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Rod: Welcome, everyone. Rod from Sports Adventure here today, and today we continue our fantastic interview series where we interview inspirational people from around the world to share their expert insights on mountain biking, good nutrition, and life.
My guest today has been mountain bike racing since 2002, he’s a Level 1 mountain bike coach, a sporting event organizer with experience since 2000, has a Certificate 4 in Outdoor Leadership, Certificate 4 in fitness, and he’s an IMBA trail building certified. He leads a team at Trail Terra Mountain Bike Training promoting trail sports to advance your skills and keep you fit and healthy, believing that anyone can get fit and healthy with regular exercise and good nutrition. At that point, I’d like to welcome endurance mountain bike rider, Jamie Vogele. Welcome, Jamie.
Jamie: Thank you.
Rod: Terrific. Thank you very much for your time today, mate. Really good to talk to you.
Jamie: Yes, it is good to catch up.
Rod: Great. Thank you, mate. We’ll kick off there. Mate, from the top, for you, and I know you’ve been coaching for a long while, so what is so good about being a mountain bike coach to you?
Jamie: I guess, when I first got in, my background really was running and I didn’t know that much about mountain biking back then. I grew up with a BMX bike but I didn’t know that much about mountain biking. So many great trails around here so I thought it was a good opportunity to get into it, but I didn’t know that much about the sport myself and I had to learn the hard way. After racing for a lot of years, and slowly building up in the event, I learned off a lot of other people and wanted to pass all of that knowledge on.
Rod: Terrific. That’s great. Would you say you are mainly self-taught or you’ve hinted at you’ve learned off of a number of other people around the place as well?
Jamie: I’ve done a couple of courses in the past myself, in the early on stages, and looked at those courses and decided what was best for me. Also, as I guess I’ve been to so many events and everything around the country, I’ve seen the way that other people ride and picked up little bits and pieces off of them as well and basically did a lot of research on it and just put that all into the practice on my own techniques and it’s gone from there.
Rod: Terrific, that’s great. For someone kicking off, what would you say is the best way for someone to get started in mountain biking?
Jamie: Obviously, get a bike.
Rod: You bet.
Jamie: That’s where it all starts. The best way is to get a bunch of people together, go out on some rides, meet a few people out on rides and start riding with them, ride with local clubs, just get involved. Get out there and ride.
Rod: Terrific. I must agree, riding with mates, it always takes you right into a new level with new experiences and new locations and it certainly spurs you on when your enthusiasm might be a little bit low, but it keeps you going.
Jamie: It definitely does. Even now, I have a rigorous training schedule myself, and I couldn’t do it without going out every now and then and going on some bunch rides and stuff like that and having a bit of fun. It just keeps the spark alive.
Rod: Certainly, yeah. What would your training schedule include, if I can ask that? A typical week, if I can ask that, Jamie?
Jamie: A lot of cycling coaches go off kilometers with their coaching, but I particularly go off hours more than kilometers because jumping off a road bike onto a mountain bike, there’s a large difference. You can’t just go on a 100K mountain bike ride for a training ride and be back before breakfast. That’s a bit hard to do because you’re going a lot slower around the mountains and hills and jumps and whatever else. I mainly go off hours and it fluctuates depending on what stage I’m in during my training. It can be a 1500 week down, which is 25 hours, I should say. Sorry, a minor there. 25 hours in a week down to, say, 12 hours in the week. It just depends on what stage I’m at. If I’m tapering towards a race or something like that, generally it’s shorter hours but much higher intensity, and earlier on in the stage, it’s those longer hours getting up your fitness.
Rod: Certainly, that makes sense. Would you add any strength training into your weekly program at all, Jamie?
Jamie: Yeah, I do. Probably not as much as what I should. I think a lot of athletes say that. It’s pretty hard with the events that I do because they are such long events, they require a long training session. With long training sessions, it doesn’t leave you much time to spend with your family. I try and fit in a couple of training sessions a week where I incorporate weights. If I don’t incorporate weights, closer towards an event, I will put in a lot of hill repetitions or something like that, which is similar to weight training but it’s more specified for that sport.
Rod: Yeah, certainly. You mentioned the time involved, obviously, with the training and also competing. What sort of events do you compete in? What would be your favorite event, your favorite endurance event, if I can say that?
