Shane Sigel interview adventure racing
Photo by Rahoul Ghose, 2001 World
An interview with Shane Sigle a member of the adventure racing team Team
Montrail. We explore what cycling has to do with adventure racing
, the effects of exhaustion, nutrition, and the challenge of team
work and survival. As Lance Armstrong stated, "It's not about the
Ok, so we are here with Shane Sigle, a member of the Team Montrail
racing team. First a little background on the team, and then we get to grill
Shane on what it is and what it has to do with cycling.
Over the last three years, Team Montrail has steadily climbed the ranks
in adventure racing. Three years ago, the team had it's first top ten
in a major race. Two years ago, the team placed third in the World
and had a few other top five finishes. In 2002, Team Montrail placed
in the Primal Quest and first in the Raid the North Extreme. The team also
traveled in the top four for most of the first six days of Eco-Challenge
until an injury caused the team to quit.
Team Montrail is one of two American teams to consistently place in the
top five in major races. Ironically, in most big races, the majority of
are from the U.S. For example, in the Eco-Challenge, 42 of the 81 teams
were from the U.S. Canada is one of the areas where the sport is
quickly with a 275 % increase in participants in the last year. So much so,
that on April 19, 2003, Toronto will host it's first ever adventure
expo put on by Quest adventure group.
Championship Adventure Race.
DP: Hello Shane, lets cut to the chase. Adventure racing is new
to me. Could you fill me in what it is and how does cycling fit in?
Shane: Hello! Ok, adventure racing is a sport that
multiple disciplines such as trail running, mountain biking, whitewater
ocean paddling, rock climbing and rappelling, in-line skating, river
and horseback riding to name a few. It is usually a non-stop race
from point A to point B with discipline switches along the way. One
of the key disciplines in adventure racing is mountain biking. Since
adventure racing is usually staged in remote, dangerous, and challenging
areas, road bicycles or cross-bikes are rarely optimal for the rough
In the average 4-day adventure race, competitors will mountain bike
miles of single track, forest road, fire road, and maybe some pavement.
DP: Are the races point to point total time like
RAAM or the Race around Australia that Perry Stone is doing? Or is it timed
stages like the Tour de France where you at least get some time to rest and
Shane: Adventure races can be both point to point and staged.
They can vary in length from 3-4 hours to 3-4 weeks and everything in
The average expedition adventure race spans 6-10 days and is not
DP: Is there an individual winner like the Tour de France,
or is it only a team victory?
Shane: One of the key components of adventure racing is the fact
that it is a team sport. All team members must finish the race together
and may be no farther than 100 meters from each other at any time.
races require teams of four and there must be one member of the opposite
sex. Most teams quit adventure races not because they are hurt
but instead, they have run into internal team problems that have broken
the spirit of the team and they quit mentally. Usually, the team that has
the best team dynamics to complement incredible physical endurance wins
DP: A hundred meters, now that is a tough rule! So it is
multi-disciplined. Is each race the same disciplines, or do they vary
from race to race?
Shane: The disciplines vary from each race and there are
no standard disciplines except biking, trail running/hiking, and some type
of paddling. The list of other disciplines that have been used in adventure
racing is very long. For example, in the Eco-Challenge in Fiji this year,
competitors were required to build a raft out of thirteen 40 foot pieces
of bamboo and paddle the boat down 30km of river.
One of the main premises of adventure racing is that all competitors must
be ready for anything and be able to work through any tough situation.
DP: So there short races and long races like in some cycling
stage races. How much of an advantage is it if you are an experienced
Does it give you an advantage above other disciplines?
Shane: Cycling is a key component of adventure racing and many
of the top racers have a mountain biking background. As stated earlier, there are
races ranging in length from 3-4 hours to 3-4 weeks. The shorter races tend
to be won by triathletes and pro mountain bikers while the long races tend
to be won by lifelong adventurers and outdoors people. It is also important
to state that many mountain bikers have an easy transition to adventure
racing because they are usually great runners too.
DP: How old is adventure racing?
Shane: Adventure racing is about fifteen years old. The
and still premier race is the Raid Gauloises which is organized by a French
company. The Raid is always approximately 1000km and spans 7-13
DP: How did you get started and get a berth in a team?
Shane: I began adventure racing when I was asked to join
a team that was entering a race in India that was mainly composed of
rafting and rope skills. Our team immediately bonded and we have been
together since that time. Finding a core group of people with the same
and aspirations is probably the most difficult part of racing.
DP: What is the hardest part of a 5 day challenge? Keeping
the team together? Dealing with the elements? Exhaustion?
Shane: The hardest part of a five day race is certainly the
internal battles. The human body screams to stop and to quit the
madness although it can always go on. The mind wanders and becomes
perturbed while it knows the finish line can be accomplished.
heart waivers between despair and feelings of omnipotence. Keeping it all
together and giving shamelessly are what makes a great
DP: Speaking of exhaustion what are the biggest challenge over
the course of an event dealing with the effects of exhaustion? Could you
tell me about the mental effects of a three to five day race?
Shane: Each race brings new problems that are associated
the exhaustion. Exhaustion causes failure of most every system that keeps
the body running. Exhaustion causes your appetite to disappear and your
to ache. It causes your mind to wander and your thoughts to be clouded. It
causes your will to continue to weaken, to carry on to the finish, your mood
to sour, pain is a constant companion. Exhaustion brings every human
to their edge, whatever that may be.
The mental effects of a three to five day race can be incredible and
at the same time. I return from a race not being able to assimilate into
society. I feel like I have accomplished something so personally amazing
and different from the everyday life of the American family that I don't
know what to say to people. It is impossible to put into words.
A three to five day race requires a minimum of one week rest and
where a racer will literally do nothing but eat and sleep. I personally
know racers that have spent up to five weeks recovering from a race.
Look for more in the second part of this interview!
The Holy Grail of Bike Fit
Quest adventure group: firstname.lastname@example.org