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Southern Cross 2010


First Place Has A New Number by Andrea Wilson


Getting Aero For 3:13 by Cameron Cogburn


It Takes Two by Andy and Cara Applegate


The Grenzsteintrophy by Gunnar Fehlau


The Trans-Sylvania Epic Race Preview by Jay De Jesus


The El Paso Puzzler by David Wilson


Making My Own Place by Vance McMurry


Hilly Billy: Recon One


Trans Andes Challenge Recap


Vamos Chicas Vamos! by Heidi Volpe


Interview: Rebecca Rusch by Jason Mahokey


Enduro Nut Corner by Namrita O’Dea, MS, RD, LD


In Search Of Porn by Jason Mahokey





A brief encounter with snowless roads and winter base miles. Photo by Jason Mahokey




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U^530q6p5v0^ , W hat did I do to O ld M an W inter? A pparently I pissed him off g ood. M aybe it w as one too m any blog posts this w inter w here I qu estioned his relationship w ith Jack Frost as being m ore than ju st “w ork associates,” or the m u ltitu de ofother insu lts that I’ve hu rled his w ay in recent w eeks. O ld M an W inter’s R eveng e on m e has inclu ded a few harrow ing ,ice and snow filled road trips, a race canceled du e to a freak snow storm in G eorg ia,and m ost recently the 2nd w orst snow storm to hit Pittsbu rg h in m y 38 year old lifetim e. A s m u ch as I w anted to g ive in to O ld M an W inter and throw m yself in front of an oncom ing snow plow , I didn’t. T he road trips w ere safely com pleted, and the ru ined Sou thern C ross race w eekend w as salvag ed w ith a snow y nig ht ride, g ood beers and W ii R ock B and w ith friends. I even m ade the best of“Snow m ag eddon 2010” by u sing m u ltiple tw o hou r shoveling sessions as circu it training and the tim e spent trapped in the hou se w ith cabin fever as m entalconditioning . T he best m otivation has been w orking on this issu e of X X C . It’s dam n hard not to stay m otivated w hen you g et to w ork on stories like w e have in this issu e. G u nnar Fehlau ’s report on the 2009 G renzsteintrophy in G erm any served to not only inspire m e to keep focu sed on the com ing season,bu t also to take a step back and look at how far the w orld has com e.H ow ju st a little over 20 years ag o an event like the G renzsteintrophy w ou ld not have even taken place -- not becau se folks didn’t w ant to ride their bikes 800 m iles, bu t becau se doing so w ou ld have probably resu lted in being shot at w hile dodg ing tanks and land m ines. R eading G u nnar’s story g ives you a sense ofhis disg u st w ith the past,bu t m ore than that you g et a realsense of his appreciation for the freedom to do this race now .A s you can im ag ine,it w as pretty hard to look at allof this w inter’s snow and ice as anything m ore than ju st “w inter in Pennsylvania,” w hen com pared to reading abou t the cherished freedom of riding you r bike along G erm any’s form er Iron C u rtain. O ld M an W inter m ay continu e to plot ag ainst m e,he m ay do his best to prey u pon m y hatred of the cold and snow , bu t it ju st w on’t w ork! T he m otivation I g ot from w orking on stories and photos from Sou thern C ross,Trans A ndes,E lPaso Pu zzler,and Tou r de la Patag onia races is too g reat. W itnessing the desire and determ ination that everyday riders like V ance M cM u rry and H eidi V olpe have to train and pu sh them selves to com pete along side the best in the w orld is too inspiring .O ld M an W inter ju st can’t com pete.T he snow s w illm elt,the tem peratu re w illw arm ,and m any,m any m iles w illbe enjoyed. I hope you allenjoy this season’s first issu e as m u ch as I enjoyed pu tting it alltog ether.C heers to another season. Jason M ahokey X X C M ag azine XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX



Th anksto all th e generou scontribu torsofX X C #6. W ith ou t th em ,X X C w ou ld not be possible. Jay D e Jesu s D avid W ilson CarlosCastanon Cesar M endez D aniel Püsch el at transandesch M arcelo Tu cu na G u nnar Feh lau ,Elm ar Egner,D avid K oßm ann, and M ila K u sm enko J.R.Petsko & G u nnar “F iend” Sh ChrisH ines D onna G arcia A ndy and Cara A pplegate Cam eron Cogbu rn Ryan Bosio A ndrea W ilson -blog.brickh ou Vance M cM u rry Sam M cM u rry Ric Ceron Jason Bou ch er Jason M ah okey -th esoiledch am N am rita K .O ’D ea-nam Rebecca Ru sch -rebeccaru sch .com H eidiVolpe -h M ich ael D arter -m ich D ave M cElw aine -trailw atch .net Colt M cElw aine Special th anksto JoErin O ’Leary,Brennan M ah okey, Everyone at Pro Bikes,team ates,friendsand fam ily. Extra special th anksto H eidiVolpe for th e art direction of “Vam osChicasVam os!” and to K ristin Schm alzer for editing assiatance w ith “Th e El Paso Pu zzler” and “In Search ofPorn.” Cover im age by M ich ael D arter -m ich Rider:Rebecca Ru sch ,Location:San M artin de losA ndes,Patagonia,A rgentina. D o you w ant to earn som e free m ag sw ag? Contribu te som e w ordsor ph otosto an u pcom ing issu e ofX X C! E m ail Jason M ah okey at xxcm ag@ gm for m ore inform ation. 24 hours before “snowmageddon .” Photo by Jason Mahokey



© X X C M agazine.Enjoy th e w ordsand pics,bu t please don’t copy and or passit offasyou r ow n. Becau se like th e song says...“don’t plagiarize or take on loan,th ere’salw ayssom eone,som ew h ere w ith a big nose,w h o know sand w h o tripsyou u p and lau gh sw h en you fall.”


southern cross

1 beastly number plate, 1 aero helmet, 1 tandem, 50+ miles, and 3 views of southern cross 2010




A racer dives through the fog of Southern Cross. Photo: Chris Hines




first place has a new number... andrea wilson rolls the “number of the beast” to first place at southern cross 2010!

recap by andrea wilson

Even though the temps hovered in the 40s and clouds enveloped the upper elevations of the climbs on course, it was much, much nicer than it could have been if the race hadn’t been rescheduled from a couple of weeks ago when several inches of snow fell and temps hung in the low 20’s. It’s not often that I get butterflies, but after losing last year to Carey Lowery in the last 100 meters of race course, I had more reason than pay out to do well this year (unfortunately, Carey wasn’t able to make it this year because of a recent surgery). Before the race start, I rode around the CX loop that we’d circle before and after the 50-something mile gravel route through the national forest. This loop was a lot easier than the Mulberry Gap loop from last year, so I wasn’t too worried. When the race started, I tried to make the best use of the cross course to get ahead of the other women. My strategy worked well, and I ended up entering the gravel just a little behind the group of men’s race leaders. Once I got away from Camp Wahsega, I forced myself to settle into a sustainable tempo (I have a bad habit of starting out too fast). The first climb (Winding Stair) went by quickly, and soon enough, I passed the aid station, headed up a few more miles, then started the descent down to several miles of pavement. I like descents… Other than having to stop for a lost water bottle (damn crappy cage!), I hauled all sorts of ass. The way I see it, descents are free time if you can go faster than your competition without wrecking or having a mechanical. I set my brakes up especially for this- I can grab my drops and wrap a finger or two around the brake lever without rubbing the pad on the rim unless I squeeze it a little more. The road section was where I knew I could make up time on the other women. With ladies like Emily Brock and Brenda Simril chasing you, playing up your strengths can be pivotal. I got in my drops and put my head down, maintaining the same strong tempo effort I’d hit on the way up the first climb. At one point, the Applegates (Andy and Cara Applegate, see page 00) passed me on their tandem. Sweet! They ended up going slightly slower than what I was originally aiming for, but the energy-saving benefit of sitting behind a 29er tandem when there’s a headwind is pretty awesome. Once we were back on the gravel, the second climb started soon after. The Applegates and I were back and fourth- they were generally faster on the flat/downhill stretches and I was a little faster uphill. This was also where my legs started to ache. For a minute, I slowed down, but then I recalled the hours of trail and road riding in Mountain View that I’d put in during Winter Break. So, I gritted my teeth, cleared the whiney thoughts from my head, and pushed harder. Andrea climbs into the clouds with a devilishly “modified” plate. Photo: Chris Hines




Rolling along nicely with the Applegates. Photo: Donna Garcia

the base, I noticed that Ryan (Bosio) was about halfway up. Happy to be off my bike, I shouldered it and started to climb. Once I got to the top, I hopped back on and headed down some rooty trail, over a few trees, and around the last couple of bridges before re-entering the course (I also managed to pass Ryan somewhere along the way). As I entered the section of barriers, I caught back up to the Applegates. I thought about attacking and diving around them, but then figured it wasn’t really all that important, so I told them that I’d back off so we could all have good finishing photos.

Miles later, I stopped at the last aid station to quickly get a little water and toss my vest, which had been bothering me since the zipper stuck halfway down a few miles back. At that point, the Applegates passed me again (I wasn’t really racing them, but they acted a little bit as a rabbit to chase to keep me going). A few miles later, the final descent began. At first, it was foggy and rocky. I was a little cautious for the first section since a wreck, flat, or broken equipment would be pretty disastrous. However, once it smoothed out, I went back to going all-out. A couple of times, I felt my rear wheel skidding precariously around the damp, sandy turns… it was both incredibly fun and incredibly terrifying all at once. (The Applegates left me in the dust- they not only had a heavy and very stable machine with fatter tires and front suspension, they also have the skill and cojones to take full advantage of it!)