Jamie: Definitely my favorite endurance event would be a 12-hour duration. In 12 hour duration, in the past three years or so, I think I’ve only lost one in my age category. I guess it’s a length, for me, that I sustain at quite high intensity for that period of time and just make it through. I do train for that event more than probably a 24-hour event because I just don’t have the time for a 24 hour, but I will generally put in a couple of good training rides leading up to a 24-hour event. But it’s I guess a 24-hour event is a much slower pace, but not only a slower pace, it’s much more in-depth with your nutrition in particular and staying awake at night.
Rod: Certainly. Mate, there are amazing events that you’ve mentioned, I personally attended a couple of team events but never on my own as a solo, so I take my hat off to you, mate. It’s incredible, the preparation and the mental and physical stamina that you must have to stick with it, to stick on the bike for 12 hours and then 24 hours, is extraordinary so well done.
Jamie: Thanks for that. It’s something that sort of fell in place, really. That sounds quite strange, but when I turned 40 years of age, I said to myself, “I want to do something that I’ll remember before I get old to be able to remember it or to be able to do it,” and I know, being here in Port Macquarie, we have the Australian Ironman championships, we’ve had here for quite a while, the triathlon, and it was either do one of those or a long mountain biking event, a 24 hour event, and after sitting down and having a bit of a think about it, I’m not too good in long-distance swimming. My background is athletics with running, so I have that, I’m probably okay, but again, I was a middle distance runner rather than a long-distance runner, so 1500-5K. I enjoy the mountain biking, love the mountain biking scene, we had the world champion here, Jason English, that lived in Port Macquarie, recently moved, unfortunately, but that sort of thing’s encouraged me to get into the sport and do the longer races. Once I had done one of them, I was hooked on doing better at the next one and it’s just gone from there. I guess it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. Once you put in a bit of training, you actually enjoy it. Whereas, if you don’t put in that training, you do suffer.
Rod: I think you’re spot on. Like a lot of things, the more we do, the better we become at them and, certainly, mountain biking is one of those in particular. You mentioned the decision that you made when you turned 40, I know a lot of blokes listening to this recording down the line could be in a similar situation. We get to that point in our lives and we’re thinking, “What’s next? What’s around the corner?” and a lot of blokes, if their fitness and health isn’t all that good, it might be the time to really have a look at yourself, think about where things are at, where things are going, and what are you going to do for yourself in the future if you might have had a bit of a health scare, a mate might have had a bit of a health scare that’s made you start to think about what’s actually going on. Mate, I’m really pleased that you chose mountain biking and kept away from the Ironman. Well done.
Jamie: Yeah, cheers.
Rod: Terrific. How long would you say it would become to be skilled in mountain bike riding?
Jamie: I would say you never stop learning. To get basic skills in mountain biking, it doesn’t take long at all. It only takes, I would say, 6 months to 12 months to be pretty confident on a bike, going over obstacles and things like that off-road, but I’ve spoken to people that have mountain biked ever since they’ve been invented and they’re still learning.
Jamie: Even high-level athletes that go to world championships and stuff like that, if you do research on the Internet, you even find the best of the best are still learning.
Brian Lopes and all of those guys that were around when mountain biking first started in the US, they’re doing training courses and everything over there, are still learning things. It’s one of those things where you can keep progressing at it by learning new techniques all the time. What’s good for today might not be good for tomorrow, so you’re always learning something different.
Rod: Certainly. I think that’s one aspect of the sport that certainly keeps me interested and it would keep a lot of people interested in it, that you can continually improve, the sport is always changing with technology and bikes and equipment and all that sort of stuff, so all of those little things keep you inspired to keep pulling your bike out every day to jump on and go for a ride.
Jamie: Yeah, definitely. Like you say, that’s one of the biggest changes I guess I’ve seen since I’ve been riding mountain bikes, is the actual bikes themselves. Even with the revolution of different bikes, going from 26-inch to 29-inch, now they’re saying 27 ½ is the best. The suspensions have changed so much over the years, they’re able to go at higher speeds now over rougher terrain, courses are getting harder. The early big distance cross country, for example, used to go over two hours, now it’s under an hour and a half. I’ve even seen some of them come around an hour, which is really a sprint. Yeah, it’s definitely changed.
Rod: Certainly. What’s your bike of choice at the moment, Jamie? What are you riding, particularly, for your endurance events?
