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Race reflections

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The start of another day of racing in Brasil

The start of another day of racing in Brasil (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Renata Bucher

Renata Bucher (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Pre-dinner shelter from the elements

Pre-dinner shelter from the elements (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Mucuge cemetery and a town bike

Mucuge cemetery and a town bike (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Pedal urbano

Pedal urbano (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Brian looking fuzzy and Jenny at the end of the stage

Brian looking fuzzy and Jenny at the end of the stage (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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A view of Mucuge from a helicopter

A view of Mucuge from a helicopter (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Racing at the Brasil Ride.

Racing at the Brasil Ride. (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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The Mixed Teams podium at the Brasil Ride

The Mixed Teams podium at the Brasil Ride (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)

It's amazing what you can put your body through when you are participating in true passion. Racing with your wife for the first time over six days and 36,000 vertical feet is bound to push a button or two.

Riding and sleeping in rain for nearly five days straight can really mess with one's psyche as well as his bike. By day 6, my body was numb to the pain and fatigue and was running on auto pilot. I was really wishing the bike was capable of the same.

By Friday afternoon following stage 6, my bike and body were hammered and ready for some good down time. Enter Salvador beaches, 27 degrees Celsius and blue bird. Other than the hotel room still lingering with the wet tent funk, life was looking up.

That night, Jenny and I both woke with colds. We walked the coastline our last day and took in the local scene including heaps of hand-line fishermen trying to catch dinner after work.

Our return trip was uneventful, with the exception of our lingering colds. Speaking of cold, it was negative five degrees Fahrenheit in Gunnison this morning, with a high of 20. We were happy to be inside with Thanksgiving dinner on the menu.

Jenny and I were glad to have the competition that required our "A" game every day. Fellow Xterra athlete Renata Bucher with Zaboo bikes from Switzerland pushed Jenny to ride near her max at the start of every day. Sonya and Jeff of Topeak-Ergon were always strong finishing within three minutes on the hardest day and battling major mechanicals for a top three overall.

A huge thanks to all the support that was provided to make the event happen and succeed despite the extremely adverse conditions. As a first-year event, Jenny and I were very impressed with the organization and execution of each stage. Shimano provided amazing neutral support and worked around the clock for a week straight.

We hope to make a return trip and take on a new Brazilian adventure soon.

Thanks for reading.

Brian 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.