Today is IMBCS Race Day number one with the Illiniwek Abermination in Hampton, Illinois! What a better way to start off your morning than posting up a new Spotlight?
We continue with our feature series of Spotlights here at IMBCS.org highlighting some of our many IMBCS participants throughout the state of Iowa. You can get to know some of the folks involved in racing and see how they do it, why they do it, what got them started, and read some of their thoughts. We will continue this feature throughout the season. You might be next, so check your email box for a Spotlight interview!
IMBCS.org Spotlights will provide 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. Are you considering racing in an IMBCS event this year? 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 and encourage you to sign up for a race and give IMBCS a try.
Today’s Spotlight feature is another relatively newcomer to IMBCS, Michael Maney. Michael has blasted out of the gate with his cycling over the past three seasons and is enjoying the success that comes with his training and racing experience as he moves up to CAT I for 2015. Way to go, Michael! Let’s get to the interview so you can meet our third Spotlight and see how he moved his way up.
Name: Michael Maney
Current Home: Waterloo, IA
Employer: Senior Engineer at John Deere Power Systems
Racing Category for 2015: Cat I
Race Bike(s): Specialized S-Works Epic 29 World Cup
Bike Team: C&S Products Race Team
BB: What’s your favorite idea of a great mountain bike ride here in Iowa?
Michael: I really enjoy getting out and spending time riding with my wife Jacqueline and a group of friends; shredding some singletrack, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors, and looking forward to the great food and beers that typically follow! Typically it seems that these rides generally are the most memorable when we do them in the fall…perhaps that is because the weather is getting crisp and the leaves are changing making for one heck of a beautiful backdrop for mountain biking, or perhaps it is because we know that winter is coming and it may be up to 6 months before we get to do it again.
BB: When did you start racing mountain bikes?
Michael: My first race was at Beverly Park Fat Tire Frenzy in Cedar Rapids in 2012. I raced CAT III and had no idea what I was doing, fully loaded with my 100 oz. CamelBak, tools, spare tube, pump, the whole nine yards. It certainly wasn’t my best performance, but I had a lot of fun and now had the racing bug. I raced two more races that year, and then raced my first full IMBCS series as a CAT II rider in 2013.
BB: What kind of race results and series results for the IMBCS did you have in prior seasons?
Michael: 2013 was my first year racing the full IMBCS season and I had a good battle going for the duration of the season with Dane Miller. The scene was set for a dramatic finish at The Mullet Fall Classic – the last race of the season – to finally decide who was going to be taking home the CAT II 20-29 age group championship. Unfortunately, the battle that ensued wasn’t as dramatic as hoped as Dane had a bit of confusion on the date of the race and ended up missing the event which left me to claim the championship for our age group. It felt great winning my first championship, but I know both Dane and I didn’t want to end that way hahaha. For 2014, I moved up to compete in CAT II COMP, and similarly increased my training volume and intensity. I was able to find greater consistency in 2014, and had a lot of fun racing the COMP category in the series. I secured the series championship for COMP for the 2014 season at the Summerset Shootout at Banner Lakes in Indianola, and while it didn’t come down to the last race of the season like my CAT II season did, it was every bit as fun!
(Editor’s Note: I hope this new website, the Facebook Page, the Yahoo Group IMBCS and our printed schedule prevents a confused date such as Dane experienced in 2013!)
BB: What are your goals for this year with regard to your mountain bike racing?
Michael: My desire for this season is to compete at a high level in the CAT I Expert category in IMBCS, with the ultimate goal of securing a podium spot for the overall series points championship.
BB: What has been your favorite race venue to date in the IMBCS?
Michael: That is a tough question to answer. One of the things I enjoy most about mountain bike racing is being exposed to so many different courses in different places, and meeting so many great new people along the way. I really enjoy the challenge of learning a new course and adapting my skills to improve on sections that may not be my strongest, so all of the courses provide different challenges on that front. If I had to pick a favorite venue, I would have to pick Sugar Bottom for its great combination of technical features, varied terrain, beautiful scenery, high-quality singletrack, and what is typically a great turnout that always seems to lead to some very high competition racing!
