When Life Takes A Entrance Seat To Racing

Why world-class rider Kelly Magelky skipped this yr’s 24-hour Solo Mountain Biking Championships—and the way he finds steadiness on and off the monitor

It’s noon in September within the Badlands of western North Dakota and the new desert solar bakes the steep buttes and valleys of grey and crimson clay. It’s so arid and rocky that few vegetation develop right here.

Standing over his saddle and leaning ahead over the handlebars, a lone rider is much forward of the opposite racers, powering his manner throughout a shallow creek mattress. His lean body is wrapped in his sponsor’s yellow and black honeycomb colours and his face carries a smile.

“It’s like dying by 1,000 cuts.”

The rider is World Championships silver medalist and two-time U.S. Nationals silver medalist Kelly Magelky and the race is the Maah Daah Hey 150 (MDH150). The course, which traverses 151.7 regularly undulating and tough miles alongside North Dakota’s famed long distance trail, contains a quad-busting 17,539 ft of elevation acquire. It’s one of many hardest races within the nation.

“It’s like dying by 1,000 cuts,” Magelky, from Dickinson, North Dakota, however residing in Denver, tells REI.

That day in 2016 Magelky set the course report at 17:31. Two years earlier he set the course report for the MDH100, at eight:56, an hour and forty minutes quicker than the subsequent finisher.

His information nonetheless stand, however Magelky, now a father of dual one-year-old boys and halfway by way of producing a six-part movie mission introduced by the Nation Music Corridor of Fame and Museum, has his eyes set on an even bigger prize: profitable the 24-Hour Solo Mountain Biking World Championships, a race the place rivals log upwards of 250 tough miles earlier than time runs out.

The latest World Championships befell on June 2 and three within the seaside port of northern Italy’s Finale Ligure, however Magelky wasn’t there as a result of he wasn’t prepared. “I’ve are available in second earlier than and I do know that I’ll need to reside in Europe for a month to coach,” he says. “I’ve to take it that severely.”

Magelky, 37, is assured that by sticking to his balanced coaching schedule and racing 100+ milers for the subsequent yr, he’ll stand on prime of the rostrum within the Scottish Highlands of Fort William in October 2018.

Magelky on his solution to sixth on the 2015 24 Hour World Championships. Photograph: Nick Howe

However Magelky does greater than chase championships. Previous to his skilled mountain biking profession, in 2003, he teamed up with a small crew and began a movie manufacturing firm referred to as Filament. Magelky writes, directs and produces award-winning movies, TV collection and documentaries. “I directed a documentary for the band The Fray, which was launched with their first album as a companion piece. It’s one thing I’m nonetheless very pleased with.”

In 2012, Magelky additionally wrote and directed Drive, a movie collection about 10 athletes on their quest to win the Ironman World Championships. When he’s not touring for work, he’s at his workplace outdoors of Denver, surrounded by the steep, technical Rocky Mountains to run and experience. “I’m all the time operating on the paths. It retains my thoughts going, too,” he says.

After practically 10 years of 10- to 12-hour display binges on the workplace, Magelky’s sciatic nerve sustained critical injury.

His most up-to-date movie mission, in collaboration with Crowfly Footage Leisure, is the documentary collection They Known as Us Outlaws. “The movies are an exploration of Americana music from the mid-’60s to late ‘70s by way of the lens of Outlaw Nation,” Magelky says.

The movies will probably be launched by way of a mainstream media outlet someday within the subsequent two years. Greater than 50 artists had been interviewed—together with the likes of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter—and 300 hours of footage captured.

In 2012, after practically 10 years of 10- to 12-hour display binges on the workplace, Magelky’s sciatic nerve sustained critical injury from an excessive amount of sitting, inflicting weak point on one aspect. The harm pressured him to take a seat out for a season.

Magelky's computer screen

Magelky’s off-bike POV | Photograph: Kelly Magelky

After the setback, he made a take care of himself that he wouldn’t work in entrance of his pc for such lengthy intervals—but nonetheless be productive—and create extra steadiness in life for himself, his spouse Rachel Sturtz, and the boys.

“Racing bikes is non permanent. I’m not gonna be this quick without end,” he says. “It will likely be nice to inform my boys what I used to be in a position to do.”

Balancing his time with household, producing high-end movies, and racing at an elite degree isn’t straightforward however Magelky is making it work. Listed here are his greatest takeaways that may be utilized to anybody—not simply skilled athletes—looking for steadiness in their very own life.

