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Rising to the Challenge in Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Racing

/ Sword Performance

Brian Schworm is an ultra-endurance mountain bike racer. We asked him about his relationship with the sport – how he started, his journey, and how he uses Sword in training and races. 

How did you get into bike racing?
After running cross-country in college, I was looking for something else to keep fit. A former running teammate introduced me to mountain biking. It was very exciting with all the aerobic benefits of running with the added bonus of adrenaline-producing singletrack! After a few months of riding, my friend suggested we try a race. I didn’t even know mountain bike racing existed! We went to Bike Butler in Carrolton, KY and I entered the first-time race category. I was hooked! 

What is the NUE series?
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series is long-distance mountain bike race series. The series consist of fourteen races across the US, with one added this past year in Costa Rica, with each racer’s top four finishes counting towards the overall. Most races are 100 miles in distance.

What attracted you to that format?
I’ve always enjoyed the longer race format. I’ve raced the Big Frog 65, Mohican 100K, and a few other longer races many times, but I’ve been somewhat intimidated by the full 100-mile races. This is mostly due to a bad prior experience where I attempted a 100-mile race, but there were no course markings and course marshals sent some racers in the wrong direction. I ended up racing 137 miles. 

I bonked, and I was so dehydrated I swore I'd never try another 100-mile race. But, that changed last year when I tried the Shenandoah 100 in Virginia. Not only did I enjoy the race, but I finished third!

How would you describe your effort level during the event?
The initial miles can be tough because racers are jockeying for position and attempting to separate the large packs. The middle miles can be grueling both physically and mentally. It’s never a good sign when I’m counting the miles instead of concentrating on the race itself. 

The toughest part of the race is always towards the end. Not only is the fatigue of a grueling long race at its highest; it’s often when racers start attacking for separation before the finish.

What are the nutrition challenges in an event of this length?
Nutrition and hydration are very important in these races as one can imagine for a 7-8 hour race. It’s important to drink and eat often, especially early in the race, to provide the energy necessary to complete the race. 

How do you use Sword during a long race?
I will often drink 6 to 10 bottles during a 100-mile race. Of course, I don’t carry all of those with me. I can send bottles to different locations along the route, and I'll receive hand ups from my very supportive wife, Jennifer.

How has Sword helped you push your boundaries?
Racing this distance can easily deplete electrolytes through extensive perspiration and physical exertion. Sword has the necessary ingredients to help replace these electrolytes – in particular sodium. This helps prevent cramps, especially during races in high temperatures. Sword also has a dual carbohydrate mixture that provides the sustained energy for these long races. Overall, my season for 2015 has been great, and this is partially due to Sword!

What were  your 2015 results? What are your goals for the coming year?
In 2015, I was the NUE Series Runner-Up. This overall result was accomplished with wins at the Cohutta 100 and Lumberjack 100. I was also second at the Fools Gold 100 and third at the Mohican 100. In addition, I was the USACycling National Marathon distance champion in the 45-49 age group.

For 2016, I plan to tackle the NUE series again and make it to the top step on the podium – and defend my jersey at the National Championships.

 

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