Jamie: I’m riding a Giant Anthem 29er Advanced X. It’s got a carbon frame, 100 mil travel front and rear, and lock out on the front for when I stand up and that sort of thing, to be able to get more power down to the pedals. For endurance events, I don’t think you can go by a 2 by 10 or 2 by 11 system as well rather than the one bike because as often, when you need to go down to that little chain ring on the front, when you’re totally buggered towards the end of a 24-hour going as an incline that’s 10% or more, you definitely look forward to that. The 29ers, I think with endurance events, I think they’ve got the advantage. I was once a 26 sort of a man, as you would say, and I said I would never, ever go to a 29er and then I rode a 29 and I thought, “What have I been thinking? It’s like cheating.” They definitely roll over the terrain a lot better for the longer events. For shorter events, such as the HCO, that go for an hour and a half or under. Maybe a 27 ½ would be my weapon of choice just because you can get around those corners a bit quicker with a smaller wheel diameter and accelerate a bit faster.
Rod: Certainly. I agree with your comments on the 26er versus the 29er. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to change and I held on, I used to have a carbon frame, dual suspension Giant as well, and it was quite an old bike, but it just had a beautiful feel and, as I said, a 26-inch wheel. My mates were saying, “You’ve got to change, you don’t know what you’re missing out on,” and I did the same thing as you. I rode a 29er, I couldn’t believe the difference in the ride and the ability just to roll virtually everything and keep it all going. You made a fair point about the wheel size and the difference in cornering, particularly sharp corners, but for me, the 29er is a real buzz. It’s a great bike.
Jamie: It definitely is. And the two by system, I think, you can’t get past either. I’ve been in many of longer the races, such as 24-hour events, and often, towards the end of them, you pass people with a one by chain system and they’re wishing they had the two by chain systems. That weight loss, I guess, that you get by going with the one by, it’s not really an advantage that much over 24 hours or 12 hours of racing I don’t think.
Rod: Terrific. We’ll continue on. Jamie, can you provide some examples of other people that have followed some of your training and coaching techniques?
Jamie: Yeah, for sure. I guess to start off with, that is my own children. My eldest child now is 23 years of age, but in his younger years, from eight or nine years of age, he started getting into mountain biking a bit. I guess I’ve learned a bit off him as well as he’s learned a bit off me, but he progressed in becoming runner-up in New South Wales EXO Series, a long time ago now; I can’t remember the years. And my daughter, who is now 21, she became the New South Wales state champion for her age. I’ve got a couple of young kids now that are getting into it as well; my youngest now is eight years of age, young boy, and he’s, I guess, he’s better at jumping than what I am at that age. They’ve learned bits and pieces that I’ve taught them over time on body position over the bike, how to break properly with one finger to keep the bike in a controlled manner, and what pedal revolutions to do and things like that, just basically from the start and then going to more advanced techniques such as being able to pump on the track to save energy, and compress the forks to jump, and getting angles right and that sort of thing. They’ve progressed quite well and learned a lot. Also, I’ve got the odd friend here and there and a few people that I’ve put through training courses that I’ve seen progress and go quite well in races that they’ve gone in and get podium positions and things like that. It makes me feel proud.
Rod: Terrific. That’s well done, mate. Would you say many blokes our age come to you for a bit of a top up on skills or, as we mentioned earlier on, just starting out from scratch and want to make a change, want to make a few improvements to themselves and keep going with mountain biking?
Jamie: Yeah. There’s a couple that have been in contact with me and asked various questions on how to better their technique and how to train properly for an event and to be able to peak properly for that particular event, things like that, making up training courses, training programs. And along the way, while I do that, I like to try and teach them themselves on how they can actually make those programs for themselves and why I teach them those particular techniques. Then they can make a decision, as I always say to everybody, like I did, they can make a decision with themselves on what works and what doesn’t for them because every individual is different.
Rod: Yeah, certainly. That’s great, mate. If you had one secret to give about mountain biking, what would it be?
Jamie: Look where you’re going. That’s the biggest thing that you see people not do. If you see somebody hit a tree, 9 times out of 10, you ask them, “What were you looking at?” and they were looking at the tree. That’s probably the number one thing.
Jamie: Closely followed after that is momentum. It’s very important, on a mountain bike, to keep momentum. A lot of people, particularly if they’re not confident on a mountain bike, and there’s an obstacle in front of them, they generally slow down to go over that obstacle, which is really wrong. What they should be doing is keeping their momentum and just getting proper positioning over the bike so that they don’t go over the handlebars and they’ll get over that obstacle much easier than if they try to go slow. I guess I can vouch for that even myself in racing, when I go on a lot of races, you often come behind people that, obviously, they haven’t been mountain biking for that long because races and things like that aren’t just for the expert people are people who’ve been riding forever, they’re also for the beginners and that’s the brilliant thing about the sport, everybody’s out on the same track. You come behind people that often ride slow over obstacles, I can barely ride them myself when I’m following them, I struggle to get over the top of them. That enforces that rule that you need momentum to to mountain bike and get over things.