So my hard work paid off… I finished 1st, 20 minutes ahead of the 2nd place woman. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. I’ve got a lot more work to do before I’m 100% ready to conquer my first 100 miler in a few months.

Soon enough, I was back at Camp Wahsega. Eddie set up a killer run-up (everyone said it was worse than last year, but I didn’t think so) and a little singletrack to navigate before reentering the CX loop. When I got to XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

Victory. Photo by Ryan Bosio


HUGE thanks to Eddie and Namrita O’Dea for putting this race on. It’s always going to be one of my favorites, and I LOVE that they pay the women out the same as the men ($500 for 1st place!!!) You guys rock! XXCMAG.COM

The race started with a lap of a unique cyclocross course around Camp Wahsega that included bridges, bench barriers and a stone stair run-up. Leaving the campground for the giant dirt road loop, a lead group quickly established itself at a quick but comfortable pace. There were seven of us, two of which were on mountain bikes. The first climb was only 3 miles long, but 2.5 of those were at 9-10% and on dirt – in other words, a serious climb! I hit it hard at threshold to see who I would be up against for the day. Yep, it was Thomas Turner. Twenty minutes later, after literally climbing into the clouds, we hit the SAG point at the top of Winding Stair Gap and proceeded to bomb back down into the valley. Thomas was on his mountain bike and put a twenty to thirty second gap on me and my cross bike on the descent. I did not panic as Eddie told us at the start there was a ten-mile stretch of pavement that linked the dirt sections up, and I knew I would have the advantage there. Turning onto the road portion, I saw Thomas in the distance and I was coming up fast on him. I think he was hoping to work together on the road but I knew I could not forfeit the opportunity here of using my cross bike advantage and isolating him on his knobbies on the pavement, so I blew by as fast as I could and tucked into aero position and kept hammering.

getting aero for 3:13 cameron cogburn takes a second helping of southern cross and asks for a third recap by cameron cogburn Upon hitting the dirt again, I settled into a steady tempo up the big ring climb back into clouds to the SAG point, and descended quickly but in control down Cooper’s Gap back to Camp Wahsega. There was one more lap to be done on a modified version of the initial CX course that involved an incredibly steep and long “run-up” (like the Wigwam Hill power line run-up from Iron Cross except at the end of the race – ouch!) and a neat section of singletrack with four fallen logs that acted as natural barriers. I rolled through the finish in 3:13, the last two hours of which were ridden alone. This is definitely one of the more unique races around and comes at a perfect time of year, when people have just resumed riding and are eager to test their legs. Due to the terrain (long mountain climbs and descents) one is guaranteed to be either rewarded with playing in the clouds or spectacular views. I will certainly be back next year for a third helping of this awesome race.

The aero helmet made an appearance as a joke and stuck around for 3:13 and a second Southern Cross victory for Cogburn Photo: Donna Garcia




it takes two southern cross - tandem style by andy and cara applegate After a bad weather re-schedule we headed down to Dahlonega, GA for the 2nd annual Southern Cross Race on Jan 23rd. Because of the timing of the event, and our race goals for the upcoming season, we chose to race on our new behemoth Fandango 29er tandem. Some may call it insane, but we really love experiencing events on the big bike. Not only is it a change from racing a “half bike” and a bigger challenge, but it is also the supreme test of teamwork. For those of you who have never ridden a tandem, it really is ALL about teamwork. That is, the ability to work together, smoothly, both uphill and down, to get the job done. This teamwork didn’t come about the first time we rode a tandem - we had to work at it - but once we started to get it, being able to experience events together rather than just seeing each other at the start and finish of races has been a blast. Eddie & Namrita O’Dea of 55nine performance, along with the help of very dedicated volunteers, laid out a short and relatively technical traditional cyclo-cross course that zig zagged around and over the bridges and benches that dot the property of Camp Wahsega, a 4-H center run under the auspices of the University of Georgia. The weather was cold, damp and overcast with fuzzy gray mist hanging thickly in the higher elevations. About 45 racers took to the line, ready to tackle a lap of the short course before heading out onto the dirt roads of the Chattahoochee National Forest in the North Georgia mountains. Yes, we can do a cyclo-cross dismount and remount on the tandem, but is it fast? Well, faster than coming to a complete stop, but not nearly as fast as with a single bike. For this reason, we didn’t want to get in any of the serious contenders way, so we lined up back row and didn’t fight too hard for position as we rolled off the line. After we bulldozed our way through the short course, it was game on and we powered away on the slight downhill leading out of the camp and onto the first climb. The first climb – a doozy that took us about 40 minutes sent us into a fog bank hovering just above soft, wet, tiresucking fire roads. The route had transformed into the kind of stuff that destroys your morale as you slog upward at maddeningly slow speed. We even witnessed the effect certain bog-like areas had us On at least one occasion the tandem pilot actually yelled at the road out of frustration. Strangely enough there was no response. >

Andy and Cara Applegate plow through the mountain fog. Photo: Chris Hines




After passing the aid station and gaining several false summits, we finally hit the first leg-relieving downhill. We flew down the mountain, and then rolled around on about 7 miles of pavement. Here we caught up with a few riders, including the eventual women’s winner. Before we knew it, we were on the massive climb back up to the top of the ridge. While not as steep as the first one, this climb was loooong, following a picturesque stream bed back into the clouds. The view did nothing to ease the struggle of muscling a 50 pound bike up a 9 mile climb on soft dirt roads, even with two people powering it. The higher we climbed, the denser the fog became. Often, it brought visibility down to just a few feet. We came close to cracking before reaching the top of the ridge, but kept on forging ahead. Once on the ridge, the course rolled up and down, the fog so dense we couldn’t distinguish the direction of the road. After more than three and a half hours in the saddle, we finally hit the last descent. We let the bike roll, railing it down the fire road. Flying down into Camp Wahsega, the race was not yet finished. We still had to spend several minutes lugging the bike and our bodies up the two-tiered, super steep run-up. Just

hauling ourselves up that hill, after four hours of riding, was an enormous, muscle-seizing effort. Following the run-up, we descended a short bit of single-track that contained several downed trees, requiring multiple dismounts. This led us back onto the ‘cross course at the camp, which we happily navigated, crossing the finish line, the eighth bike to do so, as the clock ticked over at four hours, ten minutes. What happened at the front of the race? Well, we know that Cameron Cogburn crushed the course in three hours and 13 minutes, wearing a time trial helmet. We promise to give him a hard time about this FOREVER. Andrea Wilson, who we rode with for portions of the race, handily won the women’s category. The 2010 course was well marked, longer, and even more challenging than last year, with approximately 6000 feet of climbing over 52 miles. We will certainly be back in 2011. Looking for a challenging event to hit up in the dead of winter? Southern Cross is just the ticket. Andy and Cara Applegate have been riding tandems together since 2003, and are still happily married. They reside in Black Mountain, NC.

“The route had transformed into the kind of stuff that destroys your morale as you slog upward at maddeningly slow speed.”




The behemoth Fandango 29er tandem rolls on. Photo: Photo: Donna Garcia




Berlin Wall, 1980, Photo: Alexander Buschorn




The Grenzsteintrophy – A 1,280 km mountain bike ride along Germanyʼs former Iron Curtain.

Packed and ready for the 800 mile journey on the “Kolonnenweg.” Photo by Mila Kusmenko

19 bikes lean ag ainst trees and lam p posts. T he sm all path to the beach is blocked by helm ets, backpacks and g ear. T he host of the sm all restau rant “Priw all-Treff” ju st opens the w indow s. T he cam ping g rou nd nearby is still qu iet and sleepy.A typical holiday m orning .Franky adju sts the straps on his pack.T he slim g u y in his forties checks his g ear – ag ain; in a few m inu tes the “G renzsteintrophy” is g oing to start.

T he letters “G ST ” m ake for the sam e acronym as the “G esellschaft für Sport u nd Technik” a param ilitary you th org anisation of the form er G D R .A nd the rou te g oes along the “Todesstreifen” (“death strip”), a corridor of land next to the inner-G erm an border. To su ccessfu lly cross this corridor for the people of the form er G D R m eant to flee into freedom . A bou t 900 people lost their lives there u ntil1989.

T he “G renzsteintrophy” (G ST ) is a m ou ntain bike ride of 1,280km (800 m iles) w hich 20 years after the fall of the inner-G erm an border takes its riders along side the form er Iron C u rtain from L übeck-Travem ünde to M ittelham m er in the V og tland area.

A pathw ay called “K olonnenw eg ” ran parallelto the border and w as the m ain m ilitary su pport road for the E ast G erm an arm y.It’s m ain character com es from concrete slabs w hich are m ade for tanks and heavy tru cks – for letting rain and snow throu g h them they “consist of” holes of abou t 3” w idth and 8” leng th.T here are alw ays 4 holes next to each other and 7 in a row – a rou te of m an m ade potholes. O nly w ide low -pressu re tires, g ood su spension and enou g h speed m ake this rideable. B eing abandoned for 20 years the old m ilitary road is taken back by natu re,so it is overg row n by g rass and shru bs. U nlike G reat D ivide/Tou r D ivide the G ST initiators did not have an established track to follow or even a road book like the A C A provides. T hanks to volu ntary helpers and local scou ts the G ST track w as created in G PS files.

