If you are one of the 100,000 roadies in the U.S. who have yet to go off-road ... this story is for you.
It's about a time not so long ago when kids played unfettered in the woods, ran around with their friends, chased bugs, and climbed trees. Well before parents worried about germs and kidnappers, these lucky youngsters would play outside all day long, laughing and shouting and carrying on. Not even the daily scratches and bug bites and bruises could dampen the adrenaline rush of being free.
Eventually the kids grew up, got jobs, had children of their own and took on all the responsibilities of adulthood. Except, they still played outside with their friends, and now that they had money and a car, they could frolic in woods far away with friends from all over.
This is the essence of XTERRA. It's a place where grown-ups can have big fun playing like little kids in the great outdoors. Now, rather than give you the marketing spiel about how in XTERRA, Mother Nature is your toughest competitor, and every race is an adventure, and the crowd is filled with the most laid-back and supportive people you'll ever meet (all true by the way)--we asked a handful of road-to-trail converts why they chose to give the dirty side of tri, a try.
"The variety XTERRA offers is off the charts and they are so fun," says Brad Myers, 48, of Scottsburg, Indiana, who has two Hawaii Ironman finishes to his credit. "XTERRA is different every time, even on the same course in a different year, and trails are so much easier on the body than running on the road. Now, I know people worry mountain biking is too dangerous, but the chances of a serious injury on the road while you're training, especially in today's traffic, are so much higher."
Note: Mike Price, the President of ESIX, insurers of USA Triathlon events, says, "In XTERRA there is less or no interaction between the participant and automobile traffic, which accounts for a number of claims in road triathlons, and because there is less or no asphalt involved, there is less chance for injuries from falls.
Kathy Frank of Santa Cruz, California, was a road triathlete for 25 years, "It is so great to be away from cars and pavement. It's safer to be on a mountain bike because you are in control, and if any scary bits come up its always easy to slow down, stop, and carry your bike. Plus, off-road triathlons are in beautiful places, out in nature, where people can really enjoy themselves and not worry about speeding cars, trucks, hostile drivers, traffic lights, railroad tracks, etc."
"I train specifically for XTERRA races but like to do the occasional road time trial. Mountain biking is a great training tool for time trials. At age 54 I jumped into a 40K TT with only one training ride on my tri bike and won the 45+ age division! Careful though, training and racing on your mountain bike is so much fun that you may get addicted to the dirt," said Cindi Toepel, of Littleton, Colorado.