Ask Dave Wiens: The answers are in!Jeff Kerkove 12:51 PM
A few weeks ago, I put out a request for you the readers to submit questions to the 6 time Leadville 100 champion, Dave Wiens. I took all the questions...then sent them off to Dave. He took the time to answer the ones he could within his busy schedule. And now, here they are....ENJOY!
Q: Which former Tour de France winner's butt would you like to kick next?
DW: I’d take on Greg LeMond.
Q: What do you do to recover and how long before you can compete again after such a depleting race?
DW: Anymore, I only race bikes about 3-5 time a year and Leadville is the primary goal. Unless something really interesting comes up or if Ergon puts a team together for 24 Hours of Moab, I likely won't race again this year. As for my recovery from this year's race, I felt pretty good straightaway, at least as far as just riding my bike (as opposed to racing!) and everyday living. I don't do anything specific to recover other than to basically stop the structured and specific training that had occupied the five weeks leading up to Leadville. I'm still riding and am trying to start running some as town league flag football starts in a week of two. That and the approach of ski season are my primary motivators for staying fit this time of year.
Q: Could you give a time line telling when you were the fastest (age wise?) and when you had the most endurance? Do you feel like you are on top of your game at your age, or when you were younger? Do you feel there are a few of you older guys that are genetic anomalies (Ned, Tinker, You...) or can andybody who is reasonably fast in their prime expect to hold onto it?
DW: It's really hard for me to pin down when I was at my peak. My racing career has coincided with the sport seeing increased depth and getting faster every year, especially during the early/mid 1990's. From the time I started racing in 1987 to about 1993, there wasn't as much depth in the sport as only a handful of Euros were racing in those early days. Eventually, they came in droves and 1994 is when it seemed like the sport really started to see lots of new faces and the racing was way faster than before. From about this point on, I had some pretty good years in XC racing until I was about 35 although only on a North American level, not at the International level. I pretty much gave up on international level racing in the mid '90's to focus on racing the NORBA Series. Soon after that, I started doing more endurance races: the Leadville beginning in 2003; the NORBA Marathons in 2004; and the Vapor Trail and Crested Butte Classic in 2005. I feel like currently my endurance is as good as it has ever been. As for being on top of my game, I like my fitness and my experience with training and preparation now but earlier in my career I was a better all around bike rider. At this point in my life I have become a pretty conservative descender, and while I was never that fast downhill anyway, seems as though these days I’m grabbing more brake all the time.
As for me and Ned and Tinker being anomalies, I don’t think so. Certainly everyone’s physiology is different and some people will “lose it” at a younger age than others. But I do think the mental component is the key element. Attitude is everything. Combine this with smart training and hard work and I think most can be close to or even better into their forties and beyond than they were in their so called prime.
Q: Dave, are you on the limit on the climbs?
DW: This varies with each particular climb. For 2008: St. Kevin, no. Sugarloaf, no. Lower Columbine, no. Upper Columbine, yes. Powerlines, yes. Turquoise Lake pavement, no. Dirt to the top of St. Kevins clear to the finish: yes.
Q: Up front are you attacking one another or are the pace changes less violent because the race is so long?
DW: I think we both “tested” each other a couple of times but there were no attacks.
Q: You look to be significant bigger than Landis and Lance; weight and height?
DW: I’m 6’2” and I like to say I weigh about 185lbs. On average, I bet it’s closer to 190. I haven’t been on a scale for a few years. I was as light as I have been in a while for the race, though. I know this because I needed to start wearing a belt and I was highly disciplined, only eating one of Susan’s cookies each day in the week or so leading up to the race.
Q: Do you have friends/people you race against that best you in shorter races then you beat them at Leadville? Why? Mental?
DW: Anymore, I race very little and the field at Leadville is generally guys I only race there. The only “short” races I have done in the last two years are the Firecracker 50 twice and the Wildflower Rush in Crested Butte once. The primary mental component for me is the benefit of not racing very much. I’ve raced so much over the years that it has become more difficult to push hard up hills in race situations. Now, when I do race, I’m ready and pretty fired up to push hard.
