Fatigue: Know when to back off

When an exhausted buddy gets hurt in a freak accident, it gets you wondering about the importance of rest.

Brian Lopes nails Clown Shoes, one of Whistler’s more persnickety trails.

Hey Lee,

I was checking out your write up on Whistler, wishing I was there riding with you. Something really struck me when reading about your last day of riding, and I wanted to get your input on this. My buddies and I were in Whistler in mid August for three days of riding. Now I know how it is to ride with your bro’s and to be pushing your limits, but that is just it, you have to know your limits.

You and I are roughly the same age [about 600 -Lee], and when I ride at home, I go for around two to three hours, and I’m done. At Whistler, we were the first ones on the lift, and the last ones down the mountain at the end of the day. By the time day three rolled around, I could hardly get out of bed in the morning! My buddies poked fun at me, but I told them I might only be riding for half a day, and that I was cruising, no first time attempts at stunts. One of my friends went out hard, and I knew he was hurting just as much, if not more, than me. By lunch time I was actually loosening up and feeling a flow on the trails, so my buddies decided to do Crack Addict. I went first, rode the whole thing clean, log, drops, everything. My friend who had been pushing hard all morning, had one of the oddest looking get offs — and broke his leg! What a drag!

What I was impressed with is how you wrote about your third day of riding, and calling it quits at lunch time. I know the groms can push hard, and recover faster from the crashes, but they too have their limits. Do you happen to cover this in any of your clinics that you teach? Let me tell you, dragging your’s and your buddies luggage around the airport really sucks. Coming home and listening to the wives lecture us about growing up sucks even more. I can’t help but think that if he would have known when to back off, he might not be layed up for the next four or five months. Woulda, shoulda, right? By the way, pictures of The Manager will never do it justice. Whistler rocks!

Jason Simpson

p.s. Was D1 awesome or what?

Brandon Sloan wrings out The Curved Wall Ride of Death as if it’s a damp cloth. Drip, drip.


I hear you about the whole recovery thing. I can put in about one big performance per week. After that it’s all about recovery. But it’s tough when you’re riding with the young studs. They don’t understand what it feels like, and they can’t wrap their heads around “taking it easy” or “taking a break.”

Backing off makes Aggro Lee want to strangle Pansy Lee, but sometimes it’s necessary:

1. The fatigue is cumulative and can really jack up your health, especially if you have low thyroid and a history of pain syndromes (as I do).

2. You can hurt yourself when you get out there too far. At Whistler this year I really wanted to nail the curved wall ride of death — and I know I could have — but by the time I figured out how to do it I was exhausted. So I’ll save it for next year.

Dude, I already got hurt once this year — riding tired and over my head, trying to ride like Curtis — and I’m done with that. Just avoiding the wife’s speech is a good enough reason to be careful!

I interviewed Ned Overend last year, and he told me he’s just as strong as he’s ever been — it’s just that he can’t do nearly as much as he used to do. So he’s smart about his training: the right amount of intensity, distance and REST. Brian Lopes says the same thing. He trains like a fiend, but he’s really careful about rest. “I’d rather be over rested than over trained.” Oh, one more: Gunn-Rita Dahle (world and Olympic XC champ) told me the same thing: Training is important, but rest is the key.

In my clinics I tell everyone it’s not about going big or fast or far; it’s about riding well and having fun. Do what feels right, while you feel right. We’re all seeking peak experiences — those moments when time stops and everything flows perfectly. Those don’t come from battering yourself to smithereens hour after hour or day after day. They come from feeling good and riding at your potential.

Quality is more important than quantity. Focus. Get it done. Then write a Web page …

  — Lee

Yes, D1 rules. As does every other trail in Whistler!

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