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Back on the road again

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Tables outside the kitchen.

Tables outside the kitchen. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Incredible food after stage 5.

Incredible food after stage 5. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Jeff Kerkove having a coffee in Mucege.

Jeff Kerkove having a coffee in Mucege. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Jenny descending on day 5.

Jenny descending on day 5. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Sonia shared a room with me.

Sonia shared a room with me. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)

Stage five of the Claro Brasil ride took us 132km from Rio Da Contas back to Mucege again. I think we were all keen to pack up our sodden camps and clothes and get back to Mucuge.

I know I was hoping for dry weather there. My neck was pretty stiff to be honest but thanks to a muscle relaxant, Paul Romero’s magic arnica spray, Hawaiian algae anti-inflammatory pills and a massage, I was much better than the day before and good to go.

We started the race with a 27km downhill jeep road. I felt quite sketched by the big group of riders descending. I rode conservatively and drifted back through the field as we went down. I could see Brian ahead and he’d keep checking and slowing for me. At the bottom we formed a pack of about a dozen or so riders which we slowly whittled down to five through 50km. Renata Bucher, Damian and a solo rider Mattias.

I have known Renata for a long time. I love her relaxed happy personality and have a great deal of respect for her athleticism. We have raced each other at least 30 times in MTB, Xterra and endurance racing. However I’ve never even been for a social ride with Renata. On stage five we laughed about this. Next year we will go for a ride together!

We broke away from Damian and Renata about 80km in. In my head, I was climbing with a friend Susan D. I was thinking about her and trying to pull effort out of myself.

It is an interesting dynamic with Brian as I am the one saying "slow down, come back, I can’t keep up". It feels like whining. (It sounds like whining). Do I really need to slow down? Can I keep up?

I heard the guys teasing Brian in the shower the day before. "Brian, Brian"…. Laughter… Portuguese. It’s true. That is what I sound like.
The action came at 110km. We’d just climbed up to the final aid station in extreme heat. So we doused ourselves with water and got going.

Within five minutes, the sky became thick black and we rode straight into a torrential downpour and thunder and lightning. It was terrifying! Counting two seconds between lightning and thunder we put heads down, bottoms up, and rode flooded water and sand roads home. Again!

In Mucuge, the power was out and it was pouring rain. Cold shower, wet tent. Good times people, good times.

We had an amazing lunch at a local house, served right from their kitchen. This was a good time. The food was been so good here, at the race and in the towns.

Sonia and Jeff of Topeak /Ergon were second on the stage, putting in another very strong ride. They invited me to stay in their room that night as my sleeping bag got soaked in transit. I love my friends!

Thanks for reading

Jenny Smith

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Husband and wife Brian and Jenny Smith are racing their first mountain bike stage race together as a team at the Claro Brasil ride on November 14-19. The 600km, six-day stage race is held in the northeast Bahia region of Brasil and is six hours inland from the city Salvador. The event is between and around two towns, Mucuge and Rio de Contas in the Chapada Diamantina, National Park.

The two, who live in Gunnison, Colorado, have been married for 10 years. Jenny is a New Zealander, who competes in Xterra off-road triathlon and elite mountain biking events. In 2010, she finished fourth at the USA Xterra championships and was a member of the New Zealand team for the UCI mountain bike world championships. She also won the Xterra Amazon and finished first, with Rebecca Rusch in the TransAndes mountain bike stage race.

Brian is a two-time USA Triathlon winter triathlon champion, two-time winter Xterra world champion and one of America's top off-road cyclists and triathletes. He tore his pectoralis tendon in may, requiring surgery and a summer of rehab.

Both have been to Brasil before: Brian three times for Xterra Brasil events and Jenny for Xterra Amazon. However, this is their first time going together as well as the first time each will race as part of a mixed team in a stage race.

Jenny races for Trek Racing Co-op and Trek's women's brand. She is also sponsored by Bontrgaer, SRAM, Rudy project, Pearl Izumi, Squirt lube and ESI grips. Brian is backed by Rock and Roll Sports Gunnison, Giant, SRAM, Mavic and Rudy Project.

Follow Brian and Jenny's blog describing their experience throughout the race.