Our very own JP got a chance to interview Conrad Stoltz. He is a 4x World XTERRA world champion, 2x Olympian, and 2x off road ITU champ. As if that weren't enough, the "Caveman" has a slew of non-drafting road triathlon wins to his name including Boulder Peak and the Chicago Triathlon. Read on for the interview...
CS: I can sleep anywhere*, eat anything, race on a borrowed bike and not be thrown off my stride. I'm bigger than your typical endurance athlete, maybe my knuckles drag a bit and on the bike I often take the straightest line, as opposed to the cutest line. I often finish bleeding. Some wow blogs under Story Time at www.conradstoltz.com
Once I was working in my dad’s workshop, when he came through the door I broke the tool I was busy with and he said: "you're such a Caveman- everything you touch breaks." I test my equipment to the max, which has been a great match with some of my sponsors, like Specialized-where we strive to make top performing equipment that can stand the punch.
*on my blog there’s a story under Story Time called "Life on the road."- I slept on my bike bag on the floor of a police station in France.
JP: I understand your Caveman style of training has changed to some degree. What aspect of your training has changed most in the past few seasons?
CS: When I started training with Ian Rodger 3 years ago, he introduced power based training on the bike- which has made a huge difference in my training and especially my results. I train less than ever, but I go faster and I have more fun. Which is why at 38, there is no end in sight. I think scientific training has reached a new level across most sports the last couple of years. Or maybe I just had my head under a rock...
JP: Going back a little bit, how did you get introduced to the sport?
CS: I ran track and XC at primary school and got burnt out at age 13. Sometimes we ran twice a day?! I was introduced to modern biathlon (track running and pool swimming) but it was terribly boring, so when I saw a pic of a triathlon in the local paper, I was really motivated to try this new adventurous sport. My 1st race was a short Iron Kids where I finished 16th. I got a flat and ran the last mile with the bike on my back because I didn’t want to 'damage the rim". My next race was a sprint which my dad and I raced together. We also trained together at times, which was usually a slug fest till someone drops.
JP: After your successful road career, how did you go about transitioning to Xterra racing?
CS: I got burnt out qualifying for the Sydney Olympics. I raced the Games just on the last fumes in the tank. Although that break away on the bike was a personal breakthrough for my cycling ability. [Note: Conrad rode away at the 2000 Sydney games with Olivier Marceau] After the Games my coach for 10 years, Libby Burrell said I could do anything I wanted. I was paging through a US Triathlete mag (rare in South Africa back then) and saw a full page photo of Steve Larsen running his mountain bike through a knee deep stream at XTERRA Richmond VA. I said THIS is what I want to do. I grew up racing BMX and riding dirt bikes on our farm, so I loved the sense of adventure, the adrenaline and the challenge. I knew I could make a "good" living from racing non drafting road tris. I won Mrs T’s Chicago, got 2nd in LA etc-so the road tris would be my income. I had no real financial sponsors then and XTERRA would be my "get the passion back" project. I loved XTERRA the first time I tried it and won the USA Series on a series of 3 borrowed bikes before Ned Overend, who was racing too, hooked me up with a new Specialized dual suspension M5, a brand new helmet, brand new shoes, (got my old ones from a used sports store) AND a Specialized cycling jersey his wife had cut the sleeves off.. That bike was amazing. Those days were amazing. I won by 10min (Macca was 30' down) got a $25k check- HUGE for a bum from South Africa back then and after 10 years living hand to mouth on the pro circuit, I was set with sponsorship.
JP: Your dominance in Xterra is unprecedented. Why do you feel this style of racing suits you so well?
CS: Yes, I love the balance between technical and physical, the lactic acid and adrenaline. Unlike road tri, except Emburn and Nice maybe, with the off road stuff you do get horses for courses. I'm 6’2” and 185lbs, so I'm not crazy about the super long, tough climbs - but then I crush it on the flatter courses. Worlds and USA Champs have always been climbing races, which makes winning there harder for me. I excel at the more technical and rough the courses and I really enjoy the technical part of it. The training, the pre riding, setting your bike up for a certain course, the butterflies the night before about a technical section.
JP: What would you say is your most meaningful performance in the sport and why?
CS: XTERRA Worlds 2010. You should probably read my blog post about it. I'll just put a few thoughts down: My dad's colon cancer came back during the summer, I wanted to go home to be with them, but he told me to race and make him proud. I rode my dream bike: Specialized came out with their 1st race ready 29er. I LOVED it. The others doubted it, and I made a 7min lead on the bike. Since I cut my foot and got those surgeries to clear the infections, I hadn’t been able to run much at all, not to mention quality, so having a 7min lead was great and my overall form was so good, I ran well anyway.
JP: Moving on to the lightning round... Looking for one word answers, so don't think too much!
Chocolate or vanilla? - Vanilla
Favorite race venue? - Venue: Maui / Course: Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama
Best place to run in the world? - My parents’ farm
Favorite candy or sweet? - Turkish Delight
Most recent book you've read? - I switch between Mastering Mountain Bike Skills (2nd time) and The 4 Hour Work Week.
JP: Thanks so much for taking the time. It’s been a pleasure.
Be sure to check out Conrad’s website: www.ConradStoltz.com.
Follow him at on twitter @ConradStolz
Like his page on facebook