I caught up with Breckenridge native Josh ("Toast") Tostado after his 24 Hours of Moab National Championship Men's Solo title win. Racing is nothing new to this guy; whether in snow or dirt, Toast knows how to have a good time, even after visiting those dark places in the mind during the wee hours of the night in a race. Here's what he had to say about Moab, riding, living, and training.
How long have you been mountain-bike racing? I know you were a free skier hucking 90-foot tables and hitting 55-degree slopes.
I raced my first 24 in 2002, and that was my first mountain bike race. At that point, I was really into the free-skiing, and the best I ever did was eighth in an X-Games qualifier.
When and why did you stop competing?
I stopped competing because hitting 70-foot jumps every day is hard onthe body, and I was 30 years old, so I figured enough is enough. It's akids sport--you are over the hill at 25, so I started a little late.
How does free-skiing translate into mountain-bike racing, and specifically 24s?
The sports of skiing and mountain biking are very similar. You just get that feeling of flow with both, and they are lifestyle sports as well, but as far as the the competition side, free-skiing and 24-hour racing couldn't be more different.
You don’t have a coach. How do you self-train?
I just really like going on long rides, and I like going hard, so I just go riding and call it good. I never have to force myself out the door. It's more like therapy for the soul, so if I don't go riding, I am a little off.
There are many things to love about Breckenridge. Give me five great reasons to live there.
Biking, skiing, friends, community, and it never gets hot.
Do you have a road bike? Any gadgets?
I do have a road bike, but I only use it out of necessity. This year, I didn't touch my road bike after the beginning of June. Nope, no gadgets.
What was your specific training for the 24-Hour National Championship?
I never do specific training. I just ride. I usually ride 24 to 30 hours a week. I cut back to about 20 hours the month before the race. I could feel my body getting tired, so I just try to maintain my fitness and not go too hard.
What’s the darkest thought you had during the race?
I was in a dark place in the morning, at about hour 20. I had gone hard all night and had a big lead, but when I'm really spent, I get emotional, and when that happens, I know I'm tired, so the end better be near.
What made you throw up?
I was really pushed to the limit on the first couple laps, and then I started cramping, and my body was not very happy, then I puked all over my bike, and I just had to slow down and regroup.
From your race report, it sounded like you burned a lot of matches early. How would you change your tactics, in hindsight?
The pace early on really hurt me, then in the night, I went really fast, so the combo really did me in. I should have gone a little slower in the beginning, but when I'm in the moment, it's hard to pull up.
Did you have a race plan?
My race plan was to win and to finish with nothing left, and I definitely accomplished both.
Did you make any mistakes?
My big mistake was not taking enough calories. My new nutrition is called Infinit. It works really well, but it was my first 24 Hour on the stuff, and I was a little short on the calorie intake.
Was there any part of the 24 Hours of Moab course that you looked forward to on each lap?
The backside of the course flows really well. It's roll-y and fun.
What did you have for breakfast that morning?
You ride a Santa Cruz. Spec out your bike.
My carbon blur is the shit. Not only is it a great race bike, but it's just an everyday, fun bike. I run all Shimano components because they work the best. Ergon grips, wtb saddle, and Stan's wheel set.
Is there a 29 in your future?
It's definitely a possibility. Santa Cruz has a new bike called the Tall Boy. It's basically a carbon blur 29er, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.
How did you fuel during the race?
My nutrition is an all-liquid diet of Infinit, and that's all I had the whole race.
Despite owning the Breck 100, and now 24 Hours of Moab, your results on National 100-milers haven’t been as great.
I actually had a great result in my last NUE East Coast race. I got fourth at the Wilderness 101. It was super tight--seven minutes separated the top five. But it's true I haven't done as well at some of those races. I don't start riding again until mid-February, so by the time I'm starting the season, I'm usually not 100 percent until about mid-June, so a lot of those races are warm-ups. Also, I've had some bad luck at some of them getting lost. One time, I had three flats and still got sixth. Speed is not my strong point. In some of those races, there are a lot of dirt-roadsections and sometimes flat sections, so that really doesn't suit me. I do much better on trails and climbing, but that's why I keep going back to some of these races--because it's not my strong point, so it forces me to go all out.
What did this race in particular teach you about yourself?
This race was really hard for me. I was in a bad way, but I didn't give up. I had to dig really deep. A lot of times, you surprise yourself, and that's what I tell people when they say they could never do something. The human spirit is a lot stronger than people think. When faced with hardship, you can really push through a lot.
Having a pimp support crew is key. What are five things you require in your crew?
The only thing I require is that they show up. I have been lucky to have a great group of friends that really have a good time coming to support me. It's a little easier to get a crew for Moab because it's only five hours from home. I've raced with a one-man crew, and it's really hard. Luckily, my buddy Ryan has been with me from the beginning, and he's probably the best mechanic in the world, so If I only have one guy, it's him.
What's your winter training program like?
My winter training is skiing--no riding at all. I Nordic ski, backcountry ski, and just have fun skiing. I basically take about three months off the bike. It probably is not the best thing for race fitness, but I love skiing too much to give it up completely. Plus, the time off the bike is good in different ways. I am really excited to get back on the bike when I do start riding again.
Are you doing the Breck Epic in 2010, or are you on recon again?
I'm not sure about the Breck Epic. The stage racing is cool, but they all have really high entry fees, so I'll have to wait and see. Doing the pre-ride every day was awesome. I really liked seeing how much work goes into these things. It takes a lot to run everything smoothly.
You mentioned this was the hardest race you did in a long time. What made this race harder than last year?
My fitness wasn't as good as last year. I was definitely on the down slope. I missed my peak by about a month. Last year, I was peaking and felt really strong. This year, I did a race called the Vapor Trail 125 a month before Moab and felt the strongest for the year back then.