G ST is not strictly a race,bu t no easy Su nday afternoon ride either. It’s a self-su pported ride w hich m eans: no help from ou tside, no su pport cars, no placing of food bag s etc. E verything the riders need, they have to bring them selves or bu y u nder w ay. T he org anisation team doesn’t u se the term “race” for leg al reasons – bu t there is m ore: “T he G ST is no race. W e w ant friendship and sociability,instead ofcom petition.” explains H .D avid K oßm ann of the org anisation team . T he G ST is not a tou rist event either – 17.000 m eters vertical and an intrig u ing politicaldim ension keep the starter field qu ite sm all. XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

C on tin u ed >



“The former Western border of the Eastern State was a deadly aisle full of landmines and watchtowers – today it is a strip of wilderness...” Pothole navigation

A isle of D eath becom es E co-O asis

It’s been raining for three hou rs now . Ju st the continu ou s rattling and thu dding u nder m y front w heel tells m e that I am on the rig ht path. E ven the larg e 2,25” tires of m y 29er are challeng ed by the old m ilitary road of the form er G D R . T his constant rattling w orks like a perfect navig ation system . A s long as it rattles I am rig ht. N avig ation ju st by eyesig ht w ou ld be problem atic. M y eyes are nearly blinded by heavy rain and the “road” m ostly is covered by sting ing nettles, thistles and sm all trees. T he road is lost to the last 20 years du e to the lack of hu m an intervention.

W hat separated the tw o G erm an states u ntil 1990 is a stripe that stretches exactly 1,328km (825 m iles) long . T he form er W estern border of the E astern State w as a deadly aisle fu llof landm ines and w atchtow ers – today it is a strip of w ilderness only accessible by the old m ilitary road ofthe border g u ards.

Franky dashes throu g h the dripping w et flora before m e. T he packs on his bike shake the w ater from the leaves. T his helps m y ow n riding . H e w as the track scou t for the W endland area and his know ledg e of the local trails bestow ed the G ST riders w ith a lot of adventu re rig ht next to the u su al pu blic paths and tracks. Som etim es there are even electric fences and cattle herds in ou r w ay.

T he “G reen B elt” now adays is seen as a special chain of extraordinary valu able biotopes. A ccording to the B U N D (G erm an section ofFriends ofthe E arth) in the G reen B elt there are 109 biotope types half of w hich can be fou nd on the “red list” of endang ered biotopes. M ore than 25% of this G reen B elt is natu re reserve.In Ju ne 2003 in the G reen B elt the “D ay of B iodiversity” w as celebrated. In 24h m ore than 500 experts and scientists filed abou t 5,200 species of flora and fau na. Som e species w here fou nd that w ere believed to be extinct in the rest ofG erm any. C on tin u ed >

W endland trem bles W e have to stop for cou ntless tim es.T his tim e it’s an electric fence that fizzes in the rain. Franky ju st craw ls throu g h u nder the fence. Ju st as I w ant to heave m y bike over the fence to hand it to him it g lides ou t of m y hands and falls rig ht into the fence. A s I try to lift it u p ag ain there is a hissing sou nd and I start shaking throu g hou t the w hole body. Instinctively I let g o of m y bike.A w et G u nnar,a w et bike and a strong electric fence don’t m ake for a g ood com bination.It doesn’t m atter w here I tou ch the bike – fram e, saddle or tire – everything is w et and electric.I do a strang e robotic dance in the m iddle of a m eadow in the W endland w hile trying to g et m y H aibike ou t of the claw s of the e-fence. W hen I lift the bike the fence com es u p w ith it.M ostly it catches the crankset.It takes abou t 15 m inu tes of sm allkicks and throw s to free the bike. M easu red on this scale the tall-g rassed horse m eadow s that I have to cross later on are qu ite kinderg arten. XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

This area may still contain landmines... Enter at your own risk






Rolling towards Schifflersgrund

“The border didnʼt just leave traces in nature but in millions of minds, too. It makes me sick, this contrast goes to the heart. I feel myself cranking harder.” XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX


Su rfing on the W erra w aves L inking stag es can be tricky like in the Tou r de France w hen seem ing ly u nspectacu lar passag es su ddenly becom e dram atic. W ith the H arz M ou ntains and the R hön area u nder m y belt I expected a qu iet ride – these days the cou nty border g oes along side the W erra river.First I braced m yself for todays stag e w ith a nice breakfast in the com fy café of B esenhau sen M anor then took an easy spin u p to fortress H anstein. From there I w ent the 250 vertical m eters in ju st a kilom eter of said pothole path dow n to L indew erra from w here a nice tailw ind pu shed m e throu g h the W erra valley.B u t su ddenly the track w ent in a rig ht ang le u p a hill. N ow m y heart rate is arou nd 180 and I slow ly g rind m yself to the top. T he K olonnenw eg g ets steeper and steeper. Ju st straig ht on. Teu tonic thorou g hness doesn’t know serpentines. L aying the concrete slabs crossw ise on the road so that the holes are like a ladder is the only concession to landscape m ade here. XXCMAG.COM

A fter reaching the top I visit the border m u seu m Schifflersg ru nd w hich is the first m em orial site of its kind in G erm any. It’s a m acabre scene: the architectu re of death seem s m ore clear w hen su ddenly the G reen B elt becom es a conserved “antifascist barrier”. L eaving that behind I ride freely throu g h the niceties ofnatu re w ith only m y heart rate to beat tim e – there is no yesterday or tom orrow ju st an endless string of“here and now ”. B u t the soil is bloodstained. T he border didn’t ju st leave traces in natu re bu t in m illions of m inds,too.It m akes m e sick,this contrast g oes to the heart.I feelm yself cranking harder.T he next 70 km (43 m iles) to C reu zbu rg help m e w ith this:A nearly endless intervalof short and steep clim bs m akes it hard to ride.A fter the 20th ram p I stop cou nting .E ven w ith m y 27 g ears I som etim es have to hike-abike.T his is volu ntary,rig ht?

qu ite a bit. T he track that I had g oog led is harder than I thou g ht. Pu shing the bike throu g h thick u nderg row th on a straig ht line over hills and throu g h sm allvales doesn’t help w ith m otivation. In the near of Tettau the form er border m eets the R ennsteig and I decide to u se the R ennsteig for the next 16 km (10 m iles) till B rennersg rün.A fter that I m ove back onto the m ilitary track ag ain. I race dow nhillin fantastic w ave-like landscape to the m ost eastern part ofthe T hüring er W ald forest (the sm allu phills in betw een m ay be concealed here...) A t 9 p.m . and after 193 km (120 m iles) I eventu ally reach B lankenstein. T he sm all “R ennsteig ” g u est hou se provides a g ood m ealand m ost im portantly a w arm and snu g bed. Finalspu rt

R iding the Rennsteig It’s the sixth day of G ST. Since km 588 rig ht after the H arz m ou ntains I have been riding alone. O n m y w ay I m et ju st one other biker on the old m ilitary road.I started early this m orning – arou nd 4.30 a.m . I share the w oods w ith foxes, deer, snails and birds. E ven the su n only relu ctantly joins u s. It slow ly peeps over the hills and throu g h the m orning m ists ofthe C obu rg land. I take m y m orning coffee in a sm allbakery in the indu strialarea of Streu fdorf, a tow n that lies directly on the ex-border. T he first 25km (15,5 m iles) of the day are done by 6.15 a.m .A t noon I am in Sonneberg .I see to reaching the R ennsteig ,one of G erm any’s best long distance hiking tracks.Tillreaching Tettau I have to im provise

H aving the T hüring er W ald behind m e I ride relaxed along side the Saale river tow ards the end. In the m iddle of the stag e I pass throu g h a sm all tow n called M ödlareu th w hich w as cu t in half by the border.T he tow n is know n as “L ittle B erlin” therefore.Today it som ehow becam e a villag e m u seu m som ew here in betw een “eastalg ia”,kitsch and coping w ith actu alhistory. T here are better places to recap the division of G erm any,bu t there seldom are places that have that strang e a rang e of photog raphy m otifs in su ch a sm allarea. C on tin u ed >

Yes, we carried our bikes up this section.








Crossing a sculpture-museum of the former border.




The bike rests next to the “grenzstein.”

I have a qu ick cola in a pu b,press the shu tter bu tton of m y cam era thrice and off I g o... I w ant to reach the g oal.If I hu rry I can m ake it w ithin seven days. So the land flies by and near M ittelham m er I pass throu g h a m oist dale. T he slow river R eg nitz literally attracts m illions of g nats. Since there are no m ore border g u ards arou nd they start feasting on m e rig ht at the “Staatsg renze” (state lim it) sig n. 3 flats, 1,255 km ,17.760 m eters ofclim bing and 7 days later I finished the G ST . XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

This year’s event T he G renzsteintrophy 2010 w ill start on the 17th of Ju ne. B efore G erm an reu nification in O ctober 1990 this date m arked the W est G erm an national holiday know n as “D ay of G erm an U nity”,rem em bering the G D R u prising in 1953 that w as su ppressed by Soviet troops. In 2010 the rou te g oes in the opposite direction starting in the V og tland and heading north w ith the g oal of reaching the coast of the B altic Sea at the Priw all in Travem ünde. W ith eig ht riders m aking it to M ittelham m er in 2009, the 2010 G PS track is som ew hat confirm ed. E ng lish Inform ation at w w PAGE 22


Gunnar at the finish of the 2009 GST - the point where the former border meets the Czech Republic.







