Mountain Biking: The Trials of Stamina Man

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, September 1995

Mountain Biking: The Trials of Stamina Man
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard)

As endurance specialist John Stamstad pedaled the first of 61 laps around a quaint dirt-and-pebble carriage-road loop in Maine's Acadia National Park last May, he began to steam. "The course required absolutely no skill whatsoever," an agitated Stamstad said after the ride. "You could drive a semi truck down it." The 30-year-old Ohioan had come to the seaside national park to try to break his own 24-hour off-road distance record--and to accept a challenge from women's record holder Amy Regan, who'd come within a few miles of his mark there last September. The rider known in endurance circles as Stamina Man now wishes he'd stayed home. "The only thing challenging about the course," he says, "was overcoming boredom and dodging strollers and pets." And avoiding getting pulled over. Park officials threatened to kibosh the ride if they got so much as one complaint that it was disturbing the park's more genteel users. "There I was trying to set a speed record," says Stamstad, "but basically they said not to go too fast." He didn't create a nuisance, nor did he have to shift off his largest chainring. By day's end, the three-time Iditabike champion and 1994 Leadville 100 winner had ridden 354.5 miles--breaking his old mark, set on California's Mammoth Mountain, by 67 miles--and covered almost 20,000 vertical feet. "The ironic thing is that I'm trying to get the new record thrown out," says Stamstad. "That was not mountain biking. It was a waste of time.''

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