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The Grand Finale

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Brian and Jenny Smith in the green mixed teams leader's jersey

Brian and Jenny Smith in the green mixed teams leader's jersey (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)
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Bloggers Brian and Jenny Smith with the ladies of Bahia

Bloggers Brian and Jenny Smith with the ladies of Bahia (Image credit: Jenny & Brian Smith)

We woke to rain. Again. There has been a distinct theme of wet during this race.

I didn’t want to ride. It was the only time during the six days that I really wasn’t into it, and it was pretty justified.

The course was a mostly flat 100km of dirt farming roads, intermixed with about 4km of singletrack. We rode three loops in a clover-leaf loop pattern.

It was pouring rain, and we rode in a mix of mud, sand, water sometimes higher than our bottom brackets. Our bikes had been holding on by a thread after five days of wet and rain, and the final day destroyed them. We all rode with brakes rubbing. I lost my rear pads at about kilometer 10. At an aid station I looked at them and saw the pads worn through to the point the clips where twisted around and caught. We had mud soaked glasses and mud soaked eyeballs. Attitude is everything and mine needed a good kick in the pants!

We were caught at 20km to go by Sonia and Jeff and I am so grateful. Her good energy pulled my bottom lip off my snot-ridden chin and our world got better again.

Renata and Damian had a great day and took the stage win. I was psyched for them. Brian and I took the overall mixed team win.

Our pulleys, bearings, chains, pads, cables, bushings and most moving parts of our bikes need replacing and some serious love, but some great things happened out on course.

Brian and I both rode Bontrager XR 0 tires and we were so impressed with them. They outperformed all our expectations in all conditions. They were amazing. Grippy in mud, ideal on the road, excellent traction climbing, we didn’t have any flat tires. They get our 600km all-conditions seal of approval.

This event was a true test of equipment. Both of our bikes, Brian’s Giant Anthem XTC and my Trek Top fuel, held out very well. It is only our headset bearings and bottom bracket bearings that noticeably need replacing. Our fox shocks were problem free. Brian’s Mavic SLR wheels held up perfectly. We both use SRAM drivetrains and our shifting was good, even when the pulleys and pads had gone.

I would do the race again in a flash, although I would double cross my fingers for less rain and I wouldn't bring as nice of a bike. It hurt me to destroy my expensive race bike.

The organization was exceptional, the food was excellent and the riding was fantastic, while the aid stations were adequate and the amenities were appropriate. Mario Roma and his team did a very good job.

I think the only glitch was racing us full course on the last day and maybe there could be more medical aid on course too.

I liked racing mixed team with Brian as he is solid and even keeled. He stayed strong and motivated. He knows me well and doesn’t put up with my rubbish. It was good. I hope I get to do it again.

Now how to get our dirty dirty wet clothes dry in time to fly home? Good thing Brasil allows 70 pounds of baggage...

Thanks to all our friends and fellow competitors racing, it was "more than a race, it was a stage in our lives!" Good times.


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.