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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Interview With an Olympian

Jimena Florit is an Argentinian animal on the mountain bike. After racing on the cross country circuit (and winning a couple national championships and the Pan Am games), this two time Olympian decided to call it quits a couple years ago to hit the X-Terra scene. Well, I guess she didn't like it because she's back on the mountain bike circuit and recently signed with the Luna Chix. I can't wait to be her teammate this year. Not only because she's one of the most genuine and approachable riders around, but also because I want her to teach me how to speak Spanish...

marla streb
Jimena Florit

MS: What's harder: X-Terras or cross country races?

JF: Given my experience, Xterra. But then, I feel was not able to use my fitness since I was always starting to bike so far back (due to a lack of swimming ease…). So there I was, starting a bike section of a triathlon, between 8 and 20 minutes behind the leaders and passing all the age groupers. In some courses this was very hard to do, although there’s ONE benefit to be the last one out of the water: No need to search for your bike at the transition area, because is the ONLY ONE THERE!

MS: Who thinks they're cooler: Tri geeks or mountain bike freaks?

JF: TRI GEEKS for sure, but who’s closer to the truth? MTB Freaks.

MS: Do you have any trepidations for returning to the mountain bike circuit?

JF: OK, not that I am not that smart, but you are killing me with this word: tre---what? Got to go to the dictionary, I’ll be back…

No, I am not scared.

Curious yes. And so very much accepting the challenge.

After the Olympics in 2004, I needed a break but I was not quite ready to step away from sports.

I got a shot at adventure racing (with Michael Kloser and Company: OUCH) and I loved it but realized I got some work to do, and one year wasn’t enough to achieve that.

So, I gave Xterra a shot, and I had a lot of fun. I also did some road triathlons, and all these different sports and training for them, gave me the very much needed mental rest, keeping me fit.

I am now, mentally FRESH and I feel stronger than ever. I am ready to go back to the MTB circuit.

MS: How about riding on an all-women's team?

JF: I am very fortunate and I want to take full advantage of this great opportunity. Not just a women’s team, but the LUNA Team, with Shonny, Katerina, who I already know from all the years racing. Then having you and Alison to get inspired from, and Georgia to help grow in the sport.

During my years in RLX, I had Shari Kain and Lesley Tomlinson, but after them, I raced as the only female rider and I missed having a teammate at the races. Then Willow came along and we had a blast, it made racing so much more fun.

Having our own language at the races, and knowing how to work together. I am looking forward to that. This is going to be great, and I know is going to make me a better and more complete rider.

MS: Is there an annoying song that you hum over and over in your head during races?

JF: I have caught myself singing during races, but usually would be the last song I heard on my i-pod.

Some sexy latin signer.

MS: I know you worked with a downhill coach over the years (Blair Lombardi). What's the key thing you learned for hitting the downhills?

JF: Relax and keep the speed to take you over the bumps. In some areas, the slower you go, the harder it gets.

MS: It's very brave that you pre-run your race courses in downhill gear. Do people ever tease you?

JF: Oh yeah, I get all kinds of jokes. Jimena the football player, Jimena the weight lifter…

Also at home, I ride with them at certain trails. Bring them on a pack to the top, and put them on before the downhill.

“what do you have there..lunch for everyone?” Or,” OH! It’s YOU under those pads!”

The truth is, I do get faster when I ride with them, so I don’t really care what they think.

Also, I never ride a course for the first time without pads. Unless is Arizona riding, but if is muddy, my pads are coming with me for a ride. Nobody makes fun of THEM for riding with me…

MS: Do you think Lance was clean?

JF: Oh boy, here we go…

I do not think ANYONE in the Tour is clean. One thing or another, everyone is using some sort of help to make it over 21 crazy days of racing at the highest level. These teams do not have “Team Doctors” to make sure they take their Centrum every day…

But I have no proof of that so my opinion does not count.

I do think that if you take away ALL the “extra help” riders get, and Lance would still rock the tour.

You saw what the bottom of my emails say: “Performance Enhancing Training”.

I started it as a joke to dopers, what do I do? Performance Enhancing Training…if you think about it, that’s what training is!

MS: As part of the Luna team's traditional initiation, we make the new riders eat nothing but mango Clif Shots for one week. Are you ready for that?

JF: Yes I am, I am chewing dried mangoes as we speak, to get me ready for the “initiation” challenge.

Can I have milk with that?


ed said...

Hi Marla,

Thank you for the story and your friend, Jimena, for the sanity tips on riding unfamiliar trails.
Being new to this sport, I use a full face helmet for that and luckily, at this moment, have only a broken shoulder blade... and broken collar bone.. (and weird stuff where muscles attach to bone just below the kidneys?).

Seeing as how you are experienced, smart and reasonably thorough, is there any body armor you would recommend?

Also, I don't frame obstacles worth a damn when there is another rider in the path. Is this a common problem?

Are there more single rider accidents in 4X than downhill?.. just because of the visual distraction of other riders?


1:59 PM  
marla streb said...

Hi Ed
As far as downhill pads, I use Six Six One. These have gotten very light, so you barely notice you're wearing them.

I don't think there are more accidents in 4X. In fact, Many people claim they ride better when others are nearby in their periferal vision, especially when someone is several bike lengths in front of them. It keeps your eyes looking forward, not down.

2:49 PM  
ed said...

This post has been removed by the author.

5:01 PM  
ed said...

Thank you. Exactly what I was looking for!

I forgot to add that your anwser reminded me... that the full face helmet that functioned so flawlessly is a 661...

7:19 PM  
ed said...

More support for "Jimena the football player"

This is a link to a post from the WIFE of a mountain biker.

I am told same location as my minor mistake. Please thank Jimena for her positive example. And thank you for shifting the focus there a bit.

7:51 AM  
Don said...

Jimena uses the protective gear to keep her legs looking as nice as they do! AND, that makes a lot of sense!

8:58 PM  

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