You're known in the mountain biking world as the Queen of Pain, but what do your friends call you?
Reba, Rebecca, lazy ass, forgetful….anything but "Becky." My 90-year-old grandmother is the only person who has the OK to call me Becky.
What are you most looking forward to for Leadville 2012? Any goals for this year's race?
I am most looking forward to seeing the expansion of the women's competitive field. Last year it was so exciting to have the top four women finish within eight minutes of each other -- and all four broke my record from 2010! That was the first time in the history of the women's race at Leadville that there had been such a deep field. It was super exciting to be part of it and witness the growth firsthand.
My goal for this year's race is (as always) to ride my own race and compete against my own time on the course.
You race all over the world. What makes the Leadville Trail 100 so special?
LT100 is special because of the event's rich history, the truly epic nature of the course and the collection of the most passionate cyclists you'll ever find all in one place.
What are your favorite spots on the Leadville Trail 100 course?
I love the Columbine climb at the moment where you break out of the trees and enter the rubbly terrain above tree line. This is often the make-or-break place in the race for many riders and truly defines what the race is about. The turnaround up there is a welcome sight and it's always a relief to begin the journey back.
I also really love the top of the last little rise before the finish line. Just after you turn onto 6th, there is a small hill that feels like a mountain and at the top of the hill on the right is a street sign that reads "SLOW." I always feel slow at this point but am trying to go fast because the moment you pass this sign, you get the welcome sight of the downhill final stretch to the red carpet.
You beat your 2010 time by 16 minutes. What advice can you give returning athletes who want to better their time?
Breaking my record was a total shock. I honestly did not look down at my odometer until I hit the Boulevard and I nearly fell off my bike when I saw the time. I was really just racing the course by feel without any gadgets.
For people wanting to better their own time, it's helpful to break the course into four or so key split times. You can use the aid stations for these split times and work off your performance from the year before and try to hit those markers. Remember that being behind in one split just gives you information for the next leg. Don't let it get you down, just look for places to get a few seconds here or there and those small savings add up over the long day. If you spent time in the aid stations last year, then this is a great place to save time by organizing your food to take and go. Evaluate your performance from last year and look for places to save time: Descending, climbing, the flats, aid stations?
How do you stay motivated in the middle of the race?
I am motivated by the competition, by the people in the aid stations yelling my name, and also by my personal goals. In the middle of the race when motivation is flagging, as it does for everyone, I break the course into segments and work on just doing well on that part. I don't think about Powerline while I'm on Columbine. I also tell myself that the fastest way to the finish line is to pedal harder.
Who motivates you on the trail?
I am hugely motivated by my boyfriend, Greg Martin. He's been my one-man crew for the last two years and knows me better than anyone. I really look forward to seeing him at the aid stations, even for a second. Knowing that he's racing around getting my water bottles ready and looking out for me is a big motivator. I'm also motivated by the other riders, especially coming down Columbine. It's sketchy descending fast into uphill traffic, but I also love seeing everyone's faces and hearing the cheers.
One of my favorite moments in the 2009 race was as I turned off the dirt of the Boulevard and onto the pavement to the finish, a local high school girls running team was there screaming and running with me. It gives me chills to think about that moment because I started my athletic career on the high school cross country team, so I really felt so honored that they came out to watch the race!
You have a lot of experience getting your body ready for the LT100 effort. What balance of nutrients do you try to consume in the days leading up to Leadville?
There really is no secret to good nutrition. Everyone knows the basics of hydration, vitamins, fruits and veggies, protein and carbs. I really just try to be healthy most of the time. The only real change I make right before a big race is limiting dairy because I have asthma and minimizing red meat as a protein source because it takes the body a little longer to digest. Other than that, it's just regular good eating.
Any recovery secrets?
My recovery "secret" has been learning to actually recover better. I use a recovery monitoring system called Restwise that takes into account heart rate, life stress, hydration, sleep and a bunch of other markers to give me a daily recovery score. It's a good way to have a quantitative number that lets me know if I'm burning the candle too low.
In my experience racing, I've learned to train quality vs. quantity and to take recovery really seriously. Most athletes are pretty good at flogging themselves and doing the hard work, but where the fitness adaptation comes is when you allow your body to recover and rebuild from those efforts. If you don't recover, you don't get all the benefit from your hard work. It seems counterintuitive to the type-A overachievers, but I have found I go faster when I slow down.
Any advice for women tackling the trail?
I am so happy to see the participation numbers grow for women in mountain biking! It's a great sport for everyone. On the trail, we are all riders and out there to push ourselves. This motivation is the same for men and women. My advice to women is to not be limited by your gender. Don't be afraid to pass, push hard and shatter your own limitations. The Leadville Trail 100 is an awesome testing ground to find out what you're really made of.
See you out there!