Rod: You’re spot on. I recall an incident, but it was probably about 15 years or so ago. I did a bit of racing when I used to live in Newcastle and it was, I remember the day, it was a hot day, I had been riding for a while, I was out of steam, and it was a section of trail that was built up to roll over an old log that was over the track, and it was quite a fair, sizable log so you needed a bit of, as you said, momentum to get over it. I was out of steam, I didn’t have the momentum, I didn’t have enough in the ticker to push myself over it, and I remember hitting this log and then my chest hit the stem on the mountain bike, and it just felt like I was impaled. It was horrendous. I was on the ground and the guys behind me were stopping and I just walked back to the start; that was it for the day. Like you said, that momentum is so important to maintain it throughout the ride. It certainly helps you rather than hinders you when you come to an obstacle like that.
Jamie: Yeah, definitely. But along with momentum, the right body position. As you mentioned then, you also hit your chest on the stem. It’s also important to have that right body position where you’ve got your center of gravity is the right place so you can avoid small accidents like that.
Rod: Yeah, that’s it. Mate, what’s some of the common problems that people experience with mountain biking that you see?
Jamie: I guess one of the main problems that I always see, particularly being in endurance events, is people getting their nutrition wrong. It’s very important that, obviously, you drink quite a lot, particularly in hot weather. I just see a lot of people out there that hardly drink at all, and towards the end of the race, they get dehydrated without them even knowing that they’re getting dehydrated and they start to get delirious, their performance goes down, their concentration goes down, all these sorts of things. They think it’s more to do with the fitness, but it’s probably more to do with their nutrition. Just drinking constantly, so you have your electrolyte levels right, and eating food so that you’ve got that energy to keep going through.
Rod: Certainly, there are some good points there. Particularly dehydration is something that, if you’re not constantly thinking about and aware of, certainly with mountain biking, because you’re thinking about so many other things when you’re on the trail, like you said, your body positioning, your climbing, your cornering, you’re dropping down a few hills and things like that. If you’re not drinking at the right time, it’s easy to forget about it and, before it’s too late, you are too dehydrated and it’s a pretty difficult thing to get yourself back from that big hole once you hit it.
Jamie: It definitely is. I can remember being in a 24 hour event a couple of years ago down in Sydney, on the south side of Sydney there, and it was over 40 degrees while we were racing, and it didn’t matter how much that I drank during the day, you just got so exhausted during that heat, but when it came nighttime, you got very, very tired. Because of the heat during the day, it made you very tired, very fatigued, and there was people pulling out of the race left, right, and center and I tried to push through, which was probably a wrong decision.
Jamie: I thought this would never, ever happen, but it happened to me and I fell asleep on the bike.
Jamie: I was actually going down a descent at the time and there was a jump in front of me, and I must have gotten airborne off the jump and hit an embankment on the side and woke up in the grass and sort of shook my head, and went, “That’s it,” and I went back to the pit area and slept it off until the morning and then got back on the bike and felt 100% better. Definitely, it hinders your concentration.
Rod: Certainly, yeah. You mentioned some of those an awfully hot day, and that’s a horror racing in 40-degree temperature like that, what sort of nutrition program would you follow in a race like that, Jamie? What would you eat? What would you drink? And you also mentioned electrolytes as well.
Jamie: I’ve tried many different brands of nutrition and a lot of them didn’t work for me. I’ve heard that they do for other people, but a lot didn’t for me. I guess, in time, I found what suited me and Hammer Nutrition I just find brilliant for me. It hasn’t got the sugars that a lot of the others have, and because it hasn’t got those sugars, I don’t get those spikes in energy levels so it stays low GI so the energy is constant for the whole time. I just love their flavors, so that just keeps me drinking and stuff like that with their electrolytes. I use a range of different things depending on what I do. I’ll eat carbohydrate bars leading up to an event and I’ll eat them during the event. I try and have a bottle of electrolyte in really hot weather, at least one bottle every hour. But if it’s cooler in the wintertime, I generally have one electrolyte, one water so I do a swap so you just don’t get sick of that constant electrolyte, but I think you do need that in hot, hot weather.
