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My Endurance Sports Journey Part 1 – Mountain Biking and Adventure Racing

“Would you like to go mountain biking this weekend?”

“Sure.”

There are always moments in a person’s life that can change it forever. The simple dialogue above was the start of my endurance sports journey.

This is my story of how endurance sports became a part of my life and changed it for the better.

The Corporate World

After graduating from college in 1997, I moved down to Dallas Texas to work in the telecom industry. Life was work in those first few years. Exercise consisted of lifting a couple weights once a week and eating pizza every Friday. I bulked up all right but it wasn’t muscle.

Then in 2000, a co-worker (JJ) asked me if I wanted to go mountain biking with him over the weekend. I had my old mountain bike from college that lacked any suspension and decided to give it a try. I was hooked!

Racing – 2000

Before long, I bought a Specialized full suspension mountain bike and was riding on the local trails once or twice a week.

My first race was actually a sprint Adventure Race with JJ. We were a team and had to complete the entire event (2 mile run, 2 miles kayaking, 16 miles mountain biking, and mystery challenges) together. We had a blast even though we were dead last after the run. We were able to move through a few teams in the race during the kayaking and mountain biking portions to finish in 3 hours 30 minutes. Lesson: This stuff is tough, but I love it!

adventure-race-jj-1adventure-race-jj-2

(Pre-race and post-race pics with JJ after my first adventure race. Check out those sweet cotton tube socks I am wearing!)

cedar-hill-bike-1A month later I participated in my first mountain bike race held at Cedar Hill State park that was part of the Dorba fall race series. The course was a hilly 10 mile loop and I decided to mix it up with 23 other athletes in my beginner age group. The temperature was 100 degrees and I thought I could compete.

Well, I blew up around mile four after reaching the top of a tough single-track climb. There I sat on the ground in some shade with a few other rookies, trying not to die. Ten minutes later, I was back riding and finished 19/23 in my race group. Lesson: Pacing and heat management.

Racing – 2001

2001 consisted of more adventure racing and mountain biking.

hi-tec-adventure-1In July, the Hi-Tec Adventure Race series came into town. This event was a step up in difficulty from my previous sprint adventure race and consisted of three person teams that navigated through running, mountain biking, kayaking, and mystery challenges – but longer.

As a team (Tim, Rob, and I), we were ready to go after it. Besides the inflatable kayaks being a pain in the butt and some minor calf cramps, we all had a pretty solid day and finished 11th/92 male teams and 37th overall. Fun, Fun, Fun!

hi-tec-adventure-2hi-tec-adventure-finish-1

adventure-race-bill-1August brought a two-person sprint adventure race and a new teammate (Bill). We were rockin’ through the 2 mile run, kayaking, and special challenges.

The final leg was mountain biking on a fairly rocky trail. Before long I flatted, and then flatted, and then flatted. We exhausted all of our tubes and I finally had to ride on my rim to the finish. Frustration. Lesson: Low tire pressure does not work on technical rocky terrain. Pinch flat.

adventure-race-bill-2adventure-race-bill-finish

October brought back the Dorba series and after a year of moderate training I was interested in seeing if I have learned anything. The beginner race consisted of two six mile loops on the tight single-track at Erwin park in McKinney Texas. There were 16 of us in my beginner age group class.

dorba-erwin-finishExcerpts from my race report:

“I decided not to push too hard at the start to prevent a bonk.”

“At the end of the first loop, I was in the lead group of five and feeling pretty good. As the second loop progressed, I tried to push a little harder and began passing more of the lead pack. I was sucking some wind but felt I could continue at the current pace.

After about four miles of the second loop, I had passed three of the riders and only had one more in front of me which I didn’t know at the time. During a slow, gradual open field climb I decided to make my move and was able to pass. I held on to the lead to finish and win my first mountain bike race.”

I ended up winning by 50 seconds. Hmm, that was cool!

The final race of the Dorba mountain bike series was one week later up at Johnson Branch State Park located about an hour and a half north of Dallas Texas. I now felt, well maybe I could compete on this seven mile course. We will see.

Excerpts from my race report:

“It was a beautiful day for racing, sunny and in the 60s. Life is good.”

“Eventually the gun went off and as I pushed on my lead pedal to sit on my seat, I was lucky enough to have my bike shorts hook the front of my saddle and prevent me from sitting down. Finally, I was sitting and ready to race. This blunder caused a slow start so I ate a little dirt till we began the various climbs throughout the trail.”

“All was running well as we entered the single-track and climbing. I was in the top 25% and feeling fine”

dorba-johnson-branch-1“One of the many climbs began and as I worked my way up, I went over the top of the handlebars. Don’t ask me how, I would have liked to see the replay myself! No missing teeth or broken bones so back on the bike and dropping a few places. I was able to regain some more places but there had to be only one mile left.”

