After a few years dabbling in BMX racing, rugby, cricket, judo and running, I started racing triathlon at age 14. A few years later I turned pro in 1992- fresh out of high school. Other than the 24 years' of racing triathlon in South Africa, I raced 6 seasons in France and this is my 13th season in the USA.
I also enjoy mountain bike racing and mix it up with the "tall socks" when the schedule allows. [Sea Otter and Whiskey Off road this year in the USA, and Argus MTB Challenge in South Africa.]
|4x XTERRA World Champion|
|ITU Cross Tri World Champion|
|9x XTERRA USA Series Champion|
|44 XTERRA career wins|
|Winner Chicago Mrs Ts 2002|
|5x All African Triathlon champion (road)|
|5x South African Triathlon Champion (road)|
Caveman crash and burn in Las VegasApril 17, 2013
XTERRA Las Vegas started off pretty normal- Christine Jeffrey chicked
us all, then the 3 usual supects beached – Craig Evans, Brandan Rakita
and myself. Josiah fell asleep somewhere in the swim and lost 2.30- more
than usual for him.
When I still thought riding no gloves is OK… I started racing (only
racing) without gloves- to save time. The new Specialized lock on grips
at so sticky- I figured I dont need gloves for grip. And even though I
always encourage people to wear gloves all the time- in case of a crash-
I thought it I crash, I’ll just take it like a man…
click from fully firm) was the perfect suspension setting for the
smooth/ bumpy/ smooth terrain in Vegas. In my opinion the course is
quite easy in terms of technical skill, but hard physically, because of
all the steep hills.
About 7km in, I had a 3min10 lead, the course swept into a dry river
bed- obviously, very loose & rocky. I took the line I practiced a
few times, but before I knew it, the front washed out and I was down. I
quickly jumped up and kept on riding, but a quick glance I saw my hand
had a deep cut and it was bleeding like crazy.
Having won while racing with a much worse injury, I kept charging.
But the thing wouldnt stop bleeding and obviously hurt a lot. So I
started calling for bandages.
This is the international sign for “I NEED BANDAGES”. (Rolling hands in circular motion)
If they dont get the hand signal, show them the blood and hope for the “I need bandages!” message to come through.
By then end of lap 1 I got some tape, and quickly stopped to wrap it
up. The tape didnt stop the bleeding, but at least I could hold the bar a
bit better on the rockier descends. Because I couldnt hold the bar
well, my left hip flexor started tiring and by the end of the bike leg I
wasnt going that great anymore.
I got off the bike 1st, with a 2min 30 lead on Josiah, but
immediately felt a bit funny. It felt like my batteries had gone flat.
My legs were fine, my hand didnt hurt much, my heart rate was low, I had
a big enough lead on Josiah to still pull off a win, (on a normal day)
but it felt like I just needed to lie down and sleep. I guess the
adrenaline had worn off, because I really couldnt be bothered to run
Josiah caught me at about 6km, I said “go for it” and walked
shamelessly like never before. Last time I heard, 3rd place was 5min
back, so I took my time.
When the tape came off I knew we’re gonna spend the rest of the day in hospital…
These tacky Specialized BG grips and Overendz have never been THIS tacky before…
Thanks to USAT (USA Triathlon) each participant gets medical coverage
for the 24hrs of race day- the previous time I needed it was when “Humpty Dumpty raced XTERRA Milwaukee”.
In Vegas I got great medical treatment and never seen a portable X ray
machine before. The X rays were to check for broken bones (the joint
hurt) and “foreign bodies” in my hand.
When Dr Eric walked in the door and I saw the healing scabs on his
fore-arm, I immediuately knew- this guy rides MTB- (and moto) and thus
“he spikka my language!”
The 2nd most painful moment of the day: Injecting the wound (in
seemingly 1000 places) to deaden it, The most painful moment by far was
when the Doc tried to irrigate the wound without pain meds…(high
pressure salt water wash directly into cut)
“Clean as a whistle” & “got some meat missing there”
Got 5 stitches, a tetanis shot and lots of good pain meds.
On the plane to San Jose for a few days at Specializded HQ for
product training, media training and #spreadtherumor #stumpjumper before
racing Sea Otter MTB festival… friday Short Track and saturday XC.
Caveman wins 50th XTERRA titleFebruary 14, 2013
Photo Credit ~ Cherie Vale / Newsport Media
50th XTERRA win since my 1st XTERRA in 2001. By 6 minutes at that. 50 wins seems big, but yet is a small part in my career as a triathlete. I wish I had kept count of the wins. Since that first one as a 14 year old in 1988 at Ironkids in Pretoria. All those triathlons and duathlons my parents drove me to in my dads new Toyota Cressida. All those triathlons in France from 1992-1999. Some years up to 36 races a season. All those SA Champs and African Champs and Energade Series wins inbetween. All those years on the ITU circuit, racing to 2 Olympic Games. (Not too many wins those years) All those years racing non drafting short course in the USA.
How many wins would there be? 100? 200? How many races? I only started blogging (keeping track) in 2002. The days before were before internet, even cell phones. But I do have many many boxes of medals, old race numbers and newspaper clippings (thanks to my Ouma) to go through with the grandkids one day…
Winning at home is always fun, so it was great to reach the 50th XTERRA win in South Africa, where it all started.
The lead up- 10 days out:
The 10 days “toughen up” training camp in the altitude, heat, rocks and thorns in Windhoek (Namibia) came in quite handy at this tough Buffelspoort race. Heat, hills, altitude, rocks, thorns and amazing single track. Repeat.
During this training camp, I lost a fair bit of weight. Unfortunately I later realized its because of all the bleeding I did through this hard, thorny country. Qoute of the week was by Willie, (Still the Hope of Namibia): “Here in Nambia, the softest part of our bodies is our teeth…”
We also enjoyed the company of amazing friends- some old and some new. Harsh country, warm people – sunset and German beer over Windhoek…
When in Nam, roll like the Namibians: Thanks to Patrick de Goede and Frank Bombosch from Specialized dealer Cycletec Windhoek for the wheels loan. Check out their website for amazing cycle tours
through the best parts of Namibia- where lion and elephants roam wild. Where stars are brighter than imaginable. A trip on our bucket list for sure…
We flew to Johannesburg, drove to Buffelspoort and stayed in a ATKV rondawel, – Namibian neighbours David and Genevieve Weber. Its the middle of contract season and Liezel used the taper time to work up a storm.
When in Joburg, roll like the Joburgers! Thanks to Bronwyn Blunden for the wheels loan. As you can see, we’re blessed with amazing friends from around the globe.
Now to the racing:
This race was also a qualification for the SA team to travel to ITU Cross Tri World Champs in Den Haag, Holland later this year. ITU Worlds will take place on the beach and around the dunes of Kjikduin- probably the flattest place on earth. I found it quite ironic that our SA team would be selected on a run course with 450m vertical gain over 12km. But I figured this is a hard man’s sport, may the hardest man win.
The past few months I have been training for the Abu Dhabi Triathlon- a wild race with 3km swim, 200km road TT and 20km road run. Completely outside my comfort zone, (and what I’m known for) but I liked the challenge and my coach Ian Rodger said its doable.- Racing Abu Dhabi and XTERRA at a high level. He figured the many hours of training will supplement my XTERRA racing nicely.
We decided that in order to have a shot at Abu Dhabi:
- I need to swim longer and harder. No more 7-8km per week splashes
- I need to spend many many hours on the TT bike at 300W. (My XTERRA race pace is 400something)
- I need to be able to run a solid 20km after riding 4hr30 in the desert. Fortunately, after 3 years of not being able to run much, “much” meaning 10-20km/week, I’m happy to report: “I can train running again!” What a wonderful feeling. I really missed it. The runners’ high you don’t find anywhere else, the deep fatigue you can manifest in your legs in a relatively short outing, the feeling of getting better every day…
I’m also learning about race nutrition. Like counting calories. For the first time. Ever. At XTERRA I know I’m fine if I slam 5 Clif Shots and drink about 1L of water somewhere between the start and finish. Now I count one gram of carbohydrate for each minute spent at 300-340W. Sounds easy, but it gets tricky when you start slamming Cokes or other “fun food” along the way.
Coming into the season opening XTERRA (always telling how the year will progress) we were a little worried about my top end speed, as I only had 1 quality session (i.e. shorter reps at 420+) and one fun race. (TotalSports Challenge blog above) And no real swim or run reference points.
XTERRA in South Africa has grown from strength to strength. Roughly doubling in competitors every year. XTERRA Buffelspoort had 2500 participants over the weekend. 600 in the full distance. With Xterra featuring extensively on TV and the advent of social media, the sport has grown and sprouted quite a field of budding pros. Looking at TSC 2 weeks ago, we saw Stuart Marais, Dan Hugo, Bradley Weiss and Theo Blignaut racing heatedly at a high level. Exciting stuff.
The water was nice and warm, so we went no wetsuits- which blew the field wide open. I was 2nd out the water-20″ behind Dan, but Bradley (1.30) and Stuart (3.00) lost chunks of time. Unfortunately Theo Blignaut- ace swimmer and ITU kid crossing over to XTERRA, also training with Ian Rodger now- came down with flu the day before, so we were spared the swimming lesson.
The 29km bike course was a bit of a cake walk- hardly anything technical other than a few rough rocky sections. True to tradition though, I did encounter one closed gate on the course (as opposed to last years’ 2 closed gates) but this time, like a good farm lad, I closed it behind me. If I have to open and close gates, everyone can. Being the leader is hard enough. I cant tell you how many times I’ve found marshals and water station volunteers asleep or sitting in the shade, updating their Facebook profile. Not to mention the cobwebs (with cobs still in them) in the spooky forest and bats in the pipleine I had to clear. Also narrowly missed a head-on collision with a car on the bike course, and nightmarish flashes of Burry and Liezel’s scream going through my head. None the less, I rode 1hr03 and had a 4,20 lead on 2nd (Dan) and “a lot” on the rest.
The 12km run started off cute enough- the usual dam crossing and the subsequent thigh buster up the other side, but then it got interesting:
Serious river bed running with a scramble up a small water fall. Demonstrated here by Stuart Marais, The White Kenyan, last week a new father…
Because Avia (my shoe sponsor) folded like a wet newspaper over Christmas, we’ve been running around to find a suitable shoe sponsor. In the meantime New Balance South Africa kindly pimped my ride with this cool (and robust) trail shoe: Leadville 1210 with Vibram sole. For a course as hairy as this one, I appreciated the firm mid sole and tacky traction. Offers still welcome.
I only rolled my ankle once. That one time I tried to enjoy the view.
Probably the only part of the run that wasn't either straight up, straight down, or littered with rocks. African Savanna at its best.
Curiously, my run and bike times were almost the same- 56min run and 1.03 bike. Usually its about 2-1.
The run route had a 450m vertical gain, and considering the technical nature and 35deg C temperatures made for slow going. It felt like a death march in slow motion, but I posted the fastest run split by 90″, which I’m very happy with. Especially considering the hilly course, small, fast runners (ie Stuart) and the fact that the biggest (and only) quality set I’ve run so far was 2km reps at tempo – a tester for Abu Dhabi.
50th XTERRA win. Dan was in second place- 6 minutes back- and Stuart 3rd, 9 minutes down, Nico Sterk in 4th and Brad Weiss had a mechanical. Photo by my mom, Liesbeth Stoltz.
Very happy to celebrate the milestone with Liezel. The wins seem to come faster and furious-er since she’s at the races.
Click here for XTERRA Buffelspoort Results 2013
Welcoming home the last competitor. (In about 6hrs!) Afterwards I asked Reno if he walked around the dam in order to clock a 1h33 swim? (7min/100m) All smiles he said, maybe he should do the XTERRA LITE next year…
Celebration African style- a braai with friends and family.
When in the Western Cape, we roll in style! Thanks to Kelfords Ford (and Mazda) in Somerset West. Tristan, the owner, is one of South
Africa’s top amateur IM athletes (and getting faster every day) and has blessed a number of local triathletes with wheels. Dan Hugo & James Cunnama.
Cave couple takes TotalSports Challenge Terra FirmaJanuary 24, 2013
Racing for Burry Stander
TotalSports Challenge Terra Firma: 50km road cycle (Caveman), 14km road run (Princess Hotstuff), 25km MTB (Caveman), 9km beach run (Princess Hotstuff)
My coach Ian Rodger wanted me to ride steady TT pace “so we can look at the watts and see how we measure up with last year (at this race)” I said, actually Liezel and I are doing this race for Burry, and instead of towing everyone from Gordons Bay to Kleinmond, I want to arrive at the hand over alone- like Burry did 3 years ago. Ian thought about it, and said, “ok, you haven’t trained for that kind of riding, but hit them hard on the rolling technical section through Gordons Bay, see who’s with you, and then attack them when you’re into the wind” He finished off with: “Kick them in the nuts till no one is left standing
Althoug it was wind-still in Stellenbosch, it was howling in Gordons Bay, so I went with a training wheel in front. I rode my UCI legal SHIV TT bike, and warmed like I would for a big TT race, and got to the start simmering and ready to kick crotches. But on the start line the mood was very somber- Songo Fipaza and a number of the Songo kids were at the start line in memory of Burry. Songo made a stirring speech celebrating Burry’s extraordinary life before Songo and the kids slowly led us through the neutral zone of Gordons Bay. Obviously I had to go to plan B and attack the guys on the open road to Rooiels- a much harder task.
Louis Bressler (Contego) and Bradley Weiss (not pictured) were with me at the finish. I tried to do Burry justice by finishing alone, but didn’t have enough wors power to do “the Kid” justice. I left it all out there none the less.
Click Training Peaks Power file above to see the fireworks- 2 attacks at over 1000W and 6 attacks at 750W+. No wonder I was too pap to TT properly.
With a kiss as “hand over”, Liezel blitzed the 13km road run- despite not being able to train nearly as much as she wanted to.
“Heavy feet, light hands” a tip I recently learnt. Of course, 2 extra Brains and Specialized FSR suspension doesnt hurt! Thanks to my Abu Dhabi Triathlon (March 3) training, (Done number of 150km rides at 300W) I recovered well after the road suffer fest and glided the knobbly tyre bike home in a fast 54’30.
After 15 years of top level Netbal, Liezel’s BMT kicked in on the 9km beach run, and ran her toes blood blisters.
The Dan Hugo vs Stuart Marais show-down was quite spectacular and closely contested. Stuart triumphed and passed us just before the finish. Togther with Brad Weiss, Theo Blignaut and Richard Murray this years’ SA XTERRA races will be hotly contested…
Camera man, Stu, Caveman and Princess Hotstuff. (l tor)
Is Syncronized Beach Run an Olympic event?
On our way home we yet again realized how fragile us road users are. From now on, we pledge to be safe, patient, friendly road users. Please join us in our campaign to make South African roads safe and friendly.
Cheers to a Remarkable 2012January 1, 2013
18 races, 1 World Title (ITU Cross Tri), my 10th XTERRA USA Series title, 10 victories, 16 podiums and many many special memories.
My sporting highlight was winning my 2nd ITU Cross Triathlon World Title in Pelham Alabama, USA.
a Personal highlight was sharing the entire year and all the remarkable experiences with my gorgeous wife.
2012 also marked the comeback of the Caveman the roadie. More bike course records to fall this year…
Finally we found the cause my injuries, after more than 3 years of struggling with calf and Achilles injuries due to the cut foot. I used to run a painful 0 to 30km a week, and now I can finally start proper running again.
Hats off to my rocket scientist coach- Ian Rodger, who custom makes my training program every day- depending on the previous days’ training files. He’s had to work around a myriad of Caveman-esque problems! Ian, smooth sailing (& skating) to come…
After a lifetime of professional Netball- Liezels‘ first triathlon:
My dad. I remember him fondly.
2012 results at a glance:
1st Total Sports Challenge 1st Mixed Team Terra Firma
1st XTERRA Buffelspoort, SA.
1st West Coast Warm Water Weekend.
1st XTERRA Grabouw, SA.
6th SA National road Time Trail champs Nelspruit.
1st Vine a Vine MTB race.
1st XTERRA West Champs, Las Vegas
10th Whiskey off road MTB Prescott AZ
1st ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs, Alabama, USA
1st XTERRA East Champs, Richmond, VA
5th 5150 New Orleans
4th 5150 Boulder Peak
1st XTERRA Mountain Champs, Colorado
2nd Rev3 Maine
3rd XTERRA USA Champs, Ogden Utah.
Winner of XTERRA USA Series- my 10th Series title.
3rd XTERRA World Champs. Maui Hawaii.
1st TriLanai- Lanai- Hawaii.
Coronation Double Century mixed team. 7h22 during which I realized wheelies on a road bike is easier then a 29er MTB.
At US based XTERRAs I taught “the Art of XTERRA” at the Paul Mitchel XTERRA University- inspiring rookies with mantras “Speed is your friend”, “Hesitation devastation” and “Low air, big gear, no fear…”
Many thanks to my amazing sponsors:
Specialized Bicycle Components
Blueseventy wetsuits & goggles
After 5 memorable years with Avia running shoes – and many highs like 4 World titles and the AVIA STOLTZ shoe- the bus came to a screeching halt as Avia announced 2 weeks ago that they will quit the sport performance market.
The timing is pretty bad, as its a bit late in the financial year to find a new shoe sponsor. Obviously, I’m now in the market for a shoe and clothing sponsor. Offers welcome…
In the meantime, my training partner and I are hitting the road:
Caveman Tech Tip: Specialized Command PostOctober 21, 2012
I’ve been using the Specialized Command Post
for a number of years now- usually on the more technical XTERRA courses with limited climbing- supposedly the “extra weight” is bad for climbing*. However, earlier this summer I did a few skills clinics with Bike Kung Fu Master Lee McCormack.
That's where I REALLY learnt to use the Command Post properly. It's basically a drop seat post: with a push of the button on the handle bar, you can lower the saddle height. The button pops back up again when you’re ready to pedal. Commonly used by Free riders and usually associated with baggie pants in earthy colours, peak helmets, hairy legs and 5 inch suspension.
Enter the Caveman…
Click here for Specialized Command Post video.
* Dear Weight Weenies: Do the math: 1200m of climbing, 450w avs- terrain permitting, my bike and I are 103kg. The Command Post is roughly 200g more than normal seat post…
Ironman Kona 2012 from the SidelinesOctober 16, 2012
Ironman Kona 2012 from the sidelines
October 14th, 2012 by Conrad Stoltz
Excuse the patchy blog. Its just a lot of pictures of IM day
downloaded from my iPhone. Liezel and I are flying to Maui in a few
hours for XTERRA Worlds in 2 weeks, so its packing time again. Meaning I
dont have time to compose a cute blog about this deep event- which
certainly cant be summed up in a few short lines.
Here’s some random snapshots
Aussies continue to dominate men’s race. 6 years and counting. “Runner” Pete Jacobs
took the race by the scruff of its neck on the bike and pulled through
about to blow the race apart with his strong bike but then got a flat
and lost 5 minutes. Macca took strain going up Palani drive (early on
and dropped out on the bike.
After an explosive ride (pun intended) Marino
Vanhoenacker suddenly blew up in the lava fields and gave up the lead.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Was quite a performance, despite the
I was impressed with Jordan Rapp’s
sage pacing strategy. Surprisingly, something not so common in this
race. He was 9min down in the swim, did his own race and was one of the
freshest and fastest runners out there. Herbert Krabel from Slowtwitch.com providing interesting foreground…
3 time Kona winner and defending champion Craig Alexander
came into this race brimming with confidence and very well prepared.
This race on this island is exceptionally harsh and unpredictable and
does not respect reputations or titles. Crowie had a rough day-
finishing 12th- lost 20min on the bike when his body shut down and his
smooth run style lacked the usual punch. He remains a true gent and an
ambassador for the sport. Was amazing to hear the cheers wherever he ran
through the crowds.
Tim O’Donnell showing perfect form on Alii drive to finish 8th in this 1st Kona.
Jordan Rapp and Paul Amey on Alii drive
Caroline Steffen on leading towards Energy Lab
Legend and former pro Kenny Glah doing his 29th Kona. Wrap your head around that!?
Luke McKenzie blitzed the bike and shows perfect belly breathing
Liezel and I watched the start with coffee, rusks, papaya, macadamias and a few thousand spectators
With the humidity here you have to Zip Loc the rusks to keep them crunchy
Saw quite a bit of gorilla marketing here. Like this gorilla chasing
the banana, chasing Marino. For miles! The gorilla came prepared though-
spot the Camel Back. Should be a Gorilla Back…
Wonder what a “Barnana” is?
Specialized sent a team of engineers to “look and learn”. They
scribbled notes in books, took photos and video, counted bikes, ogled
the opposition and learned the intricacies triathlon. This Shiv with
hydraulic brakes (amoungst other things) belongs to Mark Cote aka The
Pharaoh of Aero- the father of the Shiv…
When I rode back from my own late training session I saw some amazing
stuff- like this amputee running in the dark with her leg going click
click click. Only 36km to go.
Saffers Alec Riddle and Kyle Buckingham chilling at Lava Java in the
week before the crowds came. Love the Ukelele tunes. Liezel got me one
for my birthday 2 weeks from now- but I’m already learning.
The setting at the Oakley House…
Pretty cool backyard for Olympic silver Lisa Norden, who resided on the Oakley premises.
Training is going great for XTERRA World in Maui on the 28th. In
fact, I was going so fast, this cop couldnt even zap me with his tazer, I
4 weeks in the life of a Caveman and 10 XTERRA USA Series titlesSeptember 27, 2012
It started shortly after my Rev3 race in Maine: Too much travel, too
many late nights, too much post race body and mind stress- too bad. I
picked up flu. Or something which made my body ache, left me with no
appetite (the real warning light) and anchored me to the bed without
even the will to do my taxes or new website. Liezel calls it “Man Flu”.
Anyway, I was man down, missed about 2 weeks in training and ended up
getting dragged to the doctor, and going on a 10 day antibiotic course,
which ended just a few days before XTERRA USA Champs. Not the best
prep, but other than staying calm, there was nothing I could do about
Training Peaks diary. Click here for interactive Training Peaks profile on Caveman. 3hr47min of training the one week, and 2hr30 the next. And seriously spikey ATL and CTL graph…
After much searching, we found the only real cure for “Man Flu”:
Much wine and love… Being nestled (5 weeks) in San Luis Obispo- heart
of the Central Californian wine lands- we fortunately had both
ingredients on hand.
With the Man Flu better, I managed to squeeze in about a weeks’ training before it was time to taper again.
Took Black Beauty for a canter on Central CA coast cattle trails.
But before going to Utah, we had pack all our belongings in the US
into one tired “new” minivan and park it at storage. (Mailed the road
bikes and the “box with stuff for South Africa” to Kona) They say moving
is one of the most stressful thing you can do. I’d say it’s THE most
Just ask Liezel! Here we are in the airport taxi.
People often presume the wife of a pro athlete lives a life in the
lap of luxury- traveling the world etc etc. Umm, no. (Its not rugby or
NFL- no private jets) Often its “grin and bear it”. A good sense of
humour is key.