Then, food wise, again, I can’t just do a long event on just energy bars and gels and things like that, but I can in the shorter events. The longer events, I try and mix up my food. I just try different things with different races so I don’t get sick of the same thing. I might have pancakes, for example, with chopped in them and a carbohydrate gel spread on the top for flavoring, or I might have jam, or I could have jam and cheese sandwiches is one of my other favorites with white bread with the crusts cut off, easy to digest. There’s a whole different range of things that you can have there. I do see a lot of people out there that have lollies and things like that in endurance events, but no, I don’t think that’s a good choice at all. It’s more for if you’re going a sprint type of event, the lollies will definitely work for you, but I don’t think they work in the long endurance events.
Rod: Nice. Some good pointers there, thanks, Jamie. Do you follow any particular nutrition plan for your eating on a normal day or normal week?
Jamie: Yeah, I try to have basically 60% carbohydrates and then the remainder split in half for proteins and fats. That’s what I generally try and do. Every now and then, I’ll keep a check on it by using an app that can monitor what you eat and tell you how much proteins and carbohydrates and that sort of thing that you’re eating, because occasionally you get a bit lazy. I have recently, over Christmas, I’ve actually put on 4 kilos, so that’s something that I’ve got to lose because I just kept saying to myself, “I’ll be all right, I’ll do it after Christmas” and then Christmas came and then, “I’ll be all right, I’ll do it after New Year’s,” and the New Year’s came and I was like, “All this food is left over, I have to get rid of that now,” so I’m at that stage now where I’ve got to actually get that weight back off again and that’s something else I’ve found really hard when I hit 40 years of age. You’re able to keep the weight off easy under 40, but once you hit 40, it’s pretty hard to keep that weight off unless you keep good nutrition and balanced exercise.
Rod: You’re spot on, mate, I’ve got agree with you there. For some reason, a lot of things change with our bodies, for us blokes, when he hit that 40 mark and it needs a fairly dedicated approach to keep it all in check otherwise, it can go wayward pretty quickly and it’s not easy to get back.
Jamie: Yeah, definitely. Even with the long K’s that I often do during training and stuff like that, it’s not enough for what I eat sometimes. I sometimes get a bit blasé with what I eat, but I should really crack down on my diet. I do most of the time, particularly during race season, I try and eat as healthy as possible.
Rod: Mate, I think that’s a good point that you’ve made there. For someone like yourself, an elite level racer who’s knocking out some really, really big K’s and even that, you’re finding, is not enough to drop off a little bit of excess weight, so it gets back to your diet to keep that in check and keep a close eye on it.
Jamie: Yeah, definitely it does.
Rod: Terrific. All right, mate, I might wrap it up there if I could. It’s been great to have a chat with you and I’d just like to ask, if any of the listeners have got any questions for you or would like to get in touch with you, how would they be able to find you, Jamie?
Jamie: Probably two of the main ways to find me, one is obviously on Facebook. Everybody’s sort of got these days, so they can look up Trail Terra on Facebook and they can ask a question is there just by hidden messages or on the page itself, and the other is through the Trial Terra website, www.trialterra.com.au. You’ll find a page in there where you can actually write some questions and stuff like that and I normally get back to you within 24 hours.
Rod: Terrific. On your website, I’ve being on and I’ve had a bit of a squizzy, but for the listeners, you have some different coaching packages available there. Could you talk a little bit about those if you could?
Jamie: Yeah, the business itself is quite new. It’s only been around for a year and a half or so now, and I’m slowly building up on things, but we’ve got a couple of coaching packages there at the moment where you can do an intermediate-advanced or you can do a beginners-intermediate course. Basically, the thing is that I like to keep it personal, so the things that you want to learn, be taught, I’ll put those into those coaching programs so that you get the best out of it.
Rod: Terrific, that sounds great. I’ll include a link on the bottom of the post as well on the website so people can find you. Mate, it’s been great to talk to you. Thank you for your time, and all the best on the track.
Jamie: No, thank you, and hope to see you around soon. Thank you
Click for more information on Jamie and Trail Terra Coaching.
So keep in touch and see you out on the trails.
About The Author
Like any sport, bicycling involves risk of injury and damage. By choosing to ride a bicycle, you assume the responsibility for that risk, so you need to know — and to practice — the rules of safe and responsible riding and of proper use and maintenance. Proper use and maintenance of your bicycle reduces risk of injury.