Saturday, August 18, 2012

Meet the Team: Abra Star McNair

Abra Star McNair
Age: 29
Occupation: Transportation Demand Management Assistant. I work for Portland's Bureau of Transportation encouraging the people of Portland to walk, bike, carpool, and take transit more often.
Bike: A Frankenbike-esque version of Salsa's 29er El Mariachi. It used to be a fully rigid single speed and now has front suspension, a triple chain ring and sweet Stan's NoTubes wheels!
Favorite map feature: A reentrant, mainly because I had no idea what it was when I first had one on a race map, and now will never forget.

(When and) How did you get into orienteering? What attracted you to it, or what did you find interesting about it?:
Sue is the reason behind why I started -- I had never heard about it until I met her. I really enjoy the sense of adventure I feel when I'm out in the woods having to make decisions for myself. I can't fall back on someone else, but instead have to retrace my steps and figure it all out. It's a good life lesson reminding me to take the time and really be sure about something. I often forget this in myeveryday endeavors. :) I'm also super competitive and love how intense I get when I hear or see others near me who could possibly be
on my same course.

(When and) How did you get into mountain biking? What attracted you to it, or what did you find interesting about it?:
Same as the previous question! I had only mountain biked a handful of times before I met Sue. I had always been interested, but never fully taken the plunge until she came around. Mountain biking really provides me a lot of 'Zen moments,' where I'm thinking about nothing else but what lies ahead of me on the trail, and sometimes this leads to profound thoughts or reflections I wouldn't normally have had.

What changes have you made to your training plan to specifically prepare for MTBO WOC?:
Map reading and getting used to reading the map on the map holder while riding. Sue and I have been watching YouTube videos of other athletes participating in MTBO events and will pause the video to try and quickly choose our own route before seeing what they do. I've also skipped some of our local short track races on Monday nights to go and practice using the map holder at local parks, because I know my map skills are much worse than my fitness.

I also don't normally hit the gym during the summer, but went back to Edge Performance Fitness for their Core & Conditioning classes to strengthen my core. It's my weakest link!

What bike will you be riding for MTBO WOC? Did you specially prepare it for MTBO WOC? Same as above, El Mariachi -- Most especially added Stan's NoTubes wheels to prepare for the thorny Veszprem terrain.

What have you learned about MTBO in your preparation for MTBO WOC
that you did not know before?: I'm learning that I have so much tolearn. It's really settling in how incredible the elite MTBO athletes are. I'm so impressed with how quickly and confidently they make
their route decisions while biking through bumpy, difficult terrain.They are the ultimate multi-taskers. And small things count.

When you saw the call for applications for the first US MTBO team, what made you apply?:
Sue gets all the credit for finding out about the event, but I was the one who really encouraged her to go and
apply. It wasn't until later that I thought about taking the plunge myself, and then it was with her encouragement. I decided to apply when I realized how incredible of an experience it would be, and how
exciting it would be to pair mountain biking and orienteering.

What are your goals or expectations for MTBO WOC?:
Definitely to try my best and not be frustrated if I am just blown out of the water. Like I said before, I have so much to learn about this sport, and am such a noob in comparison to many of the athletes we'll be competing against. I also have a personal goal to not skip over the #1 control, which I've had issues with during a few of our practice sessions. I find the start on the map and then somehow blank on #1 and jump
immediately on to 2! Yikes. So I guess my goal would be to breathe and really look at the map in the starting minutes rather than fretting over how fast I need to get on my way. I'm not sure yet where to set my expectations -- right now they're pretty low, but I'd like to come in with more confidence.
Which event do you suspect you'll perform the best in?: Sprints are usually my better half in the cycling world, but I'm not sure my map reading skills can keep up with my legs. I'm going to choose the
middle course as being my best performance -- more time to assess the
map and a length that feels more like a cyclocross race. I'll get to go hard the whole way and focus less on conserving my energy, which I imagine will be a concern on the longer course.

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