M u lti-day E ndu rance O ff R oad B icycle Stag e R acing rolls into the eastern U S for 2010 w ith the Trans-Sylvania E pic presented by T he O u tdoor E xperience O rg anization. Ru n from M ay 30th to Ju ne 5th w ith 7 stag es in and arou nd the State C olleg e,PA area,this inau g u ralevent w illfeatu re som e of the m ost pristine sing letrack and rem ote m ou ntainou s terrain that the M id-A tlantic has to offer. A s endu rance racing continu es to evolve and su rg e in popu larity and prestig e,this prem ier east coast event bring s stag e racing to w ithin a reasonable g eog raphical proxim ity to a hotbed of professionaland am ateu r cyclists and adventu re racers from 4 m ajor m etropolitan areas as w ell as C anada and w esternE u rope. C onceived in a fashion to inclu de as m any participants as possible,the event has m any u niqu e featu res that provide both the com petitor and their friends and fam ilies an adventu re oftru ly epic proportions.

and rest,w ork,w hatever – the cu m u lative tim e of the team is w hat m atters. “T his is m eant to allow as m any people as possible to experience endu rance team -racing and to assu re that those w ho cannot com m it to the entire w eek m ay still participate u pon a team ,” says K u hn. It w ill also allow for a levelof strateg izing throu g h specialization. “You can send ou t you r clim bers on the hillier stag es and pow er-riders on the flatter, faster days. A ll kinds speed records w ill be set.” A s w ell, it also takes som e of the seriou sness and pressu re aw ay by spreading the w ork load ou t fu rther am ong st team m ates w hile creating for m ore friendly com petition. Please note that riders entered in the Team categ ories do not need to ride and finish each stag e tog ether du ring the race (as team m ates m u st do in the du o categ ory). T he Team categ ory is all abou t fu n, friendly com petitive spirit, and experiencing the event for those w ho m ay not be able or w illing to com m it to all seven days ofracing ., ĺ

Spread ou t over a m ajor U S holiday w eek,there are som e key hig hlig hts to this event -- a centralized w eek-long “base cam p”, diverse race-stag e desig n, a distinctive team stru ctu re,and the trails them selves. It is desig ned for ease of participation, a com m u nal environm ent for friends and fam ilies spending their vacations, and the hig hest valu e of ou tdoor experience. Tru e to its E pic nam esake, the event w ill traverse som e of the m ost rem ote and challeng ing g rou nd in the east, m aking for a challeng ing , fu n and decidedly u npredictable event. “W ith the variety of terrain and u niqu e daily stag es, there is potential for chang es in overall race lead on every day, every stag e. T his w ill be trem endou sly exciting ,a tru e test of perseverance and a hell of a lot of fu n” says M ike K u hn, co-org anizer of the event. M ental, physical, and log istical preparation becom e param ou nt to an event like this, and now is the tim e to lay you r plans to lau nch you r ow n epic ride at this event. T his is you r preparatory g u ide,and you r w ake-u p call. ,n O , 5rt03vr4, F,,O rg anizers M ike K u hn and R ay A dam s are constantly striving to increase g rassroots participation in bicycle racing . A nd, thou g h endu rance racing typically appeals to m ore m atu re, experienced racers, they think they’ve fou nd a w ay to inclu de m ore riders w hom m ay have a m ore casu alapproach. A side from the standard M en’s and W om en’s Solo,D u o and Tandem classes,they’ve concocted a w elcom e tw ist to the larg er Team categ ory that w ill ensu re ease of participation for both experienced team s and w eekend w arriors entering their first m u lti-day race w hile raising the fu n qu otient.

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B asically,a Team w illconsist of 3 to 6 riders,and each team m u st finish at least three riders every day in any com bination of m em bers. R iders m ay rotate days, take off XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX


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, nsr5¥F,,A race of this m ag nitu de requ ires a fu lly org anized f safety net for com petitors. E ach stag e w ill have m u ltiple checkpoints for refu eling and m edical, lead-m oto drivers and daily pre-ridden, triple-checked cou rses. A side from log istical, technical and nu tritional su pport and on-site infirm ary, the Trans-Sylvania E pic w ill featu re physician Todd M cG rath on hand throu g hou t the event, overseeing the m edicalstaff to assu re the com petitors’safety. Todd has m u ch lead experience in this capacity, inclu ding the threew eek long 2002 Su baru Prim al Q u est A dventu re R ace in Tellu ride,C O . , n( vy¥ ,Q 7 r^5ÚX0qtv^tF,,T his is a “w orking vacation” R after all! B eing tru e to its g rass roots focu s, the TransSylvania E pic provides m any diverse recreational opportu nities for you r non-racer/su pport crew and/or

fam ily sharing in you r vacation. Su rrou nding the base cam p “villag e”, nu m erou s C entral Pennsylvania cu ltu ral, historical and recreationalpoints of interest are w ithin easy reach every day inclu ding Penn State U niversity, Pennsylvania state capital H arrisbu rg , A ltoona and the Johnstow n Flood M em orialsite. Stag e 4’s R aystow n stag e m ig ht be the perfect tim e tim e to take the C annondale factory tou r,only 40 m iles to the sou th.B ack in cam p the recreation hallw illserve as the daily race-central w ith u p-to-date race inform ation, healthy satisfying m eals and nig htly entertainm ent/m ovies. D u ring the day, the experienced cam p staff w ill lead daily activities and day-care for those in cam p.E very nig ht w ill also featu re an aw ards presentation for individu al stag es and overall classification. Perhaps the m ost settling factor to you r race recovery is the fact that you are based ou t of a sing u lar location (and bed!) du ring the entire event., ĺ

A rest during course recon. Photo by**** ******




Nancy Adams rides some sweet Pennsylvania singletrack. Photo by**** ******

, 3r1n3v^t,s03,5u r,g 3n^4Df¥y7 n^vn,Q 1vpF,,For an event c of this m ag nitu de, sim ply log g ing tons of hou rs on the bike does not g u arantee a podiu m . T hou g htfu l planning and preparation are keys to finishing .E verything from fitness and riding techniqu e to log istics of team w ork to recovery and m echanical self su fficiency m u st be addressed. M ike K u hn laid it ou t best:“from now u ntil the last stag e of the event,it is all abou t strateg y, planning , discipline and recovery, and keeping the rig ht perspectives.” T he race is not w on on the first stag e – conversely, all can be lost in Febru ary w ithou t proper approach that m ig ht leave you bu rned ou t, overtrained, or u nder prepared com e the actu al race w eek. H ere w e’ll focu s on laying you r fou ndation tow ards a su ccessfu l ‘E pic. T he early w inter fou ndation stag es of preparation are param ou nt to su ccess at a m u lti-stag e event like the TransSylvania E pic. N ow is the tim e to log the necessary base volu m e ofriding in order to m aintain a w eek-long race effort. endu rance racer R ob L ichtenw alner offers his tw o cents:“T hree w ords – base,base,base.B e realistic – ride for tou g hening and keep it FU N .” For R ob, w ho plans on w inning the Solo M en’s division, this m eans schedu ling stru ctu red days in the saddle,consistently. H e’ll m im ic race conditions by doing blocks of 2-3 sim u lation days back to back. R ob w ill also m im ic the terrain by seeking ou t lots of long clim bs,thou g h still at low to m oderate intensity as it is still Janu ary. For the averag e racer, this m eans long , fu n endu rance rides w ith the only g oal that of being on the bike for a long ride w hile w orking on bike handling . N ow is also the tim e to start g etting in the rou tine of proper sleep and nu trition as g ood habits take tim e to ing rain. C om e late Febru ary and early M arch, it’s tim e to start cranking u p the w ick. G ranted you ’ve g ot som e base m iles by this tim e,“g etting a solid and focu sed block of training in at this tim e is cru cial.M ost seriou s racers focu s on m ileag e and XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

ram ping u p intensity, and you shou ld think along the sam e lines, w hatever level you com pete on”, coach says. L ater in the M arch,as racing heats u p is w here you r m entaldiscipline m u st really kick in. E ntering early season races shou ld be approached as individu al battles tow ard the u ltim ate g oal. D o not overcook you rselfrig ht ou t ofm otivation – rather,u se a “race-throu g h” approach to events,testing you r fitness w ith the g oal of prog ression tow ards the race w eek. Training throu g h race m ay m ean you are not sharp in these lead u p events, bu t the end resu lt is a new level of fitness for race w eek. K eep abreast of how you ’re feeling as w ell, keeping track of w hat you r body is telling you N o need to w illallthe m arbles early on – g et lots ofrest and rem em ber w hy you ride and race in the first place. B y late A priland into M ay is w hen you ’re hard w ork w ill really be show ing throu g h, log g ing back to back distance rides w ith a focu s on the approaching E pic . W ith tw o w eeks to g o, you r fitness and skill level shou ld hopefu lly be topped off from you r preparations. A t this point,M ike and R ay su g g est you attend their m ini-cam p for you r last hard effort pre-race. It is a g reat chance to pre-ride som e of the race cou rses and see w hat’s in store. A fter that is now tim e to R E ST. D ecreasing volu m e w hile keeping intensity ju st topped off, and resting m ore. Pay very close attention to you r recovery and staying healthy leading u p to the race. You are ready… A s you cycle throu g h you r preparations for Trans-Sylvania E pic,it is im portant keep in m ind that it is not you r day job. K eep it fu n, and if you are doing the team categ ory, plan tog ether, ride tog ether and prog ress… tog ether. H olding you rselves accou ntable helps keep the focu s,and it also allow s you r team to develop and cover allthe details that you ’llneed to finish tog ether. C om pleting this event w ill be an accom plishm ent, bu t the total spectru m of the preparations and racing it w illcreate satisfying ly lasting m em ories., ĺ



