What a birthday!

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)

Each year I invite about 20 keen riders to join me on my birthday ride on the White Rim. On Monday, I spent the day on my bike in Brazil with 300 international riders. The route consisted of almost 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. Not a bad substitute in my eyes.

Jenny and I had a good prologue the day before and we wore the mixed teams green leader’s jersey. Green is my favorite color. So before the day even started I was grinning ear to ear despite the grey clouds and full night of rain prior to the 6am start. We started with about 40km of paved and dirt roads where the pace was close to 25mph at the front. Jenny was at her limit keeping up with the top men’s teams.

For some reason, we decided to bypass aid station one to keep pace with the top teams who were trying to drop the other mixed competitors. This decision left us quite dehydrated with only two bottles each for about 60km.

To make matters worse I broke my chain at a creek crossing. I managed to make a quick fix thanks to a Connex link I got from Rock and Roll Sports and was under way in about two minutes. We then had to chase the leading teams for about an hour before we saw the front again. After about 60km, we got singletrack/jungle with rain. We had to hike-a-bike in knee deep mud, rock ledges and rushing creeks while getting rained on. A true Brazilian adventure ride!

The last water station was about 25km from the finish but we still had a 1800-foot climb ahead of us and we had already ridden/hiked for six hours. I had a rooster that attempted to outrun me at 15mph then tried to fly at the same speed before wrecking in the bushes.

There was also a flattened toad in the road about the size of my head. About a mile later we saw a run-a-way horse with a mouth full of grass and its rope still tied to it running down the road. After this I started to bonk. False flats on wet muddy roads for 10km leading to the last climb and Jenny was leaving me for dead. I chugged about five gels in a flask and returned to life. But by the time we topped the climb I almost threw up, so it was a bad idea. I heard Jenny dry heaving behind me and I knew we had to finish this stage ASAP.

We rolled into Rio de Contas after seven hours and 42 minutes. That was by far the most suffering I have ever done on my birthday. I was so smashed I had a beer, was in bed by nine and had to write this blog on Tuesday. Jeff Kerkove and Sonya Looney of Topeak/Ergon, also from Colorado, had the race of the day chasing us down and finishing less than three minutes back.

That’s all for now but the suffering must continue. Keep posted for more updates.

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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.