Surviving another near fatal flight when the props turned to rubber
over LA. Flying in the US is like taking the bus in other countries.
Hectic travel is made considerably easier by quality luggage. Of the Thule veriety. Life is too short for bad luggage and weak coffee.
Once in Ogden Utah:
Pre ride the bike course:
The fall (autumn) colours are stunning. Ride slowly and hopefully legs will come round by Saturday.
It is the most beautiful course on the continent- in terms of scenery.
Too bad its all uphill. By the time one gets to the top of the 3400ft
climb, (starting at 4900ft) , the altitude sickness is so bad, I don't
care much for the view of the swim course down theeere. If the downhill
would be an equal 3400ft, it would be a fair race, but unfortunately a
quick, uninspiring drop “down” to T1 at 6500ft is not worthy of a
National Championship event. 6 years in a row…
Press day: The good folks at XTERRA.TV promised to make me look good, but mumbled something about “it wont be easy”…
Live Pro panel discussion on the internet from ENVE Composites HQ. Social media is the hot item nowadays- got to stay with the times.
On the way home from press day I spotted an Old Car Show in the
parking lot of a fast food joint and quickly convinced Liezel we should
go check it out. “You only live once…”
The plaque above the wheel says: “Beware of the attack waitress” My
Princess Hotstuff will crush the “Attack Waitress” like a Bud Lite can.
Everything on this plate is home made- in the garage- not the
kitchen. Even the fries are carefully hand made from foam. And the
“Attack waitress” has a $1 000 000 bill in her money belt. Gotta love
the leopard skin hat.
Spider Monkey (in the back ground) and Paddy Behan drove the
Specialized Racing Support truck all the way from Morgan Hill outside
of San Francisco for this race. Spending time with these guys is such a
treat. We all shared a house and much laughter was had. Its the first
time I worked with the tall Irishman - that's obviously Paddy- and found
him a treat. Full of energy, very enthusiastic, always eager to learn
and especially work. And to ride his Stumpy after work. Most
importantly, Spider Monkey (aka Joe Devera, used to be a pro rock
climber- hence the nickname) was all over my bike, and needless to say,
it was in showroom condition before and after every ride. If I rode till
dark on Wednesday and my TV appearance is Thursday 9am, Joe and Paddy
would be up at 7 polishing the bike. Bike care is just the obvious part
of the job, but it goes much deeper:
The level of professionalism Joe brings to the team:
- When I cross the finish line, Joe is there with a wet towel to
clean up with, a choice of drinks, Clif Bars, food and warm/clean
clothes and a smile.
- He knows exactly how I like every part of my bike. The brakes- how
much pull distance and the angle of the levers, he knows my tire
pressure (but double checks at each race, just to be sure), he knows
what I take in my saddle bag, he knows not to fiddle with my suspension
settings, if there is a piece of equipment I should try, he would make a
tactful recommendation. (Like not using road shoes & pedals for
- When I get a new bike, Joe rebuilds every bearing, bolt and cable
before shipping it - my saddle height, handle bar, which setting the
Rotor Rings go, how I like my Squirt Lube chain stay sticker, Spider
Monkey sticker etc. It comes already dialed in and marked for rebuilding
after travel, every bolt tight. Whether it’s an Epic, a Shiv or a
Roubaix- each bike has its own set up- Joe knows my measurements.
- When we rock up at a race town, he would ask for a grocery list and
go buy groceries. But he only cooks after the race- he’s worried
about poisoning the riders?!
And I’m just ONE of “his” riders- Todd Wells, Rebecca Rusch, Max
Plaxton, Jesse Thomas, Ben Hoffman, Lisa Norden, Flora Duffy, Rasmus
Henning, Melissa “House Child T” like he would say- to name a few.
These 2 bike pictures above and below were taken less an hour after
my race. Although I suspect my bike was being washed while I was
More pre race day stuff: At the Paul Mitchell XTERRA University I
teach “the Art of XTERRA”- giving tips and inside advice to age groupers
the day before the race.
Race morning cold and crisp. High- and low five-ing the young fans. ie fellow pro Josiah and Adam Wirth’s kids.
Fixing the ejection seat on my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit.
BOOM! the pros (in blue and pink) are off.
During my usual pre race pow wow with my coach Ian Rodger we
discussed tactics: Ian said something like: “Well, with the 2 weeks you
were down with the virus, we fell behind in training a bit and maybe you
are dragging ass a bit with the antibiotics. (during training) So
judging by the only quality bike ride you’ve done since then, its
obvious your bike power is more like 420W instead of the usual 450W. So
you’re going to have to ride the initial steeper parts more
conservatively, and bargain on the less steep parts to roll on the
I started the steep rocky climb up Wheeler Canyon more conservatively then in the past (like when I rode 1.40 into Lance) and understandably this time it took longer to catch the leaders, and instead of blowing by, they rode along for a while. Like Branden Rakita “the Hair of XTERRA” on his way to 5th place above.
Soon Josiah came flying past on a steep climb, but I latched on and on the flatter sections we reeled the leader Ben Allen in.
Well, at least there was nothing wrong with my Bike Kung Fu and on the short little descend in the middle of the 2 big climbs I aced (tied, actually) the Strava record (in training) and made some time on Josiah and Ben. (in the race)
For me to win on this course, I have to be 100% fit. At “normal”
XTERRA races I can still fudge it a bit, relying on my skills With
“only”420W under the hood, a 185lbs engine and 22lbs chassis, this
course will always be tricky to win on. The last down hill on the
profile looks good, but its pretty easy and high speed - not much room
for creating time.
Profile borrowed from theterribletriathlete.com. Worth a read!
I started the run 45″ behind Josiah, but he was on form and crushed
the run as well. I slipped to 4th, behind a much improved Aussie Ben Allen, who was only 10″ up on Nico Lebrun- the mountain man from France.
Much thanks to Nils Nilsen
for the great pics. The ones with the NN in corner. And the unmarked
ones by Trey Garman from XTERRA. Or the Caveman or -woman. It should be
Josiah Middaugh cleaned the mountainside with us. Even had time to bring half the family home. (some more impressed than others!)
Since the day I beat him on his home mountain at XTERRA Beaver Creek
CO in June, he has not shaved. His kids wore “Fear the Beard” t-shirts
but I think that is where he carries his gels.
With Spider Monkey stoic in the back ground, (wet towel delivered) I
ask Josiah (and apparently the whole world) “How long would it take me
to grow a beard like that?”
My 10th XTERRA USA Series Championship title. What a ride.
2012 USA Series overall podium: 4th Craig “The Thighs of Belville”
Evans, 2nd Josiah “Quickly shaved part of the beard before prize giving”
Middaugh, 1st Cave Forgot to Smile man, 3rd David “Speedy Crocs”
Heterosa and 5th Branden “The Hair Of XTERRA” Rakita.
The US Series had a lot of inside stories: I came in with 4 out of 4
wins so the Series win seemed safe, but if I finished only one position
lower than 4th at this race, Josiah would have taken the Series and the
$10 000 first prize. ( I didn't know this during the race) David is a
really really fast mountain runner and was within striking distance on
the top the climb, but flatted and stopped to repair. Craig was having a
great race, but also flatted on the top and rode the flat wildly down
the mountain to try save his 3rd place in the Series. In the end, Craig
and David (both with flats) drew for 3rd, but David placed higher in the
finals, so he took 3rd over Craig.
Further there were some inspirational performances in the Age Group races:
The overall age group winner (and 12th in pro race) was (barely) 16
year old Neilson Powless and the overall women’s winner (8th in pro
women’s) and already a familiar face at XTERRA, was 16 year old Hannah
Read the full XTERRA race report here.
After a few beers with friends and the Specialized crew, we packed
up, headed for the airport and got on 4 different planes to land in
Kona. Home of the Ironman. Below is a sampling of Fine Airplane Dining a
Heavy XTERRA Worlds training has already erupted. But no beard
growing. A beard would seriously interfere with the romance of a
location like this…
Caveman gets 2nd at 1st Rev3.August 31, 2012
Caveman’s 1st Rev 3 road tri. Pics by Nils Nilsen/Rev 3
Gorgeous day. Our first time to the eastern sea board. Water was warm, clear & clean. Huge turn out.
Each pro has their name, number and photo at the transition spot.And you get to keep the poster afterwards.
Photo by Dave Laskey/Rev3
Team Stoltz early race morning. Liezel is the most amazing team mate I could ever dream of. My racing is definitely at another level. Life is more fulfilling too- the sky is blue-er, the grass greener, the chain ring bigger (55) - even traveling is fun. And on race day when I forgot my helmet and bike number stickers at home (it was 4am), she showed some more of her brilliance under pressure: (only had 25min while I was warming up) My number was 411, so she got a left over number- 418, and cut out a “1″ from another number, and stuck it over the 8. Hey presto, I hope our kids at least gets their moms intellect and looks.
Caveman 3rd from right in Blue Seventy suit & goggles.
I love beach starts and ocean swims. Long legs and years and years of ocean racing and playing I’ve got it dialed- too bad the surf wasn't up. I even was leading for a little while and had a great, comfortable swim, coming out with all the main players and about 30″ off the swim specialists. The Defcon 4 swimming programme I started a week before XTERRA Beaver Creek has made a huge improvement in my start speed.
Once on the bike the pressure was on right away. The run from the beach was long, I got to the bike a little winded and once on the bike, was right in the middle of the pack. No time to rest. I had to ride hard immediately to get clear and out of sight. Our plan was to ride 420 avs W, and held it for a good while, but the hard start off the run tightened my glutes a bit. After 15min I had to ease up a bit to let them relax, and free wheel a few corners. But the damage was done. I turned 20km at 413W but on the way back slightly down hill, I let it slide (and rest the legs some more) to 400W by the time the bike was racked. I wasn't paying attention to the others, but Jesse Thomas apparently rode (and swam) outside himself, hanging on like an African tick, and only lost a handful of seconds to 20km. He was about 1.15 back at the end of the bike.
Click here for the interactive Training Peaks power file:
For the 39km: 52.07, 44.8km/h, 400w. Specialized SHIV.
Pic by Nils Nilsen/Rev3
Yes, the wheels are “normal” sized. They look tiny. Cant wait for the 900c wheeled TT bike to come out… What does the Pharaoh of Aero think ? (Mark Cote, engineer at Specialized)
It worked great for Francesco Moser:
As per previous blog, I’m finally able to get some run training done, and felt solid all the way through to 7km. Which is ok for now. But 1min 15 is never enough to keep the fleet footed Jesse Thomas at bay. 2 years ago Jesse was borrowing a bike (when he won his 1st Wildflower as a “nobody”) and now he’s riding like a beast. He’s a real character, a fellow Specialized rider, AND a nice guy, so when he blew by me at 3.5km I didn't put up a fight. No point, as he was hauling donkeys anyway.
Luckily the 52min bike ride did damage behind and I had 3-4 minutes on the chasers, which included race favourite and Rev3 Series leader Richie Cunningham, who turned 39 the day before the race.
Go here for full results.
Not so rusty at road tri anymore. 2nd is losing, but I’m happy with my performance. It was a great experience in all- Liezel and I had never been to New England before, we ate sea food and drank white wine and had an amazing home stay in the country. Afterwards we visited good friends in Laconia, New Hampshire. Next year I’d love to do more Rev3s, in order to qualify for the $25k series money and more importantly, to get my swimming and running on standard so I can really whack the XTERRAs.
Hats off to Revolution 3 for putting on an amazing event:
- The organization was seamless.
- Each athlete felt valued.
- These guys understand marketing: The day before the race, video featuring pros were out on social media, shown at the venue, the event was live on the internet.
- Quality photographers, announcer, a video team, and a PR person doing FB and Twitter
- There was a pro panel for the age groupers and pros handed out AG prizes.
- AND we got our prize money on the podium. Something I haven't seen since…. um, XTERRA Brazil 2007. Now I can fix our “new used” car’s differential.
Each pro has their name, number and photo at the transition spot.And you get to keep the poster afterwards.
Click here for Pre race Pro interviews
More interviews, photos and press on Rev 3 site.
Vegabonding and getting ready for Boulder Peak 5150 road triathlonAugust 22, 2012
For those not in the know- Liezel and I have been traveling the USA searching for the perfect place to base ourselves for the summer. We literally crossed the country and saw dozens of places. I’ll write about the experience in a series of blogs later.
We spent most of our time in the endurance athlete Mecca of Boulder, Colorado. We know a lot of people there and they LOVED asking us: Where do you live? And “How long are you here for?” We hated those questions. Our answers about “how long” were usually counted in days or parts of weeks and usually our eyes were in the sky or on the floor. And WHERE was even trickier: Our stuff lived in Storage Unit #133. We bounced between well do-ers and ex pats like the Ratays, the De Reucks and Bobby McGee’s mother in law. She kept talking about “Malcom”. We though it was the cat, but we soon realized she does not have a cat and Malcom is actually Bobby’s real name. (His wife was his bank manager before they met, and was one of the few people on earth to know him by his first name)
Our “transport” was even more dubious. (Liezel and a backpack or 2 still needs to get on) Chris and Erin Ratay let us use their Bajaj Chetuk. The Indian version of a Vespa. We rocked Specialized helmets and cycling rain gear as opposed to the more Vespa-y skinny jeans and ‘cool helmet’ or ‘no helmet’ with trendy hair do and /or mustache and /or piercings and/or tattoos.
Most Boulder Pro athletes dash around in shiny BMWs, sponsored $60,000 SUVs, or, the up and comers would at least have a newer Subaru with bike racks. Not the Cavecouple. How we thoroughly miss our modest little Kelfords Ford in South Africa!!!& The Ratays, (Guinness World record holders) I met in Lydenburg, South Africa (a small place) as they were motor biking around the world for the 2nd time. They stayed on the farm a few times and we crashed in their basement in Boulder more than just a few times! Check out their amazing blog here Ultimate Journey.
Being a hard core motorbike guy, you have to understand the desperation of the situation for me to ride with my feet and knees touching. (its akin to a cowboy wearing a skirt) I could daintily slide onto the seat and my wife would have to throw a leg over! Instead of me throwing a leg over a fire breathing, knobbly tired, rocket ship… Whether its bundu bashing on the “little” one, (450cc below)
or the big daddy packed for camping- KTM 950
But what I lost in pride, riding a scooter, I (kind of) made up at the gas station…
And thats filling it to the brim…
As for working: We were head quartered from a bookstore- “Barnes and Noble”- it has free wifi and a Starbucks inside. (The background obviously made it hard to focus on trivial everyday office work like buying flights, filing taxes, PR, blogging etc) Although this position was the perfect place to observe pros coming in to check if they made the cover of the latest Triathlete magazine. I “bust" Tim O’Donnell buying a few copies of himself. Great guy. Was just a chunky swimmer kid when I first met him “way back 2003″ at the Olympic Training Center, but now he goes long, is a fast runner, and has one of the better blogs on the block.
We also got some business done. Here my Sports Manager (Franko Vatterott) and my Bank Manager (Liezel) go for coffee Boulder style…
We also visited with Becky at the Thule luggage HQ in Boulder. Once you’ve used quality luggage like this, you simply cant go back to luggage where a wheel would squeak for a few weeks and then later fall out, zippers burst open on the conveyor belt, or you’d arrive at a swanky hotel, looking like you live in a dumpster. Or a storage unit…
I had the honour to meet Dirk Friel and Dave Criswell (actually, the whole office staff) founders of Training Peaks. A web based training and coaching software. It allows my coach Ian (in Cape Town and sometimes coaching in Mallorca or darkest Africa) to upload my daily training programme. I, anywhere in the world, can give feedback on every body function and state of mind or meal choice or weather condition imaginable. And most importantly, download the training sessions I did- power reading on the bike, heart rate, speed, altitude, temp, cadence, GPS maps, Training Stress Scores (TTS) etc. All this cleverly records on my Suunto Ambit (running and mountain biking) and Quarq power meter. (road cycling)
The training software is super complex, and Dirk and Dave took the time to personally teach me how to optimize the use of this revolutionary tool which allows 2 people at the opposite ends of the earth to exchange the right (and enough) data to keep getting faster and winning races, despite the age everyone keeps going on about. Scientific training, together with talent and determination trumps all. This training tool is revolutionizing endurance training from beginners to top level athletes around the world.
My Training Peaks home page today.
Other important business I had to see to was the issue of why havent I been able to run the past 3 years Since THAT cut in my foot in Richmond, (I’ll spare you the pictures, but you can refresh here) I havent been able to run uninjured for more than a few weeks. I spent a fortune in therapy and tried a wide variety of treatments. I really have to take my hat off to the many professionals from around the world who helped me- If I have to name names I’ll surely miss a few, but its been a humbling experience. Not being able to train running became the norm, and my coach Ian Rodger somehow kept me going fast by loading the bike and otherwise acting like a hypochondriac- working phrases like “rehab”, “prehab” and “hows the calf?” and “hows the Achilles?” into daily communication. A 30km (20mi) running week would be something of a break through. After a race I often wouldn’t run at all for a week. Actually, here (below) is what a good run would constitute: It was 5 days before Boulder Peak 5150, a 30minute easy run round and round a soccer pitch on Astro turf. (Havent run on a road or any paved surface by choice in 3 years)
Top speed was just over 16km/h (10mi/h) which is what used to be warm up pace for me. The last 7 minutes I did some low impact running drills. Feedback to Ian would be something like: “Easy 30′ run with 7′ drills. HR low (115-120-ish) Calf ok”
Considering the results I have had the past 3 years, I consider myself lucky or well coached or good or something. Frustrated for sure. Despite hardly running in 3 years, I won XTERRA Worlds by 5 min, 2x ITU Cross Tri World Titles, 3 XTERRA USA Series titles and maybe 90% of the XTERRAs I raced. But it was stressful. Knowing I have no running fitness or background, I had to build a huge lead on the bike and then cautiously run tempo and hope I dont have to do anything spectacular if I get pushed really hard. I’d deal with the injury fall out afterwards. Of course you cant hide this kind of thing for 3 years, so later on the “out of sight out of mind thing” didnt work anymore. What was most frustrating to me was I did not know WHY I was getting injured. How can you get injured if you only jog 7km a week?
On the insistence of Franko and not inconsiderable help from the folks at Specialized, I got a quick appointment with Sports doc guru, and the creator of the Specialized BG Fit shoes, Dr Andy Pruitt. He listened to my story and within 30 seconds told me it is Retrocalcaneal Bursitis with Achilles tendinosis. Basically from years and years of doing sports in tight fitting shoes, sports people get a bony growth on their heels. The Achilles tendon rubs over it, obviously the protruding bone causes much more friction on the Achilles than normal and hey presto- you have a perfect storm. A Mechanical injury. If you cut the bone away the problem goes away. Being middle of racing season, cutting bone is obviously out of the question, so we went with the conservative approach:
- Throw the minimalist (low heeled) shoes away and go with the highest heel shoe you can find. Then put heel lift in the shoes. This high heel opens the angle between the calcanius and achilles and reduces friction.
- Cut the heels of my shoes open. Material pushing onto the tendon causes more friction. All my Avia shoes are sliced open in the back. The shoes are great, its just my bony heels needing space.
- Stop stretching calves. At this point I was stretching like mad. It just drove an already inflamed (tendinosis) tendon into the bone.
This was just a few days before Boulder Peak and XTERRA Colorado the following week, but since the day I walked out of Andy’s office, I havent felt a thing.
Other than the heavy stuff,
I got some homework done with my lovely wife. Its so much fun to train together. Even if its only the warm up or easy rides. She is quickly becoming an endurance machine. As opposed to a fast twitch Netball fitness machine.
Did the rest of the homework alone. One has to spend a lot of time hanging upside down on this thin, flat bike to get used to putting out extended, constant power. As opposed to sitting upright on a mountain bike- where you can enjoy the view and pour some serious power on the pedals. (I lose about 30W in the TT position. Muuuch better than the 60W I lost at SA TT Champs in PE just over a year ago.
A quick blog about the actual Boulder Peak race next.
Caveman wins XTERRA Mountain Champs in Beaver CreekJuly 17, 2012
XTERRA run course- Beaver Creek, (near Vail) Colorado. I pre rode the bike and run courses 2 weeks before the race and snapped these pix I’d like to frame one day when we have a home.
I havent blogged about it yet, but last weekend I raced Boulder Peak 5150, 6 days before my 1st Beaver Creek XTERRA Mountain Champs. I raced 4 or 5 pain & adrenaline filled XTERRAs on the dazzling (in many ways) ski slopes of Keystone ski resort- between 9000-12000 ft alt -the kind of place where Ned Overend roams free.
With only 6 days between races, recovery training is obviously the order of the day. Did a fair bit of scenic Boulder riding with Liezel on her new Ruby. Our friend and Specialized mechanic Dylan joined us for a coffee shop ride to the town of Hygiene. No pun intended.
Husband and wife training camp - Flatirons CO.
We drove up in the Specialized Team truck 3 days before the event and once in Beaver Creek we did the usual pre race routine:
- Pre ride the course with friend/colleague/boss/mechanic Dylan van der Merwe:
Drove the Specialized truck up the 3200ft climb to avoid wringing an hours’ climbing at 9000 ft out of my legs. We then rode the downhill one last time. (On the drive up we got pulled over by a guy in a pick up truck for a “Super Fan” photo of the Red monster)
This course is not technical, but has a nice 5 minute single track section: Click here for YouTube video of the one single track section from Caveman perspective:
More things to do during taper:
- Have a braai (BBQ) at your #1 opposition Josiah Middaugh’s house. Lots of Avia shoes in the doorway. Pretty much open party.- the camaraderie says a lot about the XTERRA family. (the brownies werent even laced with laxatives…)
Josiah is a fearsome competitor as it is. But this course is just 2mi from his house- meaning he’s used to breathing fake “air” and more importantly, he knows how to go uphill fast! Oh, and just seeing his “Josiah Face” during a race is enough to trigger the “Fight or flight” response!
- Entertain VIPs: We were much honoured to have Specialized road triathlon mega star Ben Hoffman make an XTERRA cameo:
Who knew tires could shine that bright? I think the product is called “Sonfagun”. Seriously.
- Watch the local Rodeo.
The 3 man Burro barrel race was almost as spectacular as the bull riding.
Back to business:
For Specialized Racing mechanics Dylan (Boss) van der Merwe and Joe (Spider Monkey) Devera “getting the bikes ready” is not what triathletes are used to. Its not a quick wipe with the hotel towel, chain lube and tire pump. These guys come with a Mountain bike World Cup approach. Full Team truck- Full Monty. Every bike gets stripped and rebuilt- fresh parts where needed, fresh tires, fresh cables, fresh grease, fresh Lock-tite, fresh alles. For the massive amount of climbing I switched to lighter grips, lighter tires, no Command Post, but after weighing pedals and shoes decided to not go with the road shoe /pedal combo.