Optimize Your Work Schedule

To maintain from overdoing it on the workplace, Magelky has organized his work schedule so he’ll solely need to log 4 to 5 hours in entrance of a pc a day. “I’ve owned my very own enterprise for nearly 15 years, however it took me nearly all of these years to discover ways to be extra environment friendly,” he says. Not procrastinating is a feat simpler mentioned than accomplished, so Magelky needed to develop some methods. “I deal with smaller chunks of time, slightly than hours. In case you give your self hourly limits, then it’s straightforward to waste 15-30 minutes since you assume you’ll be able to accomplish your hour lengthy process in 30 minutes, which often isn’t lifelike.”  Moreover, Magelky strictly abstains from social media throughout work hours and solely checks his e-mail at particular intervals all through the day.

“One other huge issue was letting go of a few of my perfectionist points,” he says. “Asking for assist, getting another person’s eyes on a mission, and stepping away for a small little bit of time actually aided in with the ability to say, ‘sufficient is sufficient.’”

Further modifications embody organising a standing desk and coaching space in his workplace. Between common coaching and getting up away from the keyboard when potential, his decrease again has healed. “The fact is there are deadlines and there are lengthy days. So after I do need to be at a pc for a very long time, that’s the place the stand-up desk is available in. I take breaks, stretch, and experience my bike over to the espresso store with my boys within the trailer.

That’s the breath of contemporary air that I must be productive.”

Put together Mentally

Work-related stress was Magelky’s purpose for bowing out of this yr’s championships. “I’d have nonetheless been in a position to go, however I noticed it will put quite a lot of strain on Rachel and myself. I had too many distractions and going would have been a disappointment as I’d have been leaving Rachel with the children for per week for outcomes that had been sub par.”

He is aware of being bodily and mentally ready for races is crucial. “Your physique is telling you, ‘You could possibly die.’ That energy trumps virtually something. Going by way of ache and [overriding] your physique’s pure responses is what separates people who find themselves going to win from those that aren’t,” Magelky says.

“Anytime I really feel crappy on a coaching experience I do know I’ll really feel 10 occasions worse throughout a race—to know that’s coming is a giant software.”

Through the race, Magelky is aware of it’s necessary to not really feel too excessive or too low. “Don’t romanticize it—this will probably be actually, actually exhausting. Weeks earlier than the race [or major event], ask your self if you’re ready to do that. Be lifelike.”

Share & Work as a Staff

Mitigating the stress of a seemingly infinite (and doubtlessly harmful) 24-hour race requires constructing and supporting your staff, “whether or not it’s your spouse or children or the mechanic on the native bike store,” Magelky says. “You should be sure that your crew is taken care of as a result of they’re taking good care of you.”

Throughout race time, Magelky depends on his pit crew to verify he’s consuming and ingesting sufficient and to test on his psychological situation so he doesn’t need to deal with these crucial choices whereas racing.

At dwelling, he is aware of his spouse doesn’t need to hear about all his coaching rides whereas she’s penning tales for Outdoors and Males’s Health, however he is aware of she’s there for the large ones. On the identical time, he says, “her being a journalist is extra attention-grabbing than something I’ve ever accomplished. There have been a number of occasions when she’s been knee-deep in a giant story and he or she’ll want to inform me about it. And I inform her a couple of race and the Outlaw movies.

Earlier than each experience, she tells me to make good choices and to come back again in a single piece.”

Study to Settle for Failure

“I believe the actual fact I’ve been doing this for thus lengthy actually helps within the conditions like pulling the plug on Italy,” he says. “Perhaps the outdated me could be upset about it and dwell on it for a month or lay blame some other place.”

Nowadays, after 10 years of racing, when there are setbacks like lacking a World Championship race, Magelky seems into himself for accountability and identifies the lesson.

He admits it nonetheless stings to have canceled. Nonetheless, he needed to put his household and work first.

“More often than not, you’ll be able to see precisely the place issues went off the rails and, quite a lot of occasions, it’s your individual doing,” he says. When this occurs he slows down, takes a breath and tells himself, “OK, don’t let this occur once more.”

“I do know I can elevate to the extent I must be aggressive for the subsequent couple years, however time goes quick and I’d like to verify I’m making the most of the alternatives I’ve in entrance of me now.”

Lead photograph courtesy of Pat Stockert


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