The long rider: local places second in 24 Hours of Tahoe race
“I like the woods, roads scare me,” said 29-year old Truckee resident Dan Goddard when asked about his foray into the world of mountain biking.
Goddard landed in Truckee nearly eight years ago, drawn, like many locals, by the mountains and the glamorous (or not-so) life of the ski bum.
While mid-week dumps and early morning powder days keep Goddard around during the snowy months, it is the dirt, roads and singletrack trails that have turned him into a year-round local. Since the days of the movie Rad, when every able-bodied young rider longed for a BMX bike, Goddard has been peddling.
Years of riding mountain bikes recreationally led Goddard to start racing when he was 20 years old, and though he has since competed in some of the west’s most challenging and elite races, Goddard has yet to change his riding style.
“I don’t really consider it [riding] training, I just go out and have a good time,” he explained.
For Goddard, races are a vacation – complete with his girlfriend Susie waiting in the support vehicle with food and tools to tend to his ailing bike.
Many endurance athletes design specific training regimens for each race according to the course’s terrain. Goddard admits he did do extra hill work before his last event: Montezuma’s Revenge in Montezuma, Colo., where racers ascend peaks well above 12,000 feet. Most of the time, however, he just rides wherever, whenever and for however long he feels like it.
“For the most part, I am just there to have fun,” Goddard added. Judging from his recent success in the Toyota 24 Hours of Tahoe mountain bike race two weeks ago, he is obviously doing something right.
Goddard’s daily rides around the Truckee and Tahoe area can be upwards of 16 hours in a day and total over 300 miles per week. Coupled with his familiarity with Northstar-at-Tahoe’s trails from the Thursday race series, all this “fun” earned Dan Goddard second place in the grueling 24-hour race.
An all-day, all-night event, the race requires riders to complete laps through Northstar’s intricate trail network, often illuminated by a single headlamp. In 24 hours, Goddard completed 12 laps on the course, with each lap taking approximately two hours to complete.
“After a while it became a bit monotonous to keep riding the same loop again and again, so I put on my Walkman and started popping wheelies to keep it fun,” Goddard said.
Coming in just two laps shy of first place was far from a disappointment for Goddard, who finished just behind legendary rider Rishi Grewall.
“He is a legend in this event, so it was really cool to come in just behind him,” Goddard added.
Second place glory and the ensuing prize money was nearly unthinkable for Goddard when an irreplaceable part on his bike broke just two hours before the race. With time running short, Goddard replaced his bike with a loaner from the Backcountry (a full suspension Jamus) that took him a few turns to adjust to.
“It seemed to work, and I knew the course, so it wasn’t too much of a problem,” Goddard says calmly weeks later, though a last-minute bike change would not be taken so lightly by many riders.
A carpenter by trade, Goddard takes advantage of his often flexible schedule and “very cool boss” to make time for rides in the early mornings or at the end of a long day. To prepare for the 24-hour race, Goddard often manned his bike in the early hours of morning with a light and rode for hours before the sun came up.
“That was good practice for riding in the dark, though at the race it was hard because rocks would move around on the trail and you could not see them anymore,” said Goddard.
While traditional training regimens and schedules are not Goddard’s style, he does keep a journal of his rides and is careful to include every detail down to what he ate before, during and after the ride, how he felt, temperature and conditions.
“I look back through my notes and that often helps to reflect on why something happened during a race or how I can prevent it from happening again.”
Overall, Goddard says riding and racing has been a huge learning experience, though he is not quite ready to quit his job and sell his body and bike to the highest bidder. For now, throughout California and locally there are enough trail systems to keep him busy for years to come.
“I have heard of some cool races down in Costa Rica,” laughs Goddard. “But that involves a lot of money and time.”
A few more race wins and the financial factor may not be a factor anymore.
Now what was that about a “very cool” boss?
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As seniors from North Tahoe collected diplomas this week, a group of Lakers continued another local tradition — capturing first place at the boys’ regional golf championship.