Dylan van der Merwe in blue (Stellenbosch, South Africa) works with Specialized triathletes and Mountain bikers at events around the globe and is going to the London Olympics to support our athletes. To top it off and used to be quite the triathlete- on and off road. Joe Devera “Spider Monkey” used to be a full time sponsored rock climber (often living in a VW van), worked on various road cycling teams, including the Mavic Neutral Support Team before wrenching on Specialized MTB and Triathlon teams.
Spend some time on iamspecialized.com and see why Specialized Racing is the best racing team across all disciplines.
But if your hotel has no garden hose, a good bike wash starts in the shower. Dylan washed 3 bikes as part of his pre race prep. Here is my version in Spain 2011: Bike Shower.
After getting pounded in the swim by 2,40 at Boulder Peak, we unleashed “DefCon 4″ swim training, ok, in 6 days I only had time for 1 DefCon 4 session- but half the speed is attitude anyway - by XTERRA time I was good to go. Swam with the leaders no problem. Craig Evans, Branden Rakita & Ben Hoffman. The new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit and Vision goggles helped get the job done. Note the looming ski slopes in the back ground. Intimidating stuff.
Did I say the bike climbed A LOT?! 3200ft straight up. (about 1000m of alt gain in 35min) Starting at 8100ft. Not 1 second of free wheeling (or even soft pedaling) in the 1st 35min. So pacing is crucial. The recent road tris helped me get used to the sustained effort (also called “pain”) of the TT effort- as opposed to the hit and run efforts on the “normal” MTB ride.
At least the course is really really scenic. That is if you can see past the black spots and flashing lights. Took this pic during pre riding when I could see and think and breathe all at the same time.
My dietician and chef (Liezel) has been mixing the “Power mix” a bit leaner the past few weeks- fewer M&Ms in the trail mix. The season of Flatland Racing is over and Climbing Season is officially open. (XTERRA Utah and Maui also climbs a lot) So power to weight is crucial. No point trying to take the weight off the bike - its light enough already- its gotta come off my backside.
Since the Luckstone XTERRA in Richmond, athlete tracking by GPS has been all the rage. You can see the GPS unit on my number belt. It doesnt swim yet, but people can track all the athletes live online. Pretty cool with todays’ social media technology making the world a global village.
Ben Hoffman is taking a mid season break (from IM and 70.3 racing) and gave XTERRA a whirl. Without pre riding the course he did great to finish 3rd behind Josiah. Expect to see him in Maui for Worlds…
Judging by my “Josiah Face”, you can see the run was really really tough- basically 2.5km vertically up - so steep, I walked 4 times- and 2.5km straight down. Twice.
Looks like I’m “parking a tiger” (throwing up) in the bushes- felt like it- but I was power walking up one of the steeper hills. I find walking the really steep parts is almost as fast as running, but your heart rate stays lower, so when I get to a flatter section I can run at a good pace right away.
Liezel looking down the trail to give splits- after the bike I had a 2;30 gap on Josiah, lost 50″ on the 1st climb, but then held the gap over the last 5km- winning by 1.20.
Results by JTL Timing:
1 Stoltz, Conrad :18:25 4 :00:42 1:08:15 2 :00:49 0:38:54 8 02:07:05 1
2 Middaugh, Josiah :19:24 8 :00:46 1:09:25 3 :00:46 0:38:03 5 02:08:24 2
3 Hoffman, Ben :18:31 5 :00:51 1:12:19 6 :00:52 0:38:07 6 02:10:40 3
4 Henestrosa, David :19:22 7 :00:47 1:12:21 7 :00:50 0:37:30 3 02:10:50 4
5 Waite, Cody :20:55 23 :00:47 1:12:04 5 :00:52 0:39:19 9 02:13:57 5
6 Ignatz, Ryan :20:51 21 :00:42 1:14:22 9 :00:52 0:37:20 2 02:14:07 6
7 Smith, Brian :23:28 61 :01:28 1:11:21 4 :00:57 0:36:58 1 02:14:12 7
8 Rakita, Branden :18:24 3 :09:21 1:06:22 1 :00:47 0:41:56 18 02:16:50 8
For one day Colorado’s second language was Afrikaans. The mountain was crawling with South Africans: Other than Liezel & Dylan (pictured) finished 3rd in the Sport race there was also a very vocal Melt Swanepoel (racing the US Marathon MTB series) Dewet Marais (from Squirt lube), Brad Weiss (DNF - says the altitude bowled him LBW) the guys from GU South Africa vacationing, and few families spectating.
6th XTERRA win this summer.
Race report from XTERRA’s
[For Stoltz, not altitude, not abear, not even Josiah Middaugh - a mountain master on his home course - could disrupt his perfect 2012 season. Stoltz started the year with a win at the XTERRA South Africa Championship, then swept through the XTERRA regional championships in Nevada, Alabama, Virginia, & now Colorado to bring his unprecedented XTERRA all-time championship wins total to 47.
“I must admit it was a very pleasurable experience," said Stoltz, who raced here at the XTERRA Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek for the first time today. "I didn’t expect to come up here and have fun but it was a lot of fun. The course is beautiful, and I was amazed at all the spectators even out in the middle of the forest. I saw a black bear up there while I was racing. I heard some branches break and I could see it getting away and Josiah saw it too. So, it was very memorable. I was really surprised at my win. I thought Josiah was going to take it, because beating him on this course is really tough so I think I had a very special day. I have to thank Specialized who put a lot of time and effort into my bike."
Stoltz came out of the mile-swim in the 66-degree waters of Nottingham Lake on the heels of leader Craig Evans and Branden Rakita, with Ben Hoffman directly behind him and David Henestrosa and Middaugh a minute back.
By the three-mile mark, and after the first of nearly four-thousand feet of climbing from the lake which sits at 7,400-feet, Stoltz led by a minute with Hoffman and Middaugh chasing together. At mile 10, Middaugh moved into second but hadn’t closed the gap and by the bike-to-run transition Stoltz, who had the fastest bike split of the day in 1:09:46, had more than a two-minute lead.
“When you put together a good race and get beat it’s not because something went wrong, it’s just that you’re not fit enough,” said Middaugh, who has now finished runner-up to the “Caveman” in three of the last four races. “Conrad had an awesome race and kudos to him for having that fitness and power that I’m going to be looking for in the next few months.”
Ben Hoffman had an incredible race in his first major XTERRA, and by the looks of his post-race grin it seems certain not to be his last.
“It was awesome today, I’m fired up, had fun out there,” said Hoffman, who had quite the support crew with the Specialized team in full force. “I think most people hear XTERRA has a little more laid back vibe and fun atmosphere and being here definitely confirmed that for me. Seeing it firsthand; the volunteers are psyched, it’s a well-run race, well-marked course, and super challenging but fair, an honest course. There’s no hiding here, it’s what you got on the day.”]
After his 3rd place in the Sport race Dylan slammed a gallon of Chocolate milk and was back on the job cleaning bikes.
I learnt another wrenching trick- when washing the bike with degreaser, cover the brake pads with paper towel to avoid fowling the brake pads.
The day after the race Hoff and I went for a recovery spin on the mountain and did some hunting gathering while we’re out there…
5150 New Orleans does CavemanJuly 2, 2012
If I had not been there myself, I too may not believe that the 5150 New Orleans actually happened. ZERO press from 5150. Not even on their own website. You’d think they’ll have someone paid to promote the event? I’m a 2 man band (with the Cave Missus) and even our small operation has a paid employee who blogs about 5150.
So no more waiting to see if there is a pic of my zippy Specialized SHIV. (I’m actually eager to see my position and aerodynamics on the bike)
So we have to do with the trusty old iPhone pix:
N’Awlins is HOT!!
The ice bath at the finish was the best thing all week. N’Awlins is so hot, when you walk out the door, you’re immediately drenched.
After about 4 or 5 years away from any serious road triathlon racing the Caveman dipped his toes into the 5150 scene at New Orleans.
The reason for 5150 is: “I want to qualify for HyVee and kick ass”
The reason for New Orleans is: “It is in the same time zone as XTERRA Richmond, 2 weeks ago, and we dont have a home right now, so we may as well hang with friends in Richmond and train. (and get specialist injury rehab) After 2 weeks of daily intensive rehab for some calf issues I’ve had since THAT cut foot and infection.
With hurricane Debby over Florida and some strong winds pumping over New Orleans, there was talk that the race would become a duathlon. So we were lucky to have a swim but not lucky enough to get a swim warm up. This put a major spanner in the works- so I did 2×10 ladies’ push ups instead- trying to get blood into my arms. (When I woke up the next day, the 1st thing I felt was my sore pecs- from the ladies push ups or pumping a tubular to 120 with a mini hand pump?)
I swam badly with the cold (sore?) arms, chocolate dark choppy swell and sun seemingly shining straight out of the buoy itself. Lost 2.20 to some Bird whom I outbiked by 12 minutes, but importantly, lost about 60″ to guys I should be able to swim with. And lost another 50″ on the 1km run from the swim to T1. I put on shoes for the short run to pamper the calf.
Upon exiting T1 Liezel did not have enough fingers to show me how many riders were ahead of me. They looked like ants up the road. I put it in the Big Dog and sat at Ian’s guesstimated wattage. Quickly caught a few guys but when my heart rate went down to 140s I dropped a gear or 2 (put it in the Great Dane I guess) and the ants came back much quicker. I thought I was catching the mid packers as I was flying past them, but when I saw Liezel at 20km she only needed 1 finger to show me the number of riders ahead. (Cant hear splits with the aero helmet and rushing wind) 40″ behind David Thompson- a strong biker I was told by “someone in the know” would ride about 380W. That SHIV is just amazing, I was flying through the field, despite the strong side winds I could stay on the aero bars, used the Specialized Fuelselage drinking system inside the bike frame- stuffed with ice, I think my position is good (havent seen it yet) and those new red Specialized Trivent shoes with magnets and heel opening is lighting quick.
I came off the bike with a 25″ lead, not enough. I havent run on road or dirt in 2 weeks- nursing a calf injury- I only ran little bits on the Alter G while getting intensive treatment from Megan Presby at Advanced Orthopedic Center in Richmond, VA. I ran steady, tried to stay cool and hold off the little guys but slipped to 4th. Not a bad race, the result so so, my calf held, but I know where I can save chunks of time and immerse further into roadtrigeekdom. When do I earn my right to get a 5150 tattoo?
I didnt know any of the athletes- must be the generation gap… so it was hard to plan my race and strategize. When I saw an Aussie in a speedo running at a good clip something rang a bell. (Check out Tim Reed aka “the Bugdy Smuggler” blog here) Made some new friends at the finish. Chris Foster is a fast runner, despite the run time. (It was humid, windy and there was an extra km after the swim) A good lot, the young crowd. Even met a Saffa on the rise. Travis Johnston.
We wallowed in ice tubs and I’d ask the other guys: “Where are you from?” “Boulder” Oh, me too. Well nice to meet y’all. Guess I dont spend enough time at the pool or on the track to know the skinny tire guys.
I used my Suunto Ambit GPS and heart rate so I could gather data for my coach Ian and future training reference.
Started my Suunto on the run from the swim. Bike leg ended at 55min. You can see how I eased up last few km to freshen up for the run. On the run I felt like overheating when at 160, so backed off a little, but with 2km to go I saw the Budgy Smuggler coming and poured on the pain, but it was too little too late. Was fun to see Tim hurting too though. Once he had 10m he did the look-over-the-shoulder every 10m. Racing in the heat sucks.
I’m used to the number 1 at XTERRA, but it was a big honour to get the no 1 at my first 5150. Had to read the manual to see which side of the woody woodpecker helmet goes in front. Havent done a big road tri since Wildflower about 4 years ago when Charlie DQed me for using this very same helmet (without me knowing till 3 days later) because he “couldnt find it on the internet.” Of course he couldnt, it was newly released. A bit like the new Specialized McLaren TT helmet released yesterday: Youtube video
Putting the finishing touches to my transition at 6.30am- the earliest race start I’ve had in YEARS. (XTERRA starts at a more
civilized 9 or 10am)
I dont have good pix of my zippy SHIV Tri here, but now that we know at 5150 you have to BYOP(ress), Liezel will take photos at my next 5150 at Boulder Peak. (in 7 days)
I cant say too much about the power file other than I was quite happy with the numbers. It has been quite a work this past summer dialing my TT position to maximize power output without sacrificing too much aerodynamics. I’ve done a few TTs (Like South African TT Champs blog) so we knew more or less what W I can hold for 40km, but what about the run? Was a bit of a guessing game and a fun new project for Ian and I.
New toys: Quarq Cinco OmniCal, 54/39 Rotor Qrings and Specialized S-Works cranks. I also discovered that one can remove the Specialized cranks with a Specialized multi tool and the special Trox tool- no need to carry a socket wrench. Perfect for hotel room wrenching! Ok, the fit is not 100%, but thats better than my usual tools- usually includes a big rock and something like a cork screw.
In the quest to save on luggage I didnt bring a floor pump. Traveling to an XTERRA and a road triathlon on the same trip become a logistical nightmare so I tried to cut out the heavy floor pump- Caveman wrenching I wouldnt recommend: Pumping a tubular tire to 120 psi using a crack pipe and a Mountain Bike mini pump. By the time there was decent pressure in the tire, my biceps and pecs were cramping- no wonder I lost 90″ in the swim!
Due to the lack of pics of the race- here are some other pix from NOLA. (New Orleans Louisiana)
My Princess. Tres Francais. Brought back special memories from my 6 years racing triathlon in southern France back in the 90s…
Scars and memories from Hurricane Katrina apparent everywhere…
A LOT of water, the Mississippi. The biggest river in South Africa- the “Mighty” Orange- you can walk through, if you choose your spot well…
The old and the new. Was wondering what people here did before the invention of the air conditioner. Then came to the conclusion: Southerners arent “slow” (like people warmed us), THEY ARE HOT.
Our hotel was this cool old restored Cotton Mill factory from 1903. And quite affordable. Hampton Inn on Convention Center Blvd
The local N’Awlins folk is a VERY colourful lot- most of them will claim some kind of French and or Cajun ancestry and throw around family trees and even say a few French words to prove it.
We really enjoyed the people watching!
Finding inspiration at Luck Stone XTERRA Richmond 2012June 19, 2012
TEAM X-T.R.E.M.E - “Train, Rehabilitate, Empower, Motivate and Endure. Jeremy Soles, a former Sgt. in the United States Marine Corps founded the Wounded Warriors team. They participate in extreme events wearing gas masks, cutting their oxygen intake to as low as 20 percent. But to some, the gas mask is the smallest of hurdle to overcome…
Cpl. Todd Love lost both legs and an arm in an explosion. The doctor wouldnt let him parachute into the XTERRA Richmond start this year, so he “just” did the swim. And then his comrades carried him for the entire bike and run legs in a specially made backpack…
Sgt. Johnathan Mozingo, also a Marine, has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mozingo who did the bike and run legs, was wounded during his last tour in Afghanistan and lost part of his left leg below the knee.
In a gas mask at 94deg F and high humidity…
Sgt. Johnathan Mozingo
Enter the Caveman. Avia Mantis racing shoes, Oakley Radar, 8x Clif Shots, Suunto Ambit GPS, Specialized Fast Trak 2.2 Control tire, Stuffitts shoe savers, Cool Points on ice and Luck Stone race number belt with GPS tracker for live feed. Seems quite pathetic in comparison…
Seems like there’s another knuckle dragging Cavemanoid it the James river… Turned out to be my swimming buddy Branden Rakita. (R) We trailed froth footed Craig Evans by about 45″.
Photos by Jesse Peters.
Amazing series of XTERRA fotos by Jesse Peters http://backlight.zenfolio.com
Craig Evans carried great form (despite all the salads!) and was eager to back up his 2nd place at ITU Cross Tri Worlds 2 weeks before. However, he stuffed up a low, wood bridge crossing and ended up in the trees. Laughing, I yelled at him to “get a guide dog.” My turn at getting abuse is lurking around every corner, so you have to get it in when you can!
In the top left corner you can see some of the many Luck Stone volunteers on the course, streaming live video through the iPad and doing twitter feed. There were 4 big screens at T1 for spectators to see video footage, follow twitter and live GPS tracking of each pro athlete. Of course the feeds also went out on the interwebs so folks in South Africa could follow more “closely”.
This Richmond course is so much fun- it has become rougher than it was 2 years ago, providing a good balance of speed and skill. I think this is the epitome of XTERRA racing (now that the swim is almost 1500m) and I think everyone who loves racing XTERRA should give this one a whirl…
I used the Specialized Sworks 29er Epic with Command Post - to drop the saddle in the drop offs and hairier corners.
Tip of the month: Biting your tongue improves mental focus. Kids, dont try this at home!
There is not a lot of place for pedaling on this course, so when you can, have have to push the big thing!
Sgt Mozingo and TEAM XTREME
Yup, it takes all sorts…
Just a glimpse of the madness on that narrow rock ledge. Imagine loud bull horns, bells, cheering, beer spraying even more crazies lurking in the woods. I think the local cycling posse calls themselves the “Leghorns”.
Scenic city racing in Richmond.
One moment in the city, the next in thick jungle and maybe “swimming” in 4 inch deep river water…
If you dont do your home work to scout the course, you could find yourself between a rock and a wet place… (Who has the pic of this Mister Anonymous (also the coach of a famous pro athlete’s we wont mention) on his side, swimming in this calf deep water?)
Cool Points in hand to keep the 94deg F under control.
Trying not to ruin my legs on the Mayan Ruins.
7 Wins in my last 8 starts in Richmond. My 10th Richmond XTERRA.
Loving support from my wife. Spectating is an endurance sport in itself…
Josiah Middaugh had some bike troubles but came back with a strong run and caught Craig Evans in the last mile.
Craig gave it all…
Thanks to the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, home stays and my lovely wife…
Will Kelsay backed up his breakthrough performance -6th at Cross Tri Worlds with a 4th in Richmond. Welcome to the podium Will! When I get back to Boulder we do some GoPro pool time?
A special thanks to Specialized Racing mechanics Dylan van der Merwe and Joe Devera for pimping my ride every day of the week.
We had a fair bit of press- here an interview with CBS.
On Thursday before the race I had 4 press commitments:
- 5 minutes live on CBS 6 Morning Show at 9am. (which took 2hrs),
- XTERRA Press day at 12.
- ESPN Live Radio at 4
- Shop appearance and poster signing at 3Sports (Richmond Specialized dealer) from 6-7.
Between all the driving and getting lost, fitting training and recovery in, gets tough.
A special thanks to Charlie Luck from Luck Stone quarries for their continued support. Lets keep “Crushing it!”
L-R: Will Kelsay (4th) Middaugh (2nd) Caveman (after I broke the 1st (of 2) glass and stone trophies) Evans (3rd) Rakita (5th)
Liezel and I were especially touched by TEAM XTREME and what they are trying to accomplish. Todd has 1 arm and no legs but he rose to the challenge and is now swimming and further competes in the back of his buddy’s backpack. (hopefully he’ll tandem parachute to the swim start next year)
You have 2 arms and 2 legs and you’re looking for a reason to get off the couch and someday see your feet again?
I will think twice about feeling sorry for myself next time I have to go train in rain or snow, or PUSH when the going gets tough…
For more race details I quote from XTERRAs ace report by Trey Garman:
[In a city with such a rich and colorful history it’s only appropriate that the sports most experienced stars stole the headlines. For Stoltz, who “lost his heart to XTERRA in Richmond” back in 2001 it's his seventh win in eight years.
“I just love Richmond, the course is amazing and really suits me,” said Stoltz, who had the fastest bike split by far in 1:21:00 despite doing an extra little out-and-back section that no one else did.
“On the first lap I caught Craig (Evans) and then five minutes later I caught him again. I wore out 3 sets of legs and 1 set of tires pre riding the course- turns out a section had changed since when I went pre-riding, and on race day I dont look for arrows,” Stoltz explained.
“He did the old course out-and-back,” said Evans, who followed the correct route. “It was funny because a few minutes later I hear this loud chain slap behind me and thought, oh man Josiah or somebody is riding great and then Conrad comes by and says “where’d you go” and I said “I went straight, where’d you go?”
Evans tried to stay with him the second time around but conceded “he’s in a whole different league right now.”
On the second of the two 10-mile twisty, turny, tree and fanatic-fan filled roller coaster ride of a mountain bike course Stoltz followed the right arrow and got into his groove.
“First lap my head wasn’t in it, I wasn’t focused because I was trying to figure out where I went wrong. So, on the second lap when I saw the arrow, it all made sense, I could focus was just flying, pouring the power on in the pedaling sections and railing the technical sections. It was so smooth and so much fun. There was a lot of spectators on the cliff- all in costume, yelling, spraying beer and dancing around. It was like riding through a circus. It’s such a fun race, really the epitome of XTERRA.”]
Love the pic of Boise pro Adam Wirth and his son Mac riding to race start. Mac has his feet on top of Daddy’s, so he is helping put down the watts! It seemed like an amazing father & son get-away week. They “pre ran” parts of the run course together, Mac did the kids race, watched the pros (knows us all by name) and didnt miss an expo or a beat all week. What a cool sport to get your kid involved in. As opposed to baseball where all they do is chew, spit, scratch and wait. And the “role model” is Barry Bonds…
We miss you, get well soon Dan!
2012 ITU Cross Triathlon World ChampionMay 29, 2012
Grateful and proud to win another World title…
The ITU and XTERRA partnership was great to see, the racing was fun, safe and fair. The multi lapped course for the pros made for great spectating and made media coverage. I think off road triathlon would make a great Olympic sport-hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
For once in my career, according to ITU protocol, I was called up to the start first. (as defending champion) During my ITU World Cup days (When I was ranked between 15th and the 70s) I had to scramble for a start spot next to the slow hacks and/or crooked/violent swimmers.
Oak Mountain State Park is the perfect triathlon venue. Stunning lake, great trails and good facilities. The age groupers got to ride the best (BUMP) trail- where the XTERRA has been held the past 6 years- and the pros did a 3lap course on smoother, more groomed trails through tight woods. The lapped course may not have been as much fun as the BUMP route, but it offered great spectating possibilities and showcased the sport well.
The Pro bike course looked “easy”, but it was really hard to go fast- as Josiah Middaugh’s facial expression and creative line proves. Check out this amazing series of photos by jtalbot- the expressions shows the intensity of off road triathlon…
Being 6ft2, (high center of gravity in corners) and (in)famous for my “point and shoot” methodology, I dont consider myself as “the King of Cornering” (thats Greg Minnaar, whom I rode Sani2C with) and with all the cornering on this course, there was not a whole lot of pedaling to do. But somehow the time gaps after the bike was much bigger than I’d anticipated: Evans at 50″ Stannard + Rakita at 3.30, Thibodeau and Bechtel around 4′, Chris Leigh at 4.30 and Middaugh at 5′
Hauling the mail with Evans. I pre-rode the course with Craig about 10 days before the race, and realized he’s got it all dialed in. He can swim, he can corner, he knows the course really well (its a hard one to learn- as almost all of the 600 turns look the same) and he is really fit. He was so comfortable in the corners that he ran the Specialized Renegade 1.95 tires front and rear. I didnt have the guts to ride the smooth, fast Renegade in front and opted for the Fast Trak 2.00 with more grip in the front, as the corners got more and more gravelly with all the traffic and hot, dry weather. I also went with the Specialized Command Post which I have put to good use on this kind of course before. Its a telescopic seat post which, with the push of a button, allows you to drop your saddle height in the corners.