“There was a group of three riders in front of me whom I was closing on. Then the moment came that determined the outcome of the race. There was a dip in the trail that was virtually impossible to ride up. You would have to jump off your bike and push it up the dip and continue riding. The pack of three riders in front of me hit the dip and jumped off their bikes to push up the hill. I had arrived at the bottom of the dip and began my push up it.

It was a rather narrow trail so there was now four of us working up it. Unfortunately the rider in front of me caught his saddle on a branch so I was caught behind him and could not get around. Two of the untangled riders moved off ahead of us. As we neared the end of the race, I found a brief opening to pass Mr. Tangler and burst in front of him. Not more than one minute later the finish line was in sight. I was able to hold my lead and took third place.”

“With this placing, I won the Dorba series for my beginner age group class and received a medal and sweet Camelbak. I suppose I will now have to move up to sport class next year. Time to get humbled once again.”

My First Trail Race

In November I participated in my first trail race at the Rockledge Rumble trail run. I was able to convince a coworker to give the 10 km race a try with me.

rockledge-rumble-10k-1

Excerpts from my race report:

“I probably pushed a little hard at first, especially without warming up very well. So there goes the heart-rate somewhere in the 170s.”

“I was probably in the top 10% through the first half of the race and didn’t have any issues with any of the climbs or descents. I didn’t even find a root to trip over, so I couldn’t complain.”

“I saw one guy up ahead, let’s  go try and catch him. I stepped it up a notch, I wish I could say two but it was probably only one. Within a mile or so I was on his heals and decided to make my move to pass.  Around him I went and tried to maintain a strong pace so I wouldn’t be passed in return. I was out of the woods and looked up ahead wondering where the leaders were. Nowhere in site.”

“Another race in the history books.”

rockledge-rumble-10k-2

(Right in the middle – Still sportin’ the white tube socks!)

I really loved the trail but it would be another five years before it became my preferred playground.

Change of Focus

I was now passionate about endurance sports and it was becoming more of a lifestyle for me. I really enjoyed the multi-sport aspect of adventure racing but it became a pain to find teammates.

What other sport could I participate in that was multi-sport yet you could do without teammates?

Triathlon? No way, I am not a swimmer.

Duathlon? Yes! Run, bike, run. I could do that. I ended up heading to local bike superstore RBM and bought my first road bike (Trek 5200). The speed, the distance, the challenge.  Game on!

Training Plan

Throughout this year I began to educate myself on training approaches and plans. My training effort guide became the heart rate monitor (Polar S210). A great book that guided me on heart rate monitor usage and multi-sport training was SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes. This book took me a long ways and was my main reference for quite a few years.

I now had guidance and a plan – time to execute.

Part two of my endurance sports journey will follow the next five years of duathlon and for the non-swimmer, the scary “T” word. Endurance sports are about to be part of my DNA.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

6 Responses to “My Endurance Sports Journey Part 1 – Mountain Biking and Adventure Racing”

  1. on 10 Dec 2009 at 9:21 am Porta-pot bob

    Good stuff Dave….nice read.

  2. on 10 Dec 2009 at 9:26 am Sandy Monson

    Hey David,
    Great story! I think most of us got reintroduced to sports in about the same way. When we were kids sport was just something that you did and then school, first real job, kids… It’s easy to get lost. I’m glad you found your sport self! I have to invite you to come to Wichita Falls, about a 2.5 hour drive from Big D for our trail run. We have a really nice mountain bike trail in the downtown area on the river. In January we have a marathon and half marathon and in August, the same weekend as the Hotter’N Hell Hundred we have a mountain bike race on Friday evening and a 10k and half marathon on Sunday morning. And.. if you ride the mountain bike on Friday, the 100 on the road Saturday and run the half on Sunday you get, no matter your speed, an “I Survived the Triple Threat” award. A big chunk of wood sanded and branded by me and my friends in my backyard!!! We have really fun, grassroots events. If it’s not fun, we don’t do it!!!

  3. on 10 Dec 2009 at 9:35 am Jason

    Nice! Always cool to read where others have come from and where they are headed. Very interesting stuff. Keep it up….

  4. on 10 Dec 2009 at 2:06 pm Campie

    The good old days… I will never forget chasing you guys on the run in the Hitec race and getting chills during 100 degree days as my body rejected the effort. Good times. Good friends. The best friendships are made when suffering…

  5. on 10 Dec 2009 at 8:37 pm David Hanenburg

    bob and Campie – Good times. Looking back on the old pics made me realize how much fun those days were. As life rolls along sometimes you forget.

    Sandy – Thanks. Also, thanks for the heads-up for your event.

    Jason – Thanks. 🙂

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