Monday, October 3, 2011

My Friend Ben

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

My first endurance mountain bike event was the Stony Creek 6 Hour (2010).   I was excited to try my hand at something that was different and a bit outside of the box from the races of my past.  It was during this event that I met my friend Ben Vanhoose.  I was alone on the two track, just shy of the stretch that would take me back to my pit when someone jumped on my wheel and started chatting with me.

I'm a consistent rider, but not a fast one.  Typically in this situation the other rider would call out to pass and then carry on.  But that's not Ben.  Ben hung with me for a bit and talked to me about the race and how my day was going.  There was talk about a donut race near his home (mmmm....donuts).  I warned him about the big, BIG hill that would be upon us shortly and we wished each other a good day on the trails.

Ben later went on to become the 2010 Michigan Endurance Cup Series winner for his age group.  That being said, mountain biking is actually just a hobby for him, his real cup of competition tea is endurance running.  This past summer Ben completed several 50 mile ultras (with two second place finishes, a third place and a first) in addition to completing his first 100 miler.  This makes him the first person I know personally to run 100 miles.

Ben is pretty down to earth and naturally competitive with himself, always pushing to achieve his goals.  When we were at Lumberjack this year, I almost drove him out of his skin with my laid back pit-stops.  After sorting out my food and fluids he made me get back on the trail, 5x faster then I normally would.

Within his family, Ben is not the only one to tie on some running shoes.  His sister (who is also his personal trainer), mother and father have all been participants in different races.  With everyone on the same page, you can imagine how supportive they are of Ben's efforts.
Ben and His Mom

Over the past week I've been asking people what the main thing they would want to know about a runner that competes in these types of races.  The common response, "How does he keep going?"  Answer.  "It's just a matter of keeping my head in check.  The races I do are long enough that whatever funk I am in could be gone in the blink of an eye and things will be good again.  So I have to keep moving until then."

After meeting Ben at Stony, I raced with him again at the Cannonsburg 8 hour.  His cat like reflexes saved me when I endoed over my handlebars.  Somehow he was able to grab my rear wheel as it arcd around, destined to slam into my head.  To this day, I still don't know how he managed to do that!

Where will you see Ben in the future?  The list is always changing, but you could catch a quick glance of him down the road at the Western States 100, Leadville 100 or the Transrockies.  There may even be a showing at the tour divide (I may join him at the divide, since I hear he's a pretty good hunter (bears!), plus that race involves a bicycle).

To follow Ben's progress you can keep up with blog posts at
I personally would recommend it, this guys going places!

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