Day before the race I spent time re reading my favourite MTB Skills book: Mastering MTB skills by Brian Lopes.
“Carve flat turns” was by far the most relevant topic:
In the pic below I managed to stay off the brakes and you can see how soft the tires are, fighting for every bit of traction as I try to “cram the tires into the ground”. Cornering will forever be “a work in progress”
Pic by JTalbot’s photos on smugmug
The “piece de resistance” of the age group course: Blood Rock. Here our Alabama home stay Casey Fannin makes it look easy. Casey is a machine- he won his 50-54 age group by 13 minutes!
Having a comfortable lead on the run allowed me to enjoy the racing, scenery and spectators. I was using the new Avia Mantis racing flat- a great shoe which will be my go- to racer in the future.
Winning sure is fun- especially under your countries’ flag.
In my hands you’ll notice my Cool Points, frozen sachets designed to keep your core temperature down during hot races. Here in Alabama we’ve had some rillers- due to high temps and humidity, fortunately it wasnt too hot this time round, but staying cooler is never a bad thing.
I’m truly blessed to be able to share these amazing experiences with my wife Liezel. She’s plays a huge role in my successes. And will even take a sweaty hug at the finish line…
Great to see Carla van Huyssteen on the podium at Worlds! (3rd) The 1st time I saw her run, (2005) I told the stranger next to me “this girl has talent!”- and it turned out to be her dad, South Africa rugby legend Gerrie Germishuys. Leslie Paterson backed up her XTERRA World title from 2011 and Aussie tough guy Chris Legh dodged all the trees on the bike and ran into 3rd. Craig Evans had the performance of his life. Coming down the finishing chute that is! His race result was ok too. Usain Bolt could learn a few moves from this guy: Evans’ moves at the finish. (at 6.20)
The young South Africans especially rose to the occasion-Bradley Weiss won the Elite u/23 World Title, (and overall Age Group race) Bradley Schuit won the Junior Men’s and Charne Prinsloo was 3rd in the Junior Women’s. A testament to the health of XTERRA racing in South Africa. Thanks to Triathlon South Africa for putting a lot of effort into sending a team and supporting our young sport. See TSA race coverage. and more RSA results.
Thanks a lot to Joe, Jeff and Sandy from Specialized who brought “the Team truck”, their amazing support (and laughs) - my S-works Epic 29er and equipment was faultless. And cleaner than out-of-the box equipment every time I threw a leg over.
It was touch and go or Liezel took off in “our new car”. The only vehicle which makes my XL Epic 29er look small…
Also thanks/welcome to Dewet from Squirt lube, who is an Official XTERRA Partner from this year. (Keep your eyes open for the “Squirt- win a flight to Maui competition” coming soon.) I think Dewet put more miles onto this bike course than any racer did… “Testing product”
Glad to see USADA was there for Drug testing. So far I have been tested at XTERRA Grabouw, ITU Cross Triathlon Worlds here in Bama and I was placed on the ADAMS anti doping whereabouts list. I think its important to make it clear to tainted athletes (sometimes from other sports or anyone who may consider cheating) that off road triathlon is not a “safe place” to further your pathetic “racing” career.
Liezel and I were in Bama 2 weeks before the race and did some fun training together. (If she rides the Roubaix and I the MTB, we’re the same speed. Conveniently, she (kind of) fits on my bikes- so we drop the seat and share)
Pre race interview with XTERRA.TV
From the comfort of the Specialized tent, Hal Richardson (the official massage therapist of the USA track & field team for the 2012 London Olympics) from Birmingham did some much needed massage the week before and came to the Specialized tent to help loosen up and more importantly -zap sore spots with his $20 000 Alternating Magnetic Therapy machine.
We’re in Boulder at the moment, getting ready for XTERRA Richmond VA. I’m spending a fair bit of time on my UCI illegal SHIV, as there is maybe a Boulder Peak Triathlon in the pipeline. ( a race I won 4 times and had the course record from 2000)
In Boulder everyone asks newcomers 2 questions: “How long are you here for?” Prolly most of summer. And “where are you staying?” For now we’re staying with our incredibly adventurous friends, Chris and Erin Ratay. Whom I met in Lydenburg South Africa, (because of their KTM 950 with Colorado plates) on one of their motorbike trips around the world. Check out their amazing lives: Work hard, play hard. Sounds familiar…
Conrad Stoltz wins XTERRA GrabouwFebruary 29, 2012
Caveman wins XTERRA Grabouw. 2012 is looking good so far. 4 races, 4 victories. (some small and some lucky but a win is a win)
The biggest XTERRA in the world! 2000+ participants. Had to be held over 2 days (Lite and Full distances) to fit everyone in! Testament to great organization, sponsorship and media coverage but also South African’s love for adventure, nature and suffering…
Believe it or not, Caveman 1st individual out the swim. Must be that hectic swim training-click for blog.
Stunning bike course. Other than the all rocks and single track, I really like the Fynbos here. (Indigenous Western Cape vegetation) Checked it out on the pre rides as, there are more rocks and sand here than on the back of the moon.
Long, hard bike and run courses, so I loaded up on fluids and carbs- extra bottle with Clif Electrolyte behind seat and 4 Clif Shots taped to frame.
The night before the race we talked strategy and I asked my coach Ian Rodger: “What are the repercussions of taking too many carbs during the race?” His answer sums up his witty sense of humour: “Winning?”
JB, our own Specialized South Africa videographer shot footage from the chopper. JB also edited the GoPro footage of this bike course in a previous blog. Fanus Oosthuizen from Oakpics.com shot this and most others from his Honda CRF 230. (adorned like a Xmas tree with photography stuff and doodads- and much to my worry- sometimes my wife dangling and bouncing precariously on the back)
Looi hom Fanus!
I had a 2 minute lead on Dan Hugo going into the final single track, but he chafed the sidewall on his rear tire and lost air and time the last few minutes. Too many rocks and ugly high speed sections to safely ride light weight Sworks tyres. A lesson learned before methinks.
The 1st split I got on the run was “4 minutes to Phitzenmeier”, so I largely lost interest in speed and pain and saved it for another day. (like tomorrow (4 days after XTERRA)- SA TT Champs- check next blog…)
I ran with frozen BEX Runners in my hands to manage the dry heat.
Behind me there was a mad scramble for the podium with Stuart Marais blitzing the run for 2nd, Dan in 3rd and Nico Pfitzenmeier just seconds behind. IM legend, whom I have raced since 1989- Raynard Tissink finished a solid 5th.
The best part of finishing!
The great news - Doping Control was there to test the top 3 men and women and the 1st Juniors. The bad new- for once, instead of the proud stream I usually celebrate with within 5 min of checking in, I produced a few puffs of dust… You need to give at least 90ml. I gave a paltry 30ml. So I started to drink water. 3 Liters of it. Thats 3/4 Gallon. I waited and waited and eventually feeling like the dam was about to burst, another disappointing 30ml- at this stage every drop counts. More endless documentation, checking of numbers, signing, stating supplements and asthma medication. You’re not allowed to leave your “sample” unattended, so you carry it around (see through cup) and miss all the fun outside. No chatting with friends & fans. Wave hi and bye to my inlaws through the window. Haven’t had a single carbohydrate since 6km on the run. Bo n k i n g . . . .. .
Water was all they had. (You’re not allowed to eat or drink anything other than the sealed bottles they give you)
After 2 hours, felt like 4, just in time for prize giving, the dam did burst, my cuppeth overfleweth and so it did on the entire drive home.
One Caveman, one week, 3 races, 3 discilpines. Actually 5February 29, 2012
A pic from 10 days ago, checking out SA TT course in Nelspruit aboard below mentioned “funny, uncomfortable road bicycle with dangerous wheels.” In fact, its my Specialized S works SHIV TT - UCI legal and all. Finally quite comfortable and able to deliver decent Watts.
Since January- 7 weeks, 4 races, 4 wins.
Time to really turn the screws: 1 week, 3 races, 3 disciplines. (technically 5)
Race 1, Feb 26: Sunday: XTERRA Grabouw. 1st. See previous blog
Monday: Fly to Jozie, drive 4hrs to parents farm near Lydenburg. Ride TT bike on trainer to flush junk out of legs. Visit folks and take this mundane pic of sunset from stoep:
Roodewalshoek farm- view from stoep.
Tuesday: On the farm. Drive tractor and ride trainer. Try to flush junk out of legs. Downhill running is a beech. Roll on foam roller. Francois Retief, ek mis jou.
Wednesday. Today: Spend half the day blogging. Quads still sore. Trying Colostrum for recovery. Sounds like Caveman food. Would love to take the KTMs for a spin, but manage to leave them alone- may get a little sore. Or even a lot…
Thursday 1 March: SA TT Champs Nelspruit. (Explanation: 40km Time Trail South African Champs. Time Trail, also known as “the race of truth, a done on a funny, uncomfortable road bicycle with dangerous wheels. Its contested over 40km, one rider by himself, against the clock. The fastest time wins. This is the most painful thing you can do by yourself to yourself.
Havent looked at the start list, but the man to beat is Radio Shack rider Daryl Impey. Last year I had a disappointing ride at 395W and finished 4th at SA TT Champs- 1 minute behind Daryl, but only 2 seconds behind 2nd place. This course is really hilly, hot and humid, but for a change I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the TT bike. Excited.
Thursday pm fly Nelspruit to Cape Town. SEE MY WIFE AGAIN! Our 1st time apart. Its not going to happen again anytime soon! How soon is “never”?
Friday: Breakfast in bed. Spin MTB to try flush junk out of legs. Try borrow a dirt bike and check out the bike course for:
Sunday 4 March: Argus MTB Boschendal 65km. 2 years ago I stunned everyone by racing this one on a 29er. Aluminium Specialized Epic. The top tube had a sticker “Test Bike. Size XL” I still ride this early prototype bike on the farm. I “scorched” the field as the blog says. But this year there will be Christoph Sauser, Burry Stander, Dan Hugo and more- all on 29ers. Wonder how “scorched” my legs will be?
Aca Joe West Coast Warm Water Weekend 2012February 21, 2012
Liezel and I got engaged on one of the (smaller) house boats in the
bay. How can you blame me?! Such a romantic place. OK for triathlons
Click for more…
Taking a stab at road tris on my UCI legal Specialized SHIV.
(Prison term for “home made knife”) Didnt have a great ride- still
fiddling with the saddle height. Of course, EVERYONE has an opinion, so
I’m only posting a head on pic…
This is one of the most scenic run courses I have ever done. It’s about 90% off road and about 80% beach- so pretty slow going
with a short tar strip to smoke the tyres.
I won this race in 2010 as well, wrote a cute story but never got to the race report.
James Cunnama (2nd) is back after ITB surgery in November and getting ready for a big 70.3 season in the overseas.
Wild trophies! (Pun intended) Caveman 1st, James Cunnama 2nd, and Stuart Marais -
controversial 3rd. Stuart was leading by about 40″ on the run, but took
a wrong turn and was demoted to 3rd… Much more to come from this
talented Stellenbosch athlete.
One of the most scenic (and toughest) run courses…
The Cavefamily styling it
Inspiring photo opportunities
Race HQ and village
a romantic sunset and Savanna stroll with Liezel to the bird watching hide
Room with a view…
The TV crew also got some cool shots. Will keep you posted on the Super Sport viewing times…
Thanks a lot for Paul Ingpen and his crew for a fun weekend. Also
title sponsor Aca Joe, and some personal favourites: Specialized, Oakley
Caveman wins XTERRA South African season opener at BuffelspoortJanuary 30, 2012
Caveman wins XTERRA Buffelspoort 2012 despite a broken zipper.
Stoked to kick the season off with a win. The Festive Season on the farm is over, so is the twice weekly splash in the dam, but the never ending honeymoon is full steam ahead.
Even though its the start of the season, I’m happy with a solid performance - set up by a reasonable swim. I’m busy fixing my swim stroke (again) and just started real THRICE weekly swim training- tailor made by Mikael Mendonca.
The bike leg was quite eventful early on- about 10 minutes in I was pumping it, and there was no one in the rear view mirror. I then came upon a closed gate as the road forked. The arrow pointed towards the gate, but in my disbelief I went the other way. It was a 6ft game fence with bladed wire rolls on top. How can the route go there?! But I knew it saw the right way, and turned around, opened the gate, just as the 2nd guy and Dan rolled up. 5 Min down the road there was another closed gate- this one had a lock on it. I got off the bike and started to look for a place to throw my bike over. Was still pondering the consequences of climbing a bladed wire fence in white Lycra. (and how 500 other guys in Lycra would fare) I took a last look at the lock- the shackle was not clicked in. A loud “BLIKSEM” helped it open quicker - a minute gone - I hopped on, just in time to have Dan and Theo velcro onto my wheel. Ah, a pretty swim wasted. I had to rebuild a new lead, and got off with a 2 min 30 gap.
My bike training has been pretty solid as we’re getting ready for SA Time Trail Champs. (last week my coach discovered the event is March 1 and not next week!) This time I have been spending more time testing and getting comfortable on my UCI legal Specialized SHIV - we’re up quite a few watts from last year, but I bet so is everyone else…
The run course was really really tough, (I ran 53min for the 12km) - it has 3 huge climbs per lap and equally steep downhills. It was hot, and felt slow, but it turned out everyone was slow. Even Stuart “Flying Feet” Marais battled on the run. Hats off to the Warriors battled on till way past lunch time. I’ve been doing a lot of Biomechanical correction work with my physio in Stellenbosch Christoff Smit, and I’m looking forward to increased mileage and a more rounded game.
Top 10 Pro Male results:
My new not-so-secret weapon
Even checking the bike course to make sure the bridges are Caveman proof…
I quote from the XTERRA race report:
STOLTZ AND VAN HUYSSTEEN SECURE ANOTHER XTERRA BUFFELSPOORT VICTORY
Reigning individual men’s and women’s champions, Conrad Stoltz and Carla Van Huyssteen expected nothing less than a battle when they returned to Buffelspoort Dam on Saturday, 28 January 2012 to defend their titles at the grueling TOTALSPORTS XTERRA Buffelspoort Full presented by REHIDRAT® SPORT. Although competition was tough, both Stoltz and Van Huyssteen proved to be unstoppable on the day, railroading to victory in a finishing time of 02hours20minutes08seconds and 02hours52minutes55seconds respectively.
According to Stoltz, the 2012 XTERRA Buffelspoort was a fun season opener. “The event was really scenic with a great atmosphere. I had a good swim and made a gap on the mountain bike discipline right away. I really enjoyed this leg as it featured a bit of everything. The run was tough with some big hills, this combined with the heat and humidity on the day made it quite a challenge. I take my hat off to all XTERRA warriors who spent up to 5 hours out there. I dont think anyone had an "easy time" out there. I am really happy to start the season off on a good foot and am looking forward to XTERRA Grabouw. I am thankful to have my wife, Liezel support and help me on every level. I’m usually a little late for my races, but this morning I was on time and even had warm breakfast in bed! I could relax and take it easy before the start all thanks to her. Married life really is better than what I imagined possible, I'll never leave home without my wife!” says Stoltz. Dan Hugo came in second, while Stuart Marais finished third.]
Carla van Huyssteen had to wrestle free from her torn wetsuit in the middle of the lake, (it started parachuting wildly) but stayed calm and strong. Good luck
with the European XTERRAs this year!
I rolled my beloved Specialized Sworks Epic 29er with fast Renegade Control tires on this undulating, sandy, rocky and lumpy course. Raced with GoPro camera, which will hopefully provide some footage for the XTERRA TV shows.
In order to get the Caveman some real splits, Liezel even braved the back seat of Fanus Oosthuizen’s* very unique dirt bike - with real bells and whistles!! - the price to pay was shooting B-roll with the fish eye lens at 60km/hr through the veld. Thanks Fanus!
*Official Oakpics photograher and Roof of Africa hopeful.
Russell White - aged 55 - dirt bike legend and coach - also triathlon ace (he taught me my 1st Motocross Start right after the 2000 Olympics - and rolled with laughter when I flipped the bike). He aced the Lite race by such a margin and speed, the camera man wanted to know if it was the leader of the Lite race, or a pro warming up for the full. I’m with you Russ - age is but a number…
The bike transition was PACKED. A lot of new people to the sport: The story of the day though was the record field of 1500 athletes combined in both events. Wow! It is so cool to see how our sport has grown - a testament of the importance of TV, good, fun races and especially the way Stillwatersports has managed the sport and the brand the past 8 years. Looking forward to racing more XTERRAs in more places soon.
Like I said, PACKED: Lite race start - there is barely space for water in there!
Lite swim finish… at least now you can see some water in spaces
Getting a tweet from Lance Armstrong on race morning is always nice… thanks Lance! Hope to see you at the XTERRA SA Championships in Grabouw end of February…
Looking at my wife… I’ll have to work on my 6-pack a bit harder… Thanks to Oakley who pimped us earlier this week. I raced with the “Radar” with XL lenses and Liezel is rolling the “Immerse”
Did I mention the hills on this nasty 2×6km “run”? (I also sauntered them on lap 2)
Did I mention the heat? These are the more serious athletes cooling down. I took a similar little dip here and vowed to never go to a race without my Bex Runner cooling devices again - no matter what the weatherman says…
Some had cooling strategies of their own…
Great to see XTERRA family from all over. Got to hang with the Namibians quite a bit. What a fun group of people. Patrick, (de Goede) we missed you this time, thanks for the biltong, and God bless…
We’re currently on the farm visiting my parents. We recently heard my dad’s cancer is terminal. He is not getting further treatment. He walks most mornings, I hobbled along on sore legs. Happy to share a mile and a story. If people ask him how he is he’ll say: “I’m dying, but otherwise I’m fine thank you.”
Specialized Trivent TERRA. Caveman’s XTERRA specific cycling shoe available to public.September 12, 2011
Specialized Trivent TERRA. Finally!
They are here!* Now you too can wear the Caveman’s custom XTERRA
specific shoe. Over the past 5 years or so, I have been lucky enough to
have Specialized shoe engineer John Figueiredo build me custom shoes for
XTERRA use. Basically we needed a Trivent triathlon shoe for quick
transitions, but married with a mountain bike sole for those hike a bike
sections and also strutting around coffee shops without falling on your
* If I could have $5 from every person who asked me “When will the shoe be production?” Now is your chance to geddum.
Here are a few specific design changes we made, aside from the
original S works shoes’ BG features and FACT carbon midsole with 11.0
- Lengthened velcro strap for easier foot entry on the fly
- Thin, super breathable mesh upper. Doesnt get too heavy when wet, cool in hot climates, lets water through. (See ITU Cross Tri Worlds report)
- Thin neoprene liner in heel cup and strap for comfortable sock less
wear. Also its thin and doesnt absorb water or sweat. No extra weight
- Huge heel tab for numb dumb fingers after those cold swims.
- The “piece de resistance”: the Easy arch fixing point for flying
starts: See pic below. Its basically a little plastic nub on the inside
of the heel/arch area. The production nub may look a little different,
(more sturdy) because mine is an early prototype:
How the thing works: You attach your thin elastic rubber band to the
fixing point and on your Specialized Brain adjuster knob (sorry non
Specialized riders!) in order to keep your shoes horizontal while
sprinting out of T1. With a bit of T1 practice, you’ll be pedaling with
your feet in your shoes within 5 meters.
Note the huge entry hole- enough to swallow a Caveman foot without the usual squeezing or even aiming…
The replaceable green insole is the Specialized BG+++ foot bed for
extra high arches. The stock insole may be the BG+ for “normal feet”,
but the front half of the stock Trivent insole is completely riddled
with big holes for ventilation and drainage.
Read here about my Specialized Trivent TERRA shoes in action at ITU Cross Tri Worlds 2011.
Another soul ride, Caveman style…August 3, 2011
"Soul riding” is what makes the Caveman tick. It is what drew me to triathlon and later XTERRA. It usually consists of fun technical riding in scenic surrounds, and when Ian’s training programme says something like: “easy 1h30 doodle on MTB with 10×20″ sprints” This is “winter” on the South African south coast- stunningly beautiful, nice temps and great whale watching.
Check out Caveman's full story with accompanying images at his blog.
XTERRA Las Vegas- Old School vs New SchoolApril 11, 2011
Caveman at Urban Rage 2010
After fighting the 9hr time change and jet lag that comes with it, I
think I’m ready for XTERRA Las Vegas, the USA Season opener. The form is
good, I had great legs and won the Vigne a Vigne MTB race in South
Africa on sunday, (despite a puncture and a bit of a tumble) but the
question is, is 5 days enough time for acclimatization?
I was stunned by the number of 29ers on the course today. The kiddie
wheeled bikes make up maybe 25% of the people pre riding today. I’d like
to think I put the 29er ball on the roll (I raced on a Stumpy 29er for
the first time 4 years ago). Of course the Specialized 29ers are head
and shoulders above the rest- you just cant argue with the level of
engineering that went into the Epic. Speaking of which, I ordered a set
of race wheels and was going to race on my Maui Swork Epic, but when
Fedex came, the box looked a bit big, and contained an brand spanking
new Sworks 29er, All built up with my favourite parts, the right tires,
so sweet! Thanks to Garth and the crew at Specialized HQ.
How sweet are these Avia AVI STOLTZ’s?! They look wickedly fast - even in the box.
A sneek peak at the Specialized TERRA shoe we’ve been working on for
the past few years. Rumour is, they’ll be on the shelves later this
Did a photo session with the wildly talented Nils Nilsen:
And lastly, I’ve had some requests for autographs on funny things and funny places, but this is my first top tube autograph…
This is what someone who wants a CS autograph on his top tube looks like…
There a lot of new pros on the block this year. Will have to watch the rearview mirror. Or maybe out the windscreen!
Borrowed from www.xterraplanet.com:
OLD SCHOOL vs. NEW SCHOOL IN VEGAS
[Two worlds collide Sunday at the XTERRA U.S. Pro Series season opener at the West Championship in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada.
The wisdom of experience is on one side; and youthful exuberance on the other.
Representing the old school; Stoltz, Middaugh, Wealing, Lebrun,
Evans, Waite, Rakita, Kelsay, Glavin, Thijs, Henestrosa, Zoller, and
Smith – 13 pros with nearly 100 years of collective XTERRA off-road tri
On the flip side; Ganter, Jackson, Madsen, Michalak, Mielke,
Stehula, Valentine, and Wirth– eight young guns with a grand total of
eight races under their belts as XTERRA professionals.
The infusion of young and new talent is not only a great sign for
the sport, but a fist-pumping tribute to the master’s who have made
getting dirty and suffering look so darn compelling.
“I want to win XTERRA Worlds in the next five years and go after
my hero Conrad’s record for XTERRA Worlds wins,” wrote Karsten Madsen, a
19-year-old from Ontario, Canada, in his racer bio form.
