The long haul for the O'Deas

By Sue George Married for just over a year, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea are two American racers...

By Sue George

Married for just over a year, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea are two American racers balancing the demands of professional racing and training for and even the promoting of endurance races. While many couples have their hands full with just one member racing professionally in the time-consuming endurance mountain bike discipline, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea have to juggle the racing and training needs for two. On top of that, Namrita is a full-time masters student of nutrition at Georgia State University.

"We're both concentrating on endurance racing - mostly 24 hour solos, but 100 milers and 12 hours, too," said Namrita, who turned 31 in October.

"We train together quite a bit," added 32 year-old Eddie, who finished fourth at the 2007 US 24 hour solo nationals and has also won the 12 hours of Dauset and the Cowbell Challenge. "During the week in heavy training sessions, we may go to same place, but we'll ride different stuff. We ride together more during our weekends."

"We get to spend a lot of time together," he continued. "One of us is not off training, so there is no stress on the relationship due to time apart. We also both understand what are goals are and why. There's no explaining why I want to go ride in circles for 24 hours."

However, two serious racers in one household does place stresses on family resources. "It's a lot of equipment, time and money," noted Eddie. "Sometimes, the laundry doesn't get done."

"When we travel, neither of us is working and we're spending twice as much money," added Namrita, before adding sincerely, "I'd much rather have it like this than only one of us racing."

The couple from Atlanta, Georgia will both ride for Vassago Cycles in 2008, with Eddie joining the team for which Namrita raced in 2007. With a relationship that centres so heavily around mountain biking, it's only natural that it was in the forests that the pair first met. "I was training for my first 24 hour and crashed two weeks before and couldn't race," said Namrita. "I volunteered to help a solo racer to learn more. That's how we met in 2004. I supported him."

The pair has a comfortable rapport on and off the bikes, but when it comes to the competitive aspect Namrita knows who's faster. "There's no contest," she noted. "Eddie's definitely faster. I'm just happy to keep up; my goal isn't to be faster."

When not racing or promoting races Eddie, who originally hails from Connecticut, works for the company they founded, 55nineperformance, which provides bike fitting and coaching. Namrita, originally from Troy, Michigan, will add nutritional counselling to the company's range of expertise when she completes her degree.

The Vassago team races on 29ers, but Namrita also rides and races exclusively on a singlespeed. In 2007, she won both the solo women's category and the solo singlespeed (men's and women's) category the 12 hours of Dauset. She also took the women's singlespeed and overall wins at the six hours of Conyers and eighth place at 24 hour solo nationals.

Eddie has no plans to follow his wife's lead into the singlespeed arena. "I don't race on a singlespeed," he said. "I don't because I feel I am at a disadvantage with the guys I'm competing against. The reason she started in the first place was because she had many mechanical issues during races. She dropped out of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 twice with broken derailleurs."

To read the complete feature on the O'Deas, click here.

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