Corey Wallace Triple Header

1. Ok, first off, if I want to introduce you to the uninformed, what title would be
most suiting – pro bike racer, adventurer, bike warrior…? What would it be.
Nomadic Pro Bike Racer.

2. Leadville and Breck Epic are largely held to be two of the hardest mountain
bike events in the United States. Which leads me to two questions:

a. Are they? It's hard to say they are two of the hardest. There are just so many different races with different types of hardness out their! 

I think the high altitude makes these two a real challenge as it adds another element to some already pretty demanding courses. If a rider is inexperienced at Altitude and blows up at either of these races, then yes they are probably some of the toughest mtb races on the calendar! They are also tough to prepare for as many riders don't have time to acclimate properly beforehand.

b. You’ve raced all over the world, how does the difficulty stack up against
international events you’ve done?
Leadville is one of the tougher Marathon MTB races I have done anywhere as the course gets harder towards the end!  It is also a tactical race in which it's a huge benefit to ride in a group with other riders, but this often means risking a big detonation, as when you are in the red zone for too long at altitude it can really make you suffer!  Breck Epic, none of the days are too crazy, but going 6 days back to back at altitude is tough as recovery isn't so good between stages. It is really important to put an extra emphasis on recovery such as eating simple carbs, ice baths, squeezy legs, and resting as much as possible.

3. Alright, getting down to it – you just did both these events, back-to-back. So
basically you added an additional “stage” onto Breck which happened to be
Leadville 100. Why!? How’d you come up with this crazy idea!? 
With Leadville and Breck Epic back-to-back it was pretty natural to tie the two events together.  A few top riders have done it before with great success, with just a 1-hour drive between races and lots of time after Leadville to get to the Breck start it works well logistically.  I think the altitude also governs the system a bit at Leadville, it is a very tough day still, but the legs aren't quite as destroyed afterwards as they would be following a race at sea level. The toughest part is trying to sleep at 10 000 ft right after the 100 miler as the body is still revving high and there is a lot of adrenaline in the system from all the excitement!

4. Walk us through your bike setup and explain your choices of components,
tires, gear etc. Was there anything you did differently between the races?
Anything you would do differently knowing that you were racing them both?

This year I ran my Kona Hei Hei full suspension at both races.  It is setup with Carbon Astral Serpentine wheels, Maxxis Aspen tires, a Shimano XTR group set and wolf tooth components mixed in.  For Leadville I ran a Pro Carbon straight post, and Aspen 2.25 tires, while for Breck Epic I swapped in a Wolf Tooth Resolve Dropper.  This seems like the ideal setup for the trail heavy Breck Epic.  For Leadville, having raced all 3 types of bikes, I feel a Hardtail or gravel bike is still the best setup due all the fire roads and climbing.  The full suspension isn't a bad option by any means, but if you do get caught out, as I did this year, and have to ride 2 hours against the wind on fire roads and pavement, a more aero setup is nice!

5. As I understand it, you had a hard day at Leadville with a bit of bad luck,
traveled to Breck, had a rough night of sleep, woke up and smashed it. You got
2nd in a strong field – then held that position. To a mere mortal this sounds
outright impossible. How do you account for your ability to do that – mentally
and physiologically. 
Leadville I had good legs, but due to a small mechanical and bad luck missing a strong group to ride back with, I ended up at 6 Hrs 39 minutes, 2 minutes slower then my best time.  The group I lost when I had a mechanical and then small crash trying to avoid an oncoming rider before Twin lakes, rolled in at around 6:25. It felt like I missed a great opportunity for a real good result.  Knowing the legs were good, I was fired up for Breck.  Unfortunately, some partiers kept sleep to a minimum Saturday night after Leadville, and I woke up in a pretty rough state for Stage 1 at Breck.  It was really mind over matter as the legs were still firing good, so I went off the front early to get into race mode.  I'd get overtaken and drop to 6th, but clawed back time towards the end to roll in 3rd, just 4 minutes down from Lachlan in the lead.  As the week went on and I could get some good sleeps and the system recovered a bit which certainly helped towards the last few stages!  I think living with the Monks at Chiwong Monastery in Nepal during the pandemic practicing mental strength through
meditation has really benefited getting through mentally challenging moments during the race years.


6. Did you feel better on day 1 of Breck than you did at Leadville?

Definitely not.  The legs felt pretty good still but mentally the head felt like I was
coming of an all-nighter of binge drinking.

7. What was the hardest moment of this block of racing?

Getting through stage 1 of Breck without losing any substantial time in the overall

8. When the racing was over you “celebrated” by going out on a solo bikepacking
adventure the next day at over 13 feet of elevation. What made you want to do

Originally I was planning to do the tripleheader and head up to Steamboat to race
gravel bikes but unfortunately couldn't get an entry.  Thus the 2 day bikepacking trip was Plan B, and man was it ever sweet!  There were a few friends racing the Leadville 100 run which I wanted to cheer on.  Riding over there seemed like the best idea as I could make a loop of it, going on the Colorado Trail over, and Mosquito pass on the return. The weather was awesome, and the system was still revving from the doubleheader so I figured it would be fun to ride it out a few more days!  The following weekend I had the Canadian Rockies 24HR race to organize in Canada, and knew it would be tough to ride much, so tried to bank as many pedal strokes as I could beforehand.

9. Now that the riding is over, it must be time to recover. What will the fall-out of
that be? Walk us through the recovery process for you.
Actually, the weekend after hosting the Canadian Rockies 24 was our Canadian Marathon Champs in the Yukon.  The body was flying after getting a good boost from the 9 big days of riding/racing at Altitude in Colorado.  Following this was a planned break, but a late invite to the Revy 50, a 50 km MTB race in Revelstoke BC this past weekend meant I had another chance to race hard, and again the body was firing great, even a bit better then at Nationals.  It seems that being at altitude always pays off a few weeks afterwards, so I'm enjoying some good form at the moment. For recovery between races and travelling I focus on eating a simple but healthy diet full of lean proteins and veggies, ice baths in the rivers and lakes whenever possible, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.  If I can get a 7.5-8 hours’ sleep at night and toss in a 20 minute midafternoon siesta, then the system seems to be able to recharge quite nicely between all the action.

10. You’re infamously nomadic and run a race and adventure schedule that
seems to go year-round around the globe. What lies ahead?

Next up is a few weeks visiting friends and family up in the Rockies where I grew up in Jasper and Mcbride.  I'll dial back the intensity a bit and focus on some long endurance rides in the alpine, and scambling up some peaks to maintain fitness but provide a mental break from all the racing. I have a couple FKT's in the back of the mind, but it will depend how the body is feeling and if the right weather windows open up.  In October I'll dial up the intensity again so the engine will be prepared to go for a 5th  straight title at the 24HR World Champs in Australia this Nov 4-5th.  Following this will be a couple week bike adventure in Sri Lanka with my buddy Leighton, and then off to the Nepali Himalayas for some high mountain adventures!