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home : sports : sports November 25, 2015

7/22/2014 12:12:00 PM
Sisters cyclist passes grueling test
Warren Rice on the trail. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Warren Rice on the trail. photo provided

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Warren Rice set himself a difficult goal last January: He committed to racing in the High Cascades 100 Endurance Mountain Bike Race. For half a year, the 55-year-old cyclist bent all his mental and physical effort toward training to make that grueling ride in under 12 hours.

Last Saturday, he cleared the bar, finishing the Bend-area course in 11 hours and 15 minutes.

"I've been worried that I'd be able to finish," he admitted Sunday morning. "It's a hard race."

But finish he did, drawing on solid training and that ineffable drive that keeps a competitor cranking the pedals when his body and spirit is screaming at him to end the pain.

"I've never been a quitter," Rice told The Nugget. "The people that love me - I can't look them in the eye and say I had to quit."

Rice has been a serious cyclist for 15 or 16 years by his reckoning, and he's been on a mountain bike for the past dozen years.

"It takes a lot more skill to ride a mountain bike," he said. "The road bike guys will be mad at me for saying that."

He figures that 100 miles in a mountain bike is about twice as difficult as a century on the road. Terrain is challenging. Dirt is unpredictable. Sometimes it's slippery in the corners and sometimes it's sticky. And on Saturday it was inches deep on the trail and thick in the air.

There were some tough moments. Rice said his back was hurting within the first 30 miles, and he had to get off and stretch and adjust his position. His knee started hurting at about mile 65. Again, a short stop, some food and a moment to change position set him up to finish.

Rice acknowledges that those 11-plus hours on the bike are not fun. But they yield profound satisfaction, a euphoric sense of completion.

"The best part of the race is the finish, when you're done," he said.

The attraction of such a brutal test is clearly hard for Rice to explain. And it's probably one of those "if I have to explain, you wouldn't understand," cases anyway.

But it was worth it to Rice, who noted, "I think that as you get older, you need to do stuff like this to staymyoung."

Rice trained with Andrew Loscutoff of Sisters Athletic Club - himself an ace mountain-bike rider who won the Sport Class in this year's Sisters Stampede. He lifted weights two or three times a week and spent the rest of his training time on the bike. Rice thinks the weights are critical. For one thing, riding a mountain bike requires upper body strength.

"(Weight-training) really gives me strength I can draw on all day long, I think," he said.

Rice acknowledged the sponsorship support of Casey Meudt and Blazin Saddles. He wears the Sisters cycle shop's jersey.

"He sponsors me; he makes my habit affordable, works on my bike for me," Rice said.

A commercial door hanger by trade, Rice acknowledged that it's hard to focus on work and other duties while training with such intense focus. He also expressed great appreciation for the support of his wife, Shelly.

"Quite often I had to neglect my chores to train," he said.

That intense and time-consuming training regimen will probably keep Rice from entering more serious long-distance races, but he'll likely continue to take on shorter-distance events. Just not right now.

"Short term," he said. "I'm off my bicycle for at least a couple of weeks. I don't even want to look at it."

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