, 0tv45vp4F T his is a big u ndertaking – respect w hat the X event is and be prepared to take on the challeng e. Prepare you r fam ily and/or su pport crew for the natu re of the event and w hat you w ou ld requ ire of them – after all, it is their vacation, too so be realistic w ith expectations of them . If you are entering the D u o or Team categ ory,com m u nication is key betw een m em bers. H aving clear objectives,intention and shared preparation g oes a long w ay tow ard keeping the w heels u pon you r effort betw een now and the last stag e of the event. Technical/m echanical preparation is cru cial, as w ell. H ow self su fficient can you be on the trail is as im portant to having a flaw lessly w orking bike. E xpect the u nexpected by stocking u p on chains,cables,tu bes,tires and the like. H aving solid m echanical know ledg e and

u nderstanding of you r bicycle assu res the tou g hness of you r arm or. W hen asked w hether he’d prefer fu ll-su spension or a hardtail bike for the ‘E pic, M ike K u hn says “I prefer -- a com pletely tu ned-u p bike that I can reliably cou nt on w ithou t qu estion. O ne that solid and reliable,that I tru st and know is as prepared as I am .” Q 1vy0t6 rF,,T here you have it – you r basic g u ide to preparing , for the Trans-Sylvania E pic. Follow ing an org anized plan m akes it easier to envision and su cceed at the event. Follow ing you r heart and racing for the experience assu res a victory, no m atter w hat! T his is a tru e Pennsylvania A lleg henies adventu re w ith so m u ch to experience for all. H ave an open m ind and g ood lu ck!

R 03,( 03r,v^s03( n5v0^,0^,5u r,g 3n^Df¥y7 n^vn,Y 06 ^5nv^,N vxr,Q 1vp,7 v4v5,8 8 8 E53n^44¥y7 n^vnr1vpEp0( , Mike Kuhn surveys the trail. Photo by**** ******

A rest during course recon. Photo by**** ******







By David Wilson Photo by Carlos Castanon XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX



Hosting a race is not always the best way to prevent a loss of trails, but in El Paso, Texas, an ass-kicking mountain bike race was exactly what the community needed to reignite the local cycling community and make a name for itself in the endurance racing scene. In 2006, after winning a stars and stripes in the 30+ short track National Championship, I returned home to El Paso and found trails that had been completely trashed by recent flooding, some covered with up to ten feet of boulders. Neighborhoods had been flooded and businesses destroyed. Many of the problems were directly related to poor development; bulldoze-and-build communities divided by large concrete channels replaced natural arroyos. These channels were not enough to control the wrath of 150 years of rainfall. Water spilled over, causing millions of dollars in damage and forcing the community to rethink future developments. With the local trails in such poor condition, my


wife, Jennifer, and I started doing some of our own trail repairs, and were forced to train in areas much further away from our local trailheads. The following year, Jennifer and I returned from another summer of racing. The trails were still in disrepair and the local mountain bike club seemed to be more of a social club, its members content to ride the few trails that had not seen much damage. Frustrated, we began to venture out from the typical riding areas into those that had not been ridden in many years. Later that fall, we met Brent Sanders, his wife Susanne, and local bike shop owner Ricardo Vega and convinced them to join us for an epic loop around the Franklin Mountains, above the Rio Grande valley. The elevation ranged from 4,000 feet to just over 7,000 feet. We realized that we had a lot in



Susanne Rasmussen climbing the newly finished switchbacks to the north ridge of the Franklins Photo by Cesar Mendez

common as we discussed how difficult it was to get other riders to explore areas away from the trailheads, and how to organize users to build and maintain good trails. On the spot, we decided to put together the first El Paso Puzzler with the intention of challenging local riders and reorganizing the Borderland Mountain Bike Association.

In February of 2008, 28 riders showed up for a 46-mile test of endurance. We dubbed the race “The Puzzler,” and stashed four pieces of a bumper sticker throughout the course for racers to find. Only 18 finished that year. In 2009 we had a full 50-mile event and added a shorter, 35mile option. 65 riders began and only about 35 finished. The word was getting out, but it proved difficult to convince mountain bikers to race for over five hours in winter on some

of the most demanding trails in the country. The summer of 2009 would bring that to an end. Jennifer and I hit the road again that summer for some serious racing, dropping words such as “Puzzler,” “ass-kicking,” “50 miles,” and “toughest race you’ll ever do” into conversation. Every evening of the Breck Epic 6-day stage race, riders and their support crews would gather for awards, dinner and socializing. There were six Puzzler veterans there, and almost every night one of us wore the race t-shirt. People began to ask questions, and I went into promoter mode. Trek pro Travis Brown seemed interested, and may have even heard me say that no Coloradoan had finished our event, though three had attempted it. After returning home from another summer of racing, we really focused on The Puzzler. Going into its third year, The Puzzler was being touted as the toughest race in Texas. Continued >




I personally had been claiming that it was the toughest 50-miler in the lower 48, but I got some raised eyebrows making that statement in the company of seasoned veterans. We became a part of the Texas Marathon Series, secured a better venue, and worked diligently to complete a three-mile section that would keep the race entirely within Franklin Mountains State Park.

had removed some of the course markings, and on Saturday morning we saw our second full page feature in the newspaper. But soon, the party tent went up and RV’s started rolling in, full of people with bikes and southern accents trying to figure out where to go and what trails to ride. Travis Brown arrived with a buddy from Durango and I took him for a spin on the last 5 miles of the course.

One of the first to register was Travis Brown. Two weeks before the event we had about 65 riders preregistered, and then suddenly, the registrations started pouring in! Our inboxes were flooded with questions and the blog was getting a record number of hits. When the 10-day forecast showed good weather conditions on race day, even more registrations came through. By the time online registration closed, we had 138 riders -- thirteen more than we had targeted. I was feeling the pressure as race weekend approached; someone

The next morning, 140 anxious riders toed the line as Brent said “Go!” at 8 am. The weather was cooperating; I was comfortable in just a jersey, arm warmers and knee warmers. I was in first place at the end of the first loop – an 11 mile sample of things to come. Eventually I settled in to 8th place and struggled through severe cramps while trying to finish. Almost every prediction I had made before the event was proven wrong. I thought that we would see our winner near

Local racer Santiago Chavez negotiates some Puzzler singletrack Photo by Cesar Mendez XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX



the five hour mark or over . . . not under. Evan Plews, my friend and the 2009 Old Pueblo Solo Champion, rolled in at 4:38. I’d thought it was impossible for a single speeder to finish in the top five; Cameron Brenneman finished 3rd overall. I thought for sure that we would continue to see an attrition rate close to the 50% of previous years; all but 25 riders finished. That afternoon, the keg of Fat Tire was empty before we even started handing out awards. We heard a lot of wonderful comments about the trails, the organization of the event, and the beauty of the Franklin Mountains. People said they would be back, and Travis Brown said he believed it would “blow up next year.”

page headlines! We were happy to see that, the following weekend, a parking lot accessing the east side trails was completely full. The Puzzler was now legit and on its way to becoming a “must do” early season event. Along with a fall 12-hour race and a traditional cross-country race in the spring, The Puzzler has given El Paso a much needed kick in the ass to keep existing trails open and new trails coming – not to mention a place on the map boasting some of the toughest trails in the country.

