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Durango's Endurance Mountain Biking Machine Todd Wells

by Jeffrey Stern August 20, 2017

Hot on the heels of his second place finish at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Todd Wells jumped directly into the challenging, six-stage Breck Epic race less than 24 hours after narrowly missing out on his fourth Leadville crown to up and comer Howard Grotts.

Grotts followed the same path and joined Wells on the start line last Sunday morning, dueling it out with the 41-year old over the course of the week, splitting the stage victories evenly. The 24-year old Grotts narrowly edged out Wells by less than two minutes in the general classification after 17 hours of racing that concluded Friday. 

Both Durango natives, Wells completed the same Leadville/Breck Epic double last year, proving there must be something about the dirt on their home trails. Or, perhaps, despite their vast difference in age, Wells and Grotts are two of the best endurance mountain bikers in the country currently.

We caught up with Wells following his huge week of racing that saw him amass nearly 350 miles with over 50,000 feet of elevation gain in seven days, to find out just how he remains so consistent, even against racers nearly half his age, year after year. 

Congratulations on an outstanding week of racing Todd! How many times have you done the Leadville/Breck Epic double now?

This year will be my third time and the hardest by far (he's won the Breck Epic twice before). We had such a deep field this year so there were no easy pedal strokes.

How do you prepare your body for such a brutal 100-mile race, followed by a week-long technical and elevation heavy stage race?

I usually have a 3-4 week block of time to train specifically for Leadville and usually take a 5-8 day break after our XC National Championships before starting my build up. I do a lot of big volume, low-moderate intensity with tons of climbing at high elevation. I either stay somewhere high or sleep in my altitude tent and try to stack big days back-to-back with more time in the saddle and more elevation than I'll experience at Leadville. That means 6-7 hour rides with 10-15 thousand feet of climbing. It ends up being good prep for Breck Epic too since it's also a climbing heavy race at an ultra-high elevation.

What are your keys to recovery that help set you up for success at both races?

I have an amazing team and family so I don't have to worry about anything other then riding my bike as fast as possible. My bike is always taken care of and performing brand new before every stage thanks to my awesome sponsors and mechanic, Myron Billy. I had great massages the entire time which made a huge difference and is really key as I get older. Having my family around for most of the week to help me with everything else is also great.

How does such a hard week of racing help give you an advantage over your competitors?

Stage racing makes you so strong. You can't replicate that intensity in training over that number of days. It gives me a big fitness boost that pays dividends for a weeks, if not months after the race. I love stage racing because it is so simple; eat, race, eat, rest, eat, sleep, repeat. There is no better way to gain fitness than stage racing.

How does such a hard week of racing help give you an advantage over your competitors?

Stage racing makes you so strong. You can't replicate that intensity in training over that number of days. It gives me a big fitness boost that pays dividends for a weeks, if not months after the race. I love stage racing because it is so simple; eat, race, eat, rest, eat, sleep, repeat. There is no better way to gain fitness than stage racing. 

Do you take any time off the bike after the Breck Epic?

After a stage race if I don't ride my body completely shuts down and it goes into a type of hibernation/recovery that is hard to get out of. I will take it easy this week but still get on my bike and pedal everyday. I'll spend more time with the family and hopefully some time relaxing on the golf course too.

What is next on the race calendar for you? 

I have a marathon MTB race in Mexico next weekend, so I've got to be ready for that. Then I head to Utah for the Park City Point to Point the following weekend and my Durango Dirt Fondo is September 16. After that I'll take a break and gear up for some races I have later in the fall.

Photos by Kenny Wehn



Jeffrey Stern

Author

After cutting his teeth in the professional sports world working in sales for the Giants, Jeffrey found his passion for all things two wheels that pose a challenge and involves adventure. He also loves dogs, trail running, storytelling and afternoon recovery naps in hammocks.