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Sho-Air’s Force From Down Under

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I was able to catch up with Team Sho-Air’s star pro rider Sid Taberlay to talk about his recent race, his trade secrets, and the proper use of veggie mite. Sid is an accomplished rider, check out his stats.
  • 5 x National Champion
  • World Cup Podium
  • World Championship Medal (2001)
  • MTB Tour de France Stage Winner
What is your favorite US Cup course and why?
You always remember the ones you win and forget the one you lose! I guess that makes Alabama the favorite.
How did you enjoy Downieville?
It was fun and tiring at the same time. Unfortunately for me, Adam Craig was both out-climbing and descending me. I guess that was self inflicted with my laid back attitude leading into the event, which meant everything was left to the last minute. I was pretty tired after a 16 hour day on Friday before the XC start. Somehow I managed to hold onto to Adam up the climb, but I had to concede 10 to 15 seconds initially on the downhill, just to let his dust settle, so I could see where I was going. I was really happy to only be 40 seconds behind him at the bottom of the 45 minute downhill. Especially since I had only done half a downhill run on Friday and was essentially riding the course blind.

I was having a smooth run on the downhill, but felt I was really nursing the bike through a lot of sections on my Epic, 4¡¨ of travel, XC race wheels etc, weren’t ideal on that course. I also lost a lot of time playing it safe – not knowing where I was going. I managed to get through all the technical stuff safely only to puncture on the smoothest part of the course. I initially thought I was close to the finish line, so rode the flat for a mile or two, until I came to the conclusion I had further to go than I thought. Finally made the change of tire, then the CO2 didn’t work. Luckily I had a pump, but man, it takes a long time to pump up a 2.2″ tire! So I lost time with my initial stupidity and then more with the slowest change ever. Somehow I still managed to hang on for third in the overall??
Next year it’s game on! I’m going to do it properly with bike setup etc and spend some time learning the course.

What did your parents say when you said, “Sorry Mum. Not going to be a lawyer, I gonna’ ride race my mountain bike?
Um, a Lawyer?? Not sure that was even the case? Riding wasn’t something that I ever had plans on doing for a living, (I couldn’t even finish top 10 at Junior Nationals). It was just something that developed or happened. I started riding mountain bikes as a kid because my friends were into it, and even then, XC wasn’t our thing. As typical teenagers it was all about downhilling, trials riding and who could get the most air when jumping. I went through school with a half intention on going to university, only when I finished school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I essentially took a year off and got a part time job. With the extra time I started doing more road riding to the point where I was a full time local roadie doing stupidly long miles. Two years later I got talked into going to MTB Nationals again, where I finished 3rd in U23 and made the Australia Worlds Team. Since then I’ve been traveling and racing mountain bikes. I still call myself a roadie who races on the dirt.Oh and I’m still pretty sure Mum has some mentality that I’m a bum  who should get a real job.

I know your wife’s career brought you to LA, how do you like it here so far? I know you are well
traveled so no need to be PC, tell us what you really think.

Don’t get Pip started on that question – she loves Australia! The USA is both good and bad. We’ve been fortunate to meet some great people, which is always nice, though there are a lot of little things that are frustrating. Most of these have to do with systems, or lack thereof. Here are a couple examples: Why does health insurance pay less than 20% of a bill? (Hope insurance in Australia doesn’t ever become that lame). Does the DMV really need over 12 months to produce a piece of plastic? Still waiting! I hate people not being able to do their job, passing it off by saying it is “company policy” (that is very very common here!), followed by, “Hope I satisfied your inquiry.” Seriously?!? Come on, those two just don’t go together. So you could say we’ve had some frustrating moments, but we always manage to be able to laugh about it.

Very impressive resume, which win meant the most to you

There’s not really a win that sticks out, but to be honest I’m very unemotional with racing (emotions generally cause irrational decisions). I believe that if you do the work and put yourself in the right position the result will take care of itself, so emotions don’t come into play. If I was to pick a race that stands out, it’s not a win, but my first top 10 World Cup – 2004 in Madrid, finished 9th and made the Olympic Team.

Were you nervous for the Olympics?

I don’t get nervous, as I mentioned above. Perhaps I stress in certain situations, simply because I worry about those around me stuffing up or having to deal with the drama that others around mecause.

Why did you decide to ride for

It just worked out perfectly: Location, timing, current connections with Specialized etc, etc.

Spec out your bike for us:

It’s pretty standard, which is great for the everyday cyclist because it’s not in every sport you can pick up exactly what the Pro’s are running at the local shop! I’m lucky enough to be able to run a combination of the best and most reliable components. Specialized: Frame, wheels, tires, and saddle combined with Sram, Rockshox, Avid and Truvativ.


What do you use to fuel for a 2 hr mt bike race?

I’ve been getting away with just sports drink, called H2O Overdrive. I’ve actually been surprised about how well it works and not needing to have any gels etc in the race.

How do you recover?

Rest, sleep, eat well, some good supplements obviously 🙂 and having a regular routine makes a big difference.

Do you have a strength program?

Yes and no, I don’t go to the gym or anything like that. I do strength work on the bike and core body stuff on the lounge room floor. I like to keep things simple and specific.

Did you have the rest of the Sho Air guys working for you during the races?

Yes and No. No in terms of being like a road race and having someone set the pace the whole time, but yes in terms of being able to use our team numbers / position to be a tactical advantage. There is nothing better than having other Teams or Riders criticize me or us for tactics. Criticism is generally your biggest asset in life as you don’t know what you are doing wrong until someone tells you; otherwise you wouldn’t do it in the first place. In this case, it tells us what we are doing right. Simply put, it means the others are insecure about the situation and we have the upper hand. So I’m looking forward to more criticism! Let the games continue.

