Amanda Carey is not normal. Usually bike racers are good at one thing or the other — short stuff or long stuff, but not AC. She can finish top ten at Cyclocross Nationals or at a short, little Pro XCT cross country mountain bike race, and then come out and win a five day stage race or a hundred miler. And not just win it, CRUSH IT.
11 Vaguely Cohutta 100 Related Questions With SOUL-CRUSHER-FROM-HELL Amanda Carey
1. Amanda Carey, you are a rare breed. You are able to transition seamlessly from cyclocross to XC mountain biking to endurance mountain biking. What’s your secret?
It's not a secret, I do what I love. I love racing bikes in all disciplines. Well, except for road racing. Road racing is awful.
2. After the restraining order I backed off from cyber-stalking you so fervently...I don’t know what you’ve been up to. How’s the season going so far, what are you coming off of?
I'm purposely not on the Twitter so I'm a little hard to cyber-stalk. So perhaps my approach is working!
I haven't had much of a season yet. I was pretty dang busy this fall and winter trying to finish my master's degree in Sports Psychology. I graduated a few weeks ago, so I guess you can say I'm coming off a winter of sleep depravation and training in Tucson. I did an XC in Fruita last weekend at the last minute and raced the True Grit Epic 100 back in March, but other than that I've either been training or had my face stuck in a book or a laptop. I opted to of all the early season XC races and skipped Sea Otter for the first time in forever. This is a new approach for me, keeping in mind that I'm planning on 8 NUEs this year then a cross season.
3. Hundred milers are complicated, there’s a lot to figure out — nutrition, equipment, strategy and pacing...engineers tend to be good at this stuff. What have you learned about 100 milers that gives you an advantage?
If there's anything I've learned over the past few years is that over thinking anything is a waste of energy. It's a bike race. I don't pace. You pedal as hard and fast as you can for as long as you can. Eat and drink enough. Enjoy the ride.
4. What’s the number one song that gets stuck in your head during a long race, for better or for worse?
What ever is playing in the car ride to the venue inevitably is what gets put on repeat in my head. So, I need to be quite careful about what comes thumping out of the rental car radio. In places like Ducktown, TN there's major danger of country being played. That's not good for someone who's common response to "What do you want to listen to?" is usually "Anything but country." So, I always bring my own music, no messing around. Gotta set the tone right. I like doing my warmup to Rage Against the Machine.
5. What’s your set up for the Cohutta bike-wise: tires, gearing, all that?
29er Hard tail, the Felt Nine with a 2x10 with an 11/36 out back and custom WickWerks rings in the front that allow me to have a 26/40. Definitely love having that extra tooth in the front for all the stupid-fast doubletrack and fire road descents. I maxed out the airline weight limit on my bike bag with tires so I can try them all. I'll make the call the day before the race. Kenda makes a lot of great 29er race tires so I have a lot of good choices.
6. What are you going to do for fuel during a 100 miler?
I use the KISS approach (Keep it Simple Stupid). For me, it's Hammer Nutrition's Hammer Gel, Heed, Endurance Amino and Endurolytes. Protein has never worked for me in races and all those sticky and cumbersome chews, bars and pastes are just way too much trouble-for my stomach and for my patience. If I had my way, gel packs would be banned from races-everyone would have to use flasks. It makes me sad to see empty gel packs and wrappers littering racecourses.
7. What do you do in real life and how does training for a hundred miler fit into your day? What does that training look like?
I'm fortunate to have great support from Kenda/Felt so now that I have finished my Masters degree racing is my main focus and priority for the season. I'm starting up with a few coaching certification courses soon, so that'll keep me busy. How I train depends totally on where I am in the season. It can range from 12-25 hrs a week. My coach is pretty much the bomb (Kristen Dieffenbach) and I have 100% confidence in her planning. What she says goes with me.
8. What inspired you to start doing this stuff? Are there any riders out there that you look up to?
I got hooked on these events because of the mental aspect of it all. You know, how you react and deal with the pain and suffering when you're 6 hours in, everything hurts and you still have 3 hours to go. THAT is when it gets real. You can't hide from yourself, your thoughts, what you think your brain is telling your body. That's what appeals to me most.
The people I have met through racing the long stuff is what keeps me coming back for more. Everyone is just plain rad and everyone has a story. The riders I look up to? Anyone who gives these events a shot have my respect and are riders I look to for inspiration. These events take a lot of courage so everyone toeing the line is a badass in my book.
9. What’s the most self-defeating thought you’ve ever had during a bike race?
Any negative thought lamenting something you can't control is always self-defeating. What ever is happening is happening. It's your reaction to what ever is happening that dictates the outcome. Negative thoughts happen, sure, but when they start coming I try to get my thinking heading towards "X, Y, Z isn't going well, so what are you going to do about it?" That's where the control comes in. I can't control if my legs happen to be bad, but I can control how I deal with it.
I am sometimes mean to myself for motivation purposes. I drop F-bombs in my head a lot, typically in relation to calling myself a pansy if I don't think I'm going hard enough. It always works.
10. What are your predictions for Saturday, who’s gonna win this thing...both men and women? Who are you going to be marking out there?
Whoever is kicking my ass gets my attention. The only person that matters is the person ahead of me. It's great that the women's field is getting stronger and deeper, that makes me happy. For the men? It's super exciting to see JB coming back out to play, Christian is always super fast, Simonster is a regular in the front. But, I think Cary Smith (Team CF) is going to give them all a run. He's my good buddy from home, yes, but that guy is hella fast on anything with wheels. It's going to be a cage fight with the men.
11. Where are you going to be in ten years: giving lessons on how not to come off like a jerk in Cyclingdirt interviews or seeking out crazier and crazier endurance mountain bike races to do?
10 years? Good lord, anyone who knows how my husband Nate and I operate wouldn't expect us to know what we are doing in the next 10 days. I do want to seek out some wayfaraway stage races like the Cape Epic or the Trans Alp and Trans Andes. I really, really like stage racing but those races take a lot of resources. I do however hope to be putting my shiny new master's degree to work in the wellness and health coaching field. That's been my the goal all along, but never a "plan." Sticking to plans always seems to get in the way reaching my goals. Life's cool like that-do what you love and good things will happen.