Wednesday, October 22, 2008

- BLOGGER APP #6: Ben Thompson

NAME: Ben Thompson


HOMETOWN: Bend, Oregon

Where are you from? Grew up in Monterey, CA and was introduced to proper biking on the great trails of Laguna Seca, Big Sur and surrounding areas.
What kind of bike do you ride? SOBE/Cannondale Team Scalpel Full Suspension
What do you love about it? Bike climbs like a billy goat, descends like a hellion and believe it or not, the Lefty fork actually works…quite well in fact!
Solo or team competitor? Why? Solo – I’ve done TransAlp and TransRockies as a team and itching for a little personal suffering…I mean fun.
Done any ultra-endurance stuff before? I’ve raced TransAlp, TransRockies and La Ruta and always been in or around the Top 10. Love all the ups and downs that come during multi-day racing!
Favorite food? Good Mexican (especially after a ride!)
Movie? Usual Suspects – the first great ending twister
Book? Travels with Charlie – Americana at its best from a hometown author, John Steinbeck.
Worst experience on a bike? Suppose the answers to the next two questions could both come from my endurance racing days. Worst day would have to be down at La Ruta, starting in a cold rain, climbing up the volcano in colder rain, fixing flats in shin deep cow crap and finishing 5hrs later in a cold rain. Rough day mentally, physically but sure made the rest of the days look good!
Best experience on a bike? No contest in my mind: the 2006 Cascade Creampuff 100. Rarely do you have those days when EVERYTHING goes your way on a bike; legs show up, stomach actually processes food, brain shuts down and lets the body work and no mechanicals. The 100 mile race with 18000 feet was actually fun the whole time and coming in 9 minutes ahead of second place wasn’t bad either.
Tell us about your LBS (Local Bike Shop): Sunnyside Sports has been a huge help in keeping my ever abused stable of bikes in fine (or at least rideable/raceable) form. Owner Don Leet is super enthusiastic about cycling and supporting local racers. Hutch’s Bikes managers Mike McMackin and Jon Fry have always been there for those specific Cannondale questions, getting the race bikes together in a hurry and supporting the SOBE/Cannondale race effort. It sure makes riding and racing a whole lot easier with all of these great resources here in Bend, Oregon!
Tell us about your favorite ‘local’ ride: Every Autumn when the racing schedule settles down we corral the local mish-mash group of all the people we rarely get to ride with during the season for the final mtb rides up around Mt. Bachelor with a finish at local’s night at Deschutes Brewery. Good times chasing each other back towards town on the swoopy singletrack; Great beers only available on tap at the brew house, Best buddies sharing what they love most – riding bikes.
Tell us about your favorite ride EVER: For me, an international location holds a certain sway…like bonus points on the ride scale. My favorite ride ever was outside of Klosters, Switzerland up the trails made famous by Frischknecht and his Swiss Power riders in and around the World Marathon Championship course. Amazing singletrack and doubletrack wound up the valleys, through tiny hillside villages and sheep farms all the way up to the Austrian border. Pretty cool riding burly singletrack up to take a peek into another country…not to mention that nearly every person I saw was so stoked on cycling that they would give you a push up the hill or a shout of encouragement. Awesome.
Describe a sponsor or company you admire and why you admire them: Cannondale – I admire them because they continually push the envelope in both design and function in their bikes. It’s refreshing to see a company still innovating in an industry of fairly static design. What’s better is when form follows function such as their outstanding Lefty fork, Carbon Fiber frames, BB30 standard, etc. I must say I’ve never ridden or raced a better bike than the new Scalpel.
Who will play you in the Breck Epic movie and why? John Cusack – dry, semi-sarcastic humor that he can focus on bringing attention to social, class, international, and interpersonal issues and situations.
What do you hope to get out of this experience? My goal for this race is two-fold. My wife and I had our first child May 15, 2008 so I’d love to use this race as a “Myth-Buster”. Does fatherhood automatically make you slow and fat? Could be – let’s see. I’ll do my best to bust this myth and not the seams of my chamois. Second goal is to place Top 10 in the Solo overall. I have been able to accomplish this in other mountain bike stage races and love trying to mix it up with the likes of Andres Hestler, Max Plaxton, Kris Sneddon. I love interacting with fellow racers and support crew before, during and after stages almost as much as the racing. There is something refreshing about forgetting the thousand things on the “Honey-Do List” and reverting to the simple schedule of: wake, eat, ride, eat, nap, eat, sleep…repeat as necessary. We’ll all in the same boat each day and loving it.
Tell us about your history as a cyclist or in the industry: I started racing recreationally in college in the late 1990’s after falling in love with the sport on the trails around my home town of Monterey, CA. My move to Seattle kicked the racing into full gear with the close proximity of race venues and quantity and quality of teams and riders. Racing for local shop teams eventually progressed to sponsorship by the national SOBE/Cannondale team last year. I have focused on my first two-wheel love – mountain biking in all its forms: XC, STX, MA, SR. Plenty of good times are still ahead even as I enter the fateful “mid 30’s” and fatherhood.
Random stuff about you? Perspective is everything. I’ve got a job. I’ve got a kid. I’m still trying to race PRO and be competitive and I’ve raced these kinds of races before. I teach kids cycling camp in the summer when not traveling to races. I ride with firemen, doctors, mechanics and PROs on a weekly basis.

I think using this color in my race reports will give them a fun, real feel to readers whether they’re a recreational cyclist, enthusiastic “Regular Joe” or aspiring junior racer. I love sharing not only my own take but also blending in other people’s views on the day’s work during races, moments of personal suffering and highlights, and the amazing level of camaraderie that bonds all of us on the start line together in the common struggle.

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