One of the world’s best female Enduro riders Eszter Horanyi has the mountain bike Grand tour in her sights. The Tour Divide www.tourdivide.org is a self-supported MTB time trial which starts in Canada and Finishes in Mexico, covering 2745 miles (4,500kms) of gravel , sealed roads, single track and old railway beds. That’s a lot of time on a bike and Eszter looks forward to it as her “2012 three week vacation”. No one seems more suited to this epic than Eszter. Her race resume includes winner of the US 24hour solo champs, third at 24hour worlds in Canberra and recent winner of the Arrowhead 135…. 135 miles of mountain biking in freezing snow. Both Cerebral and intuitive Eszter is driven by an intrinsic competitive desire as well as extrinsic values of time, space, mountains, chocolate and ice cream sandwiches. Here’s a chat i had with Eszter. We hope to keep you updated on her build up to Tour Divide and you can follow her amazing blog at http://gooneyriders.typepad.com/
EH: I live in Crested Butte, which is a small town of 1,500 permanent residents located in the mountains of central Colorado. Trails are snowed in six to eight months of the year, but when they’re clear, it’s the best riding in the world. I moved here to ride in the summer, but I’ll take the skiing in the winter as a good way to pass the time.
EH: After I won 24 Hours of Moab in the fall of 2009, I decided that I was a good 24-hour solo racer and I should try to make a trip to World’s happen. Unfortunately, when I made this decision, I didn’t realize that Worlds were in Oz but once I get an idea in my head, it’s hard to get it out, so I made the trip happen, dragging my dad, who had never seen me mountain bike race, let alone run a crew for a 24-hour solo effort, and my husband Chris, who had crewed for me in Moab, down with me. It was definitely a bit of a junk show of a trip, but I learned a lot, like I really don’t like 24-hour solo racing, and that doing core work all summer is crucial if I don’t want my back to completely give up at midnight. I suffered pretty bad at that race, maybe badly enough to not want to do another solo, ever. But don’t quote me on that.
EH: I was born in Budapest, Hungary, which is why my name is spelled funny. My parents immigrated to the USA two days before I was two so they wouldn’t have to buy me a plane ticket. We moved around a lot growing up and finally settled in Boulder, CO, which is a mecca for athletes due to it’s altitude (5,400 ft), good weather year round, and plenty of training resources in the forms of performance labs and mountains. Unfortunately, there’s a large population center called the Denver Metro area, and lots of people, and mountain bikes have gotten the short end of the stick as far as trail use goes, so the riding around there leaves much to be desired.
EH: I (try) to follow the Paleolithic diet which basically cuts out dairy, grains, legumes, and processed sugar. I say try because I do slip as I have a soft spot in my heart for ice cream sandwiches and chocolate. But, ice cream sandwiches give me terrible gas and chocolate, with all it’s sugar, makes me grumpy, so I’m slowly learning to stay away from it. I think changing my diet has made a huge difference in my riding and has made me feel better all around.
EH: My husband Chris is responsible for all my manic riding obsessions. We met racing for the University of Colorado road team and then he taught me how to mountain bike. We started dating one June and that August we hatched a plan to ride the Colorado Trail unsupported. I’d never backpacked, bikepacked, or ridden longer that five or six hours in a day. We had 13 days before the semester started again and we finished the thing in 12, having stopped on Day 2 to send back 9 pounds of gear that we realized we didn’t need. Starting out, everyone said we’d either breakup by the end or we’d end up getting married.
EH: Work in Crested Butte is seasonal with long periods of dormancy and no work between periods of chaos. Basically, if you’re on vacation, I’m working my tail off. So I read a lot in the off-season. My mom got me a Kindle for Christmas one year and it’s the greatest thing ever.
EH: Chris and I got into backcountry skiing about six years ago. We were both learning how to telemark ski so we were pretty happy dinking around on 25 degree slopes and falling on our faces. We’ve since switched to alpine touring gear so we can lock our heels down for the descent (fix the heel, fix the problem) and Chris has discovered his absolute love/obsession with skiing. Our snowpack has been subpar this year and dangerous, so I haven’t really gotten out as much as in past years, but apparently I’m doing a 40-mile ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen in two weeks called the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse. I should probably start thinking about that soon.
