Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Twenty Questions with Race Director Steven Aesoph: XTERRA Pipestem Creek

So, let's start something different. Enough about me and what I'm doing....let's check out some other action. Note - I did sign-up for this event just this past first XTERRA triathlon. And it will take place in my boyhood town.

XTERRA Pipestem Creek presented by Buffalo City Grille is an off road triathlon in the Mountain Region of the XTERRA America Tour. The intent of the race (apart from suffering) is to showcase what the Jamestown, ND community has to offer and to raise money for local youth sports organizations.

Held at the US Corps of Engineers Pipestem Dam and Lake Project, the race features a 1000 meter swim with a short exit at the halfway point, a 13 mile mountain bike on a lap and a half of the Pipestem Trail, and a 5 mile run incorporating most of the North Ridge Trail. Pipestem Dam and Lake Project is located 4 miles North of Jamestown on US Hwy 281 and offers a number of recreational activities highlighted by the 13 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails.

The race was founded in 2009 as the Pipestem Creek Off-Road Triathlon and Trail Run. The race date is June 26, 2010 with packet pick up and athlete social June 25 at the Buffalo City Grille from 5pm-10pm.

So, I went to race director Steven Aesoph and asked him twenty questions. Here's how it went.

1. Why XTERRA? When I first wanted to get into biking in 2007 I went searching for a bike to purchase. Whether it was a road or mountain bike, I didn’t care, I was looking for the best deal. It ended up being a hold over 2005 Stumpjumper FSR, so from that point on I became a mountain biker. It’s my first love. XTERRA is also so much different than the button down, clean and shiny world of road tri’s. XTERRA is savages ripping through the forest with blood, sweat and dirt smeared across their pained expressions. If cavemen still existed, they wouldn’t sell insurance, they’d ride shirtless on frickin mountain bikes and run on trails!!
2. Has the downturn in the global economy affected XTERRA and/or and future plans? I think it may have on a “global” or sport wide basis, but not really my race. The XTERRA point series organizers felt it last year, but I only know that because they said so.
3. How did you get your start in multisport? Wow, I don’t want to type a book here, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes: I was a three sport (well, technically two, XC and Track are only different times of year, not really different sports) athlete in high school and ran track in college at Jamestown. After my senior season, I was sick of running and gave it up. Completely. I also gave up virtually all other forms of exercise as well and went from 145 pounds to eventually 220 in a period of inactivity from 1999 to 2006. Not pretty. My brother in law is an avid cyclist and I was intrigued by the sport. In 2007 I bought a MTB, 2008 I bought a road bike and between the two did about 2500 miles. May of ’08 I signed up for a 3 mile trail run even though I hadn’t run a step in about a decade. I finished 1st, threw up, and wondered if I could still be fast (I averaged 7 flat pace for my time with no training and about 15 pounds overweight). December 08 I started on the long road back with 15 minute, mile and a half trots on the treadmill. February I signed up for a sprint triathlon in May, The Chain of Lakes tri in Alexandria. From there I did two Olympic length races, my off road tri, a few MTB races, a half marathon and finished the year with a half Ironman distance tri in Stillwater, MN. It was an abbreviated timeline, but a really fun and challenging year of racing where I learned a lot about my limits.
4. What has been your greatest Triathlon Moment so far? When I rode past a spectator during the bike portion of my off road triathlon last year and he yelled “Excellent event, Steve!!” I had a huge smile on my face the rest of the bike, which I would assume led other spectators to think I was a either a masochist or just plain crazy.
5. What would you suggest to a fellow competitor that wanted to “get involved” or help your event grow? The biggest impact someone can have on any event is to talk about it to other athletes, get other people interested in the race. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!! Unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy, then call me about a sponsorship. I’ll name the race course after you for $750. My God, I’m shameless.
6. Things have changed quite a bit in the last 15 years. Triathletes have become a lot more specialized since then. What do you think are the attributes that make a successful XTERRA Triathlete? Toughness is number one. XTERRA is so much more challenging than road triathlon because you cannot avoid the “Red Zone” efforts on the bike that totally thrash your legs for the run. Another attribute is adventurous. EVERY off road race course is different and presents a new challenge. You have to embrace the course for what it is and determine how to play your skills to produce the best result, not bitch about how the course is too hard or there aren’t enough technical sections. Shut up and enjoy the terrain!! Whereas, pavement is pavement, you’ve seen one highway, you’ve seen ‘em all.
7. Do you have a good bike mechanic? I do most of my maintenance other than fitting. For big jobs I enlist the help of a friend who’s been cycling for decades and is very much like Spicoli’s dad in that he’s got the ulllltimate set of tools, he can fix it.
8. Are there any other triathletes you hang out with when you are not swimming, biking or running? Or do you just train with them? I wish there were other triathletes in Jamestown. I do virtually all my training solo. Either schedules don’t match up, intensity levels don’t match up, or maybe people just don’t like me. For whatever reason, I cannot find a consistent training partner other than one night a week on our mountain bike group ride.
9. Can you give me your typical pre-race taper? I’m still pretty new to the game, so I didn’t really nail one down last year. I like to do short, speedy workouts the week of the race and dramatically reduce total volume to make sure I’ve got snap in my legs. I usually travel the day before the race, so there’s at least one day off in there. Most important for me is quality sleep the entire week prior to a race along with mental preparation/visualization.
10. You are in the event. When do you make your move? On the run, definitely. It’s the only event that there’s nothing to save anything for. That, and it’s by far my strength.
11. Pipestem water quality? Crystal clear or ‘I can’t see my hand’ murky? It’s between the two, somewhere. It’s not a mud puddle, but it certainly isn’t crystal clear.
12. In one word, describe the bike course. Intervals

