Before I begin, I’ll preface the post with this… It’s a bit of a tie-in with one of my businesses, which is remote training for amateur and professional Action Sports athletes. For anyone wondering what my phantom “businesses” are… this is one.
Downhill Mountain Biking, Freeride, Snowboarding, Freeskiing, BMX, Skateboarding, Surfing, Motocross, Rock Climbing… all of these could be considered Action Sports.
This is the world I come from, for better or for worse.
I grew up racing Downhill, taking an extended break from 1999-2008. For the few years after I got back on a Downhill bike, I did some racing. From 2008-2012 my results weren’t spectacular, as I usually finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, like 15th place in a field of 30. At the time, my nutrition was garbage, my alcohol intake was high, and my training consisted of lap after lap in the Bike Park, usually 3-4 times a week. Almost all of the racing I did was at the resort I called home, and rode at constantly.
Fast forward two years.
I barely touched my Downhill bike in 2013, riding only three or four times. 2014 was almost as bad, getting up to the mountain maybe six or seven times by late summer. I wanted to race that September, regardless of the fact that I hadn’t been riding. My local spot had no races, but four hours south, a far bigger, gnarlier mountain was hosting an event. I marked my calendar.
On race day, I woke up in my hammock, made some cowboy coffee and headed over to the start gate for practice sessions.
Halfway through the first run, I thought “I’m in deep shit”.
The track was rockier, steeper, far longer and far more physically challenging than what I was riding at home. To make matters worse, it was completely new to me. I didn’t have it memorized like most of the locals I would be racing against.
“I’m going to go out and push as hard as I can, hopefully I won’t finish last”
By the time I was in the start gate, I was feeling better about the track, but still didn’t hold out much hope.
At the finish line, I almost collapsed. I had put every ounce of effort into my race run. I’d done it cleanly, with no big mistakes. I felt like it was a fast run, but I was too busy thinking about my shaking hands, my cramping forearms, and my jello-like legs.
Then I looked at the leaderboard. I was utterly shocked. 30 seconds up on second place, over a 5:18 run. That’s huge.
There was still one rider left on the course, and he crossed the line 25 seconds slower than my time. I had won by a very siginificant margin.
What were the variables here?
- I was unfamiliar with the course (disadvantage)
- I had slept in a hammock for about 3 hours the night before (disadvantage)
- I had not been on my Downhill bike many times that season (disadvantage)
- I had spent a negligible amount of time in the past year on cardio (disadvantage)
- I was racing against guys who had easily beaten me in the past (disadvantage)
- I had spent a significant amount of time weight training and getting stronger before this race (massive advantage)
That was the key.
In 2012, when I last raced (and finished in the middle of the pack), I was a fat mess. My conditioning consisted solely of riding my Downhill bike, with the occasional cross-country ride thrown in for good measure. I didn’t touch the weights until September of 2012.
When I returned to racing in 2014, I had a 1RM bench press of 250 pounds (up from 165), and was routinely deadlifting over 300. I had dropped 50 pounds of fat, as well. I looked better, I felt better, and I performed far beyond my expectations.
All because of strength training and a proper diet.