Yuri Hauswald is a special guy – not many people can pull off wearing a winter camo bike jersey and St. Patty’s Day green bermuda shorts – on the street or the bike… But he did on a recent circumnavigation of the San Francisco Bay Area to raise awareness for the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a 200+ mile network of multi-use trails that is still being finalized and needs cross-sport cooperation to complete.
That’s one of the great things about Yuri – He’s going to have fun on the bike no matter what he’s wearing, what he’s riding for, what he’s actually riding or where he’s riding. We recently had a chance to catch up with him as he continues his roll as a working professional mountain bike racer and ambassador of cycling fun. But don’t let the humor and hijinks fool you – he’s competitive to the core.
Here’s the short version of the story – Big guy plays lacrosse in college and doesn’t ride a bike till 25. By age 26 he starts crushing competitors on the race course and picks up mountain biking in earnest. Takes 9th place at 24 Hour solo world championships in 2006. Joins Marin bikes factory racing team and starts being a thorn in the side of professional riders by repeatedly pushing the skinny ones off their bikes at the start line. That last part was embellishment and an outright lie – no hard feelings… But he did join Marin Factory Racing and has been steadily climbing onto the podium recently.
Kidding aside, Yuri is an optimistic and generous advocate for the biking community and trail access. But his proudest moment in biking? Leading blind mountain bike racer Bobby McMullen in the Sea Otter Classic cross country races. Yuri signed up to be Bobbi’s guide on the bike and did a masterful job, save for one crash…
Yuri shared some of his advice and wisdom on a range of topics. Here’s his take on:
On interval training:
Ah, yeah… I don’t do a ton of interval training because my races aren’t about quick bursts of power. My “intervals” are 6-10 mins of 75 – 80% threshold, not full out. 4 minutes becomes 6, 6 becomes 8. I’ve got a benchmark hill climb for intervals that I try to meet.
On guiding Bobby McMullen:
Nerve wracking, to say the least. Having never guided him before I did at Sea Otter, my biggest worry was crashing him. I actually only crashed him once and we both agreed that it was neither of our faults… which made me feel better! The hardest part of the whole experience was the fact that I had to modify/alter lines that I would normally ride so that they would be more suitable for Bobby, translate the terrain that was coming at us into something Bobby could interpret, and then keep myself moving fast enough to stay ahead of him, but close enough so he could hear my calls.
I was completely drained from the mental exertion, but filled with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I was more proud of our finish than any of my own personal successes/finishes in my racing career.
On 24 hour racing:
I learned a lot of lessons at that race, foremost being the importance of eating a steady stream of food so that your body’s reserves never get to empty. I made the mistake, partly due to the heat and humidity and my desire to stay near the front end of the race, of not eating enough in the first few hours of the event. I hit the wall, nutritionally, at hour six and had to really focus on trying to get enough solid and fluid calories into me so I could continue.
I learned that the mind is a very powerful tool and that positive thinking can, literally, will your body forward when it doesn’t physically think it can do any more. In endurance racing, so much of riders success is based on their mental outlook and ability to overcome physical pain by putting it in a place where it isn’t at the forefront of their mind.
On getting calories in during mountain bike races:
A lot of my calories are in liquid form. I used to use Ensure – you know – the old person’s drink – too many stomach problems so I stopped. At the pit my pit crew would have an appetizer plate of food… On longer events… Recovery drink was a savior – 2-3 hours into the race I can get calories and start recovering on the bike… Easy to get the calories down.
On being a working professional racer:
First and foremost is that racing is fun. Once it stops being fun for me, then I need to pack it up and start playing shuffle board! I try to not get too caught up in how many hours I am training these days but rather focus on quality workouts and the fact that I have years of residual fitness in my legs to help pick up the slack when I can’t “train enough”.
On not being built like a “typical” cyclist:
I guess being extremely competitive (in a good way…if there is one!), stubborn, having good family genes and willing to suffer more than others are a few of the things that have gotten my fat ass onto the podium. I am NOT built like your typical cyclist – being 5’11”, 180 lbs. (on a good day). Maybe I have more fat reserves to draw from when racing for long periods of time. I try not to look at my size as a factor, rather a challenge that forces me to train a bit harder and be more careful, when I can, about my diet (chocolate chip cookies are my achilles heel!!).
On training for endurance mountain biking:
I train mostly on the road because it is easier/ more convenient, and a better use of my time. I find that I can control my training, e.g. ride hills, keep it flat, do intervals, etc, a little more precisely when I ride the road.
On the single speed craze:
Single speed craze?? I didn’t know there was one! I have been riding a SS for over a decade and have always found the simplicity of it most appealing. For me single speed riding is very Zen. I am acutely focused on the constant manipulation of bike and body so that I can keep the wheels rolling as fast as possible, no matter the terrain.
On the best mountain bike trails:
Stanley Idaho and the Sawtooth Range has to be tops on my list – unbelievable views to get lost in there!! Next up – any trails in Marin County. Finally, any trails around Durango, CO.
On staying motivated:
I don’t really have a problem staying motivated – I love going out on my bike for a fun ride, for a training ride or racing. But really I want to keep up with my buddies who are super fast. I have to fit in my skinny jeans!
On cross-training (racing):
Cross racing isn’t really my style but it’s really good for you. I suffered (last season). Mingled with the cross-crowd which we don’t normally do. (Hah!)