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October 1, 2006

John Stamstad: Ultra Marathon Mountain Biker

I pushed myself out of my rut by treating myself to hours of surfing the, breathing, experiencing John Stamstad. I was like an actor getting into a character. I could almost relive the seizing cramps I endured with my two 24-hour races (5-man team) just by reading his exploits...although my "suffering" is a paltry insignificance compared to his. He epitomizes to me what the abyss might look like when human endurance is pushed beyond what is thought to be the un-doable. No self-respecting mountain biker will not be awed by the accomplishment of one man who single-handedly broke the "can't be done" barrier in mountain biking ultra-endurance races. His name has become synonymous with PAIN...yes in big bold caps. Enjoy...immerse...soak it in.

-- TheLoneRider

another night race John Stamstad 'Fest
Career Hightlights:
  • to avoid bonking on his Great Divide ride (2,466 mostly dirt-road miles and climbing perhaps 200,000 vertical feet), he chugged pure canola oil until he could get to the next rural gas station and refuel with Spam, Little Debbie snack cakes, and a 1-pound block of cheese.
  • in a 100-mile race in Pennsylvania he broke his collarbone after 20 miles but continued on to win and set a course record.
  • he takes off on 120-mile rides with only a quarter for an emergency phone call
  • he became the first rider ever to solo the 24 Hours of Canaan, besting half of the 380 five-person teams
  • he's won the Iditabike, a 160-mile midwinter race across the Alaskan tundra in the last four years
  • he won the Iditasport Extreme, a 350-mile race from Anchorage to McGrath, Alaska. His strategy? Ride 65 hours straight (read: no sleep in sub-zero weather), which won him the race, beat the course record by two days, and his closest competitors by 12 hours.
  • he suffered a first-lap crash that left him with a compressed neck vertebra in the 24 Hours of Canaan but continued to finish the race without being able to move his head
  • he knows he's mentally ready for a race when he can do a five-hour stint on the wind trainer, maintaining a heart rate of 155 beats per minute while staring at a blank wall
Famous Stamstad quotes:
  • "To a fault, I can live in that tunnel (ultramarathon-cycling) where you focus on one thing and exclude everything else."
  • "Do the hardest races in the world and try to find the one that breaks me." So far, he's still looking.
  • "I just make the decision before the race that I'm going to finish, no matter what. That way, I never have to decide whether to quit, because it's just not an option."
  • "But then I realized that suffering was what I was looking for. If I weren't suffering, I wouldn't be racing. I turned suffering into the goal. This approach de-personalizes suffering."
  • "...rubber kitchen gloves are best for riding in the rain. They work great, they weigh virtually nothing, and they're dirt-cheap. "
  • "I chose Canola oil because it has no flavor so you can drink it straight"
  • "A lot of times you can fake your feelings, cover them up. But at three in the morning during a 24-hour race, nothing is hidden." I personally can relate to that -- TheLoneRider
Want more? Check out these links:
John Stamstad

--- TheLoneRider

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Next story:

Orlana D'Souza: My Good Samaritan Nong Khai, Thailand

Orlana D'Souza: My Good Samaritan

(Apr 11, 2002) Orlana and I were acquainted but not close friends. But she offerred to take me home when I was so wasted from a party. She drove 3x the distance her usual route for that. Whoa! I found a Good Samaritan.....more »»

»» next story: Hardwood Hills with Vivian, Junya and Liat
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