Catching Up With Dave Wiens, Hall of Fame Mountain Biker, 6-Time Leadville 100 Champion

David Wiens – Retired Professional Mountain Biker, Mountain Sports Director at Western State Colorado University

Sponsor: Topeak Ergon

As a native of Colorado and have spent countless hours in the Mountains, I know that there are athletes who pass you on a trail at an alarming rate and you are thinking to yourself "who is that guy" and chances are you do not know and either does the majority, except particular circles of enthusiasts. Mountain communities, city or town, are generally like this, sport is a natural type of lifestyle because of the landscape and accessibility and not a workout statute that they feel forced to adhere to or they will not be considered healthy or become overweight.

Gunnison, Co. resident Dave Wiens (married to Susan Wiens, 1996 Olympic Mountain Biking bronze medalist) is a testament to this in the Mountain Biking and Trail community, not only because his friendly personality and support for the sport but his accomplishments on the trail. Wiens is a 6-time consecutive Leadville 100 Champion (beating Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis), 2-time US National Mountain Bike Champion and in 2000 was inducted to the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame. He was recently named the Mountain Sports Director at Western State Colorado University, heading the program that will include cycling and skiing. I wanted to catch up with Dave and see what is in store for him in the upcoming future and learn a few tricks from one of the best in his discipline, thanks Dave!

Q. Sounds like you have joined Lifetime Endurance as a coach to train a few athletes for the 2013 Leadville 100, how did this all come together and is it something that you are looking to expand in the future?

A. I've been working with Lifetime Fitness for the last couple of years and this is just a logical extension of that relationship. While I love to train and plan my own training, I have never actually coached anyone other than my brother, and with him, I'm more of a sounding board than anything. I do not have a background in exercise physiology but I have years of practical experience. We'll see how this year goes but I can see becoming more involved in training and coaching.

Q. Congrats on your new position at Western State Colorado University (WSCU), can you give our readers a glimpse of what the program will include?

A. Currently, WSCU Mountain Sports consists of a collegiate mountain cycling team and a ski team. Our mountain bikers compete in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference (RMCCC) in Division II in gravity (DH and Dual) and endurance (XC and Short Track.) This past October we took third overall at the National Championships in Angel Fire, NM.

Our ski team competes in Big Mountain, Nordic, Park and Pipe and Skier Cross. Last year, the team took 5th overall in the USCSA Collegiate National Championships in the Freestyle combined category (Skier Cross, Slopestyle and Halfpipe.) Traditional alpine racing and endurance skiing, such as Ski Mountaineering, are disciplines for possible future expansion. Emerging sports include snowboarding and trail running and certainly other sports could have been added as the program builds.

Q. When training or working with your students will you utilize fitness technology for monitoring and tracking performance levels and vitals? Or is this something that you would leave to personal preference?

A. Certainly, this will be left to personal preference, but WSCU Mountain Sports athletes have access to our High Altitude Performance Lab so all kinds of training technology and expertise is available for them if they are interested. A brand new 120,000 square foot field field is under construction that will become the new home of the HAP Lab early early in 2014.

Q. If so, what type of fitness gadgets or apps do you find the most effective for both skiing (XC, Alpine) and Mountain Biking?

A. I'm old school so my technology consists of a time piece (AKA a watch), a heart rate monitor and an altimeter. I track hours and vertical feet of climbing, and I monitor my heart rate. I use power in my training but have never used a power meter. I have a power meter built into my brain but I do recognize the value of this device and know that it has great value and has become one of the most relied upon training tools.

Q. What sport do you believe requires the most physical stamina, XC Skiing, Backcountry Skiing / Touring or Mountain Biking?

A. I've got to say the skiing, but it's all hard. Skate skiing is such an all-encompassing workout; your entire body is involved. There is also more drag in skiing so you have to work harder all the time. Bikes have gears and wheels and I feel like less effort is involved in forward movement on a bike. But again, it's all human-powered, all hard.

Q. Beside skiing and mountain biking, do you Incorporate strength training or Yoga into your preparation and is it something you will encourage your students to participate in as a part of their recommended training regime?

A. Absolutely. The three pillows for me are specific, or the sport you're training for, strength and flexibility.

Q. Any secret diet or nutrition of a Champion Ultra Endurance Mountain Biker?

A. No. I like to eat and believe in a well-balanced diet. We eat pretty healthy, lots of fruits, veggies and grains; all kinds of meat including fresh-cooked seafood and red meat; carbs are fine, etc. Susan, my wife, and I both have a sweet tooth but we temper it as we can without torturing ourselves. I'm not into supplements, other than I'll use a typical hydration drink and gels but usually only during competition. For training, it's aImost always just water and an old-school PowerBar in my pack or pocket just in case I bonk out there. However, if I'm doing something really long, I might mix up a bottle of energy drink or two and I'll bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Everyone is different, though, and everyone needs to experiment with different types of nutrition both in and out of competition. There are no absolutes.

Q. It is known that you are very involved in trail maintenance and development, any new trails you are working on that our audience would love to hear about?

A. We've been working for approval for a backcountry singletrack that would be around 50 miles long and connect Gunnison and Crested Butte for over six years, as well as other trail systems on the BLM public lands close to Gunnison. Trails close to home are what make most of us happy and healthy. You can not put a value on happy, healthy citizens. Nationally, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and local trail advocacy organizations like Gunnison Trails are vital to the sport of mountain cycling and self-powered trail use. Everyone who uses trains should consider getting involved in some way.

Q. I'm sure you have some personal favorites you like to keep yourself and friends, but any great CB / Gunnison trails you can share?

A. The Hartman Rocks area near Gunnison is not a single trail but a trail system composed of dozens of short trails that have sections varying from fast and flowy to technically challenging. You can put them together in such a variety of ways that you'll never do the same ride twice. 50 minutes or 5 hours, does not matter, if you know your way around, you'll be riding trails the entire time. Doctor Park is our favorite alpine ride in this area and you can not really go wrong with any of the classics around Crested Butte. And this says nothing of the Monarch Crest …

Q. When the going gets tough on the trail …?

A. We've all heard it before but it really holds truth. The trail is a great metaphor for life. You have good days and bad days. There are really challenging sections and easy fun sections. Sometimes getting through seems almost impossible; other times it's nothing more than pure elation. At the end of the day, where there is meaning, there is value. Trails are a very meaningful element in the lives of many.

Q. Any basic tips for those (the general public) who are looking to compete in an ultra endurance Mountain Bike race or enhancing their personal Mountain Biking skills?

A. There is no substitute for putting the time in on the bike. Be well rounded. Be able to climb, descend and ride the flats. Be comfortable riding in a group; be able to push on all alone. Work on leg speed and power the goal being to combine them. Ride a road bike for fitness you just can not get on a mountain bike. If you need to work on descending, try to go to a ski area and rack up the vertical riding the lifts. I could go on and on … Just Ride, a lot!