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Monday, April 04, 2005

Taking Care of Business

(Names have been changed, facts omitted and some details blown out of proportion)

All sorts of people, usually semi-pro and expert riders, often ask me, “What do you have to do to get sponsored?” I usually just smile and say, “whatever it takes.” The aspiring pro just assumes I am kidding; but I’m not.

Over this past weekend I had planned a long ride with one of the Luna Team’s newest sponsors: actually a friend that happens to work for palmOne, king of smartphones, handhelds & software.

In mountain biking today a pro should always be looking to make the sponsor happy, or just entertain them with silly acts.

My Treo guy, Joe, had brought along a buddy for the ride, and when his friend’s saddle rail snapped five minutes down the trail, the ‘fun’ ride looked like it was about to end. This ride was weeks in the planning, even though I had wrestled mightily to make it seem as though it had sprung from the dirt as naturally as a springtime desert flower. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, from the rolling hills along the section of California’s Central Coast one could glimpse the ocean, carefully cultivated wineries in the valleys and stands of gnarled oak trees on the slopes.

There was no way I was going to allow this ride to wilt, and leave the Joe with the lasting impression of a promise unfulfilled.

It took only a few moments of convincing, and then even less time to whip off his broken saddle, replace it with mine, and then hide behind a rock my seat post and the, ‘I was just riding along’ warrantee item.

“No problem,” I said. “Last one to the top of the ridge buys the beer!” And then I stomped on my pedals and took off. The bike felt strange and whippy, but the fact that it was a shade lighter was mildly comforting.

Ten minutes down the trail, the group groove was on, single tracking, whooping, disc brakes squealing with delight. I was so happy that I had found a way to preserve the RIDE. I really wanted to reach over my shoulder and pat myself on the back, but without a saddle to steady myself, I thought it best to keep both hands on the grips.

Three hours later I was still standing and mashing on my pedals. Treo Joe had to peel off halfway through the ride, so I wasn’t even going to get full credit with him for blowing up my training schedule. His buddy, Bill, remained with our small group, and I didn’t want any negative after-ride reports text-messaged back to the Treo Headquarters. So I fixed a smile to my face, even as my thighs were twitching, tingling, burning, cramping and screaming to stop pedaling.

Afterwards back at the trailhead while the bikes were loaded, I crab walked in little circles, still smiling, bent over and bowlegged feeling like I had just finished a 24 hour solo single speed race, and not a fun group ride. I side stepped along side Joe’s buddy and started some small talk, “So, Bill, have you and Joe ever ridden trails as great as these were today?”

“Oh, that guy, Joe. I don’t really know him. Just bumped into each other this morning at the bike shop. He was talking about this ride and I just tagged along.”


Phil Adaro said...

Hi Marla,

What kinds of training tips do you have for downhill racing? improve power conversion, etc. Thank you!

2:23 PM  
marla streb said...

Hey Phil

As far as training for downhilling, you should include some plyometric work, like riding motocross, dirt jumps (bmx), or running steps as often as tolerated. Your body will then adapt to the repeated impacts of jumping, sprinting, and dealing with the terrain at speed. I also recommend upper and lower body gym work in the winter, as a little extra muscle mass is necessary for downhilling. You need to be strong to manhandle that big bike!

Good luck

3:26 PM  
Anonymous said...

"Hhah-hah!" <--said in that annoying nasaly Simpsons kid voice.

2:08 PM  

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