IMBCS Racer Spotlight: Andy Peterson

We will be featuring a series of Spotlights that highlight IMBCS participants so you can get to know some of the folks who race and see how they do it, why they do it, what got them started, and to read some of their thoughts. Word is out to several racers to get this Spotlight series up and running with the interview format I have typed and sent. You might be next, so check your email box! I hope to hear back from a nice representation of ages, categories, and locations to introduce you to people you may or may not already know so you can read their thoughts about racing mountain bikes. You don’t have to be a member of a team. You don’t have to have an expensive bike. You don’t have to have matching socks. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, a seasoned veteran, male, female, young, old – mountain biking in IMBCS events is open to everyone. We will show that in our Spotlight series.

That being said, we are starting the Spotlight series off today with our first interview being conducted with Andy Peterson. Andy came to mind when I thought of launching this because I remember meeting him at one of the local social ride gatherings (Banner Bacon Ride) a few years ago at Summerset State Park. Andy was there on his SS Karate Monkey and at the time was brand new to the Des Moines area. Those of you from other areas of Iowa, a Banner Bacon Ride is a social gathering that is open to all to just show up, ride a lap or two or more on the trails of Banner Pits at Summerset State Park just south of Des Moines. Following the ride, and depending on who is there and what they bring, the cooking begins with frying up some bacon, pancakes, sausage, eggs, breakfast burritos, boiling up some hot toddy’s, downing some cold brews, eating the fresh home made cinnamon rolls – you name it. That’s where some of us first met Andy.

You see, bacon can be good for you…

I remember that he could really fly on that rigid fork, singlespeed Karate Monkey. To top it off, he was a nice guy. Heck, he fit right in and came back for more social rides. Then he started hitting the IMBCS races. I’ve had the pleasure of car pooling with Andy to a race where one gets to know another chatting in the car for several hours. I highly recommend doing a car pool or two to the races to get to know some fellow racers you might not know. It’s a great way to meet them and swap stories. Andy has had some great success in the races the last year or two, so let’s get to the interview so you can meet our first Spotlight.

Winning at BannerAP

Photo: Taken by Eric Roccasecca at the Summerset Shootout

Name: Andy Peterson

Home: Indianola, IA

Age: 39 years old

Work: Service Manager at World of Wheels in Des Moines, IA

Race Bike(s): For the last two years I have been riding and racing Niner Bikes. This year I’m riding their top of the line hardtail, the ONE 9 RDO. I run it full rigid singlespeed. NO suspension and NO gears!

Bike Team: Rasmussen Bike Shop Cycling Team!

BB: What’s your favorite idea of a great mountain bike ride here in Iowa?

Andy: My idea for an ideal mountain bike ride is to get a group together and just ride. Maybe get some grudge match racing going on in the process. Then hang out after we ride while enjoying a recovery drink or two. The days when we get to together and cook out after a ride seem to really stand out to me.

BB: When did you start racing mountain bikes?

Andy: I started racing about seven or eight years ago while I was living in the Quad Cities. Then I moved away for a job and took a couple years off. Last year was the first time I really decided to put in the training time to succeed.

BB: What kind of race results and series results for the IMBCS did you have in prior seasons?

Andy: As it turns out that training was enough for me to podium every race in the series at the class and win the CAT II Sport Series Championship.

BB: What are your goals for this year with regard to your mountain bike racing?

Andy: My goal for this year is to win the COMP class for IMBCS.

BB: What has been your favorite race venue to date in the IMBCS?

Andy: My favorite place to race in the IMBCS? Wow, that is a tough one. All of our race venues have great things about them and all are a little different. That is one of the things that makes this Series so great. For me, the more technical the better. I like places where line choice and being smooth is key. I like the challenge of having to constantly think and  improvise on the fly. I think of it as a high speed chess match. But since you’re going to make me pick one, I would have to say Sugar Bottom!

BB: Andy, in preparing for the 2015 racing season, how many hours a week do you train? (Minimum, Maximum, Average)

Andy: This season’s preparation has been going great. I have been doing lots of non-biking workouts. These include lots of running both on the road and trail running. I am actually planning on doing several running races this season. The running produces great cardio and I have noticed a substantial decrease in the time required for my heart rate to drop after a hard effort, i.e. powering up a hill. I also do as much yoga as I can fit into my schedule. Yoga really helps with recovery as well as clears my mind. In addition, it really helps my balance and allows me to be able to focus on my breathing even while riding. I hate the trainer, but I also hate the cold – so riding this winter has been a bit lacking this year. I try to hit the gravel when possible. I believe that riding gravel is critical to success in mountain biking. Races like CIRREM and GENTS really help you assess where you are at with your fitness going into the season. And I think I am in a good spot right now in my fitness. I also do strength and core work outs that utilize mainly just your body weight…no gym and barbells for me. I would say I spend around ten hour per week training. Also I have a new training partner that has been teaching me a lot about proper nutrition and has been very helpful in tweaking my training. She is the closest thing I have ever had to a coach. (This also answers two of your other questions Bruce.)

BB: Have you ever had something happen during a race that prevented you from finishing?

Andy: I am meticulous about my bike prep, so to date I have never had a mechanical failure that has prevented me from finishing. In the past I have had a couple of flats that I repaired and kept going. Very little to go wrong on a rigid singlespeed.

BB: Do you use a coach?

Andy: (see above)

BB: Do you strength train as part of your training?

Andy: (see above)

BB: What do you like about the Iowa cycling community in terms of mountain bike racing?

Andy: I love all my biking brothers and sisters. We are like a large dysfunctional family, but we all take care of each other. In my life I have never had better friends or known better people than my Des Moines cycling family!

BB: What would you say as words of encouragement to folks out there who are trying to make the decision to race a mountain bike in Iowa or not?

Andy: When I first got started in this sport I had no idea it would grow into such an important and large part of my life. Biking is as good for your mind and soul as it is for you body. I can’t imagine not being able to ride. It wasn’t really until I moved to the Des Moines area that I realized this is it for me. The trails, the people, and of course Rasmussen Bike Shop/social club. The things this shop does for the cycling family in Des Moines is amazing. They are great people. Like anyone new to a city, I didn’t know anyone here. I had to sell my bike to make the move here. I would go to all the local shops and dream of getting another bike soon. I saved my pennies and was able to get a Surly Karate Monkey that was too big for me, but it was all I could afford. I rode that and began to make some friends. I am a shy individual so this took some time.

The lesson I learned and would like to pass on to anyone new. Don’t be afraid of us, we were all just like you once. Start hanging around before and after rides and you will be good. If you want to make a big splash, get involved! Join a group like CITA (Central Iowa Trail Association) and IMBA ( International Mountain Biking Association). These groups and their members are the ones responsible for building, maintain, protecting and expanding our trail systems. If you are not living in the Des Moines area, look for a biking association in your area, i.e. FORC of the Quad Cities. I decided this year that I wanted to be more a part of the bike scene. So I was elected to the CITA board of directors. In addition, I will be looking to get on the IMBCS board and will be working with a couple of the local race directors in this area to learn what it takes to put on a race. I do not know where this biking journey will take me, but so far it has changed my life. I look forward to seeing all my non-local racing buddies at the events this year. It looks like this is going to be a good one.

BB: Andy, thank you very much! All the best for your 2015 season.

There you have it, folks. Next time you see Andy out on the trail or at an event, give him a shout out and introduce yourself. He’s just one of the many racers enjoying the IMBCS.


Photo: Taken by Angy Snoop at the Sugar Bottom Scramble