Today, as KVVU Fox 5 News interviewed Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz
in the lobby of the Aston MonteLago Resort, Madsen stood nearby fresh
off an eight-hour drive from his training grounds in Arizona with all
the excitement of a kid entering the Magic Kingdom.
In stark contrast, Stoltz was calm, collected, the consummate
professional, no doubt methodically preparing to win his record-breaking
38th career championship on Sunday.
The diversity creates excitement and the battle for the top seven
spots, for who gets paid and who does not, will be hotly contested.
The “old-timers” will have to earn it, especially with so many
up-and-comers looking to prove their worth.
Three on the men’s start list are making their pro debuts –
Michalak, Mielke, and Valentine – but aren’t new to XTERRA. Two-time
XTERRA USA amateur champ Jason Michalak would’ve won prize money in 2010
had he been a pro, Patrick Valentine will likely be the first racer out
of the water, and Mielke – a trail running madman– had never even done a
triathlon at this time last year. The future is bright for those
You’ve also got Chris Stehula, who won the Collegiate National
Triathlon Championship last year, and his Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
teammate Chris Jackson who is entering his first year as a pro.
The experienced newbie is Adam Wirth from Boise, Idaho, who
accounts for half of the newcomers eight pro races mentioned above.
Wirth has shadowed friend and former XTERRA World Champ Nico Lebrun
across America competing in XTERRA's, and finished as high as 5th at
XTERRA Canada last year.
Indeed, there’s a lot of new talent mixed in with the proven
XTERRA pros here in the desert, but with all the hope and promise the
fresh faces bring they’ll still have to run like Josiah Middaugh, bike
like Brian Smith, and swim like Seth Wealing to have a shot.
It’ll be a fun Sunday on the XTERRA Planet to see just how it all shakes out.]
The Good, the Bad and the UglyJanuary 13, 2011
I’m a little behind with the blogging, so I’m trying to quickly squeeze a few topics into one blog.
Long, easy mountain bike rides on the Highveld. Drinking water straight from the spring. (Fountain)
You may have to fight a frog, a tadpole and a cow pat for the freshest water,
but as long as you lock the gate, no one gets hurt…
Getting ready for the South African Time Trail Champs on Feb 3. Lots
I poured concrete flooring all day so had to train at night. Usually I dont need an excuse to train at night…
No real electricity here- so no cooling fans. But afterward I did a few laps in the sweat puddle to cool down…
See those little spikes in yellow? Each spike feels like putting your hand in the fire.
Anxiously awaiting a fast, flat bike with low bars that pedals itself. Like Fabian’s.
For once Fedex stuffed it up. How many countries does a bike have to
visit before hitting Africa? And what did it do in Memphis Tennessee for
5 days? (Visit Elvis?) I’ve been to Tennessee, you can see it all in 1
Did an 8hr Enduro ride with my mate Wayne. He is training for next years Roof of Africa already…
One of the best parts was going up this stream for about 2km. Hard work!
Was totally worked. Stopped counting the crashes after about 5.
Was A LOT of fun.
Somehow the coach is not impressed… What?! Skills training!
Wayne halfway into the House of Pain
Too late to worry about a few scratches.
No pedaling required.
The “main road.”
Ok ok, Playtime is over. The thing is winterized and locked away.
Time to chew bubblegum and kick ass
Conrad Stoltz wins Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike ChallengeNovember 22, 2010
Thanks to my Specialized team mate, Burry Stander I was able to pull the hare out of the hat and win the 94.7 MTB race.
It was only a 1h42 race (50km), so as per Ian’s recommendation I hooked it right from the gun. The pack strung out right away and on the first high speed bumpy downhill, I let the big 29er wheels and the plush suspension on my Specialized Epic 29er do the talking. Of course, the few extra off season kilos (or “pudding bum”) helped with the momentum and I soon had a little gap. Defending champ and all round ace Burry Stander is just behind me and ready to rumble when my tire started spewing sealant. (we went through a building site- I must have picked up a piece of metal or glass) The true team mate, and gent, Burry threw me his tire plug and CO2, (I know, I was badly prepared) and I was lucky to not loose too much time. I set off at TT pace and was surprised to be back in 2nd after a few kms. Catching Burry took ages and lots of hard work. And once on his wheel I needed some time to lick my wounds and try calm crampy quads.
Burry rode his super light XC race set up: An ultra light 8.2kg Specialized Hard Tail 29er with a single chain ring in the front. With about 20 min to go we crested a long drag over super bumpy grassy surface. I looked at his bike set up again and knew the upcoming down hill was my only real chance. I cant climb with Burry, I certainly cant sprint with Burry and I suspect I cant ride technical single track with Burry, so I knew I had to try take him on the high speed bumpy stuff- where my superior power, (disguised as 80kg + body weight) full suspension and 2×10 XX gearing should give me the edge.
I felt bad attacking my team mate after he gave me his only spares, but hell, the race wasnt going to win itself…
I put it in the Big Dog (40×11 on a 29er) and went with guns blazing. At the bottom of the hill- just before I blew a gasket- I snuck a peek and was ecstatic to see him bouncing over the lumps in the distance.
The last 3 climbs were murder, but its amazing how magically pain disappears when you see the finish tape…
This was a sweet win, and hopefully this proves that XTERRA athletes can ride too, and I didnt get those rainbow stripes from a Lucky Packet…
Yet again, my lovely Specialized 29er Epic was the key to success. Pic by Erik Vermeulen
Quote of the day: “I am the least pathetic!” See previous blog here.
I also won the 2010 Argus MTB race on a 29er in April
Will download Suunto HR file on Movescount.com soon
Caveman wins XTERRA USA NationalsOctober 18, 2010
The “professors” at XTERRA University the day before the race. XTU is a 90 min session where a few pros talk about the Art of Xterra, the course, equipment, nutrition and take questions from the audience. Lesley Paterson, Josiah Middaugh and the other guy. Not sure what I was talking about here. (Now that I have 29er wheels, I want tires THIS wide?” Maybe we can have a byline contest?
The last few days before the race was very demanding in terms of press, appearances and meeting and greeting. Not much time for relaxing or yourself. I’m far from famous, but I can just imagine what someone like Lance Armstrong has to deal with on top of trying to win races.
XTERRA.TV interview time. Here is where you are supposed to talk smack/say something profound and recite lines like:”I am xterra”. Then: “I AM xterra” And of course “i am XTERRA.” I’m not the typical back to front baseball cap kind of guy, but the TV crew wont allow sunglasses or shadows in your face. I fact, they fry your eyes and burn even more wrinkles by throwing more sunlight into your face with the silver UFO. I’m not a fan of acting and reciting lines- (as can be seen here) but the XTERRA TV crew is a great bunch, the shows always come out really well (despite the dodgey footage and forgotten lines I dish up) and of course TV is what drives participation and sponsorship.
Specialized “Meet the Pros” time at Binghams Cyclery- the Ogden Specialized dealer. Here Melanie is signing posters and John Harrington and I talked tires and suspension till the cows came home.
Taylor Seavey doing his XTERRA.TV interview. He calls “Amber and Conrad” his “coaches”, but actually Amber does the hard work and I just mentor. (Teaching technical skills, equipment, pacing and mental stuff- which Taylor is really good at- in fact, I learn from him…) Its been great watching him progress and getting a glimpse into this character. I’m slowly learning sign language, but we mostly communicate through his parents Siri And Darian. What an amazing family. Think “live in a self made yurt in Alaska” and “traveling and racing out of an RV for the summer.” Check out his great race report here.
The crew would ask the question to his mom, (Siri, in white tshirt) who would sign to him, Taylor would sign his answer and his mom would translate.
Taylor’s motivational bike decal. He rides a Niner 29er
Speaking of decals, I just had to snap this sticker on the back of a huge, lifted truck…
Finally, race day:
I stole this pic from Taylor Seavey’s site. Taylor is in the orange cap, ready to jump on my wave (Blue cap) when the gun goes…
Photo by Genespix
Not much down hilling on this course, so I had to make every bit of altitude loss count. Fortunately with the Brain suspension on my Specialized Epic 29er, I could stay off the brakes and in a lot of places, put some watts into the ground.
Nice fall colours. Photo my GenesPix
Pic by Eric Wynn
That “Koos Kakebeen” jaw, is me whistling for a 21k runner to get the hell offa the trail. Already bleeding and havent even hit the downhill yet.
When I designed the Avia AVI Stoltz shoe, I had this rocky run course in mind- perfect shoe for this run.
Both run pix by Genespix
My next project is making a good racing visor. I bought a few (in case I screw up) and took a sharp knife and scissors to them. Any company interested in helping make a quality Caveman Racing visor, lemme know. I already have the plan, the knife & the scissors…
As far as the race- my form surprised even me- I had a 5min20 lead off the “anti Conrad” uphill bike, and won by 5min despite very little run training. Obviously my coach, Ian Rodger is great at crisis management. This week he has been coaching me (and managing crisis’s) for a full year. Ian, NEXT year I’ll try cut back on crisis and it’ll be plain sailing- Thanks for the hard work!
TOP 15 PRO MEN
Pl Name Age Hometown Time Pts Purse
1 Conrad Stoltz 36 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:24:03 100 $2,500
2 Nicolas Lebrun 37 Digne, France 2:29:02 90 $2,000
3 Josiah Middaugh 31 Vail, Colorado 2:29:38 82 $1,500
4 Dan Hugo 25 Stellenbosch, South Africa 2:29:44 75 $1,200
5 Felix Schumann 28 Tuebingen, Germany 2:30:03 69 $900
6 Seth Wealing 31 Boulder, Colorado 2:32:17 63 $700
7 Branden Rakita 30 Manitou Springs, Colorado 2:36:41 58 $500
8 Cody Waite 31 Lakewood, Colorado 2:37:29 53 $350
9 Will Kelsay 28 Boulder, Colorado 2:37:40 49 $200
10 Matt Lieto 32 Bend, Oregon 2:40:47 45 $150
Also: Adam Wirth (41), Scott Gall (37), Craig Evans (34), Brad Zoller (31), Justin Hurd (28)
Fastest Swim: Seth Wealing/Branden Rakita (20:44)
Fastest Bike: Conrad Stoltz (1:25:11)
Fastest Run: Scott Gall (35:13)
After a huge breakfast and a look a the papers with the Letendre family, my Ogden home stay of 5 years,
we hit the 8hr drive home. We have 2 days to paint the house and there is lots of paint scraping to do…
With a radar detector, 4×4 decal (fake), and Wal Mart compression socks, we blitz by the Bonnyville Speedway salt flats.
Caveman on Specialized 29er Epic, finishes 2nd at Thrilla Cyclo CrossSeptember 30, 2010
Conrad Stoltz -my 1st Cyclo Cross experience. On a mountain bike. Ok, a Specialized Epic 29er, but still a mountain bike.
If you were expecting the XTERRA USA write up, its coming. Actually, this is the 1st of a 3 part series of the 10 days leading up into XTERRA Nationals, explaining my interesting preparation, but mostly just mouthing about how amazing my 29er Epic is- which I did all 3 races on.
When I rode my 1st 29er it was love at first sight. I was so impressed with its rock riding ability I put this bad video on youtube in 2008 and it has over 36 000 views already. Wish I was smart enough to put some voice or music over it.
Then I was all fired up for 29ers, I wanted to race them. 1st time I did was at XTERRA South Africa in 2008.
Then I got onto to those poor MTB engineers at Specialized, I started nagging at them for a race 29er for over 4 years, and I bet when they see me coming they quickly duck behind a planter or into the ladies toilet. But finally the bike came, and frankly, it blew the doors offa my expectations and Specialized is yet again, THE leader in the industry.
Back to the story:
I decided to jump into the 3rd leg of the much lauded Thrilla CX Series in Bend, OR. Bend is a bike crazy town- half the community watches these midweek ‘cross (that the cool way of saying it) races and the other half races. And I leanrt that a true ‘cross fan can be a scary thing….
I felt like a bit of a doofus on the start line with my mountain bike with balloon tires, Command Post and water bottle. Suspected I’d be booted into touch, seeing that I have only once ran a barrier before and ended up in ER…. (another sad eggbeater pedal story) Thus I lined up 2nd row- behind Adam Craig sporting a proto Di 2 mech and carbon sew ups on a “$10 000 ‘cross bike”. I was eyed suspiciously, like an escaped leper. Then Ryan Trebon yelled “Hi Conrad” from the front and I felt better.
We took off, and once I found my pedal, I made up places with a mix of “power through the bad line, brake late and cut in last minute” moves. I hung with the 1st group. Trebone took off. I just had to show off my mad skills by losing my front wheel in a loose corner, and with my one foot out moto style, did a wild “tank slapper” move which involved my inner thigh getting burned by the front wheel?! I saved it, (not sure how) but 80% of the field saw it and I thought: “Man, I ruined it for XTERRA athletes world wide”
I also realized bunny hopping the fences (the ones in the pic above) in practice is one thing, but doing it in a race is something completely different. There is a reason no one else does it. After a few laps I got the hang of this cross thing and attacked the pack of 6. Those 1.95 Renegade roll like crazy. (although they dont corner like crazy in loose gravel- so pick your battles)
Soon I caught up to Ryan Trebon, whom I know as (the other tall guy) from mountain biking, but someone told me he is actually the ace at ‘cross. Like National champion and stuff. I thought that way my Specialized team mate Todd Wells. Anyway, the guy is shit hot, 2 inches taller than me and has less fat than a can of Diet Coke . I was surprised how easy it was to keep up with him. In fact I went around and started putting more wood on the fire in front. Then we hit this really steep hill, you have to run every lap (a lap is about 8min and the race is 45min plus 1 lap) I run up this powdery wall, baby steps, huffing and puffing, carrying the bike, good thing I’m a triathlete, I can run. Then Ryan comes FLYING past me, chuckling at me for not “shouldering my bike.” (always thought “shouldering” is an illegal rugby move) When I got to the top Ryan was gone. Even the dust has settled. He probably made 20 seconds on a 30 second run. Thats when I understood why he went so “easy” back there. I got 2nd by 11 seconds, but somehow I think he just played with me…
Thrilla Cyclocross results - Men A
1 Ryan Trebon 51:35
2 Conrad Stoltz 51:46
3 Chris Sheppard 52:00
4 Cody Peterson 52:31
5 Brennan Wodtli 52:34
6 Eric Martin 52:55
7 Adam Craig 53:51
8 Tim Jones 54:05
9 Brig Brandt 54:36
10 Ben Thompson 54:44
Is it Beer O clock yet?
Checking race time and heart rate on my Suunto t6. Been training for a 2h30 event- cant hang out above 160 for too long.
The Caveman’s somewhat-secret XTERRA tips.July 23, 2010
“Somewhat secret” because I borrowed (and modified) the article from my “All” (previous blog posts) page.
• XTERRA is a strong mans race. An endurance event. Don’t let the seemingly short distances fool you. Forget about 400 repeats on the track and all-out sprints on the trainer. Think sustained power evenly delivered over 2.5 hours or more. Getting from A to B as fast as possible is all about even pacing. In this game, a big aerobic engine and a large strength component will take you places. The good news is, both of these components can be built. The bad news is it takes a lot of hard work!
• Its all about The Base: The most important bike workout during base training is a weekly long ride in the mountains. I usually do 3 rides* a week of 3 to 5hrs at 50-75% of max HR. The key is to try and climb as many vertical feet per hour as possible. For me 1400ft per hour is good going. (That includes the down hills and flats) When climbing I focus on a high cadence, (at least 90rpm) smooth power delivery, and keeping a good, relaxed posture.
* Sorry, can’t tell you about the other rides, otherwise it wouldn’t be “The Caveman’s semi-secret XTERRA tips”.
• Running is much the same, two or three months with a weekly long, easy run of about 1h30 and 2 other aerobic runs should set you up with nice base. Again, the braver I feel the more hills I would tackle, mostly keeping my hear rate below 75%. These long, “easy” sessions are key to a long, successful season. Believe me, if you do them consistently and combine it with swimming and cycling, “easy” becomes a relative term!
• Once you have a good base, you may want to whip yourself into shape with some specialized XTERRA training. Note the pun, as this little gem was handed down from Legend to Caveman. Read: Ned Overend to yours truly.
-Find a climb about 10 minutes long. It should be tough, loose and technical. After a good warm up, do the first climb at about 5-10 beats below threshold (AT). Go straight down, hit no2 at race pace (AT), and yes, you guessed it, no3 you grab by the neck and rip its legs off. Oh yes, downhill like you would in a race- you need to get used to seeing the trail through the black spots and shooting stars, and intimately embrace the feeling of starting the next climb with a pair of shocked and jarred legs, filled to the brim with lactic acid.
• As for whipping the running into shape, I believe hill repeats is the best way to build strength and incorporate quality. Its a long, tough workout, but I learnt to love it and now know its probably my most important workout of the week. Its hard to part with this gem…
Warm up and find a nice hill. Dirt or grass is good. Dirt or grass in the shade is best.
Run 6×2minute hills at AT, jog down.
Run 5minutes at AT on the flat
Run 6×1minute hills at AT, jog down
Run 5minutes at AT on the flat
Despite the scant looks of it, this run will be 1h20 or more, so bring our A game.
• Fat burning. Everyone loves this topic, but this technique works for me. I learnt it racing in France in the 90s, somehow forgot about it (!?) and bumped into it again this year. (Hence all the veins) This works best during base phase, only do it once or twice a week, and not when you are feeling fragile. And definitely not before a big race. (or a big day at the office)
Step 1) Skip breakfast
Step 2) Drink a STRONG coffee. Pass on the sugar.
Step 3) Do a long, slow run. Or a long, hard run! (Welcome to drink as much water as you want)
Step 4) Upon completion of run, have some more coffee and try to delay breakfast for a while.
Step 5) Feast!
Expect some serious fatigue later in the day.
What this does is it depletes your body of glucose, which in turn forces you to burn fat more readily. Not only do you lose fat, (duh) but it also teaches your body to use fat as fuel, crucial during longer races. Apparently the feast that follows your run will accelerate your metabolism, which I can’t tell for sure, but it sure feels good!
Dont do this too often, and consult with your medical practitioner before attempting rigorous physical activity or this caffeine trick.*
*side effects may include dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and other medical issues.
Important technical skills:
1. Look far ahead. The faster you go, the further ahead you should look.
2. Look where you want to go. Know you are going there, and don’t doubt it for a second. Even just a glimpse at that tree on the side will steer you straight into it!
3. Brake early. Fast riders don’t brake in corners. They brake before the corner, let go of the brakes, just flow through the turn, and exit fast. It’s hard to get your mind around that one, but once you get the feel of it, dragging the brakes through a turn will feel as wrong as going to work in pajamas.
4. Easy does it. A smooth pedal stroke and steady balance is key to climbing the loose stuff. Choose your line before you start the climb, then commit. Move your weight to the nose of the saddle, pick a light gear and turn the pedals with loving care, the rear tire will love you for it and grip nicely.
5. Learn to un-weigh your wheels over obstacles. (And eventually bunny hopping) Example: You’re barreling down Tunnel Creek (XTERRA Tahoe) at close to 40mph. The trail is smooth, fast and straight. BUT, every 300yds there is a big water-bar diagonally across the road. If you just slam into that thing it will send you flying over the bars and into the trees. You have 2 choices: 1) slow down drastically and negotiate it in a civilized manner. Lose bags of time. 2) The right choice: Thrash that thing at max speed, jump right over it, and go win the race. How? Just before you actually hit the water bar, do a well timed bunny hop and fly clean over the hump. This technique applies to any smaller obstacle and is a sure fire way of making heaps of time. Also works well for floating over tire eating rocks at speed, jumping up curbs, finessing over muddy roots, hopping over fallen logs, clearing fallen riders etc. Bunny hopping is easy to learn: “load” the bike by pushing it into the ground and crouching with your body (while standing on the pedals). At just the right moment, release the load by quickly shifting your weight upwards (think “pounce”) and pull up on the bars and pedals. Timing is what its all about, so practice, practice, practice.
A few sayings I’ve accumulated:
- “Hesitation, devastation“. Essentially the same as “5,4,3,2,1!” at bungee jumping.
- “It isn’t a ride till there is blood”. Falling happens often and that’s ok. It is very rare to actually get hurt, usually it’s just a scrape or two and brownie points at the office. Relax. Don’t fear crashing.
- “Speed is your friend” Due to the gyroscopic forces of nature, a slow moving cyclist falls over more easily than a fast moving cyclist. But this saying can be used loosely in many situations. Be it the nonchalant way to explain how you just cleared the 5 foot drop, or maybe someone’s approach to the post race party
- “Low air, big gear, no fear.”
Important mechanical skills:
• You should be able to change a tire with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back. Non negotiable.
• You should be able to fix a broken chain. I broke a chain in Milwaukee 2005, fixed it with a Specialized multi tool and a SRAM Golden Link, and still won the race. It wasn’t easy, but a mechanical doesn’t have to mean “game over”.
• You should be able to replace a derailleur hanger. Rear derailleurs get eaten by hungry rear wheels, jumping sticks, and predatory rocks. Its easy replace and shouldn’t take more than 90 seconds.
• You should be able to set your brakes. Rubbing brakes happens from time to time. V brakes rub and disk brakes rub. They are both quick and easy to set. Look and learn.
• You should know what tire pressure you run with which tires on which courses. It sounds complicated and “for the pros”, but the right tire pressure and the right tire choice is probably the most important mechanical aspect of your bike. Get a floor pump with a gauge, and go experimenting.
Some rules of thumb about tires:
- The better your skills, the softer you can run your tires*. And yes, softer is faster 95% of the time. I run 28-30psi (2bar) on most courses. (23- 28 psi on the 29er) A softer tire grips getter, jumps and jutters less over loose stuff, gives a smoother ride, doesn’t get sidewall cuts as easily, and believe it or not- rolls faster over broken terrain. * If you get lots of pinch flats (by slamming into rocks or sidewalks) your skills are lacking. Either improve your bike handling and trail reading, or put more pressure in your tires.
- For most dry courses a 2 inch wide tire with many short knobs works well. (I like the Specialized Fast Trak LK)The muddier the course, the narrower the tire and taller and fewer the knobs. A narrower tire requires higher pressure to prevent snake bite flats.
- Tubeless is undoubtedly king.
- A new tire grips like crazy. If you cant afford a new set of tires before every big race, have a set of “racing tires” and a set of “training tires”.
• I bank heavily on good suspension. Setting your suspension is not all that easy, so if you’re not a mechanically minded person, have someone set it up for you and don’t fiddle. If you are curious to learn, ask someone about the basics, and go fiddle. You cant break it.
• You should be able to pack and unpack your bike from its travel box. Seems obvious, but I heard some funny stories. Go to your bike shop, (or local pro rider) let them show you how to pack your bike safely, then learn how to do it in the dark with one hand tied behind your back.
I always carry:
- A tube wrapped in thick material (funny things happen in a saddle bag)
- CO2 or a reliable pump. Unless you’re trying to win the race, the latter is always safer.