BB: In preparing for the 2015 racing season, how many hours a week do you train? (Minimum, Maximum, Average)
Michael: In preparation for my jump up to the CAT I big leagues for the 2015 season, I increased my training volume throughout the Winter and early Spring months, with some of that time spent on the trainer, some of it spent riding my old hardtail on gravel and some of it spent on the fat bike riding singletrack and green belt trails. Throughout the early part of the season I averaged about 14 hrs per week on the bike, with another 2-3 hours per week performing core strength, balance/proprioception and stretching routines. As the season draws near and finally starts, my training hours will likely reduce, but the intensity of the training I do put in will increase as I make sure the body is in top form for the demands presented during race conditions. It is also a long season, so training adjustments often have to be made accordingly as issues or deficiencies arise throughout the season.
BB: Have you ever had something happen during a race that prevented you from finishing?
Michael: Knock on wood, I have never had an issue during a race that was severe enough that I DNF’d. I hope that good fortune continues into the 2015 season, but I’m also a big believer in the saying that victory loves preparation.
BB: Do you use a coach?
Michael: I do not have a formal coach per se, but I do have a great friend that I met through mountain bike racing that I communicate a great deal with about training, bike setup and maintenance, race preparation, etc. In many ways that relationship helps hold me accountable in my training and development similar to the way a good relationship with a coach should, and in this case it is mutually beneficial. My wife Jacqueline is also my coach in a lot of ways, as another individual to hold me accountable in my training and nutrition, and who also happens to be one heck of a great cook that makes a lot of great training, recovery, and race fuel creations!
BB: Do you strength train as part of your training?
Michael: All of my strength training is with body weight exercises, plyometrics and targeted-system exercises both on and off the bike. I do not do any weight or resistance band training.
BB: What do you like about the Iowa cycling community in terms of mountain bike racing?
Michael: I really love and appreciate how outgoing, open, and friendly the Iowa mountain biking and racing community is. Some of the best friends I have today I met just riding the local trails, at a social ride or racing at the IMBCS races. People always talk about “Iowa nice” referring to how friendly the people are in Iowa, but I really feel that the mountain bike community takes that to an entirely new level. I really don’t think I’ve ever been around such a large group of people that are so consistently inviting and welcoming to outsiders, and has so many great people that form positive and deep relationships forged on common interests, all while having so much fun in the process.
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?
Michael: Getting out and racing on the Iowa mountain bike scene, whether you are competitive or not, is some of the greatest fun that can be had in any given weekend. You don’t need to be fast or an excellent bike handler to have an incredible time out racing your bike on some new or familiar trails, and to do it with people that all love it just as much as you do. Everyone was the new guy that didn’t know anyone at some point, and everyone had their first race at some point. I know when I did my first race I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know if I would ever want to try racing again at that point but I had a great time, met a lot of nice and fun people, and before I knew it – I was hooked. Racing and just riding mountain bikes provides so much balance to my life at this point that I really can’t imagine my life without it. When my wife and I were dating going mountain biking and exploring new places is one of the things we shared and was something that helped bring us together. A lot of my best friends I met through mountain biking and racing. As I said, whether you are competitive or not, you stand to learn a lot about yourself when you are out there on your bike, pushing yourself a bit, and you will certainly come away from it with great memories that will last a life time. And luckily for us, mountain biking is something you can do for the rest of your life, so the great memories just keep coming!
BB: Thank you so much Michael for sharing your story with us.
Michael’s debut as a CAT I racer on Sunday, April 19th…
There you have it folks! Another inspirational story from a relatively newcomer who picked up mountain biking in his mid 20’s and is having a blast doing it. All the best to Michael has he pedals himself into the IMBCS big leagues this season for a go at the CAT I races. Next time you see Michael out on the trail or at an event, give him a shout out and introduce yourself. Michael is just one of the many racers enjoying the IMBCS.
Photographs used in this interview are courtesy of Angy Snoop, Eric Roccasecca and Jacqueline Maney