Triple Threat

After a breakout year, this native Colorado triathlete is ready for the world stage

Every day is a full day for 20-year-old Jasmine Oeinck. The ITU-style triathlete (think Olympics, not Kona) lives and trains seven days a week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as part of USA Triathlon's emerging athlete program, an Olympic feeder pool. In 2005, Oeinck took first in two of the four under-23 national races she entered (including the Under-23 National Championships in Bellingham, Washington); in 2006, she is entered in nine races, from Qatar to Madrid. And just remember, come the 2008 Olympics in Beijing: You saw her here first.

Jasmine Oeinck

Jasmine Oeinck

Outside: How does it feel to be in one of the fastest-growing sports?
Oeinck: Americans haven't paid much attention to triathlon, but that seems to be changing. It's an exciting time, because the sport is growing and people are getting more interested.

Has the life of a triathlete surprised you at all?
I feel very lucky, because triathlons have let me see a lot of the world.

How has training at the OTC affected you?
It's not as easy to stand out here. Everyone is really good. So it keeps you humble. It takes a whole different mentality—that much more work.

What's your secret to winning?
Swimming, I just have to have the confidence to get with the lead girl; on the bike, it's all about keeping up a pace; and by the time I'm on the run, it's more a mental game than anything.

Is one discipline easier for you than the others?
I never find myself thinking, Here comes the easy leg. I think the hardest part is when you get that stupid little voice in your head saying, You're really tired. You should stop.

How do you overcome it?
I ignore it as best I can and focus on positive talk. I tell myself, Just run until you pass out. Or: Just ride until you throw up. But whatever you do, don't stop.

Have you ever passed out?
No. But I think that little voice can be your worst enemy, your hardest competitor.

Captain Enduro

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

Cameron Chambers

Cameron Chambers

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.

Happy Feet

Speed hiker Andrew Thompson stomps all over your idea of endurance athletes

When Thompson hobbled up Georgia's Springer Mountain on August 1, 2005, he notched a superhuman record: the fastest hike on the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. Sleeping only five hours each night, the 30-year-old from Derry, New Hampshire, averaged 46 miles per day over 47 days.

Outside: OK, cut to the chase: How did the sleep deprivation affect you?
Thompson: I had horrible hallucinations the entire time. Like Dave Matthews's face on the side of a tree.

How does one train for something like this?
Run 118 miles per week, with no days off, for three months. After training I did the Barkley ultramarathon in April, then started the AT in May, going north to south.

How did you mentally prepare?
I failed on my first two attempts, and I was ready for closure. My self-motivation level was through the roof.

What did you carry?
Almost nothing. My pack weighed probably six pounds. Water, food, jacket. My partner, Jon Basham (who drove ahead each day), would have a tent and meal ready when I arrived.

Any advice for normal hikers who want more miles?
There's no substitute for an early start. And regardless of your pace, you gotta keep moving: Those little five-to-ten-minute breaks add up quickly.

Will you ever hike the AT again?
I'll always love it, but no more long-distance hikes on the AT for me. Now I'd like to summit all of Colorado's fourteeners.

River Missionary

World-class kayaker Dunbar Hardy brings expedition paddling to the masses

Dunbar Hardy

Dunbar Hardy

In February 1999, Hardy, now 36, had a near-fatal accident—and a life-changing epiphany. After years of pushing the limits of kayaking, he broke his back while running a six-story waterfall in the Ecuadorean jungle. He eventually returned to the water—after two back surgeries and nine months of rehab—with a new mission: He gave up groundbreaking stunts to introduce others to the sport, and to the exotic places it can take them.

Outside: What happened in Ecuador?
Hardy: A few years ago, I was pushing my skills and pushing what could be done in a kayak. I ran a 60-foot waterfall and broke four vertebrae in my back. They had to carry me out of the river on a piece of wood.

How did the accident change you?
Today, my kayaking experience is not so much about how rad I can be, but about appreciating the places that I get to go and instilling that in others.

How do you accomplish that?
After paddling with us on our multi-day clinics and trips at Tarkio [Hardy's Missoula-based kayak school], people inevitably want to go to the next place. So in the off-season, we take some of our summer-clinic alumni to places like New Zealand, China, Bhutan, or Chile.