- A good multi tool. Apart from the obvious Allen keys, it should have a chain breaker
- A Golden Link. Enables you to repair a chain quickly. In theory, anyways.
- A spare derailleur hanger
A calm mind is key to fixing trail side problems quickly. Actually, a calm mind is key to most things, including winning races…
Keep it in the big blade
Big weekend for SpecializedJuly 20, 2010
Ned Overend won the Single Speed National title. (the big race, not the old man’s race) And he did it on a Specialized Rockhopper 29er! (mid range aluminium frame)
I took this pic at the Specialized 2011 bike launch in Keystone, CO. Not quite sure how he went up that mountain at that altitude with 1 gear?!? (I needed all 20 gears) Maybe that’s why they a call him “Deadly Nedly” or “The Lung.”
One of my favourite Ned quotes: “I only stretch when I’m injured”
Todd Wells took the Specialized 29er theme further and won US Nationals in Granby CO on the new S-works Epic 29er. WaytogoTodd!!! Follow Todd’s entertaining blog here.
Todd Wells rails a corner on his way to winning the “Stars and Bars” National Champ jersey on the new 29er Epic.
XTERRA Alabama previewJune 11, 2010
Yup, I brought the big dog. This is the perfect 29er course- fast, rocky, rooty and technical.
Specialized Epic 29er.
-Command Post telescopic seat post. (notice dropped seat height for the technical terrain)
-Specialized Fast Trak LK S Works 2.00 tires. 24psi front and 29 psi rear. This course has a super rocky high speed section with some water bar jumps, so I run more psi than I normally would.
-Roval carbon wheels- super stiff and light.
-LOOK Quartz Ti pedals
Blood Rock is famous here on the Oak Mountain, Alabama bike course. On race day, its lined with spectators.
A huge poster of Jamie Whitmore going down Blood Rock. We miss you Jamie…
Lots of log piles. Need to be on top of your bunny hopping to clear these at speed. Otherwise, brake early and just roll over them.
After running the last 3.3km (2mi) of the infamous run course (the hairy part- it took me 18min!) I thought I would take a refreshing dip in the lake. But alas, the water temp is 84F (29C), and it feels like you can boil an egg in the top 2 inches.
Here is a little riding tip for the weekend. If you’re an XTERRA male pro, dont waste your time here, its not important.
Like XTERRA Waco, this course has hundreds of turns. With the BUMP and Grind MTB race here last week, the trails are quite ridden out, which leaves the corners slippery at best.
If you look at the picture below, you’ll notice that the gravel gets ridden out and accumulates in the outside of the turn- where you would normally take the corner.
I would do anything not to touch that gravel with my front wheel. In fact, I wouldnt even touch it with Nico LeBrun’s front wheel!
The inside line seems inviting- nice and smooth, but you would have to slow down quite a bit to get around the corner, and there is a tree on the inside- which limits leaning. When I ribbed Greg Minnaar for a cornering tip, (I rode Sani2C with him in 08 and could not believe his cornering ability) he said: “Its all about the exit speed”
The 5 green leaves indicate the line I would take at speed. Great traction, a nice, banked surface and you get to stay off the brakes and rail the outside of the corner- where the old, wise men go…
Speaking of old, wise men, here is my home stay Casey and Andrea Fannin and their new kitten. Casey is many time XTERRA age group World Champion and IM. (Not sure if racing 14 IMs disqualifies you as a wise man?)
We miss you Amber…
Warming up for Sea Otter short trackApril 17, 2010
Amber and I went for a warm up with Todd Wells, Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser along the ocean path in Monterey.
Short Track starts at 3.15. Its a short lap of off road riding- after 25min the bell rings which signals the last lap. This race is all about raw horse power and gallons of lactic acid. Not really an endurance Caveman game. I think the last time I had gallons of battery acid in my veins was…. um, actually the Specialized lunch time ride I did last Wednesday!
Susi and Burry are 29er virgins- today will be their 1st race on the big hoops. Burry’s Specialized 29er Hard Tail is 8.6kg (18.9lbs)
Last year Specialized made a great showing- Todd Wells won the Short Track and Christoph the XC. I was 8th in the XC and hope to blow the cobwebs out for the opening of an exciting season of MTB, XTERRA and 70.3 racing…
Saying good bye to AfricaApril 13, 2010
After 3 long months of hard work demolishing my house (while packing away some hard training) I spent a week on my parents farm to say good bye to them and Africa before hitting the US for some serious racing.
Because internet in Africa is slow, expensive and hard to get, this story (and a few to come) are only seeing the interweb now. Also, if you only have a week in paradise with your folks, sitting on the computer is like a prison sentence…
Here are some of the highlights:
My dad would join me on my recovery rides, and let me tell you, I was on the ropes most of the time! Quite something for a 66 year old “ballie” who beat colon cancer 3 years ago. As you can see, he also rides for Specialized Factory Team as he is the one with the REAL genes in the family. My friends calls him “Tarzan”.
My mom and I did some cool stuff too. She is has an acute sense of business, which I try my best to learn, but it somehow doesnt come as easy as carving single track… Finally we got good rains, and here, on our way to town, (Lydenburg) we stopped to take some pictures of the mist on the mountains and the pink Kapokboom… (Dont know the English name)
Of course I had to say good bye to my other girlfriend. (Amber accepts this wild red head into the 3 wife harem, but only just!) Actually, part of my justification is product testing- here I’m testing Oakley Goggles and the Specialized Deviant downhill helmet. As most of the riding I do is low speed, technical riding in hot, humid weather, I love the great ventilation and light weight of the Deviant.
Of course, there was that other, pedally part of training which also had to get done… My coach Ian gave me some big sessions in preparation for this weeks Sea Otter MTB Classic, so I feel much more prepared for the pace changes and hectic start of the Short Track than last year. This is my Africa bike of choice: Specialized Sworks Tricross Carbon.
For the South Africans who dont know what cyclocross is: Its mud, grassy fields, sleet rain, thousands of drunken Belgians… no wait, go Wiki it…
Why this is my fave Africa bike:
- It rides dirt like its smooth road. Thanks to the Zerts dampers built into the frame, a special carbon lay-up and that massive fork- it will eat bumps for hours.
- Mountain gearing. Our farm is in the mountains and with the cyclocross gearing, I can ride up passes as easy as I want- like when recovering from a 10 minute interval.
- Wide tires (which I ride at 50psi for even more comfort) with small knobblies for dirt roads or when that overladen minibus taxi pushes you off the road.
- Its amazingly light- I can not imagine how they make such a sturdy bike so light.
- Good strong V brakes- Like that time the baboons ran in front of me and I had to throw out the anchors to avoid catastrophe.
This day I did a 4 hr ride with 7x 10 minute repeats up a steep mountain. (too bad I dont have the Power Tap anymore…)
Since I’m back with Clif Bar (YAY!) and dont have any product yet, I trained on Caveman energy food: Dried peaches and compressed dates. That block of dates will give me about 6 hrs worth riding and it costs about 80 US cents.
Lastly, before leaving I had to tame the local leopard. No seriously, I was training after dark -like I often do (unintentionally)- this day. It was April 30 and this pic was taken at 10.08- I think I was still training at 8pm. The pic is taken by a game viewing camera we set up to study the wildlife on our farm. There are 3 resident leopards in our part of the valley and this the the male- Called Groot (Big) Gert after my dad. Despite their destruction to my dads herd of cattle (about 15 calves a year) we are happy to have this treasure in our midst.
This one time, at band camp, I rode 300 Watts for 3hrsFebruary 23, 2010
Since I ate my helmet, (and embraced training technology when we started base training about a month ago.) I have been enjoying training with my Power Tap thoroughly. (Rent your Power Tap today from the folks at Saris/CycleOps, South Africa)
For Valentines’ Day, my coach Ian Rodger gave me 3 hrs at 300 Watts. So romantic. I rode to the top of Franschoek pass, and being new to trying to keep a constant power, I’ll tell you, trying to do 300W downhill through the road works in Pniel or down the main street of Franschoek with tourist drivers, speed bumps and couples on Valentines dates, gave a new meaning to “adrenaline”…
Also, going down the pass I tried to shape myself into a parachute, because the 53×11 was not enough. Fortunately those 28mm Specialized Armadillo tires at 60psi helped slow things down and smooth the road a bit.
I’m really excited about this new way of training, focusing on maintaining a specific wattage and cadence makes for serious concentration. I noted a 15 beat higher heart rate at the same wattage when using Powercranks.
The riding is a lot harder that what I used to do my long rides at and I regularly burn 1000 Calories per hour. Surprised at how quickly I ran out of food. (4 gels and 5 scoops) 2h08 into this particular ride, and things became ugly soon thereafter. I was going to knock out a big sprint at the end, but by the time I got there I could only manage 870W. (As opposed to the 1160W I did at the end of today’s ride…
The task for this ride was: 3h30 with 4 climbs (Hells Hoogte and Franschoek) at 330 W and 75-80 rpm. The flats at 250W and 90rpm. On the flats, include 4 x 10min with Powercranks unlocked. Anyone who knows Powercranks can tell that 90prm at any watts is no joke.
The goal is 450W for 1 hr at 80kg on a 10kg bike. 11.2kg if its a 29er…
Product testing, Caveman styleFebruary 11, 2010
Not content with just testing MTB gloves by riding bikes, I took it a step further and tested these (older) Specialized BG gloves while renovating my house.
We're building with bricks, which are very abrasive on the hands, (and gloves) and after hours and hours of testing on single track and on the build site, the only shortcoming I found was a slight lack of material strength in the forefinger. But then, there is nothing some Duct Tape wont fix!
Mr XTERRA is in town!February 4, 2010
Er, make that “was”…
Will Kelsay and his lovely lady, Shelby, visited South Africa for a few weeks. They spend a few days in Cape Town, then a few days in my house in Stellenbosch before tackling the Garden Route.
I’m busy renovating my house and of course,they got roped into some manual labour:
Will was super excited and went at the double brick wall like a maniac. Go to his blog to learn more about this colourful character.
Shelby can swing a hammer too!
We got to do fun stuff too, like visit Dan Hugos farm for Sunday lunch, and here we went wine tasting at Ernie Els’s wine estate. Yes the golfer Ernie Els
Yes the golfer Ernie Els…
Caveman’s Month of Mopane Worm Cleansing DietJanuary 5, 2010
The pros are into pre season fad diets!
Macca urged the Twitter community to join him in his pre season cleansing diet comprising of juices for a week. Matt Lieto just started his Month of Salad…
Now I urge you to join me in my Month Of Mopane Worm Cleansing Diet! Mopane worms are a delicacy in Southern Africa, and feeds millions of people every year. Usually they are harvested by hitting Mopane worm laden trees with long branches, and then harvesting them off the ground, much like one would harvest strawberries…
On day 1 of my cleansing diet I was lucky- they came marching down the Marula tree next to our house…
I hope they are WADA legal. (World Anti Doping Agency)
The Mario Cipollini board room at Specialized HQDecember 16, 2009
The Lion King “Super Mario” Cipollini was a delight to follow- on the road and in public. His flair for fashion, clothing and glamour bordered on preposterous. It was delicious. But he was a remarkable sprinter who hated climbing and was quoted “If I wasnt a professional cyclist, I would be a porn star.”
But Mario was an amazing marketing vehicle and his sponsors’ ad campaigns still come up in cyclobablle. His pro career spanned 20 years, he had 42 Giro stage wins, World Champs in 2002, the list is too long, go read it on Wiki.
This is one of my favourite Cipollini photos where he won the 2002 World Champs. Of course he had to wear his Colnago branded Italian team kit, but a clever bit of ambush marketing by Specialized stole the moment and made some waves- but then what was expected of Mario. Just imagine the impact this North Wave shoe ad made on me as a teenage triathlete, fresh out of sheltered South Africa…
My only personal experience with Cipo was when I was training in Stellenbosch around 2002. I saw a Smart car (a rare thing back then) coming down the road from the opposite direction, and being an observant guy, I noticed a bicycle wheel and two feet in the gap between the road and the underside of the car. OK, someone was motor pacing behind a Smartcar. I was dying to see who it was, and when they swooped by, there was Mario in his full glory- working on his tan. No helmet, no shirt, no socks- Just Mario in his chamois (rolled up high), shoes, glasses and his beautiful mane of greased back hair. Now that was class.
Open floor questions for Conrad.December 15, 2009
Open floor questions for Conrad.
(Copied from the Specialized Facebook Fanpage, facebook.com/specializedbicycles
iamspecialized.com: It seems like Conrad Stoltz (http://www.conradstoltz.com) is swinging by the office next week. Does anyone have any questions for him?
Conrad Stoltz is a three time Xterra triathlon world champion
Yes I do. How does he compare his fit on his mt bike to relation to on a road bike in multisport activity. How much of a change in his hip flexor angle is there in this relation.
@RobertDriskell- I have my road bike set up exactly the same as my MTB. Nowadays I only use my road bike for XTERRA training, so I dont have the road time trail position dilemma you mention. I was told by Scott Holtz at Specialized BG Fit that training at least 60% of your base rides in your TT position would actually benefit you MTB riding. (more glute workout)
Harrison Conyers IV
how can I become a pro. I train hard and i have dreamed of either doing xc racing or xterra.
@HarrisonConyers. To become a pro:
1)You need the right genes.
2)You need to be physically and especially mentally tough.
3) You need to love living out of a bag and spending time at airports.
4)You need patience.... See More
5)You need luck.
To get there, make sure:
1) You learn the skills while you are young
2) Have a mentor to guide you
3) have fun
4) have fun
5) have fun
How many hours a week is Conrad logging on his Specialized right now?
@HeatherMcNamara. Last week, I logged 0 hrs on my Specialized. I DID log about 6 hrs behind the snow shovel!
Brent Jablonski no questions, just give the man a high five for me! way to go!
@BrentJablonski. High five! (Is that a quote from Borat?_
Harrison Conyers IV how do you get your parents to support you financially
@HarrisonConyers IV. When I turned 14, my mom bought me half a road bike for my birthday. I had to buy the other half myself. They supported me like that for the 1st 2-3 years. (where I had to contribute, mow the lawn and show respect and commitment to training)
Then they encouraged me to make my own money to support my triathlon- I cut and sold bamboo and collected stone artifacts from our farm to afford purple LOOK shoes.
But when I turned pro I had to make a living for myself. (my dad reminded me often) It was really hard those 1st 10 years, but then I won World Champs and it got a lot easier to make a living!... See More
Matt Dussartre According to you, what is behind the word "Pro Triathlete"?
@MattDussartre. "Pro Triathlete" can mean 2 things: 1) You race in the pro category because you are really fast, but you need a part time job, because you arent quite fast enough to pay the bills. (or your bills are huge) 2) "Pro" means you make a living from sports- which is my definition.
In the perfect world, all "Pros" sould make enough money to cover their expenses, but then this aint golf...
Victor C Guido Rivas
@Victor C Guido Rivas. If you tell me what language "Tremenda nave." is, I can answer you. In Spanish it means "tremendous ship"- in which case- thanks for the compliment
Tubeless or Tubed? Tubeless for weight savings? Or Tubed to get back on the trail after a flat?
@AlexZiemianski. Definitely tubeless. You'll save about 100g, but the real benefits are lower tire pressure- which greatly increases traction and ride quality- and greater puncture resistance to just about all thorns, smaller cuts and most snake bite punctures.
If you do get a flat with tubeless, take out the tubeless valve and save it, put in a normal tube, and you're good to go...
Getting tubeless tires to seat can be tough but since 2009 Specialized tires seat so easily you can do it by floor pump while sitting on the couch...
Being a novice again. 2009 Wilseyville Hare ScrambleNovember 30, 2009
The entry form says AMA championship series, so maybe it was a big race? All I know is I was as green as it gets. The newness of this unfamiliar sport opened my eyes to what athletes new to triathlon and XTERRA experience. Nervous, excited, clueless, scared of the unknown, scared of being last, scared of the mass start, and yes, just plain scared.
I grew up riding a little Yamaha PW 80 on our farm in South Africa, later a YZ 100, but when I got really serious about triathlon, (age 15) I sold the dirt bike in order to fund this new triathlon passion thing. I always promised myself, “the day I retire from triathlon I’m buying a dirt bike.” After winning XTERRA Worlds in 07 I thought “screw that, its been 18 years, I cant wait anymore”, so bought a used Honda CRF450 in South Africa. Visit http://www.conradstoltz.com/a-fun-weekends-dirt-bike-riding/ This summer I bought a new KTM 450 EXC in the US. (my 1st new motorized vehicle ever) Could someone please explain to me how a new top end dirt bike costs the same as a top end mountain bike? How does a huge, knobbly, 30 pound dirt bike rear tire cost the same as a 500g mountain bike tire?
Anyway, Wilseyville is in the scenic Sierra Nevada mountains. Yellow trees everywhere and beautiful country side made for an amazing course on private land. No pre riding allowed, which was quite intimidating.
The C and Ladies class was HUGE. I guess 350+ riders in 7 starts 1 min apart. Apparently in this sport I’m an old dude, (Vet plus) so I was in the 6th row. I thought the C class is the hack class, but I didnt see a single jean pant! Shiny pimped bikes, custom what what, new tires. - I was the only guy with indicators and a cute license plate. At least I could honk the horn to overtake. Mostly people on the ground, and a fat guy cramping.
Our line (30 years and over) was completely full -the biggest class. Maybe 80+ bikes, so I stood behind 2 fast looking guys- half in the Ladies row. Most of the girls were so small they needed a box next to the bike to get on…
I nicely stuffed up the start. Learnt what a “Dead engine shotgun start” was. When the gun shot went and the bikes fired up, the noise was so loud I couldnt tell if my bike was running or not. I think I opened the throttle while pushing the start button- then it wont start. So I panicked, for some reason popped 1st - you’re supposed to start in 2nd- and got off a few seconds late, but at the 1st corner there was a pile up- was quite funny (now) to see a guy rolling on the ground trying to get away with guys riding over him and his bike. Even in the C race these guys will eat you alive. Its a 7 mile lap and you see how many laps you can do in 90mins- funny concept to a triathlete. Imagine doing a triathlon where seeing who can cover the most ground in a fixed time wins…
It had been raining on and off the last few days before the race, so it was slick and muddy. Greasy mud, not sloppy. There was a 400m rocky river section (the only part I was fast at- no whoops or ruts!)) and the exits were super slick, muddy, rocky with more and more roots showing up every lap. And then there was the whoops and ruts. I’ve seen a few whoops on the trails around Reno before, and usually dont really know what to do with them- but these ones were slippery, so if you dont hit them straight, you were knotted. I often went round, but short, not too big sections I could handle.
I have never ridden a single rut before. Before our race, the course was still in good shape, but our race (C Class) was huge so the whoops and ruts got deeper every lap. I did 4 laps (23mi total) in 1h33. If I was 3min quicker I could have done another lap. Was caught in 2 slow bottle necks where a fat old (but fast) dude couldnt start his 2 stroke. Also lost time whenever I heard a screaming 2 stroke come up, I’d pull over or stop to let the fast guys through. (was lapped by about 15 guys. I think 1 may have been a chick)
On the 1st lap rode behind a guy who should have been wearing a jean pant- kind of all over the show, but at least I could see where the slippery parts were, in the river bed I moved up to 2nd last but by then the others were gone.
Just like cycling, I’d learn a lot by following a better rider, but I was completely dropped- so I just putzed away, staying in control and smooth, not knowing the limits or the techniques used for this 40 horse power mountain bike with tires the size of my thigh. I had a mental block on the whoops - some were 3 feet deep, slippery, with open roots and surrounded by trees in places. If that 14 year old girl on the small wheel 80cc could float over the top at high speed it cant be TOO hard? If only I knew the right technique and had the confidence to ride it once, I’d practice and master them. - A mantra I teach new mountain bikers all the time- only I couldnt get myself to do it. For once I was in their shoes and realized the importance of a mentor/coach/ helping friend to hold your hand and guide you up the first few steps of that big, huge technique pyramid.
The scenery is amazing and of course there was no dust. Drove 5hrs there through the snow, so didnt spend much time at the venue, but wish I could to see a bit more. Amber had to work, so no pics or video of me driving Miss Daisy.
I didnt crash, but my hands were covered in blisters, my quads were sore already and on the drive home it felt like my right forearm was broken. Must be from all that hard work keeping the throttle closed…
Being a beginner at a challenging sport was quite an eye opener and it made me appreciate anew novice triathletes’ fears, excitement and enthusiasm. After racing 15 to 35 triathlons a year for 21 years, I could do one in my sleep. I passionate about triathlon, but it took me a muddy day at the dirt bike races to relive and appreciate that special fuzzy feeling beginner triathletes are blessed with. Enjoy it while it lasts. Soon you too could blitz through T1 in your sleep.
