In considering all of the factors that decide the outcome of the race, there are some major contributors such as overall fitness, experience, etc. However, often times it’s the little things that mean the difference between 1st and 2nd. In a hard fought battle at the Bell’s Beer Copper Trails Festival last week, Jan Roubal of Velorution Bike and Ski, finally earned the top spot on the podium of the 28 mile Cross-country mountain bike race. The Canadian bike shop owner from Sault St. Marie, Ontario is no stranger to this race and has come close to winning on several previous attempts. A post-race conversation with Jan told the story of a man who was able to put it all together this year
When asked the single biggest factor that contributed to his success, with a laugh and a beer in his hand, Jan responded “I cut out beers about three weeks ago.” Aside from tightening up his nutrition and lifestyle in preparation for this race, Jan sought to be as prepared as possible through his choice of equipment. Having been plagued by mechanicals in the previous attempts, he was able to remain mishap free this year through his choice of equipment.
Even though this year’s race course had much more gravel and double track than previous years, he credited his Fuel Ex+ equipped with 29” tires, the 140mm of front and 130mm of rear travel in helping him keep his bike rolling up some of the more technical sections of the course. Another potential limiter that Jan deals with is the unpredictability of being a business owner and time to train. Jan makes the most of his time by riding predominantly single-track and riding hard when he does.
As many riders at the top level put in upwards of 20 hours a week on the bike, Jan makes it work with half as many hours that are highly specific to the type of racing that he does. When asked on the pivotal moment within the race, “There were only three of us after a while and I knew that if I had a gap heading into the last technical section, I would have a good chance at keeping it….I put my energy into the climbs as many other riders are about 30 pounds lighter than me.” Statements like these affirm that Jan knew where he would have an advantage and knew where he might have a disadvantage. Jan utilized his strength of being a technically sound rider and took the lead heading into some of the most technical sections of the course late in the race.
As mentioned there are many factors that go into winning a bike race, with Jan’s race being no exception. Although difficult to quantify, the little things can often make the biggest difference.
Staving off attacks from his closest contenders, Jan was able to put everything together this year by capitalizing on his strengths and minimizing his weaknesses. Congratulations Jan!
Winning races takes great mental strength! Grant recently wrote Mind Matters: Psychological Skills for Cycling.
Grant Harrison grew up competing in a variety of sports including college football, competitive soccer and hockey. Since then things have switched all things cycling- in multiple disciplines to boot. His extensive Master’s education in Human Performance gives him a solid background in all things athlete-related. He’s focused on the delicate balance between pyschological skills, coaching, nutrition, and athlete performance. In addition to coaching services, he also offers one-on-one nutrition consultations. Learn more about Grant.