13. Who will be first out of the water on June 26? The relay teams who opt to use kayaks. But as far as swimmers, probably Matt Wenzel. He was out a full two minutes ahead of everyone last year, I think about 17 minutes for an open water 1000 meters in very rough conditions. Oh, and he had the fastest bike split by 4 minutes last year as well. The kid can fly on a bike. From what I hear from his parents, he drastically improved his run as well. He’s one to watch.
14. Any plans for a ‘regular’ triathlon or duathlon in the Buffalo City? I’m kicking the idea around for a sprint tri for 2011 at Jamestown Reservoir. The area lends itself perfectly for that distance with the twisty reservoir road/Hwy 20 loop and the running path. I definitely have the support of the community leaders to produce events, I just don’t know if I have the energy to put on both races. Sprints are pretty popular and they’re definitely an attainable distance even for beginners, so I think that would promote decent participation.
15. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Well, I’ll be an empty nester in two years, so in ten I hope to have checked off several of my “bucket list” adventures like cycling in Europe, a bike tour of New Zealand, backpacking unsupported in Glacier, MT, the BC Bike race, a Canadian Alpine Club climbing trip, and completion of La Ruta de los Conquistadors in Costa Rica to name a few. I want to experience as much of the Earth as possible. By bike or foot. Or kayak. Basically self-powered.
16. If off-road triathlon (Xterra) became an Olympic sport, would you start looking for a mountain bike sponsor or a seat in the grandstands? My dream would be to be paid to train and race all over the world. But, turning 35 last week, I think I’m closer to a “has-been” than a “rising star.” Where’s the beer garden? I’ll pull up a seat closest to that.
17. What measures do you take to preserve your sanity? Working out is a great release of aggression and stress. I used to listen to metal all the time, but since my training volume exceeded 8 hours a week last year I’ve started listening to considerably more mellow stuff. Lots of Ben Harper, Richard Ashcroft, Black Crowes, and things like that. Less Hatebreed, Sepultura, In Flames and Slipknot. They still have their place, but they’re no longer staples on my iPod. I like to chill out when I workout if that’s possible. Put it this way, the music no longer needs to supply the intensity, that now comes from within me.
18. Who does the cooking at your house? I married the greatest cook. My wife, Korri, does all the cooking. We have great suppers that spawn left overs for me to eat for lunch the next day (or next three days in some cases). She makes homemade soups, hotdishes, the greatest sandwiches, massive burritos, and more. I am ridiculously spoiled in that department.
19. What would you say is your most annoying habit? Correcting my wife. I can’t help it if she’s wrong a lot, but I could just bite my tongue. I’m kind of a stickler for details and it bugs me when things aren’t right.
20. What is your event plan for 2011? Gain a national equipment manufacturer sponsor for the race, increase entries to 200, and have a true pro field (10 or more pros).

If you are like me, and you want to try something new each year instead of doing the same road triathlon formats, the same road runs, the same training....try this XTERRA event. You never know when a new love will bite you. Trail runs are easier on your legs both training and racing. And even Lance trains and races on Mountain Bikes...and so far he has done OK.

Jamestown is located 100-miles directly west of Fargo on Interstate 94. From the Twin Cities you can be there in under five hours (320 miles). If you have any questions on the race, feel free to ask me. Or ask Steve. You can also follow this event on Twitter at: pipestemoffroad


Steven Aesoph said...

Homemade Knephla soup last night. A whole pot full in the fridge. Yep, life's good.

Steven Aesoph said...

Oh, and Jamestown is 100 mile WEST of Fargo. Don't want anyone showing up in Detroit Lakes on race day.

Brian said...

Corrected. I always miss stuff now even though I read through several times. Old age is a bad thing, unless you can do well in a older age group!

Brian said...

And will you be serving Knephla post-race!?!?

Steven Aesoph said...

Sorry. Just hamburgers and brats on the grill.