What's the advantage to kayaking abroad?
Most cultures live close to the water. Paddling trips in places like Bhutan provide a close-up cultural interaction—you float past farmers harvesting crops and people doing laundry. And since the river does a lot of the work for you, you can really look around.

What's the best way for a beginner to get started?
I have students start without a paddle. It forces you to learn balance, edging, and posture. The paddle is really an add-on.

State Secrets

Bestselling guidebook writer John Vlahides deals out his top California discoveries

John Vlahides

John Vlahides

For Vlahides, 40, a Golden State specialist who writes for Lonely Planet and Fodor's a typical day at the office involves wheeling down Highway 1 on his motorcycle in search of the coast's hidden inns and restaurants. He's also on KRON 4 in San Francisco once a month for his segment One-Night Stands with John Vlahides, laying out quickie midweek vacations near his home turf in the Bay Area. How did he get that job? And what does he know that we don't? Here, Vlahides tells about his life in the biz—and even gives up a few hard-won travel secrets.

Outside: What's the next big travel trend?
Vlahides: In Northern California, food travel is huge. There's no better way to connect with a culture (and locals) than by hooking up with the foodies and oenophiles. Sonoma County is a great example: You can pull over to a stand on the side of the road and taste goat cheese, then drive a little farther and pick apples off the tree, then go a little farther to a winery.

What is the one piece of gear you won't leave home without?
Hotels have lousy lighting, so I carry a small dimmer switch that screws into a light socket. Everything—and everyone—looks better in low light.

Where's your favorite secret place?
I love Mar Vista Cottages, a small inn on California's North Coast. They deliver fresh-laid eggs from their chickens to your door, and they encourage you to help yourself to the small organic vegetable garden. There are no phones, no TVs, so you just disappear, get off the grid.

Not a secret much longer, is it?
It's hard working for a travel publisher, because anything I write makes a place instantly more popular. Will I be able to get a room at Mar Vista Cottages next time I want to go? Maybe not. Is it my own fault? Probably.

What's the best way to use a guidebook?
A good guidebook will not spoon-feed you everything, so you have to read between the lines. I leave clues in my books for people to find more on their own. Sometimes it's a short mention: "To ditch the crowds, ask a Canyonlands ranger about Dark Canyon Primitive Area." No map or directions, so the people who want to be led around by a collar won't go.

One last piece of advice?
Shop locally. It helps to preserve the color and texture of a culture, which to me as a travel writer seems essential. After all, making those connections with a place is why we travel.

Queen of the Mountain

This Spanish phenom is one of the world's best sport climbers—male or female

Josune Bereziartu

Josune Bereziartu

Josune Bereziartu, 34, is the only woman to have climbed 5.15—no other has climbed above a 5.14b. But as the San Sebastián, Spain, insurance saleswoman explains, climbing success is about more than training hard. It's about finding balance off the rock as well.

Outside: Was it a surprise to climb Switzerland's Bimbaluna? That's the hardest route ever done by a woman—and most men.
Bereziartu: No, it was an evolution. The route is technical, with small holds, and the foot placements are really bad. Knowing that, I tailored all of my training around this climb.

What's your training like?
I train five days in a row for up to seven hours. But it's more important how many moves you do. I do more than 1,000 moves a day.

How do you mentally prepare for big climbs?
I prepare by doing a lot of warm-up climbs beforehand, to prove to myself that I am doing well. But I also practice yoga and breathing work, to try to be very calm, because naturally I get very nervous and excited.

What is your next big challenge?
I am very motivated to climb routes onsight [making an ascent on the first try with no previous knowledge of the route]. For me, it's the most difficult style of climbing, because you have only one opportunity. You have no information. If you make one mistake, you fall.

What is your advice for women who want to climb better?
Don't get intimidated. As women, we tend to think we're not good enough, out of shyness. But just go and climb—with daring.

What's your biggest fear: falling or failing?
Neither. I'm most afraid of being consumed by the sport and not realizing all the good things in life—family, friends, my job. When you get older, you realize that climbing is not everything.

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