09 WILSEYVILLE C SPORTSMEN
RESULTS FOR THE C VET PLUS CLASS. 11/22/2009
| LAP 1 | LAP 2 | LAP 3 | LAP 4 | LAP 5
PLACE RIDER LAPS FINISH DIFFERENCE NAME MPH MFG | POS/ TIME / DIFF | POS/ TIME / DIFF | POS/ TIME / DIFF |
001 475D 5 16:10:13.52 —– JONES, CHRISTIAN 25.97 KTM | 1 / 21:25 / 1 / 20:10 / 1 / 20:19 / —–| 1 / 20:53 / —–| 1 / 21:10 / —–
002 397X 5 16:14:45.31 04:32 JACOBS, DAVE 24.89 KTM | 21:46 /0:21|3 / 20:51 / 0:14| 3 / 20:51 / 0:45| 2 / 21:09 / 1:50| 2 / 23:52 / 4:32
003 618S 4 15:51:13.59 —– TOTH, PAUL 25.43 KTM | 7 / 22:23 / 0:04| 2 / 20:00 / 0:48| 2 / 20:20 / 0:49| 3 / 22:14 / 0:20|
004 322H 4 15:52:23.69 01:10 CHURBY, ALBERT 25.08 YAM | 5 / 22:11 / 0:02| 4 / 20:42 / 0:16| 4 / 21:25 / 0:50| 4 / 21:49 / 1:10|
005 35X 4 15:52:44.20 00:21 DOWD, JOE 24.98 KAW | 8 / 22:34 / 0:11| 8 / 21:46 / 0:06| 6 / 21:26 / 0:04| 5 / 20:42 / 0:21|
006 155D 4 15:53:49.23 01:05 BLASQUEZ, DAVID 24.67 KTM | 3 / 21:52 / 0:06| 6 / 22:19 / 0:02| 7 / 21:44 / 0:09| 6 / 21:38 / 1:05|
007 714E 4 15:53:52.31 00:03 JESBERG, CHRIS 24.66 HON | 4 / 22:09 / 0:17| 5 / 22:00 / 1:16| 5 / 21:33 / 1:24| 7 / 21:54 / 0:03|
008 271G 4 15:54:46.27 00:54 COGLIANDRO, KEVIN 24.41 HON | 9 / 22:44 / 0:10| 10 / 21:54 / 0:12| 8 / 22:12 / 0:55| 8 / 21:40 / 0:54|
009 778A 4 15:54:51.20 00:05 GOMEZ, ART 24.38 SUZ | 14 / 23:44 / 0:09| 11 / 21:44 / 0:50| 9 / 21:32 / 0:10| 9 / 21:35 / 0:05|
010 375A 4 15:56:06.80 01:15 RABBAT, RALPH 24.04 YAM | 6 / 22:19 / 0:08| 9 / 22:07 / 0:06| 10 / 22:53 / 0:19| 10 / 22:31 / 1:15|
011 442H 4 15:56:32.52 00:26 TEHANEY, PAUL 23.93 HON | 16 / 24:01 / 0:02| 14 / 22:15 / 0:15| 11 / 21:47 / 0:44| 11 / 22:13 / 0:26|
012 575X 4 15:57:00.83 00:28 GLASS, JOHN 23.81 YAM | 11 / 22:57 / 0:02| 12 / 23:00 / 0:29| 12 / 22:21 / 0:15| 12 / 22:26 / 0:28|
013 137C 4 15:57:41.41 00:41 DAMELE, JD 23.63 KTM | 12 / 23:11 / 0:14| 13 / 22:50 / 0:04| 13 / 22:19 / 0:02| 13 / 23:05 / 0:41|
014 105Q 4 15:59:26.31 01:45 GIBBS, WILLIAM 23.18 KTM | 17 / 24:12 / 0:11| 16 / 22:50 / 0:03| 14 / 22:39 / 1:21| 14 / 23:29 / 1:45|
015 778 4 16:00:15. 00:49 STOLTZ, CONRAD 22.98 KTM | 20 / 25:12 / 0:34| 17 / 22:53 / 1:03| 16 / 22:17 / 0:21| 15 / 23:37
016 300V 4 16:02:14.39 01:59 CHAMPE, DARRIN 22.51 YAM | 19 / 24:38 / 0:13| 15 / 22:21 / 0:43| 15 / 23:02 / 0:20| 16 / 25:57 / 1:59|
017 385V 4 16:05:23.70 03:09 CARLIN, JEREMY 21.79 YAM | 15 / 23:59 / 0:15| 18 / 25:26 / 1:20| 17 / 23:30 / 2:33| 17 / 26:12 / 3:09|
018 772 4 16:05:55.13 00:32 BRYAN, SHERIDAN 21.68 HON | 18 / 24:25 / 0:13| 20 / 25:56 / 0:29| 19 / 24:56 / 0:18| 18 / 24:22 / 0:32|
019 624G 4 16:06:07.47 00:12 BERNA, MICHAEL 21.63 KTM | 22 / 25:57 / 0:20| 21 / 24:27 / 0:03| 18 / 24:35 / 2:04| 19 / 24:52 / 0:12|
020 272A 4 16:07:22.08 01:15 WHIGHAM, KEVIN 21.36 HON | 21 / 25:37 / 0:25| 19 / 24:15 / 0:27| 20 / 25:54 / 0:29| 20 / 25:20 / 1:15|
021 631 3 15:49:45.27 —– LIMJOCO, ANTHONY 19.41 KTM | 23 / 26:44 / 0:47| 22 / 24:50 / 1:10| 21 / 31:55 / 7:43|
022 138R 3 15:52:26.13 02:41 SANDOVAL, CESAR 18.80 KTM | 24 / 27:41 / 0:57| 23 / 28:48 / 4:55| 22 / 29:41 / 2:41|
023 223X 3 16:02:07.31 09:41 MCGABIN, BRENDAN 16.90 HON | 25 / 28:11 / 0:30| 25 / 30:34 / 0:24| 23 / 37:06 / 9:41|
024 605E 2 15:10:30.83 —– FUHRMAN, MIKE 24.42 HON | 10 / 22:55 / 0:11| 7 / 21:19 / 0:03|
025 761 2 15:24:37.38 14:07 KIRKEBY, DAN 18.51 KTM | 13 / 23:35 / 0:24| 24 / 34:46 / 1:52|
Have some work to do before I can get out of Sport C Class, the guy who won Class B did 7 laps in 90 mins- that’s about 10 min a lap quicker then me!
| LAP 1 | LAP 2 | LAP 3 | LAP 4 | LAP 5 | LAP 6 | LAP 7
PLACE NAME MPH
001 ANDERSON, 25.74 YAMAHA | 14:06 14:11 13:31 13:48 13:20 15:07 13:50
The Off season - fun toy time.November 30, 2009
After 10 months of focussed training where every session and equipment choice was geared towards winning XTERRAs, it is fun to to try some of the other bikes in the garage.
I've had this S-works Enduro for 2 years now, but until a few weeks ago, it had less than 5 hrs on it. Most of them my friend Mark DeJohn put on it.
Finally it was my turn to ride for no other reason than having fun. And trying fun bikes and toys!
I pimped my 27 lbs, 6' travel carbon Enduro with one of my favourite Specialized products- the Command Post telescopic seat post. A must for any trail bike. In fact, I use it on my XC bikes too- With the push of a lever I can lower my centre of gravity by 2 or 4 inches and rail corners, hit water bars at high speed or do steep drop offs which would usually send me cart wheeling over the bars. At 6ft3 with long legs and a short body, the steep down stuff used to be my achilles' heel.
Another product I have been trying are these Specialized Body Geometry grips. Usually these flared grips come on touring bikes, and I was a little apprehensive about putting them on a trail bike. My dad taught me never to judge a sausage by its skin, and was I wrong about these Winged Wonders as I call them now.
Before I go into why I like them, some background: A few days ago I did my first Hare Scramble dirt bike race. (I was 128th in the Sportsman Class C race. My lap times were almost 10 mins slower than the fast Class B riders! I rode 24min laps and they 16 mins a lap. At
last, a sport I really suck at!) My KTM 450 and I were covered in mud and my hands were covered in blisters. The next 2 days I had to cut a tree and move a vast amount of dirt from our new homes' back yard. Swinging the pick axe and wielding the shovel and chain saw put more blisters in the few places I didnt have blisters already. So when I went on this ride my hands were raw as 2 filet steaks.
I picked Renos new Halo Trail. Its 2 hrs of low speed rock and chop. And this was my first ride with these grips and immediately I noticed:
- Comfort. The "wings" fit nicely in the palms of your hands, distributing the weight over a larger surface. I can see this being a great benefit during long rides and stage races. Or when your hands are covered in blisters...
-Control. This one I didnt expect at all. Once I started rocking and rolling the big travel bike over rock jumps and through loose corners I was amazed at the increased amount of control I had on the bike. Not only does your palms have much more contact with the grip, but your fingers have a lot more contact and leverage underneath the bar. Very handy for lifting the back end of the bike like bunny hopping, jumping and
Word is the Specialized engineers are working on a light XC race version....
When giving everything is not enoughNovember 10, 2009
Yes, I am disappointed. (Thanks for the nice e-mails. True friends are the ones who cares no matter the result) I did everything in my power to get to this race in top form and win a 4th World title. My equipment was faultless. But I was 5th best that day. I gave 100% in preparation and execution. I am content with that knowledge.
Winners look great and when you win a race it feels easy.(ok, relatively easy) Winning means you’re in control, within your limits. Losing is hard, physically. It means you gave 110%, played all your cards and lost. I gave it all, as can be seen here in my rare “Rocky Balboa on the ropes” look…
The 2nd half of this season was just too much.
That cut in my foot was too deep, too long and too dirty.
Yes that cut: (Late June at XTERRA Richmond- read race report and surgery report) Dr Moose Herring in Richmond, VA is the coolest surgeon/triathlete you’ll ever come across- have your next surgery with Moose Herring…
Too much hospital time.
Too hard nosed to not race 2.5 weeks later: (with hardly any training, but it helped me win my 7th USA Series title)
- Too many injuries. When I resumed training early August, the injuries started. Typical Caveman, I thought “once the hole closes, I can carry on as if nothing happened”. This time I was wrong. It feels like I spent more time (and a small fortune) getting massage/ rehab/acupuncture than I spent training. I would fear running sessions, not knowing what was going to hurt next. I havent had a training related injury in ages, and I was reminded about the head games injury plays with an athlete on a deadline.
- Too little time. 3 weeks before USA Champs (7 weeks before Worlds) I realized I was in trouble. I was self coached this year, and knew how to get to Worlds in the right shape if everything went right. But everything was going wrong. I started panicking and needed someone to help me with a quick fix. Like anyone else would, I reached for Facebook. Ian Rodger was a sport scientist at the Sport Science Institute in Cape Town where he did lab tests on my preparation for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I didnt know him well and it took me a while to track him down on Facebook. (I knew I had the right Ian Rodger when I saw the Ian with the profile pic of a cyclist riding a slimy cobblestone “road” somewhere in Belguim) I havent seen him in over 5 years, but I remember being impressed at how he combined the science of sport with the practical aspect of sport, especially cycling, and how he could look at wattage numbers and get a ton of information form it. First thing he did was to put me on 180mm cranks. A 6ft 3 guy with a 33inch saddle height warrants long levers. The 2nd thing was to lower my saddle to alleviate the lower back pain that has been bothering me for many years. (Was great in training, but in the race it showed up again- so if you see me riding sitting up, with no hands, bouncing through loose lava- its to relieve my QL pain.)
He very much liked the numbers he saw in those tests back in 2000 which instilled confidence in me. (512W Peak power and 430W for 20km) His knowledge of numbers also meant we could to some extent overcome the 12 000mi geographical coach/athlete problem. Ian did damage control during a really tough time for him personally- his mom was dying from cancer.
We only had a handful of sessions “to count” between racing USA Champs and traveling to Kona where I trained in the heat and did some appearances for Specialized and Avia. I knocked out a few good sessions- the last recorded one being 5x 10min hill climbs at an average of 451W. Of course I did too much faffing around at Ironman and subsequently missed a few days fighting a cold. Not much fun spending 3 days in a hotel bed on a tropical island.
I know its a cliche amongst athletes, but I really needed at least 4 more weeks of prep…
Too much of a road race. I dont mean to whine, but this course technically, gets easier every year. Apart from a few patches of loose pebbles, 2 turns and a few steep climbs, its really a road ride with 3000ft of climbing. What happened to laying awake the night before the race, trying to remember which gnarly root section came after the 3ft drop off? Its cool to have 500 people in the same race at the same time, but if the course gets any easier we’ll have to start calling it “Ironman.”
Too bad bad luck strikes all too often: 2 Days before Worlds Ruben Ruzafa (last years champion) crashed on the practice course and got 40 stitches, Brent McMahon was injured last minute and DNSed. Dan Hugo’s season was similar to mine- got hit by an apple truck in the spring, struggled with subsequent injuries and then finally H1N1 finished his season off- bad things happen to great athletes- its the nature of the game. Especially this one.
I fought them on the landings, I fought them in the trenches and I fought them on the beaches, but I was seeing so many stars, I cant even remember on which beach Olivier Marceau passed me for 4th.
Hindsight. After a long, hard and stressful season with seemingly more time on the massage table than in training, a $45k hospital bill (thankfully USAT took care of that), it was nice to wash away the dirt, stress and bad memories of a good season turned bad. And temporary respite from the heavy burden of being the guy who has to win.
XTERRA World Champs machineNovember 2, 2009
Here is a run down of my Specialized Epic S-works for XTERRA World Champs in Maui
My Specialized Epic S-works worked like a dream, and this course is infamously tough on equipment. A lot of work has gone into the preparation of the bike for this race in particular.
- Tires. Specialized has been amazingly helpful in helping me find a tire that is truly Caveman proof. Over the past year we have had 2 extensive tire testing camps. (read more about testing on www.conradstoltz.com
Because these sidewalls are so strong, you have to run really low pressure to provide a good, comfey ride. I rolled 23.5psi in the front and 27.5psi in the rear. (on "normal" courses I would go 23 and 26.5psi)
-Wheels: The Roval Controle wheels are light and strong, I can mount my tubeless tires by floor pump (YAY!!) but the coolest feature is the crumple zone. (thats what I call it anyway) If you hit a rock at high speed and low pressure, the rim dents slightly, which saves the tire from a rim cut. I have a set of "tire testing wheels" that has a few dents, but the wheels stay true, strong, and best of all, the air stays in the tire...
-Suspension. 2 weeks before Worlds I got the new Brain shock made by Specialized and Fox. It works really well, and is very reliable. Instead of the usual 180 psi I put in the "old" 2007-2009 shock, I put 210 psi in the new Fox shock. (To achieve 1cm sag for my 180lbs. (80kg))
- 180mm Cranks. My saddle height is 84cm or 33inches, (I'm 6ft3) and with legs as long as that, my new coach, Ian Rodger urged me to switch to 180mm cranks to make the most of the leverage benefit they provide. (We did some power testing at 175, 177.5 and 180mm) The conversion wasnt plain sailing though, and Garth from Specialized HQ had to do some serious squeezing to fit the Truvativ 180s into the Specialized BB.
I recently did an interview and photo session with Jamie from Singletrack.com.September 21, 2009
I recently did an interview and photo session with Jamie from Singletrack.com.
Jamie: Just to confirm, how many Xterra race have you done on the Epic 29er?
Conrad: None this year. I raced Sea Otter (Short Track and XC) and Sierra 100. Last year I raced XTERRA Snow Valley on the 29er Stumpy. Because of my accident and surgery on my foot I havent had any "fun XTERRAs" where I could experiment with equipment- every race was a battle for points.
It sounded like you go with the 29er on “less” important Xterra races (which races did you run the 29er?). Instead, you are using the 26-inch, carbon dually for the big events.
Thats right. The main reason for that is the tires. I'm 180 and have a point and shoot riding style, (which favours the 29er) but last year I had a lot of flats in races. Over the off season we did a lot of tire testing with Specialized and worked on a tire with a stronger "Caveman proof" casing. I have been racing those protoypes (only available in 26") all summer and my only flat was a 5 inch nail which went through both sides of the tire. This strong casing tire is in manufacturing right now and it will be available a number of the Specialized XC tread patterns, in 26" and 29". That would allow me to race the 29er with more confidence.
The 29er Epic is alu and still a bit on the porky side- 26lbs compared to my 23.8lbs 26' carbon 26" Epic- However I 'm not much of a weight weenie and I think those few pounds would only be a disadvantage on a seriously climbing course.
Also, is the 29er more of your off-road training rig and the one you pick for technical rides (either race/training/fun?)
I ride the 29er whenever I can. Especially on technical and loose/rocky rides we have here. I ride the 2.20 Captain tires, and have a Command Post on it, so by lowering the saddle 2 or 4 inches, that bike will go just about anywhere.
I use the 26" bike only when I have to test equipment or make sure the bike is race ready.
Without going into specifics, what is the likelihood of you racing a carbon dually 29er in the near future? Or how practical would be to actually race such a rig compared to a 26er?
Chances are pretty good. I'd race a light dual suspension 29er with good suspension and strong tires at 90% of the races.
Specialized riders, like Todd Wells, are racing XC on 29 hardtails. Why haven’t you gone that direction in the big Xterra events?
The last time I rode a hard tail is 2001. Maybe I should give the 29er HT a whirl. Its such a beautiful bike. There are 2 fast and smooth XTERRA courses in the Midwest where I would consider the HT. The reason I favour the dual sus is the fact that I can ride a "relaxed" steady, TT effort which saves energy for the run. ( ie I just stay seated and plow ahead) Of course your body doesnt get a banged up on the full sus as much and you start the run fresher.
You and Ned Overend mixed it up quite a bit on the Xterra circuit in the early 2000s; physically, you two are quite different. What did you learn from him as far as the bike?
In my 1st XTERRA season 2001 I raced on borrowed bikes like this sweet Softride below- I travelled with my own 2nd hand shoes, cheap pedals and new yellow Python tires and tubes. (and speedo and running camel back!) Then I would just borrow a bike for the race. Ned was hot stuff on the XTERRA circuit then (He won Worlds in 98 and 99) obviously we raced each other throughout the season and he watched with amazement my assortment of borrowed bikes. I won most of the races, and the USA Series. Ned then asked me if I wanted to ride for Specialized. I said "sure" , knowing that usually that kind of talk leads to nothing. A week before XTERRA Worlds in Maui there was a brand new Specialized M5 with tubeless tires AND a new helmet AND new shoes on my doorstep. It was like Xmas!
I took the bike to the shop to have it built and when the guys heard the story they said "then you have to read Neds book. "Mountain bike like a Champion" " They gave me the book, and I only started reading it 4 days before Worlds. Realizing it was full of gems, reading the book was a race against the clock. (I had a lot to learn back then)
I took the book to race briefing for Ned to sign and he wrote: "Conrad, dont read this book, you are already too fast." Surely a prized possession.
I won 2001 Worlds by 10minutes. That new bike felt like a motor bike. Obviously we wanted to ink a sponsorship deal, I had no idea what to ask for, so I asked Ned. He said "ask for X", I asked for X and thats what I got.
For a guy with no sponsorship (expect for Oakley) that was a dream come true. Specialized has been a great sponsor since, and I sometimes feel sorry for the other guys who have to ride other brands.
Ned gave me 2 workouts when I asked him how to become a better climber, he said: 3x10' technical hill climbs. Start #1at about race effort and build #2 and 3 even harder. Downhill as fast as you can back to the start. The other was: find a gradual hill of 45 min and alternate between 5 min at AT and 7 min at medium pace- to simulate the varying pitches at Maui XTERRA
I see Ned at some of the events and sometimes at product testing with Specialized (we tested the current Epic in the spring of 08)- what an awesome guy. Also, he has great stories. When he was young he drove to Vegas to become a blackjack dealer, but hated Vegas so much, he drove back to CO the next day.
He is an incredibly down to earth and approachable guy- fans love Ned.
And considering Ned’s living-legend status even then, what was your strategy against him?
Make 3 minutes in the swim, (it may not be enough) and try to not give him more than 2 minutes off the run...
Especially: Whatever you do, dont race Ned at altitude or in the high mountains.
The Best Bike Shop In BendAugust 31, 2009
During our recent training camp in Bend, OR, I had some bike trouble. I took my bike to Hutch's Bicycles in Bend's West side. Despite their wild skills, they couldnt save my ride. I did something Caveman-esque to my mountain bike, (which, this time, not even duct tape or a tightly wound tube could fix) and had to resort to road riding that day.
The next day I borrowed a friends' 5' trail bike and Amber and I were going to ride the epic Flagline. Straight out the driveway Ambers cranks on her S-works Era almost fell off. Turns out her mechanic (also happens to be a certain "Caveman") didnt install ALL the parts required for BB assembly. I towed her to Hutch's. As usaul, he guys were great. They didnt even make too much fun of my wild wrenching skills! They fixed her BB pronto, and when we picked the bike up a little later, I noticed they even replaced the cables and housing. Seems like the Caveman also neglected to install those plastic end cap things that goes at the ends of cable housing...
We had a phenomenal ride, thanks to the cool crew at Hutch's.
When riding the trails in Central Oregon, be sure to visit them. They also rent all kind of Specialized bikes. www.hutchsbicycles.com
Training and visiting in Bend, Oregon.August 31, 2009
I trained in my old home town of Bend, Oregon for about 2 weeks. Back in 2004, as it was the Olympic year, (back then I raced triathlon at the Olympics) I was asked not train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs anymore. From 2000 -2003 I was the US resident teams' "whipping boy" on the bike. Point taken.
My XTERRA rival Steve Larsen persuaded me to move to Bend. I packed all my belongings in the Red Rocket (1987 2 door Nissan Sentra), threw my 3 bikes on the bike rack, and drove the 3 days to Bend. (Back then my "cutting edge" Specialized bike were: Bright red 1st generation S Works Epic with very basic Brain, a very Red S works E5 alu road bike with oval tubing, and 1st generation black S-works alu Transition TT bike I called "the Black Mamba")
Steve let me stay in their guest room for a week, before passing me on to his best friend Michael Nyberg. Who worked for Marketing Sales at Rodale Press before joining Steve under Steve Larsen Commercial Real Estate.
I fell in love with Bend right away. The amazing scenery, the active, laid back people, the training and the smell of Junipers and sight of distant snow capped volcanos when you walk across the tarmac to the terminal. Which was the size of a small house then.
Since then Michael has become family. Whenever I visit Bend, I stay with him. These visits has become especially poignant since Steve's tragic death this summer.
It may be a cliche, but "Live life 100% every day."
Ultraman CanadaAugust 21, 2009
Amber Monforte (my girlfriend) won Ultraman Canada this past weekend: Day 1: 10km swim 90mi bike . Day 2: 180mi bike, Day 3: 55mi run.
After taking off work and racing pro XTERRA last year, Amber went back to work and decided to try something new. Ultraman
She didnt train like crazy, but did a few 8 hr rides, a 180 mi road race in the Sierras with 20 000ft of climbing, and the Death ride (130mi). Oh yes, and a couple of 4hr trail runs. And two 2h30 swims in Lake Tahoe. And some stuff in between...
Anyway, to make a long story short, she absolutely killed it. Amber broke the swim record, (but 2 girls in front of her did too) she broke the Day 1 bike record, the Day 2 bike record, and the run record by about 45min. In total, she lopped 3h55 off the old record, which includes Worlds in Kona.
About 3 weeks before Ultraman she got a brand new Specialized Ruby Pro and Women's Specialized BG Pro shoes. She loved it, as the old Giant TCR didnt cut it anymore. Ultraman had tons of climbing and some serious headwinds- 65km at a stretch. So it was a real test for the bike. (and rider!) She especially likes the compact cranks for the big climbs, the shock absorbing Zerts and the comfey fit. As you can see in the photo, she gets really low and aero and can comfortably stay there for 8 hrs. (!?!)
Read more about Amber's Ultraman on her blog: http://ambermonforte.blogspot.com/2009/08/ultraman-canada-day-1.html
Graham and I were the support crew. Quite a process supporting someone for 3 days. (We could run with her on Day 3) Had lots of fun, and leanrt some serious respect, these athletes are amazing.
XTERRA North East Cup in VermontJuly 21, 2009
After the horrific cut and infection to my foot at XTERRA Richmond 3 weeks ago, I decided to race XTERRA North East Cup in Vermont. See graphic pics here and
My Secret Weapon, The Command Post.July 8, 2009
A remote controlled seat post that offers a 10cm (4 inch) drop. There are 3 fixed positions: Fully extended, 2 inch drop and 4 inch drop. The 3 settings are really easy to find - hold in the bar mounted lever and the post pneumatically extends, or put some weight on the
saddle to lower. I use all 3 settings in races and training. The Command Post is about 200g heavier than my "normal" seat post. Before each race I'll asses the technical aspects of the course vs the amount of climbing and decide which post to use. I went with the Command Post about 75% of the time. It takes about 3 or 4 hrs to get used to the system. Actually, it takes you 10 minutes to get used to the system, but it takes 2h50 to 3h50 to get to know what you can DO with such a low seat position!
Some of the XTERRA courses are quite technical, with drops and lots of cornering. Dropping your seat makes intimidating trail pretty easy (and fast) to ride.
