Face of the Race: Clare Lintereur

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Clare Lintereur is one tough mother. She finished the Tahoe Trail MTB twice, Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB once and has completed countless marathon and IRONMAN competitions — all while raising six kids who are always there to cheer or compete alongside her. She’s ready to return to Tahoe and Leadville this year, and her family plans to support her through every mile.

How do you find the time to train for these races as a busy mom of six? Do your kids like to get out and train with you?
My training is definitely unusual. I used to do 4 a.m. rides a lot, so I could be home by 7 to get kids to school and myself to work by 8. They are more self-sufficient now, and I have two days off per week. That’s where I do my five- or six-hour rides — both road and mountain — if I have the time.

It has to be fun, or I won’t do it. Sometimes on my 80- or 100-mile road rides, I plan a stop for coffee or to pop in on a friend. I piece together beautiful mountain climbs on my MTB. Sometimes I back out the start time so that I’m on top of a mountain when the sun rises. I love that; it’s like my own personal paradise.

Three of my kids ride MTB and we love riding together. Throw in some good snacks and everybody’s happy! Since they were little we’ve climbed mountains in the Sierra and all around where we live, so appreciating being out there is not new to them. We consider it a great blessing to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

You kicked butt at the Tahoe Trail MTB last year. Tell us about your race. What did you like most about it? What would you do differently?
Thanks! I’ve done Tahoe twice. It’s such a gorgeous venue and a fantastic mix of terrain and skill sets. I did better the first year but finished the last five miles on a flat tire. This past year I rode with a barely-healed broken humerus. I wiped out and bent my derailleur, but persevered without my three lowest gears!

We got a solid group from our kids mountain bike team up there, and this year we’re bringing more. I’m going to ride right next to my 12-year-old girl who will do the 50K. My 15-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl can’t wait to get back out there and take another crack at it! They absolutely loved it.

For anyone with kids, I do have this advice — give them a job on the race course! My kids LOVE this and have had a blast at all kinds of races working the aid stations, finish line or whatever. Get them involved! The enthusiasm is contagious, and they’ll want to do it themselves when they’re old enough.

Tahoe is the perfect prelude to Leadville. The elevation, the climbing, the terrain — they’re all similar.

You also did the Leadville Trail 100 MTB last year. How did Tahoe help you prepare for that race?
Tahoe is the perfect prelude to Leadville. The elevation, the climbing, the terrain — they’re all similar. I made good friends at the Tahoe race whom I’ve kept in touch with and continue to race with. Leadville is a gem. I met so many wonderful people there, from all over the U.S. Ken Chlouber, the founder of the Leadville race, has these wonderful words of wisdom for us: “You’re better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” He’s absolutely right!

Tahoe is a taste of what’s to come in Leadville. If you can do Tahoe, you can do Leadville. Just enjoy the incredible beauty and the gift it is to be able to ride in those mountains knowing someone’s got your back.

What made you decide to race Leadville? How did it go for you?
Decide to ride Leadville? Does one need any encouragement? I rode because I qualified and couldn’t WAIT to see what this legendary race was all about! It was everything I imagined. Even on the nastiest climbs I was smiling; I couldn’t believe I could actually be in that amazing place riding through such incredible scenery. It was awesome. I finished well without any crashes, and my family was out there cheering for me wherever they could. I can’t wait to do it again!

How does your running and IRONMAN experience help with your mountain biking?
My family just laughs at me when people ask me about my run training. I’m the LAST person to ask for solid advice! Don’t tell, but I pretty much never run except in races. Even marathons — I just go do them and rely on my overall fitness to carry me. I used to be a strong marathoner when I ran a lot, and I think I still demand that of myself even without the training. I ran Boston last year and vowed never to run a pavement marathon again, but I’m sure I will. Pikes Peak is a blast just because it’s so steep that it’s more of a dance than a run, and I like that twist on running.

I’d say my mountain biking actually carries my running, rather than the other way around! Climbing steep stuff is similar enough to running that I seem to be hanging in there on the runs. I do think IRONMAN has helped with endurance in mountain bike racing. I had to just experience the long distance and difficulty, if anything. Once you know you can do it, you can transfer the mental strength to any discipline.

