Dave Wiens finally got to race the course he helped plan — and while he was at it, he just happened to set the course record. We talked to him about the race, as well as about his new post as Western State Colorado University’s first Mountain Sports Team Director.
How did you like racing the Tahoe Trail 100? Any favorite spots?
I love the Tahoe Trail 100 course. I’ve been involved in this race since its inception in 2011 but had never raced it until this year. Riding it hard, without stopping, gave me a new perspective on the course. My favorite parts are the far section beyond the wall that includes the Tevas Trail, but every part of the course has its own character and challenges. Great course.
You set the course record — how did you do it? Take us through your race.
I certainly never set out to try to establish a course record. My game plan was to try to stay with the leaders and just sort of see how the race would shake out. Three of us got away pretty quickly and worked together until the top of The Wall. I was leading at that point and it was just beyond The Wall where we encountered the section of course that the Tevis Cup horse race had used earlier in the morning. It was soft and bumpy and I just tried to stay steady as that section is alternating road and singletrack with punchy climbs. I got a gap somewhere in there and just kept it steady the rest of the way. In these races, you have no idea how far behind the other riders are. For all I knew, they were right there so I was always running a little scared. In the end, I had a comfortable lead but you simply don’t know that. I felt good, my Topeak Ergon Team Canyon bike worked great and I didn’t make any big mistakes, so I was happy with my race.
You recently spilled your training and racing nutrition secrets. What was in your jersey pockets for this race (other than that must-have PowerBar)?
After a breakfast of French toast made with sourdough bread, a banana and some OJ, I had three GU Roctane gels in my pockets for each lap and GU Roctane drink mixed up in my bottles. The day started cool but we knew it was going to be hot. I was careful to keep drinking and probably drank about three bottles of Roctane during the race. And yes, I did carry that PowerBar the whole way. Still have it wrapped and ready to go!
Tell us about your role as Western State Colorado University’s first Mountain Sports Team Director. What did you do in your first year, and what are your goals for the program?
A was brought onto the Western State Colorado University (aka Western) team about a year ago after I proposed a program called Mountain Sports that would roll existing cycling and skiing programs together, compete under the single banner of Western Mountain Sports, and add supporting programs, like Mountain Sports Media; as well as other events like our annual road ride, the West Elk Bicycle Classic (which takes place September 1st this year); and our Gunnison Crested Butte High School Mountain Bike Camp (which is going on right now).
But primarily, Western Mountain Sports is competitive mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and trail running. Trail running is brand new but our mountain bike team has been around for a while. We compete in Division 2 and were 3rd at Nationals in 2012. Snowboarding was also a brand new team last season and our guys finished in 3rd place overall at Nationals. Our university has a long and storied history in competitive skiing that dates back to the late 1940s. Formerly an NCAA alpine and Nordic racing program, now our skiers compete in Big Mountain Freeride, Park and Pipe, Skiercross, Nordic and Ski Mountaineering or Rando Racing. Our men’s team placed second overall at nationals last season with Dave Sugnet earning a national championship in Slopestyle while our ladies placed third overall. Our student director of the ski team, Francesca Pavillard-Cain, had a great season, winning the Salomon Freeride Tour and earning a berth on the World Freeride Tour for 2013-14.
For the upcoming school year, we’ll jump right into the collegiate mountain biking season and hope to take a strong squad to nationals in Banner Elk, North Carolina to try to improve on our third place from last year. Then, we’ll put the bikes away and get out the skis and snowboards and begin preparing for a full-on season on the snow. Nationals for skiing and snowboarding are in Sunday River, Maine this year and we’ll also have athletes competing in Big Mountain Freeride, skier and boarder cross and endurance skiing events.
Our goals are to always strive to improve all aspects of our program and provide an opportunity for athletes and students interested in mountain sports the opportunity to either compete or be involved by way of media or support. Mountain Sports isn’t just for athletes but is also for photographers, writers, graphic designers, marketing, business and management students, videographers and editors and much more. Western State Colorado University offers authentic experience in the outdoor industry and Western Mountain Sports is one of the primary vehicles.
Are you racing the LT100 this year?
I am not racing in the Leadville Trail 100 this year. I have had eight amazing days there and I’m very satisfied just being there and supporting the Topeak Ergon Racing Team as well as everyone who is out there.
Will you spend some time in Leadville around the race?
I will be in Leadville for the race. I’ll be helping out race director Josh Colley and Ken and Merilee as I can. I’ll also help get my brother Brian ready to race his 8th LT100, as well as helping out my Topeak Ergon Teammates Alban Lakata, Robert Mennon, Yuki Saito, Sonya Looney and Sally Bigham. The town has such a buzz during this event. There really is nothing else like it anywhere.