For results and more information visit

Monday morning, our logistics manager, DJ Singh, showed up with a copy of the morning paper. The Puzzler got the front




, nxv^t Y Y ¥,b 8 ^,cynpr , This is not another story of a professional mountain bike racer However, this overwhelming desire of guilt would consume me, as riding an inhuman pace to win another race. This is the story of a if I let someone down. Who did I let down? My wife, kids or regular guy, chasing something to finish just one race. The friends. They all loved me just the same. I then realized that I let Breckenridge 100. It may not sound myself down by not finishing. This like an interesting read to you, however addiction could only be quenched by in 2009, I attempted four ultra acquiescing. Only one word brought endurance mountain bike races and peace to my soul. Yes. It was the only finished only one. I didn’t quit any of answer which calmed me and brought a them. I was just going too slow and renewed focus to my life. missed the cutoff times. It was my first year of racing on a mountain bike. For The Plan. In order to complete the the previous years, I had been ultra Breckenridge 100, I knew that I would running. So, racing for 12 hours wasn’t need to work harder and train more. that foreign to me and I was in good Most importantly, I needed to convince shape and I am tough. I spent 9 years in my wife that we needed a new bike. My the US Army and have hundreds of 1996 Trek Y-22 just wasn’t going to get parachute jumps. In high school, I did me to the finish line. After almost 20 an Ironman triathlon, many marathons hours on four different bikes, I decided and worked in a bike shop. This isn’t to on a 2010 Specialized S-Work Epic. say that I have “mad” skills on the bike Surprisingly, my wife agreed. In 2009, I or that you would be seeing me hang had only two races before the with Toast (Josh Tostado) while Breckenridge 100. One of those, I climbing Wheeler Pass in Breckenridge, didn’t finish either. For 2010, I would but I was confident that I could finish be doing at least four races before the Breckenridge 100. Ending last year Breck. The focus of the races wasn’t to with another DNF at the Park City Point win, but to use them as Joe Friel would to Point, was a blinding flash of the say as “B” or “C” races for the base obvious for me. This stuff is crazy hard! building I needed for the year. The muddy results of the Red River Riot Photo by Sam McMurry

What does it really take to finish strongly in a race like the Breckenridge 100? This is what this story is about. It is not intended to be some existential examination of mountain biking, but a realistic look at what it takes for a regular guy to finish the Breckenridge 100. Over two or three articles, I am going to focus on the things that a regular guy with a job, who travels 190,000 miles a year, with a wife, two teenagers and two dogs, has to do in order to prepare for this race. Along the way, I’ll examine the weird things I do to motivate myself during the long hours of pain in the saddle, but ultimately we want to gain a better understanding of why I choose to do these crazy things, when I could just sit on the couch and watch more NFL Sunday Ticket, help my wife with some more “honey do’s” or help my kids with their homework. After not finishing Breck last year, I was still confident in my abilities and thought maybe Breck was a fluke. I decided to try the Park City Point to Point (PCPP) in Park City Utah. After missing the cutoff for the last section of the PCPP, I really started to doubt myself. Can I really do this? I am 40 years old. What does it take to finish one of these races? Months went by of asking these questions. They plagued me like an addiction. For a few days at a time, I would decide against trying the Breckenridge 100 again. XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

My new bike arrived on October 9, 2009. Few words can describe this day in history, but as Ferris Bueller said as he is driving his friend’s, father’s limited edition 1961 Ferrari out of the garage. “Come on, live a little.” And live I shall on this bike. October to December of 2009 was spent building as strong a mileage base as I could given my travel schedule for work. My focus was long rides on the weekends. I started at four hour rides on Saturday and Sunday. These grew to five hour rides on the weekend. During the week, my goal was six to eight hours on the bike. This rarely happened. Usually, my week day training was spent doing core exercises along with hours on the elliptical machine in a hotel gym. Yes, I have done countless four hour workouts on an elliptical machine. With ninety days of my new training regime behind me, the Excruciation Exam arrived on January 2, 2010. Eighty-six miles of Texas Hill Country fun. There are two bike ranches close to Austin, TX. Rocky Hill Ranch, you can imagine what the trails are like here, and Bluff Creek Ranch. We call it, Warda, because it is in Warda, TX. The Excruciation Exam is the oldest mountain bike marathon in the state of Texas. It started with a single track eight mile lap at



Warda, then goes onto some Texas country dirt roads to Rocky Hill Ranch. It is about 23 miles from Warda to Rocky Hill.

and I would rather be doing anything, but riding a bike. This was going to require a modification to my nutrition plan and a phone call to Infinit Nutrition (See Infinit Experience, Page 39).

At Rocky Hill Ranch, we did “the big loop”, twenty-two miles and then headed back to Warda for a four mile loop to finish. Last year, I didn’t finish this race, because I took some allergy medication 2 days before the race. Little did I know that most allergy medication is a Corticosteriod, which slows the body’s processing of carbohydrates and proteins. This is not desired during an eight to ten hour mountain bike race. The goal this year was finish. Finish, I did in 7 hours, 39 minutes and 28th place out of thirty in my age group. The weather started out silly cold for this time of year in Central Texas. The temperature was 31 degrees with frost on the ground!

One of the best parts of racing is recovery. No early morning training, just lots of sleep and food. When having three races each over seven hours in length in a month, recovery is essential to being able to get ready for the next effort. Especially, when the general rule of thumb is two to three days of recovery for every hour of racing. Within three to four days after a race, I found that I was ready to get back on the bike. As the months went by, I found myself getting stronger and stronger. My plan was working!

The temperature did get into the fifty’s, the sun was shining, and it was good day for a ride with 250 of my closest friends. The greatest difficulty I had during this race was with my nutrition. At about 5 hours into the race, I got into this extreme apathetic state

During one of my first recovery rides after the Excruciation Exam, I had a bad crash, which sprained my wrist, three fingers and ripped a finger nail off. Yea, it hurt. I ended up with six stitches and some nerve damage in my right hand. This happened about two weeks before the Red River Riot. >>>

Cold, muddy conditions and finding 10th place at the Red River Riot. Photo by Ric Ceron




The crash highlighted the biggest lesson I have learned through this journey. As John Milton said: “The mind is it’s own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.” Starting the Red River Riot, was exciting. It was the first running of this race. Race Director, Kevin Lee’s goal was to replicate some of the gravel grinders from the mid-west here in Texas. The race consisted of two loops, which were over 50 miles each on country dirt roads with a 10 mile section of single track at the Breaks at Bar H bike ranch in St. Jo, Texas. The total mileage was 115 miles. The conditions were bad at the start of the race and continued to get worse as the rain continued throughout the day. The temperature started in the high 40’s and it was raining. The high temperature for the day was forecasted to be 55 degrees, however, it didn’t get out of the 40’s and it rained the entire time. The horrible weather caused Kevin to cut out the single track

portion of the course. This reduced the total mileage to 105 miles. After eight hours and forty-two minutes and 105 miles, I have never been so muddy in my life. About 85% of the estimated 150 racers abandoned the race after the first loop. I finished the first loop in three hours and thirty minutes. Starting the second loop, I was feeling good. The changes made to my race nutrition were paying off. The second loop of the Red River Riot was the hardest. The wind really started to blow during this stage, as we entered into the Red River Valley. It was awesome riding down the plateau into the Red River Valley. It was on this loop that we rode through 98 majestic wind turbines. This is one of the largest wind turbine fields in the state of Texas. It was a couple hours into this loop that the weather was at its worst and I started to question myself. As I came around a turn, there stood a huge herd of cattle, who were all looking at me. As I approached them, I started talking to

The once shinny Ferrari-like S-Works, now sports a healthy coat of Red River mud. Photo by Vance McMurry




them and giving them names. The one cow who stood in the road the longest; I named her after my ex-wife. I then noticed that I felt a lot better after talking to the cows. So, I started talking to any animal I could see! The climb out of the Red River Valley wouldn’t have been bad, except for the mud. At one point, the mud was so slick, I had to get off my bike and try walking up the hill, because my tires were slipping. Just over this last big hill, I came across some race marshals who told me that I was in seventh place. I was surprised! By now the mud was so bad, that performance of my trusty bike was seriously starting to suffer. With 10 miles left, my chain stopped engaging on the chain rings. After trying to use a tree branch to clean off some of the mud, I found the best cattle rancher in the state. He left a huge water tank on the side of the rode for his cattle. I borrowed some water from here to fill my water bottle to spray off my drive train. Twenty-three bottles of water later, my bike was running again for about a mile. By now, I lost the ability to shift my front derailleur. It was stuck in my small chain ring. I was then passed by three other racers. This now put me into tenth place. Upset, but I was still stoked that I was in tenth. Climbing the hill to finish the Red River Riot was a great feeling. Finishing in tenth place was a first for me. My wife and kids crewed me for this race. They were a huge help and a blessing to see as I came around the last turn and they were all yelling for me. With the winter coming to an end soon, I am looking forward to racing in some warmer and dryer weather.

,^sv^v5 U r¢1r3vr^pr , , u r^,5u v^t4,n3r^ė5,t0v^t,3vtu 5,8 v5u ,3npr,^6 53v5v0^C, j n,pu n^tr,v4,0s5r^,^rrqrqE,i n^pr,Y pY 6 33¥,4u n3r4, , u v4,r¢1r3vr^pr4,8 v5u ,5u r,130q6 p54,n^q,1r01yr,0s,, , U^sv^v5,a 6 53v5v0^E , I am a huge fan of Infinit Nutrition ( and have been using them for over a year. Infinit is a fully customizable liquid source of nutrition, which has everything one needs. Electrolytes, carbohydrates, flavor, calories, protein, caffeine and amino acids. One thing I found while ultra running was that the off the shelf nutrition products just weren’t enough for me. I believe it is because I weigh 185 pounds and most products are made for 150 pound or lighter people. Additionally, fumbling around with pills and food packages was difficult at best and got even worse when the weather turned bad. My goal was to find a completely liquid source of nutrition. I found that with Infinit Nutrition. During the Excruciation Exam, I realized a reoccurring theme with the 2009 Breck 100 and Park City Point to Point. At five hours into the race, my mental state was one that I really didn’t care if I went any further. It was such a massive mental struggle to get my body to move. I called Infinit about this and Michael Folan, President of the company, returned my call. He recommended that I reduce the amount of protein in my mixture and drink more fluids. He said that it sounded like I was getting dehydrated, because along with my apathetic state, I would start to cramp and get nauseous. We made this change in my formula and shipped me out some more mix in time for the Red River Riot, which was just 3 weeks later. The reduced protein and extra fluids made a big difference in my performance at the Red River Riot. I was consuming about 10 ounces more an hour than I was in previous training and races. I was consuming about 33 ounces an hour of Infinit mixed in water, staying hydrated and fueled.