Seems like you are enjoying your new coach?  Why Him?

Craig at Efficiency Coaching is great, I kind a knew of him through Scott Tedro but had no contact until I receive a call one day, an hour and some more later I was left wondering how I had just spent so much time on the phone? Craig’s knowledge from everything from training to nutrition to the understanding of sports mentality was insane! I’ve never met anyone who was so close to my wave length with all of that stuff. It became a no brainer to having more contact. It actually became scary, he sent me over his training plan, (without knowing what I did) it was so close to exactly what I do I couldn’t believe it. Even his example heart rates were on the money! Like most things in life, it wasn’t planned, it just happened.


Give me three tips to getting the most out of a coach.
From experience, being religious about training is not always the best recipe for success. I’ve had better results by having a balanced lifestyle, where training sometimes comes second. Being relaxed and having fun is often more important than doing everything by the book. So communication is the key, if you have something going on then things can be changed to adapt and bring back that balance and fun.

I see you are posting clinics. How did that come about? After your racing is over
would you consider coaching/camps?

Yes, I decided to turn my section of the team blog into an educational piece. There are two reasons for this – I hate having write about myself and one of the most enjoyable this in life is being able to help someone and knowing you put that smile on their face. So hopefully we are in the process of achieving many smiles. Yes, camps are being discussed, with my DH and trials back ground combined with Craig’s knowledge I’m sure we will be to take everyone’s riding experience to another level. Details are still being worked out and spots will be limited. Feel free to leave your details with Craig to be at the top of the list to be updated: efficiencycoaching@cox.net

How long do you see yourself racing?
I quit at the end of 2003, only I started riding again because I had nothing better to do and there have been plenty of other small moments like that. So I guess I’ll be riding / racing until I find something better to do.

What techniques do you use when it gets tough? Mantra? Songs?
Ha-ha, Nope! It’s more like, that f##k## prick is making me hurt, he’s going to regret that, cuz now he’s pissed me off and going to pay!

I know a lot of Ozzies and I have to say their suffer factor is off the chains, why is that?
That’s simple, we HATE losing. So if you go to battle with an Aussie, expect a WAR!

How has your road racing transcended into mountain bike success?
Fitness mainly, like I said I started as a kid downhilling, trials riding etc. It wasn’t until I got thrown on a road bike and got addicted to it that I became good at XC.

Which has the higher suffer factor in your mind? Road or mountain?
I’ve had days on both bikes that simply suck! Road: being in the gutter or in the dirt in the crosswind, hanging by a tread sucks, you just want to lose the wheel in front of you, however, you also know that if you do it’s a long way to the finish by yourself and that also sucks! MTB: Nothing worse than being in the World Cup front group, only you’ve been so far over threshold to stay there that you end up pedaling in squares on the last half a lap and loose 10 or 20 placings, only to have everyone ask, “What happened?” I can’t help but to let my frustrations out at that point – “Well you try and hold the World Champs wheel for 7 laps!”

Which do you think is more dangerous or which are you most apprehensive about? The road pile up or losing it on the rocky ST?
On the mountain bike you are in control. Even when you get out of control you can generally wash off speed or divert to a safer landing. On the road, you can generally avoid most crashes, though there are times where there is nowhere to go and in that sense the road is more dangerous as you crash at full speed.

At your level, what makes you the better then the next guy?
Talent and the ability to take the opportunity or making the most of the opportunity.

So you are headed home for the 24 hrs Nationals in Australia: What lights do you use?
We have a great relationship with Trent @ Niterider, it’s going to be a difficult race this year. We’ve won it back to back for… I don’t know how many years to the point where all the other Teams are now out to get us. I generally like the competitiveness, except when I get woken up at 3am to go back out and we only have a few minutes lead to play with. I liked it better a few years back, when we would be a lap up by night fall!

During a race how much are you out of the saddle and where?
Mostly in the saddle, generally only out of the saddle on the descent or if there is a section of the course that needs punching.

Are you ever in your small chain ring? Do you have one?
I have a 28 tooth middle, does that count?

Sorry have to ask, do you eat vegiemite?
Yes and No. I eat it and don’t mind it, but I’m not big on spreads in general (like peanut butter
etc) so I couldn’t tell you the last time I had it. Pip loves it though, but misses nice Australian bread to put it on. Tip: it’s not like peanut butter – put it on thinly.

When you bonked, what did you do?
Crawl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.

What is your usual dinner the night before a race and what time before bed?
Nothing unusual to what I would do any other day – meat and vegetables. Generally between 6 and 7pm with bed between 10 and 11pm

What is your breaky race day?
Oatmeal with honey and a YOR Health MRP shake.

What is your typical warm up before race start?
Roll around, get the legs moving. I’m pretty casual and it seems to works for me. If I warm up hard I don’t have the extra bit I need at the end of the race.

When did you know you were different?
Come on?!? I thought that joke was strictly with US immigration! I’m sick of being called an alien resident! I wonder what name we have for Americans that come to Australia?

Do you always pre-ride a course? How much time is spent pre-riding?
Depends on how serious my mentality is towards the race. If I take the casual approach I’m happy to start blind and follow someone elses lines, speed, body movements etc for the first lap or two. If I end up on front I’m happy riding at a slow speed until I know where I am going, which relates to all the more energy when it comes time to start racing. If I’m focused, generally 4 or 5 laps two days before the race.

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