was introduced and won by the United States though France have remained the dominant force since.
(Source: Official ISDE 2011 website).