The Red River Trophy. Photo by Ric Ceron

My next couple of races should be exciting as I am definitely getting stronger and faster. The Dirty Dozen 12 hour race is on the same course that I finished in first place during my first 50 mile ultra marathon. The 24 hours of Erwin Park will be my first 24 hour race. As long as I can keep riding the wave, this should all get me ready for the Breck 100. See you at the finish line! XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX



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Besty Shogren take a moment to rest during a recent course recon mission with husband Gunnar and Hilly Billy race director J.R. Petsko. Photo by Fiend




Over 35,000 feet of climbing, but the views must have made the suffering worth while.All photos

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Photo by Marcelo Tucuna/




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The Swiss duo of Renata Bucher and Simon Zahnd (above) would finish 2nd on GC in the Open Mixed category. All photos by Marcelo Tucuna/




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Rebecca Rusch

The Queen of Pain Photos by Michael Darter,




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k k O , Y M S F, U5ė4, 26 v5r, n, 4rn40^, ¥ 06 ė7 r, u nq , 40, sn3I, , , 1r^qv^t,n,( 0^5u ,03,40,3npv^tC,n^q,53nv^v^t,v^,f06 5u , f M ( r3vpnE,U5,3rnyy¥,q0r4^ė5,4rr( ,yvxr,5u r3rė4,( 6 pu ,0s,n^, , 0 ss,4rn40^,n^¥,( 03rC,q0r4,v5H , RUSCH: Nah, not really an off season on paper. However, my last really serious race was 24 Hours of Moab in October. I did race in November in Ecuador and just did two stage races in Argentina, however those were really fun vacations for me as well. There is some work thrown in for Specialized and Red Bull doing media and clinics in these places and there are races thrown in for fitness, but in general these late and early season races are not super stressful for me and I love the experience of travel, going to new trails, meeting new people and keeping my fitness at a decent level. The alternative would be sitting on the trainer for hours on end in Ketchum Idaho in front of my TV. Which would you rather do?

, k O ,Y M S F,j u n5,n3r,40( r,0s,5u r,u vtu yvtu 54,s30( ,5u v4, k ¥ 06^tC,o6 5,o6 4¥,4rn40^H , RUSCH: The month of training and racing in Argentina was a first for me. It’s the earliest I’ve been on bike in any race season and the longest I’ve been away for a training camp. The Cape Epic in South Africa was close at 3 weeks away, but that is held in March. A big highlight of that month long winter training camp was racing with two new teammates, Jenny Smith (Trek) and Heidi Volpe. Each experience was entirely different, but they were both top notch teammates and I had a blast riding with them. It was also a highlight to get to camp alongside Mary McConneloug and Michael Broderick in the Trans Andes. They are fellow SRAM athletes, so I’d met them before, but never been tent neighbors or spent much time with them. I’ve also made some great connections down in Argentina and have been asked to help them design and run the first 24 hour race in the country in 2011! Lastly, a big highlight coming up is the start of my first ever movie tour, The Mountain Town Movie Tour to show Race Across the Sky, the Leadville Trail 100 film. The five stop tour is starting next week (Thursday, February 25) in my home town of Sun Valley, Idaho. (see list of dates and locations on page 53) All showings are in the mountain west and ALL raffle and ticket sales money will benefit the IMBA chapters in each area where I’m taking the film. I’m super excited to share the experience from my 2009 win and also to be able to give back to trails in the areas I love to ride.

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Y n3pu ,úĀC,úîóî,Ğ,g u r,c v^x,S n35r3 , M XX,3nssyr,n^q,5vpxr5,4nyr4,( 0^r¥,8 vyy,or^rsv5, , 5ur,UY N M ,pun15r34,v^,rnpu,n3rn,E , XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

, k O ,Y M S F,g u r3r,n,t308 v^t,^6 ( or3,0s,45ntr,3npr4,v^, k a 035u ,M ( r3vpnC,46 3ry¥ ,( 03r,n^q,( 03r,3npr34,8 vyy,tr5, , 5u r,v5pu ,50,53¥,( 03r,v^5r3^n5v0^ny,r7 r^54C,8 u n5,nq7 vpr, , n^q,5v14,pn^,¥06,tv7 r,50,s0yx4,53n7 ryv^t,06 54vqr,5u r,h EfC, , É0s5r^,50,40( r,13r55¥,36 45vp,y0pn5v0^4Ê,50,3nprH , RUSCH: International events are an awesome experience, but you have to travel to them with an open mind, self-sufficiency and a bit of patient humor. Extensive travel, logistics, language barriers, different foods, different cultures, unknown facilities such as bike shops, clean water, etc are all things to be ready for. This is what can be frustrating when you are trying to do your best at a race, but it’s also what adds color to the experience. I travel with my own race foods (Hammer Nutrition), my own medical supplies (Adventure Medical Kits), my own spare parts (SRAM chains, Avid brake pads, Specialized shock, extra tire, tubes, etc). There is a limit to what you can bring on an airplane, but being prepared for simple maintenance on your body and your bike are essential. You have no idea what you will find in a foreign country and have no idea what facilities the race will offer. Do your research before you go, but also travel prepared and be ready for things to sometimes not run like clockwork. Take pictures and enjoy the experience.

, k O ,Y M S F,l 06 ,u n7 r,orr^,nyy,07 r3,5u r,8 03yq,50,3nprF, k f 06 5u ,M s3vpnC,M 3tr^5v^nC,Q p6 nq03C,O u vyrC,r5pEC,U4,5u r3r,n, , 1 ynpr,5u n5,¥ 06 ,p06 yq,4rr,¥ 06 34rys,3r56 3^v^t,50,w6 45,50, , 3vqrC,n^q,^05,p0( 1r5rH , RUSCH: Argentina has me a bit smitten. This was my 6th trip to that part of the world and each time I have felt it was someplace I would like to return to. Spending a full month in the area also gave me more of a local’s impression of the place. The thought of a little cabin down there has been on my mind. The riding is great, the people are really welcoming and cycling and sports are thriving down there. I need to learn Spanish though!

, k O ,Y M S F,j u n5,q3n8 4,¥ 06 ,50,n,3nprH,j u n5,( nxr4,¥ 06 , k y00x,n5,n,3npr,n^q,4n¥,ęb u ,¥rnu C,U,8 n^5,50,q0,5u n5,0^rIĚH, , g u r,pu nyyr^trH,g u r,y0pn5v0^H , RUSCH: Location, challenge, reputation of the race director, interesting or different format... then of course, media and prize money are always good bonuses for myself and sponsors, but not the first reason for picking a race.

, k O ,Y M S F,l 06 ,45n35rq,v^,nq7 r^56 3r,3npv^tC,5u r^,( nqr, k 5u r,48 v5pu ,50,r^q6 3n^pr,( 06 ^5nv^,ovxv^t,v^,úîîāC,8 u n5, , 8 n4,v5,no06 5,r^q6 3n^pr,( 06 ^5nv^,ovxv^t,5u n5,( nqr,¥06, , 8 n^5,50,s0p6 4,Vh fg ,0^,v5H , RUSCH: I love adventure racing and would still be competing in it except that the sport has sort of died. The big races such as Eco Challenge and the Raid are no longer in existence and the sponsor support is just not there. I did a couple of mountain bike races (a 50 miler and a 24 hour team event) at the end of 2005. I had no intention of focusing on being a cyclist, but that’s how it unfolded. I had success early on and just kept going with it. My main sponsors, Red Bull and Specialized were super supportive, so I just decided to play it out and see what happened. After some great success that first year with a 24 Hour National Championship title and 2nd place 24 Hour Worlds performance, I decided to really focus on cycling, get a coach, start training like a cyclist and see where it would take me. It has been an awesome experience to learn a new sport, compete in different events and extend my career in a totally unexpected way. PAGE 52


, k O ,Y M S F,j v5u ,n,4rr( v^ty¥,r^qyr44,yv45,0s,06 5q003,4xvyy4C,5u n5,v^py6 qr, k 1 nqqyv^tC,pyv( ov^tC,4xvv^tC,r5pEC,8 u r^,¥06 ė3r,0ss,5u r,ovxrC,8 u n5,q0,¥06 , , sv^q,¥0634rys,q3n8 ^,50H , RUSCH: Back country skiing feeds my passion in the winter. I like the exploration, the navigational skills needed, and the off-trail experience. In the summer, when I’m not riding, I’m usually running or hiking. Rock climbing is still my first love and what I will always be drawn to, but while I’m racing as a bike pro, that sport has been forced to take a back seat. I still look at rock when I travel and will absolutely climb more when my racing career slows down.

, k O ,Y M S F,P 0,¥06 ,sv^q,5u n5,5u r,8 u 0yr,o0q¥,sv5^r44,5u n5,p0( r4,s30( , k 5u n5,p0( r4,s30( ,q0v^t,5u v4,8 vqr,7 n3vr5¥ ,0s,np5v7 v5vr4,u ry14,8 u r^, , p0( 1r5v^t,v^,r7 r^54,yvxr,n,ú-,T 06 3,f0y04,n^q,45ntr,3npr4H , RUSCH: I think whole body fitness is essential for any athlete. Running, yoga, and skiing are key ingredients to keep my body balanced and prevent injury that would happen if I were just hunched over a bike all day. For super endurance events, I do believe that overall fitness is even more important. Ultra endurance seems to expose any weakness you might have and magnify it significantly. I saw this in adventure racing where a seemingly small knee pain or blister became a race ending injury after multiple days. The same happens in 24 hour racing where during the witching hours of the night, all your weaknesses (physical and mental) start to bubble to the surface.

