He’s a 7-time Tour de France winner, Cancer Survivor, Father and now professional XTERRA Triathlete. Lance Armstrong entered his first off-road triathlon in late September of this year in Ogden, Utah at the USA Championship. He finished 5th overall. Not bad for a 40 year old ex-cyclist. Oh, it was his first triathlon in more than 20 years.
Before Armstrong became a cycling legend he was a professional road triathlete. A few twists and turns in the road and now he’s back where he started.
XTERRA caught up with Lance Armstrong Wednesday, October 19, 2011, in advance of Sunday’s XTERRA World Championship at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Maui to talk about the race and where this off-road may lead. Below is part one of that interview. Part two will be posted Thursday afternoon.
XTERRA: After your first XTERRA in Utah, what has that given you in terms of experience?
LA: It definitely gave me a little bit of experience, not compared to a lot of the other guys who are still here, but that was a complete shock to me on many levels, whether it’s the intensity of the race, the transitions, definitely the competition. But, I would much rather have one under me than none.
XTERRA: So it was definitely helpful?
LA: It was definitely helpful, although I think it seems to me a lot of these races are different from race to race, whether it’s the course on the mountain bike, whether it’s the fact that it’s at altitude, some of them are wetsuit swims and some aren’t. It seems to me they vary a lot, but still, just the idea of transitioning from sport to sport to sport is something you can only get from racing.
XTERRA: What’s the swim here going to be like for you?
LA: Well, I grew up in Texas, so there’s not many waves in central Texas or north Texas where I grew up. It also can vary from day to day. Some days are bigger than others. Also I think it varies from where you start. You almost have to be lucky, depending upon how you get in the water. If you have a misstep and fall down, people come over the top of you, you’re losing 10 seconds right there trying to make it back up.
XTERRA: You see any turtles out there?
LA: I didn’t today. I was here about six weeks ago for something else and swam out there and right when I got in, I saw a big turtle. But not today. I think there are too many triathletes.
XTERRA: What are you expecting on the bike course here?
LA: Obviously it will be very different from what we experienced in Ogden. That there you have your typical Rocky Mountain single track mountain bike circuit with a lot of climbing. I suspect this will be a lot more undulating. A lot of varying conditions … whether it’s wet or whether its dry or whether it’s some other obstacle that’s been thrown out there.
XTERRA: What is your bike selection going to be?
LA: I have both here. I brought the same setup I had in Ogden, the superfly 29er hardtail. But I also brought the top fuel dual suspension which is a 26 inch. I need to decide whether or not I need dual suspension.
XTERRA: What do you expect on the trail run?
LA: A lot of up and down. When I was here a while ago and swam the course, I ran the course as well. Very technical. A lot of fast downhills with off camber type turns at the bottom which you have to be safe on. You have to be careful. You have to think about those things. You can’t make a mistake. Sounds funny, but you can do some damage just on these runs here just with a run crash. You have to factor in that it’s technical and that you’re tired. You’re two hours into the race and it’s easy to make mistakes. Your legs don’t lift as high as they did if you were just out for a regular run, so it’s easy to hit things, you can trip and fall. You have to keep your eyes open.
VIDEO to the left is race footage from the Xterra USA Championship in September.