Also, I'm 6ft 2 on an XL bike - which means my center of gravity is really high- bad for cornering. So even if the trail is good, I may drop the seat through some corners so I can get lower and lean the bike over more.
I think this is a "must have" for beginners and people who are intimidated by ugly trail and gravity.
I will make it tubeless again...June 12, 2009
Dan Hugo and I pre rode the XTERRA Richmond course shortly after our arrival from XTERRA Northwest Cup in Coeur D'Alene, where I had a 4 inch nail puncture my tubeless tire in 2 places.
My replacement tire was in the mail, so I rode the tire with the 2 nail holes, and just put in a tube. Of course it flatted. I changed the tube. It deflated faster than I could pump. Before putting our last tube in I carefully inspected for sharp objects.
It also deflated faster than what I could pump. We still had a lot of riding to do and I wasnt going to call it quits. I was going to make that tire tubeless again.
First I used a bottle cap to scoop the sealant from the healthy front tire and put it in the rear. With the 2 huge holes.
To make sure the front tire seals, I poured Gu2O from my drink bottle in the tire.
Dan had one Genuine Innovations tire plug. We cut the plug in half and hoped the 2 small plugs would seal 2 big holes. Of course they didnt. So I took left over electrical tape, wound it into rope and plugged the hole. Like so:
You may also wonder what I did to get a tubeless valve. Thats easy, I used my Caveman teeth and chewed the valve stem out of a tube.
Sidewall plugs are notoriously hard to seal and despite the 1/2 tire plug, rolled up electrical tape and Gu2O mixed with Slime and Stans it still kept leaking.
That is where the Boer* came out of the Caveman. "a Boer makes a plan" so I wound a tube tightly around the tire, covering the 2 holes.
* "Boer" is an Afrikaaner or farmer from South Africa.
To anchor the loose end, I tied it around the hub and got immense pleasure from cutting the left over tube off with the razor sharp brake rotor. Instead of using my teeth again... (it leaves a funny taste in your mouth) With this clever trick, the more pressure you put in, the better the system works.
In fact it worked so well, we finished our 5hr ride, which included a coffee and cake stop at The Crossroads cafe, right on the course.
The soft rubber offers such great traction on these wet, rooty surfaces at the next tire testing I'll suggest we cover the tire with a layer of tube.
In fact, I think I should apply for a position at engineering...
XTERRA MidwestMay 19, 2009
Apart from competing in the Chicago Triathlon a few times (which I won in 2001) I have never been to the Midwest. Proper Midwest- small towns, green farmland and flat expanse.
The welcome in Battle Creek, Michigan- home of Kelloggs cereals- was warm and hearty. Its not often they get pro athletes from all over the world. As usual, we were set up with home stays. Partly to save on expenses, but also the best way to get to know the local people and their culture.
My home stay Jim is an avid mountain biker and he really enjoyed showing a few of us the race course. A huge tract of forest, which the military donated to the city- flat as a pancake with so many turns it makes your head spin. Left by ourselves, we would have been lost till monday.
The trails were the most perfect consistency imaginable. Like velcro in the corners and like tar road on the straights. I brought tires for what I though was all occasions: my pantzer* Fast Tracks, panzer* Captains and some Sauserwinds for sticky mud. *The panzer refers to the durable Armadillo like prototype casings I'm riding this year. Its a heavier, slower casing, but its Caveman proof. Should be for sale later this year. But when I saw this high speed, low risk course, I called the tire guys at Specialized, asking for the Renegade- our lightest, fastest tire. I called it "the Condom" the 1st time I saw it. Normally I wouldnt consider such a light tire, but this is a once in a lifetime course. There are about 2 rocks and 3 roots out there. Somehow Bobby (our Team Manager) got word of my request and my phone went nuts. 1st a text that said “NO!” “Call me”, then some more threats and by the time I finally got to argue my case, I knew I was fighting a losing battle. I’d say “Bobby, this course is safe, (punctures) I need the fast tires” and he would say “Ride what you have. Just pedal harder- you can win on any tires, as long as there is air in them!” Not much sympathy.
Race morning was cold with frost. The water was only 60 deg F, but much warmer than the air, which made a warm up ride an unpleasant affair.
I had a good swim- 2nd out the water. Once on the bike I took off hard trying to get out of sight as quickly as possible. It was a 2 lap course with a nice balance between pedaling sections and technical sections where you can recover. I have been doing quite a bit of dirt biking, which has really trained my concentration, and helped me stay focussed no matter what. I rode the forest sections almost without fault- maybe a little over braking a few times.
Dan Hugo was riding really well, staying just a few turns behind me up to about 10km where he promptly lost a contact lens! He picked it up off the ground, and put it back in record time, losing only 30 seconds, but it must be unnerving at least.
We had 4 water crossings, 2 of them axle deep and at high speed- I plowed through the icy water so fast, the spray went over my head. Of course your shoes, gloves etc would be wet and freezing- causing numb feet and fingers - making for some interesting transitions.
At the end of the bike, my dumb fingers and feelingless feet somehow got running shoes on, and for a while it felt like I was running on stumps. At 5km I felt the back half of my feet and I only felt my toes by 8km. I had a relatively comfortable lead and unlike Las Vegas, didnt have to dig too deep. (we are racing again this coming weekend, so "saving some for later" seemed like a good idea.) Little did I know of the frenzied racing going on behind me. A minute after I finished, they sprinted across the line in quick succession, number 2 - 6 finished within 2 minutes! Not sure if its a good or a bad thing I didnt get splits...
The XTERRA Series consists of 8 races, from which your 5 best placings count. I have 2 wins, with my 2 favourite courses coming up. Richmond and Alabama. 2 courses are unknown and 2 will be climbing races.
This Sunday we are racing in steamy Birmingham, Alabama. The run is murderous. Steep hills through the forest- in some places there is no trail, they just mark a course through the trees- straight up and down forested hills. Some of the downhills are so steep, you have to grab on to trees to slow down.
There has also been 21 inches of rain in the last 2 days and apparently the bike course is a mess- or heaven- depending how you like your rocks and roots...
XTERRA Las VegasMay 18, 2009
After a good performance at Sea Otter, I went into my 1st XTERRA of the season knowing that the form is there. The 09 XTERRA season is heavily loaded with 7 races between may 2 and mid July. Lots and lots of traveling...
The course in Las Vegas was like a moon landscape- loose, dusty rubble with super steep hills and some dry riverbed. Not much single track unfortunately.
Despite the heat the water was cool and we had a wet suit legal swim. Usually I try to hang with the leaders, but I kept up surprisingly comfortably, and after weighing my options I decided to go to the front and push the pace. Even though we were in the lead in the (mens') swim, (a girl lead the swim!) there were great cyclist/runners who needed to be kept at a distance in the swim. Steve Larsen, Brian Smith, Josiah Middaugh and Nico Lebrun.
After a quick transition I had a small lead over Dan Hugo and 3 other guys from our swim group. (I'm quick through transition thanks to my customized Specialized Transition shoes and years on the ITU circuit.)
I felt pretty strong, rode well, would have liked to have known the course better (only had 1 look at it) but I was gapping the riders behind. On top of a climb I dropped the chain and somehow managed to bend it 90deg. It took me a second to figure out what was wrong- I have never seen a chain bend like that- I thought my race was over. Fortunately the bend was in 1 link only and with hope I bent the chain as straight as I could. I thought, "this chain will never hold" and I promised myself to stay in the big blade the whole way. Impossible, of course...
After that I was quite rattled and then saw Josiah coming up from behind. Either he swam amazingly or his riding like a demon. Turned out it was both! I became annoyed because I coudlnt focus and kept braking too much through a long twisty section. The last turn I told myself, "screw it I'm not braking here" Of course my front wheel washed out and I went down in front of the TV camera (www.xterra.tv) and my girlfriend!
Halfway through the 30km bike Josiah caught up and a little later hit me hard on one of the steep climbs. I had to let him go, and as one of the most feared runners, I thought the race was his. I tried to limit my losses, clawing time back on the technical stuff and losing time on the climbs. By the end of the bike I was 1.15 down.
Once my Avia Stoltz's were laced up, I took off into the moon landscape and tackled the very hilly run course determined to stay solid- with the strong winds, steep climbs and bad surface, one could lose a lot of time. I could see Josiah slowly crawling up a near vertical climb. For a while I savored the satisfaction of the comfy ride of the trail racing shoes I personally designed, and next thing noticed the gap was shrinking. I poured on the "powder" a bit more, making sure to stay under the red line, calculating every footstep: continually weighing the shortest route vs good footing.
On the downhills, I let go of the brakes, letting gravity pull my 80kg forward seemingly out of control. I caught up next to Josiah just before the start of the 2nd lap. Considering I just made up 1.15 in 5km I thought pulling away would be pretty easy. But Josiah is tough as nails and obviously savours tooth and nail racing. He picked up the pace, politely elbowed me into the bad lines and sprinted to take the shortest route and aid stations. Real racing!
I picked our battlefield on my terms- 2km from the finish- all either down or flat. I hit him as hard as I could and readied myself for a agonizing 2km drag race. I dared not look behind- a sure sign of fear. After what felt like ages, I couldnt take the suspense anymore and stole a quick peek: He was a small speck far in the distance- compared to what I expected. Phew! I could zip up the jersey, wipe off my face (in case of snot and/or mud) and go down the finish at a civilized pace.
The 1st race of the season is usually a good indicator of the rest of the seasons' racing, so I was happy with a solid race. Behind us the gaps were huge- Dan Hugo, in 3rd, was 5min back, and had 3 minutes on Mike Vine in 4th.
Specialized S-Works Epic.
Tires: Fast Track Prototype #5.
28 psi rear
Shoes: Custom Trivent with MTB sole.
The making of a video.May 11, 2009
This video was made for the “triathlon” part of the i-am-specialized website.
The i-am-specialized website is aimed at being the public’s way of following Specialized riders’ racing and stories online. It is a new site and will mostly aim at internet video content. Internet video is the new TV.
I am honoured to be the 1st triathlete to have a video on the site. Terrenzo and Macca will have videos soon…
The shoot started with swimming. Bobby Behan- our Marketing Manager (and a few other things) used to be a pro triathlete himself, (we lived and trained together in Stellenbosch in 2000) so he knew exactly what needed to go into this movie. He sat in the director chair for 2 days.
Aaron Vogel just realized his dream job by becoming Specialized’s first in-house videographer. He says it wasnt really his dream job- he couldnt dream of a job where he could ride bikes and make movies AND get paid for it!
Anyway, Bobby decided we’ll kick off with swimming. And posing. Lots and lots of posing. I hate posing, but it was one of the many things I learnt about acting that fateful day….
After an interview about training and swimming (to use a voice over video) Aaron, Bobby and myself had lunch and set off to Henry Bear park. A beautiful place in the hills near the Specialized head quarters in Morgan Hill, CA.
Aaron had this huge equipment bag- at least 40lbs- and was trying to climb these really steep hills on an Enduro bike. (ie not a climbing bike!) I remembered seeing a really pretty place on top of the hills and made them ride up there instead of shooting at the bottom of the hills- which is less scenic. Aaron was wearing a full face helmet with a camera mounted - so he was really suffering. So I helped and rode the bag to the top.
Of course we still had to do the run pictures. The light was getting really good, but it was a race against sunset. We still had to shoot 3 locations running and an interview. You’ll notice in the last interview on the video where the light is fading fast. And I look hungry, tired and broken from a full days’ acting. Acting is not glamorous, its definitely hard work and real actors are really gifted. I just rode my bike, swam and ran, (many takes) and mumbled a
few lines. No use scripting those- when I repeated scripted lines it sounded like and old gramophone that got stuck.
Sea Otter ClassicApril 22, 2009
Christoph won comfortably. Todd had a flat, I gave him my CO2 and he finished 6th- which allowed him to win the Omnium-(Short Track and XC combined) Great for Todd, Specialized and the 29er. Lene finished 2nd in the XC and won the ladies’ Omnium. A great start for the season. Burry had a head cold from the previous day and saved it for this coming weeks World Cup in Germany.
I had a close sprint finish with Jeremiah Bishop for 7th. A lot of fun. Quite surprised at my results. (16th in short track and 8th in XC)
I was stoked to be “randomly selected” for UCI drug testing. The 180bs triathlete tearing it up at XC? Of course he needs testing!
More stories shortly.
Looking forward to a good XTERRA season.
"Riding with champions", Northern California High School league & Specialized.April 14, 2009
Northern California has a booming High School racing programme. It is run a by a non profit organization and Specialized enthusiastically pitched in with a huge truckload of demo bikes for the kids to try out, and 3 World Champions on loan. Hence “Riding with the Champions.” Ned Overend, Rebecca Rusch and myself.
The kids could choose between the Specialized Epic, Stumpjumper, Stumpjumper 29er and the Enduro. The Specialized mechanic set the kids up on bikes, adjusted the suspension for each one, then we had a safety briefing before setting off into the beautiful Paolo Alto Redwood hills. Great riding. Was really cool to see the excited kids, their enthusiasm brings back fond memories of my days a rabid bike geek teenager.
Sani2C Mountain bike raceMarch 4, 2009
Specialized Factory rider Burry Stander and I was lucky enough to get an entry into the 3 day Sani2C MTB race. (The race has a 3 year waiting list)
Burry used this race as training for the Cape Epic next month, where he will race for nothing but 1st with World Champ Christoph Sauser, before they tackle the UCI World cup series, where Burry finished 5th and Christoph 2nd last year .
I used this race as base training for my upcoming XTERRA triathlon season which kicks off May 1 in Las Vegas. Fresh out of the off season, I lacked the miles but didnt lack the off season weight. (about 5kg of it) A deadly combination considering I was trying to hang onto a little kid they call “Dart”!
Typically the 1st hour or so of a stage (stages were between 75 and 100km) would be open dirt road and it would basically be a road race. Sprinting up the climbs and soft pedalling the rest. Or thats what it felt like for my diesel engine. I saw heart rates I havent seen in 10 years!
Next thing there was a buzz of wheels overlapping and riders went down in front of me. No time to brake I swerved into the steep camber of the side of the road and barely recovered a 2 wheel slide. About 5 riders were down, including Burry, who was holding his “bad knee.” Ben Melt looked really hurt and later had his elbow wired together. (in a hospital) With great effort Burry and I paced back to the lead pack. I had to do all the down hill pacing as he only had a 40×11 top gear. (I had 44×11) As we caught the pack they took off like mad on a long climb and thats where I blew my gasket.
Eventually delicious single track started, and crossing a large dam on floating pallets was great fun too. We came in 7th, and was treated like royalty at the Specialized support tent. They took our haggard, muddy bikes off us and make them brand new again. In fact, any rider on a Specialized bike got the same treatment! Quite a perk considering the abuse bikes take on this kind of racing.
The afternoon was spent watching Off Road to Athens, eating, waiting for a shipment of fresh legs and watching the rain pour down. Oh yes, and eating!
It rained so much that afternoon, I thought the tent was going to float away. I said “I wish I has some Specialized Sauserwinds.” (smooth rolling mud/all round tire) I found it funny that Burry likes slick tires in the mud: “Ek laaik nogal die Specialized Fast Track SLK in die modder” he said. (he likes the Fast Trak SLK in the mud) The SLK stands for Super Low Knob. To me that translates to “Slippery Like Krazy” in mud. Amazingly he makes it work. On dry singletrack I can keep up with him, but when it gets really slippery, he magically slips out of sight.
Stage 2 was 100km with magical single track and life time memory views of the Umkumaas valley. Despite losing about 800m in altitude, there is 3000m of vert gain. The slippery conditions were all fun and games till we hit the bottom part of Nicks Pass, where the mud was just insane. Your tires turned to fat sausages, when you turned you went straight, when you went straight, you turned, and braking actually made you go faster! In fact, it was lot of fun. After that there were about 5 river crossings, about thigh deep, (waist deep for Burry!) where you could submerge your bike and wash off some mud. One guy washed away his Garmin GPS…
At the 50k point there was a 10 minute compulsory stop, supposedly for the heat, but since we started at the ridiculous hour of 5.30am, had been riding in mud and fording raging rivers, we were not hot. Washed bikes, lubed chains (Squirt lube- or White Gold) and filled bottles. (I really got to test the new Gu2O) The Nandos burgers werent even ready yet, but thats a good thing, because the climbing was about to really start and Burry was out the start gate like, well, a dart. On the climbs he made me feel like I was in reverse, but on the flats we rolled nicely, and I had to pull on the open down hills. Supposedly due to my superior gearing and wattage, but I suspect it has something to do with my 25kg superior backside!
The training from Day 1 must have helped, because I felt fitter already! This is one of the the most fun (technical) and scenic stage races you can do. The riding was so idyllic, I lost track of our progress, because, just when I thought we only had 10 minutes to go, the 10km to go sign came up. I was already on the ropes, as I had been out of water for 10km and had burned through the big hand full of Gu Roctane gels I stuffed in my pocket at 3.30 that morning. (or maybe I should have had the Nandos Burger!) The last 10km was mostly uphill and very bumpy/sandy/everything a bonked rider doesnt need. Burry was hovering 50m up the road like a lure, as we were catching a fast fading Team Jeep.
Then the ants started crawling over my scalp. (ie seemingly life threatening bonk/sugar low) I lost all self respect and started yelling “Burry!” “Burry!” This time I wasnt going to ride over to him, he had to wait for me. “You need chain lube?” he asked when I caught up. If I had a few more whits about me, I would have punched him, but instead I said slowly and clearly: “EK-IS-HONGER”. I AM HUNGRY.
He gave me a gel and I emptied his water bottle and then continued to pedal squares all the way to the finish. Team Jeep completely out of sight… We finished 6th.
When I came out of my coma, we talked tires and Burry said something like: “You pedal through the rocks.” He said it like it was a bad thing, but I took it as a compliment. Thats where I win races. The 30km bike leg of XTERRA is a constant, time trail effort, as opposed to the sprints and accelerating of World Cup MTB racing. Thats why the World Cup guys like light, fast tires. They sprint off the start, up the short climbs and into single track. Once on single track, there is no overtaking (much) and you get to freewheel and recover. With XTERRA racing, I run the diesel engine at threshold everywhere on the course. As long as I have pedal clearance and have the rear wheel on the ground I want to be pedalling. Thats why we are developing the more robust casing Specialized Armadillo Elite tires I tested here.(and earlier at Tire testing) With the superiour suspension on my Specialized S-works Epic- why not?
Stage 3 was a bit like a road race, we averaged 30km/h, rode fun floating pallets again, and I do recall mumbling to Burry “if I see another hill, I’m going to cry” but we finally reached the ocean and finished with dirty smiles. After a half hearted wash of bike and me, (not together) I collapsed in the shade. Burry filled his bottles and rode the 70km home. In the rain…
End result 5th. Not bad. Thanks to Farmer Glen and Max from Sani2C. Also Rob, Stuart, Adrian and the rest of the Specialized crew.
My first knobby tire bike...February 18, 2009
I was a rabid cyclist at the age of 5. It was the year 1979 and it was Christmas.
Santa (my dad minus the Santa costume) wheeled in the most amazing bike I had ever laid eyes upon- in fact, it was a little motorbike. Minus the engine!
It was black with yellow plastics: Mud guards, a number plate, (#1) even a little bottomless petrol tank. The suspension was HUGE. (ok, I was 5) Double coil springs in the rear. It had a long banana seat and a cutting edge back pedal brake. Most important- it had knobbly tires. At last, the “knoppe bande fiets” I had been dreaming about.
Of course the bike was way too big. The frame had some ridiculous guarantee, so my parents bought the bike too big as it “would last forever” and I would “grow into it”.
I remember not really being able to ride it properly for a while. (even though I was a little Greg Minnaar on my little purple 12” tire bike) Soon I had built jumps in the back yard and went “skidding” with the other kids on an open piece of dirt behind George the Greeks Café.
I loved that bike and went everywhere on it. After years of faithful service and many a scuffed knee or elbow it got stolen. (like most bikes in Africa) By then the BMX mania was in full swing, after a respectable mourning period, a birthday became a peek at heaven with a shiny Kamikaze racing BMX with a Cro mo frame, bear trap pedals and a big red racing plate “88”.
My XTERRA startFebruary 18, 2009
After racing professional road triathlons for 10 years, and really focusing on the Sydney Olympics in 2000, I decided to try XTERRA triathlons for fun, so in 2001 I came over to the US mainly to race road tris. I was completely unprepared for mountain biking. So for XTERRAs I traveled with my helmet, a 2nd hand pair of MTB shoes, old MTB pedals and a pair of yellow Michelin Python tires. The rest of the bike I would borrow at the race venue. Or sometimes a week before. Like this 35lbs Softride beauty with cutting edge suspension....
That year I won the USA Series and most of the XTERRAs I did. Also 6 of my 8 road triathlons. Including the legendary Mrs. Ts Chicago with its record setting 8000 participants.
Back to XTERRA:
Unfortunately (actually, fortunately) Ned Overend was my biggest competition that year. So great was my surprise (and pleasure) when just a weeks before XTERRA World Championships Ned gave me a brand new Specialized M5 dual suspension, a brand new Specialized helmet AND brand new Specialized shoes! It was like Christmas. (By then my old Sidis needed screws to keep the uppers and the lowers together) What he also gave me was a Specialized cycling jersey his wife cut the sleeves from. He shrugged and said I could wear it if I wanted. Of course I wanted! Ned is such a great person, the bike rode like an off road motor bike, I immediately fell in love with the product and the Specialized brand. I won the 2001 World Champs by 10 minutes.
I wore the Specialized jersey proudly.
Like every XTERRA World Championship, the 1hr TV show was aired on CBS on Super bowl Sunday. Right before the game.
Ned guided me through the pitfalls of negotiating a sponsorship contract for 2002. Up till that year, I have never made money from the sport- always living from hand to mouth, sometimes selling some of my cattle my dad keeps on his farm when I had to buy expensive air tickets. I had no idea how much to ask, Ned said "ask for X". That’s exactly what I got. The future was bright and rosy. I was over the moon to be part of the best bike company in the world.
I have been with Specialized since 2001. I have won 3 XTERRA World Championships, 6 XTERRA USA Series titles, and more than 30 individual XTERRAs on Specialized. I raced my Specialized road bike at the Athens Olympics, have won many big road triathlons (ITU and non drafting) from Japan to Chicago. Nicknames that stuck were "Caveman" and "King of XTERRA".
At every XTERRA there is an XTERRA University where I teach "The Art of XTERRA" to amateur athletes. I get dozens of emails on my website from fans asking about tire selections, equipment and bike choices. (I'm known as the dual suspension prophet that down hills like crazy)
Last year a fan admired my Carbon Epic at a race and commented about the unpainted raw carbon frame. I told him "It saves 180g". He said "Well, why didn’t they just leave the Specialized stickers off and save more weight?" I replied "Of course Specialized wants to have its name on my bike" And he said "But that’s unnecessary, EVERYONE knows Conrad Stoltz rides Specialized!"
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