, k O ,Y M S F,l 06 ,q0,n,oyr^q,0s,40y0,n^q, k 5rn( ,r^q6 3n^pr,3npv^tC,q0,¥ 06 ,u n7 r,n, , 1 3rsr3r^pr,03,q0,5u r¥ ,rnpu ,u n7 r,5u rv3, , 1 304Úp0^4H , RUSCH: They’re both great in their own ways. I endured the frustration of dropping out of many adventure races due to a teammate’s injury. It’s difficult to DNF when you feel fine and ready to go. That is the biggest downfall of team events. On the flip side, some of my best friends are from adventure racing and there’s nothing more powerful and rewarding than being able to share the experience struggling and working together with another like minded person. It makes the experience more complete. You can share the laughter, the tears, the victory together. My solo endeavors are satisfying in different ways. In a solo event, I know it’s either 100% my success or my failure. If I didn’t do the training or preparation, there is no one to blame but myself. These events are probably more mentally taxing because there is no one to lean on when you feel down. I have always liked a mix of both solo and team efforts. Even when I was climbing. I did a few solo walls and loved the experience of self sufficiency. I also love being on a team and being able to give support and work in a group.

, k O ,Y M S F,M 4,n,c 30,8 0( n^C,07 r3,5u r,1n45, k Ā,¥rn34,03,40,, , u n7 r,¥06,^05vprq,n^,v^p3rn4r, v^,^6 ( or34,0s,8 0( r^,n5,r7 r^54C,o05u ,130, , n^q,n( n5r6 3H , RUSCH: Yes, I have noticed and increase in both participation in the women’s fields and also an increase in the level of competition. It’s great to see the changes in the US and also around the world. I see the increases all across the board, from the high school level with all the new leagues popping up all the way up to the more “mature” aged women who are discovering sports for the first time in their lives and becoming avid cyclists after their kids are grown and they have time and motivation to explore.

, k O ,Y M S F,j u n5,8 vyy,or,40( r,0s,¥ 06 , k t0ny4,v^,úîóîH,fu 06 yq,8 r,y00x,s03,¥ 06 ,n5, , f 0y0, a n5v0^ny4C, j 03yq4C, n^q, Xrnq7 vyyr, , ntnv^H , RUSCH: At this point, I have only planned my season through August. 24 Hour Solo Nationals are on the schedule as a main goal as well as defending my title at the Leadville Trail 100. I will also hit up as many of the USAC Ultra Endurance Series races as possible. After August, I am not sure where I’ll be headed. The biggest problem is that there so many great races to choose from, so my challenge will be balancing a realistic race, travel and work schedule where I can go to some great places and accomplish my goals without overextending myself!

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Two pieces of boards strapped to your legs will do you for a bit, but when you’ve got a serious mountain bike addiction, it’s JUST a bit!




Sports Nutritionist and Topeak-Ergon endurance racer Namrita O’Dea, MS, RD, LD, shares another tasty and nutritious recipe to help fuel the long ride.

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Prep time: 2 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes

This quick and delicious hot chocolate features antioxidant rich and tasty dark chocolate to keep free radicals at bay. And a dash of chili powder, and cayenne pepper helps put the “hot” this hot chocolate.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Taking inspiration from its hot neighbor, this recovery smoothie is a sweet way to get carbohydrates and protein back into the muscles after a long workout on the bike.

Ua S e Q P UQ a g fF , 11⁄4 cup cold skim milk 1/2 oz dark chocolate, chopped finely 1 tbs cocoa powder 1 small banana 3 tbs vanilla protein powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla Dash chili powder a h g e Ug Ub a ,Ua Rb ,c Q e ,fQ e i Ua S F , Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 185

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Fat: 5.5 g (25%)

Serving size: 1 smoothie

Protein: 9.5 g (20%)

Calories: 400

Carbohydrate: 27 g (55%)

Fat: 8.5 g (19%) Protein: 22 g (21%)

Ua S e Q P UQ a g fF , 1 cup skim milk 1/2 oz dark chocolate, chopped finely

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Carbohydrate: 63 g (60%)

• Over low to medium heat, cook all the ingredients together in a saucepan, stirring frequently.

1 tbs raw sugar

• Make sure there are no clumps in the cocoa powder and that the dark chocolate melts completely.

1/2 tsp cinnamon

• Do not boil.

2 tsp cocoa powder, no clumps

1 tsp vanilla Dash chili powder

The power of the dark side... These beverages both contain the tasty power of dark chocolate and cinnamon! Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, iron, copper, and manganese and cinnamon has been shown to: Increase satiety levels when added to food, help with inflammation, and many other possible health benefits.

• Serve with mini marshmallows or a cinnamon stick.

Dash cayenne pepper [optional]


P Ue Q O g Ub a fF , Combine ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.



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While a small part of my brain (the immature, “Hey look! Boobs!” part) wishes this was an article about cities that Debbie “does,” events that go on “Behind The Green Door,” or what only $5.99 a month will get you access to, it’s not. OK, so it’s still an article about porn, but it’s the cooler, dirtier, sweatier, self-propelled, two-wheeled kind -- BIKE PORN! More specifically, bike RACING porn. Winter is a desperate time for many bike racers. Once you get past a few runs, a hike or two, and other winter activities like snow shoeing or XC skiing, the legs and mind will start to crave time in the saddle. Many racers love riding in the snow and cold, some high tail it for warmer climates and some, like me, shun the cold, curse Old Man Winter every time the snow flies, and retreat to their basements to climb on the trainer for what can only be described as “simulated pleasure.” Back in the NORBA XC days of Ruthie Matthes, Susan DeMattei, Ned Overend, Dave Weins, and Tinker (when he actually raced for fewer than 12 hours), ESPN televised some mountain bike racing. Sure, it was usually on at like 4:30 a.m., but that didn’t stop me from programming the top-loading, wired remote VCR to record races so as to watch them later while on the trainer. It didn’t take long for the money to fall out of Pro XC racing in the US. Along with sponsors, TV coverage was gone; ESPN found it more profitable to televise poker, dog shows, and lumberjack contests. A stack of worn out, faded VHS tapes featuring racers on 30-pound hard tails with Judy shocks and the latest in V-Brake technology was all I had to get me through my winter workouts. Soon came the Lance era of road racing, and OLN, now Versus, started to show the Tour -- the WHOLE Tour -- not to mention at least highlight shows of my favorite Spring Classics. Now, using a high zoot, front-loading, wireless remote VCR, I could arm myself with stacks of blank VHS tapes and record my favorite stages and races.

13 (not that I did that. . . ). The movie sucks, you care little about it, but there are boobs!! Of course, in this case -- “It’s bike racing! On TV!!! Must watch, must enjoy!” A lot has changed over the years. Technology has changed. VCRs are a thing of the past, the internet is king, and the world is a much smaller place. There may not be any mountain biking on TV, but if you take a few minutes you can find a ton of it on the Web. Now, with either a lap top or some Googled software, an iPod and a video patch cord, you can once again enjoy some really great mountain bike coverage while you spin, waiting for the winter snows to melt. Some of my favorite coverage of all things dirt is Colt McElwaine’s Cycling Dirt gives a TON of coverage to National and UCI XC racing as well as cross racing. You will also find some excellent coverage of endurance events like La Ruta de los Conquistadores. Speaking of Colt’s La Ruta coverage on’s Facebook page, Matt Ohran, team director of the former Mona Vie-Cannondale team, said “Colt is a hard working man. 1 camera, 1 laptop and all that coverage!!!!” There is some truly amazing stuff on, and he should be

,U,un7r,^0,130oyr( ,8 v5u,tr55v^t, ę ( ¥,qnvy¥,8 03x065,v^,0^,5ur,53nv^r3E, , g un5,v4C,0s,p0634rC,n4,y0^t,n4,5ur3r, , v4,n,ovt,q04r,0s,3npr,103^EĚ , commended indeed. If you’re looking for ways to dial your motivation up to eleven and pedal nowhere, I highly recommend it. When the forecast is void of snow and ice, I love being out in the fresh air, putting in miles on my mountain bike. But when the snow is deep, the ice is thick and the wind strong, I have no problem with getting my daily workout in on the trainer. That is, of course, as long as there is a big dose of race porn.

But there was a flaw. It’s hard to maintain motivation to race mountain bikes while stuck in your basement, pedaling nowhere, watching road racing. Don’t get me wrong, I dig road racing. I respect it, I admire it, and I watch it. But often, watching road racing has the same feel as staying up until 3 a.m. to watch Hardbodies on HBO when you’re XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX

For more insight into mountain biking’s growing “porn industry,” be sure to check out the interview with’s Colt McElwaine on the blog. Screen photo by Jason Mahokey, used with permission courtesy of Dave McElwaine at Trailwatch net and Colt McElwaine at



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Photo by Jason Boucher XXC SEASON TWO: ISSUE SIX






XXC Issue #6