Captain Enduro

Meet mountain biker Cameron Chambers, the reigning U.S. king of pain

Cameron Chambers     Photo: Tom Moran

Last year, Chambers was crowned national champion in the grueling sport of 24-hour solo mountain-bike racing—beating an elite field that included four-time national champion Tinker Juarez and six-time world champ Chris Eatough. Now Chambers, a 24-year-old Subaru–Gary Fisher pro, aims to defend his title. As the season was kicking off, he talked to about beating up on himself—and mountain biking's reigning elite.

Outside: We've heard that your early training wasn't very orthodox.
Chambers: Yeah, I'd ride 50 miles on my single-speed to some trails near Lake Wilson (I was living in Great Bend, Kansas, at the time), then just ride a loop all day, stopping at the little marina for hamburgers every so often between laps. Then I'd ride all the way home.

What training tips do you have for everyday riders who want to tackle really long rides?
To get fit, you need changes in your heart rate. So plan rides that mix in different elements. Some of my favorite rides, I'm on pavement, then on dirt, then on singletrack, and it basically ends up being natural intervals.

You only ride 29ers. Why?
I think they just make sense. With the significantly bigger wheels, you're going to roll over that extra rock, have a bigger footprint in sand, be able to take corners better—it changes every aspect of riding the bike.

What do you eat during all-night rides?
The main thing is to keep sodium levels up, because I'm sweating so much and drinking so much. All kinds of stuff from pretzels to beef jerky—anything salty. Besides that, I just try to eat as many calories as I can stomach.

What's the key to sitting on a bike for 24 hours?
Cornstarch, man. Keeps things dry down there and keeps the saddle sores at bay. I'm going down the trail and hitting bumps and little puffs of white dust are shooting out of my shorts. It's like I'm the tooth fairy or something.

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