EH: Around 2003, our friend Walt Wehner started building 29’er mountain bikes out of his garage in Boulder. He offered to build Chris one for the cost of materials with the disclaimer of ‘it might break.’ Chris loved it, rode it into the ground, and eventually I got my hands on one for myself. I’ve been riding Waltworks bikes ever since and currently have a cross bike, a single speed, a 29’er dually, my original 29’er hardtail that has been reduced to commuting duty, and a new Tour Divide hardtail on the way.
EH: Work is a funny thing. A lot of people define themselves by their work. In Crested Butte, you really can’t do that or your self-esteem suffers as this valley exists by catering to people on vacation. I’m lucky enough to work at an outdoor adventure camp in the summer for kids, so I get to take them mountain biking, canoeing, climbing, etc. This winter I’m working at the Crested Butte Nordic Center, which I find ironic since my Nordic skiing skills are about as on par as my walking and chewing gum skills, which is to say, non-existent. Still, it’s good people and I’ve gotten really good at waxing skis.
EH: Arrowhead was a cool experience. I was actually terrified for it because the year prior, temperatures out on the course had dropped down to -35F at night but we’d been having such a mild winter here in Crested Butte that the lowest temperature we saw was -8F. I trained for the cold by commuting the eight miles to and from work everyday. It was a good way to test clothing because even if I horribly misjudged something, the 45 minute trip wasn’t long enough to do any damage. Then, as it turned out, race day for AH dawned at 10 F and got up to 25F and stayed there until the finish. I ended up running out of water twice because it was so warm. I was hoping to use the race to qualify for the Iditabike in 2013, so I hope they let me in.
EH: The Tour Divide is the big adventure for 2012. I’ve been thinking about it for three years now so I’m exited that the stars seem to finally be aligning to give the 2,700 mile race a go. It definitely scares me, but I’m viewing it as a three week vacation from life where all I have to do it pedal and eat.
EH: We have no furniture in our house aside from what we pick up on the side of the road from people moving. We live simply so any money we make can go into travel, adventure, and toys to play with on those adventures. There’s talk of moving into a trailer or a tent this summer to fully experience the outside beauty that we’re surrounded by here.
EH: The blog started as a way of sharing pictures with my parents. I’m not sure if it’s really evolved from that, but I enjoy having a record of trips that is fairly easy to navigate if I need to find a certain picture or remember the date of a ride.
EH: I think the general consensus is that if I like a song, it’s probably bad music. I’m the type of person that always has music on in the background for noise but I never listen to the lyrics or the deeper meaning of songs. Currently I’m cycling between my Enya, Trampled by Turtles, Mumford and Sons and Langhorne Slim Pandora stations.
EH: Crested Butte is tiny and Gunnison, down the road with a real grocery store, isn’t much bigger. We make regular pilgrimages out of the valley for various reasons and I tend to get overwhelmed by stoplights and traffic. I couldn’t live in a city anymore.
EH: Time is an illusion. It slows down when we’re bored, it speeds up when we’re engaged. The best way to tell time is by how quickly coffee goes cold while typing up interviews for Adz.
EH: For many, I dare say most, the American dream is a house with a low interest mortgage, a white picket fence, 2.4 kids, a dog, a retirement account, and the ability to afford a Grande double shot skinny vanilla mocha at Starbucks on the way to a 40 hour a week job. Currently, my American Dream is to live in a yurt on a plot of land and grow organic fruits and veggies. I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t realize this dream fully while racing my bike, but I’m trying to take small steps towards it so when I decide I don’t need to ride across the country as fast as I can, I have another dream to fall back on.
EH: I was extremely lucky growing up in that my parents were super-supportive of me. They required that my brothers and I participated in a sport (I was a swimmer) to keep us out of trouble, and ever since they’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to lead an ordinary lifestyle, I think they’ve embraced my adventures. Christmas doesn’t come with presents anymore; it comes with a trip to Costco to load up on bulk foods.
EH: I’ve always subscribed to the philosophy that only boring people get bored. That being said, it’s currently cold out and the wind is blowing at gale force and I’m facing the possibility of a slightly boring Sunday. While there are a stack of dishes in the sink, I’d like to think I could find something more fun to do. Fun is exploring, trying new thing, seeing new places. Fun is also curling up with a book and the dog with the second pot of coffee brewing.
Adz: Who you need to thank…
EH: Everyone who has supported me through my crazy adventures but mostly my family and Chris. Racing bikes requires a stupidly large amount of time and money, so I’m lucky that the person who’s opinions I value and who my actions affect the most are fully supportive of what I do.
“Everything in moderation…especially moderation” http://gooneyriders.typepad.com