As some of your kids have started to do more mountain biking, what advice do you give them? Is there anything you wish you’d known when you first got into it?
My mountain biking kids already have better skills than I do, so I can’t really advise them on that! I think the main thing is remember to find the joy in it. Notice the beauty, drink it in, let it fill you with gratitude. Smell the flowers, be in awe of the wild animals, and thank God for your health and your ability — and the opportunity — to be in the incredible places that mountain biking takes you.

My kids are the joy of my life. Seeing them on the course puts the wind in my sails.

Whether racing themselves or volunteering with the Youphoria crew, your kids are always around to support you. What’s it like when you see them at the finish line?
My kids are the joy of my life. Seeing them on the course puts the wind in my sails for the next 10 miles. At Leadville all six of them were at a cheer station at mile 20 — the top of a climb. I could hear my son with the mic cheering for me before I could even see him. They got to DJ the music and dance around cheering on all the riders. I got big hugs from all of them.

They are proud to support their crazy mama. I know that when they see me try this stuff at age 53, what they are learning is that anything is possible for them. Put in the work, make it fun, don’t fear failure or setbacks — just embrace every beautiful thing life gives.

Once, when I finished a full IRONMAN, my kids were working the finish. One placed my medal around my neck, another gave me a water bottle and a third removed my ankle timing chip when I could barely stand up. They all gave me hugs and supported me as I hobbled forward. When I see them I see love, and I know I’m home.

Tell us a bit about your racing history. How did you get into endurance events?
I sort of fell into endurance events by accident. I’ve played just about every sport there is at some point in my life, but I never ran just for fun until the end of high school when I was stuck with it. In my family of eight children, I couldn’t always choose what I wanted.

When my brothers decided to play water polo that season — and they were my ride home — I thought what the heck, might as well try running! It was the only sport left at my school that hadn’t yet picked the team. It turned out I was pretty good, and I loved it.  I took first that season in all the events I tried. I continued with cross country in college, and a whole new world of trails and beauty opened up to me. I found that the longer the event, the more peaceful I felt. It seemed like I could maintain my pace fairly easily no matter how far I ran.

My hardest marathon was the six and a half years I spent having six children. That is the best training you could ask for, for ANY endurance event! My husband and I raced with the kids in joggers, and as soon as they could walk we stuck bib numbers on them and cheered like mad in their little kid Ks. As our whole family grew up and all the kids found their own favorite sports, I returned to my favorite — endurance. This journey took me to new adventures like the IRONMAN races, trail marathons and the epitome of all mountain bike racing — Leadville!

The Tahoe Trail MTB has been awesome, and such a fun thing to do with my kids! This race was a turning point for my daughter…it helped her know what she was made of.

Out of all the types of racing you do, which type is your favorite and why?
This is a hard one to answer. I think the truth is that what I like most is variety. I’ve competed in dozens of IRONMAN races and love the variety even within those.

I only started mountain biking really within the last five years when I signed my kids up to ride with our local middle/high school team. I love to be with my children, so I got out there with them as much as I could. Now I’m a coach on that team, and three of my children race. Through the awesome MTB crowd, I heard about a lot of really fun races locally and have enjoyed those tremendously. Rock Cobbler is one of those — full of shenanigans and punishment all day long. I love that spirit of fun.

The Tahoe Trail MTB has been awesome, and such a fun thing to do with my kids! My 16-year-old daughter has won her age group twice. This race was a turning point for her. She was convinced that the other girls in the high school league would always be better than her, but she did Tahoe without knowing anyone there and crushed it. She knew what she was made of after that and ended up as the #1 9th grader in SoCal that following season.

I have also dabbled in trail marathons including the Pikes Peak Marathon, which I just love because it’s so scrappy, difficult and incredibly beautiful. I’m up for anything super cool, especially if it’s a solid epic. I like testing my strength, both mental and physical. I have a bucket list of fun things yet to try!

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your upcoming season?
We are so looking forward to Tahoe and Leadville! I have qualified for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in France, which happens right after Leadville, so I can NOT crash!

Everyone at Youphoria Productions has been such a blessing to my family! My kids have had such rich experiences being involved in these races. Youphoria has been so warm and welcoming to all of us. We feel like we’re among old friends. It warms my heart that even my littlest girl wants to try this race. This will be her longest distance to date, but I know she’ll have tons of encouragement and will be up to the task. Youphoria has helped all of us to love this sport. Thank you!

Want to find your Youphoria and see what you’re made of? Join us at the Tahoe Trail MTB on July 13.

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