Q: What is the Key to going fast at races like Leadville? Climbing intervals? Cross training? And lastly many us who have raced at Leadville have loved to see you win. You seem to represent everything good there is cycling. Well done.
DW: I appreciate the compliment but please know that the feeling is mutual. While the race at Leadville has received more attention these last two years, the primary motivation for most of us out there has been testing ourselves, working toward personal goals and having what I call the “looming event” mindset that gets our butts out the door to train in the months leading up to the race. In fact, Lance mentioned this, too, and I think it’s also central to the CTS program. If your exercise or training has a purpose and is aimed toward and event or goal, it’s more likely to happen and it will be a more rewarding experience. Kudos to everyone that accepts a challenge requiring hard work and commitment, whatever it may be, and follows through to the best of their abilities and life constraints, to be able to give their best effort at “go time.”
Q: If you were a donut what kind would you be? How many donuts does it take to ride Leadville?
DW: I never met a donut I didn’t like. However, our local donut shop, Daylight Donuts, went out of business so I’ve been kind of stuck. I’ll do the occasional City Market donut but my weak spot in Gunnison is for muffins from the Firebrand Deli. They’re fruity – peach, blueberry, etc.- yet they have that sweet crusty top to them and it’s always big and overflowing the stump. Oh yeah!
Q: Many of us think a lot about what to eat and drink and how often. What fuels work for you and do you put yourself on a schedule or do you try to fuel up some length of time before one of the big climbs?
DW: I try to fuel on sort of a schedule. Each of my races at Leadville has been similar as far as nutrition. Here’s how it went this year: We (we means my wife Susan, who is my support person, and my brother Brian who also races) skipped the Pipeline aid station outbound. I started with two full bottles of typical hydration and electrolyte drink (I use the same drink mix in my bottles the whole race), three gels and a bar. I ate each gel as I got an opportunity, the first being on the Turquoise Lake pavement. I also started to eat the bar there and finally finished it somewhere shy of the Twin Lakes aid station. I drank both bottles.
At Twin Lakes outbound, I took two bottles of energy drink, three more gels and I put another bar into my pocket. This bar is only for emergency use and if everything goes well it’s still in my pocket at the finish line. As usual, I dropped a full bottle at the bottom of Columbine; there was just no way I’d be able to drink it. I think I ate two gels going up Lower Columbine (nothing is getting eaten on Upper!) and one on the way back in the sage country after the main Columbine descent. I finished the bottle, too.
At Twin Lakes inbound, I took two more bottles, three gels and a peanut butter and jelly bagel. I started working on the bagel immediately. Eating one of these on the bike during the race is torture. I chipped away at it over the next several miles and ended up getting down more than half. I’m eating it as planned fueling, not because I felt like I needed it at that moment.
Three gels and maybe a bottle and a half gone by the time I saw Susan again at Pipeline, my last re-supply. Here I took four gels, two new bottles and a can of Starbuck’s Doubleshot. I was feeling kinda full and not so bad so I dropped a full bottle at the bottom of the Powerline climb; no use carrying a full bottle up that beast, never mind the can of Starbuck’s in my pocket. At this point, the race got more intense. I didn’t touch anything on the Powerline Climb or the Sugarloaf descent. I drained the Doubleshot followed by a gel on the Hagerman Pass road after descending Sugarloaf. At this point, I was feeling pretty good and was thinking less about eating and drinking and more about hammering. I finished with some drink left in my bottle and two gels in my pocket, as well as the insurance bar.
Q: Mr. Dave, you live in the west and I'd like to know where east of the mississippi you've enjoyed riding most over your career?
DW: Vermont, Georgia, Michigan, New York City, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, South Carolina. If I’m on my bike, I’m usually pretty happy.
Q: Two, were you surprised LA told you he was cooked? I was surprised to read it!
DW: Yeah, I really was. I wasn’t expecting that. But once he confirmed it, I didn’t continue to offer up encouragement.
Q: Last, you are your favorite donut. Are you hanging with a creamy cup of coffee or his shady bro black?
DW: I’m a creamy cup of coffee guy. Half and half. But in a pinch, a good ‘ole cup of black is just fine by me.
