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Juggling work and pro racing

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Alex Grant on a climb.

Alex Grant on a climb. (Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Alex Grant and friends ski down God's lawnmower

Alex Grant and friends ski down God's lawnmower (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Sam Schultz gets ready to do the zip line.

Sam Schultz gets ready to do the zip line. (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Sam Schultz relaxes on the beach in Costa Rica a few days after La Ruta

Sam Schultz relaxes on the beach in Costa Rica a few days after La Ruta (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Looking toward Mount Olympus and Salt Lake City

Looking toward Mount Olympus and Salt Lake City (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Chilling after stage 5 of La Ruta

Chilling after stage 5 of La Ruta (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Beach front dining was a nice way to relax at the end of a long season.

Beach front dining was a nice way to relax at the end of a long season. (Image credit: Alex Grant)

Hello everyone and welcome to entry one of my 2011 Cyclingnews blog. I am honored to be featured on such a prestigious website and will do my best to provide at least mildly entertaining content.

Why me, you say? Aren't I just a working stiff from Utah who rides in stage races and other endurance mountain bike events? Well, that's precisely why, I guess: it's because I am a working stiff who is trying to hack it at the pro level. I hope to offer some insight in to what that is like to work full time and race, and to pretend that I know what I am doing enough to offer some tips to those who are in a similar position.

The bottom line is I love to ride, and I have fun racing. I love the experiences that the bike has provided me and the great people and places I have come to know on the way. I hope to share some of that with you this season.

2010 was over before I knew it, and I had a great finish to a season full of ups and downs. La Ruta de Los Conquistadores went better than I could have planned, and I wound up in second place for the second year in a row. I felt like this year's second place resulted from a much stronger performance than in 2009.

My then teammate Ben Sonntag and I both came in ahead of five-time champion Federico Ramirez. Many racers have gone to Costa Rica and come up short against him;, yet Ben and I managed to pull it off. We stuck together and played the team card to our advantage. I think, in the end, that made all the difference and we took first and second.

I was on the new Cannondale Scalpel at La Ruta and was amazed at how well it rode. My team situation was up in the air for a while, and I was worried that I would have to give up my 20-pound full suspension this season, but I am happy to say that I'll be riding a Cannondale again in 2011.

After La Ruta, we relaxed on the Caribbean coast for a couple days. Then it was zero to sixty in a hurry, and I've since had a major transition with work. I've been an independent sales rep for four years, working with a variety of brands in the bicycle and outdoor industries. In December, I was offered a new rep position with Pearl Izumi and Shimano in the Utah and western Wyoming territory. It's been busy getting up to speed on everything, but I can't complain. I eat, sleep, and breathe bikes anyway; so it's easy to get excited about what I am selling. Working in the bike industry and riding and racing as much as I do really tests my love for the sport. I'm still as passionate as ever, though, and burnout seems a long way off. Ask me again in July, and I may have a different answer...

This also puts me in a situation where the old adage "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" suddenly rings all the more true. The former is more of a goal, something I hope to accomplish a few times a year, while the latter is more of a requirement. If I don't, well, I'll be fired before long!

I'm just getting going on my training for the coming year and am making the transition from backcountry skiing to riding my bike. Check back soon as I gear up for some more cool races this season.

Thanks for reading!

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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.