How commuting to and from work has helped my racing performance
In some way, shape, or form, we are all cyclists. At least that is a fair assumption for anyone reading this column, given the nature of this website. Whether it’s past or present, pros, weekend warriors, once-a-year riders, or even just fans, we are all involved in the sport.
I’ve always thought that bicycles can do great things for society and the planet. Switching to bicycles for transportation will lessen our carbon footprints and improve the overall physical and mental health of our society. I’d like to see a study done on the happiness of those who commute to and from work by bike versus those who drive in traffic each way. I don’t care how bad the weather is, I bet the bike commuters have less stress than those who drive.
I recently took the plunge and got out of the car myself. In June I resigned from my sales rep job and started an outdoor gear consignment business with fellow Utah cyclist and racer Bart Gillespie. Bart is one of the most hardcore bike commuters I know of, and I have always held him in high regard for it. We are called Gear Rush and specialize in turning over people’s old bike/ski/outdoor equipment for them so they can afford to get some new stuff. You can find us at www.gearrush.com. At this point it’s just a bare bones site, but there is a link to our eBay store, where we do most of our selling to tap in to the worldwide market.
I now have a three mile commute to work, which I have been doing by bike. It’s amazingly liberating to be out of the car. I was driving a lot as an outside sales rep – it’s the nature of the job. I have been working just as much and just as hard at the new business; but without all the windshield time, my stress level has gone way down.
How does this translate to racing? I feel like I have been riding faster than ever for the past two months: I pulled off my best finish at Nationals in July with 8th and managed 3rd at the Leadville 100 a couple weeks ago.
This year’s Leadville 100 broke the mold from the last two where we had a large group together for the first couple hours. The first hour of the race was fairly animated, and once things settled down I found myself in a lead group of four with Todd Wells, Jay Henry, and Greg Krause. It ended up being the four of us together until the Columbine climb when Todd started to put the pressure on a bit. I made it about halfway up on his wheel but couldn’t quite hold on. Shortly after I got dropped, Alban Lakata (who had flatted early) came by like it was a cross country race and bridged up to Todd. I was sitting in 3rd at that point, and that’s where I stayed for the next 50 miles. Coming back I tried to keep it steady and watched the SRM power data. I tried to push 300 watts all the way home, which is a tall order for a little guy like me at that altitude. The clock stopped for me at 6 hrs 35 minutes, over 25 minutes faster than my time last year. Thanks to Sammi, Matt Ohran, and everyone else who supported me during the race.
Since Leadville, the local race scene has been firing. Last weekend was out Utah State Championship Series finals where I had a good battle with Keegan Swenson, and yesterday was Mt. Ogden 100k, a great event that has big plans. Expect to see both of these grow in the coming years.
Next weekend is the Park City Point 2 Point, where I will try to defend my title against some stiff competition. I’ll be squeezing the race in around a good friend’s wedding, and it’s looking tight. I guess I’ll just have to ride fast since I am going to have to go straight from the finish line to into a tux. Hopefully I don’t cramp while walking down the aisle!
Thanks for reading.
- Alex Grant
Alex Grant, 31, is one of America's top endurance mountain bike racers. Sponsored by Cannondale Factory Racing in 2012, Grant juggles racing as a pro with managing an outdoor gear consignment business called Gear Rush, which he co-owns with fellow Utah cyclist and racer Bart Gillepsie. This season, look out for Grant on the podiums at major endurance and stage races. For variety, you may also see him on on the start line of some super Ds, cross countries and short tracks. In 2011, Grant finished third at the Leadville 100 and eighth at the US cross country national championships while also logging top 10s at the super D and marathon nationals. He finished fifth in the Downieville Classic All Mountain Overall and seventh at La Ruta de los Conquistadores. For the third year in a row, he won the Park City Point 2 Point. In 2010, Grant made headlines with his second place finish at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, the Breck Epic and the Trans-Sylvania Epic. When not on his mountain bike, Grant enjoys backcountry skiing, snowboarding and hiking. Grant is from Richmond, Vermont, and he presently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow his 2012 season in this blog on Cyclingnews.
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