Q: You choose to use a 26" hardtail over a lightweight 26" full suspension or a 29" bike. Do you feel having less comfort and potentially being slower on the descents is overshadowed by the efficiency of a lightweight 26" hardtail?
DW: I choose a hardtail 26” because for me, a hardtail is the fastest, most efficient bike over 100 miles. Remember, I was racing bikes before SPD’s and front suspension. Our lowest gear was a 28x28 and the front rings were something called “Biopace.” People act like riding a hardtail is akin to being put on the rack or something. Riding a hardtail is no big thing. My bike gives me confidence in the race because it feels so fast under me. Of course, I only race it and train on it just enough to know it feels good and works properly. My ride of choice for everyday mountain biking is the Rotwild (means red deer in German) R.R2 FS. At least to this point, the descending in Leadville hasn’t had an affect on any of my races. I try to work the climbs and motoring sections as much as possible then ride the descents quickly but carefully, trying not to make any mistakes. I also use the descents to recover, too.
Q: Most of us that participate in the Leadville 100 are going for time and not placement. If you were to do the course alone and wanted to do it in the least amount of time, how would you pace yourself? Are there certain parts of the course you feel are worth saving yourself for or would you go hard right from the gun?
DW: In my opinion, pacing is the key to a successful Leadville or any endurance race. Start far enough up so that you are riding with people about as fast as you looking for a similar finish time. It’s not right if you have to pass hundreds of people, or likewise, if you are up front but you’re slower and need to get passed by hundreds of riders. Get safely and politely sorted out on the double track and St. Kevins and then for the climbs and motoring sections, pick a gear you think you can ride and then back off one or two. Early in the race, enthusiasm is your worst enemy! Let people pass. Don’t waste energy playing ego based “passing games.” The only passes that matter are those that will stick for the entire race or those that take place toward the end. I usually tell people to conserve all the way over the Powerline coming back in. Then, if you’re feeling spunky, you can “give ‘er” at that point. For me, I feel like the race starts at the base of Powerline inbound. Everything else is just trying to conserve to get there feeling half way decent.
Q: How often do you race a year and what is your fave type of racing at this point? Eduros? XC? Both?
DW: I raced on a five person coed team at the Old Pueblo 24 hours in February. Then I raced the XC race at the Sea Otter in April, the Firecracker 50 in early July and then Leadville. That will be it for 2008, I believe. I can’t race that much anymore; I just don’t have the motivation. I do like training for a single event, though. Those other races I did this year were just prep for Leadville. Leadville is a very special event but I also like the sort of nutjob races like the Vapor Trail and the KTR. The Grand Loop Race and the Colorado Trail Race are really intriguing, too. Any race where you need lights is pretty cool!
Q: Hi Dave, Just some questions from the support side of PBville 100. What nutrients do you get in your aid station bag? (and how long did you have to practice getting that tossed up to you and catching it while in motion?) Are there certain parts of the course that you find it easier to eat nutrition? What parts on the first leg are the best places to chow on some grub.
DW: Much of this is answered in a previous question. Susan and I never practice the handup. We now have been successful 12 times. The flattish paved sections are my choice for easy eating.
Q: Lastly, how much time do you expect to shave off your 2009 win with Lance pushing at your backside?
DW: It’s hard for me to imagine myself riding much faster than we did this year, but who knows. I do think that if Lance returns, or if some other honchos get into the race next year and beyond, the record will go down. Jay Henry, JHK, Kabush, Craig, Bishop, etc. I haven’t even mentioned any euros or some of the younger American roadies like Pate or Danielson. Weather could play a factor short-term but I don’t see this record lasting too long. I think Leadville is the perfect venue for a roadie meets mountain biker showdown. Not too much of either to give anyone a huge advantage.
Q: Do you get off the bike to pee?
DW: Yeah, I got off once at about mile 30 or 35.
Q: I noticed in a video of the 2008 Leadville 100 that Lance was handed up a musette bag of (presumably) food. I'd never seen a musette bag handed up before in a mountain bike race. How was your food/drink handed up? Did you get a musette bag or just the more traditional handoff?
DW: We use kind of a cheesy back to school messenger bag, not an authentic one, that we picked up at Target a few years back. It works great!