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Images from the 2019 X Games Vert Final Event in Minneapolis, Minnesota
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BMX Icon Jamie Bestwick Speaks on Endurance Cycling

Nov 092020

Monster Energy athlete Jamie Bestwick is a BMX icon who holds 13 gold medals from the X Games and went on a 9-year winning streak. Though, to some surprise, Jamie is an avid cyclist and has recently grown fond of the new gravel segment within cycling. After seeing him ride well at the Monster Hydro sponsored Belgian Waffle Ride race, where he rode 125 miles over primarily dirt roads, we caught up with the BMX legend to learn more about his cycling passion.

"I felt pretty lucky that the event still happened and that we all got to ride"

How are you feeling after completing the Belgian Waffle Ride?

I'm okay, I had a great time and just enjoyed meeting all the different people there, and southern Utah has some phenomenal riding out there. I felt pretty lucky that the event still happened and that we all got to ride, and the weather was fantastic, no complaints. This year has been quite the year, and it has taken a toll on everyone, but that was the silver lining to the year. I think everybody was very grateful. It was a great weekend and, hopefully, a great piece of marketing for Cedar City. I think things will start getting back to normal.

"I had signed up for all of the BWR’s and a few other events that were ultimately canceled."

Was this your first Belgian Waffle Ride or gravel style event?

Yes, that was my first BWR, but I did a gravel event the weekend before that was 125 miles. Then I did the Keystone gravel, Keystone off-road, and race called Grit which was a local race. I did the Sugarcane 200 in Florida, which went through the everglades which unfortunately had to get shortened to 150 miles but I still a great time. I had signed up for all of the BWR’s and a few other events that were ultimately canceled.

"I just thought it was the coolest thing I've done in a long time"

With your BMX background, when did you get started in more endurance cycling and gravel-specific riding?

Well, I've always ridden a road bike. I've been doing that for as long as I can remember after coming to the states 20 years and getting my first road bike. So, I've always done some cycling, whether that's on the road or mountain bike and now gravel. But I've done a few Gran Fondo's, and at the end of the last year, I picked up my first gravel bike and went out to Florida to do an event. I just thought it was the coolest thing I've done in a long time. It's almost like riding gravel bikes gives you the feeling that you're doing something wrong on a road bike. To me, that's kind of what it feels like to ride gravel.

"That's what's exciting about BMX to see riders going high and doing all these cool things"

With you being a BMX rider but with a new passion for gravel riding, what would you say excites you about riding your BMX bike, and then what also excites you about riding your gravel bike?

Well, riding my BMX bike it's about creativity, and it's about the progression and forcing yourself to go big and to stretch things a little further. That's what's exciting about BMX to see riders going high and doing all these cool things, and also the bikes being so accessory driven. You can run flat bars; you can run 650b, 2.1 tires, or 700c; you can run anything from a 32c to a 42c size tire. You can make these bikes look any way you want, similar to BMX. There is no standard to these bikes, and I like that, but then when you cross over to riding them, it’s both physical like BMX like in my sport. I had to train myself for 30-second runs, and with gravel and especially endurance, you're looking at the long game. In the halfpipe, it's sort of like a sprint, and if you take that approach to gravel riding, you know by mile 50, you're going to be parked up and done because you burned all of your matches.

"I hired a coach at the beginning of the year so I could get ready for these more extended events"

Did your training change much before the Belgian Waffle Ride, or were you more so just going through the motions of riding your bike before the event?

I've had a cycling coach all year, which is something I've never had. Riding endurance events to finish them requires a different kind of training. It’s something that I wasn't very familiar with, and when I would train for BMX, I would go to the gym and work on just adding bulk around major joints and especially my collarbones so I could take the impacts. It's all about building that strength in the legs in a different way so you can ride for seven hours so you can complete the ride. 
 It’s how you train your core and upper body, and everything changes a little bit when you go to endurance events. Also, your body is going to be asking for different things in different hours that my body wouldn't be asking for during a BMX event, so I hired a coach at the beginning of the year so I could get ready for these more extended events and accomplish my goal of finishing the events.

"he would send me these interval training parameters, and it was neat"

What type of training or efforts was your coach having you do?

Well, in the offseason, it's a lot of big gear sweet spot training at low RPMs but still at a high wattage. So, you're recruiting those different muscles, so when the time comes, and you need to have that leg strength, you can hold that right number of watts at the right cadence for a long duration. To stand up on the climbs and make an effort when needed or get over certain types of obstacles, he would send me these interval training parameters, and it was neat. 

"Well, I mean, I didn't ride 15 hours a week"

Do you have any other events for the rest of the year or are you starting to shut it down now?

Well, now I'm more back into winter training mode. I'm still riding 5 to 6 hours a week, but I took a couple of weeks off the bike. Well, I mean, I didn't ride 15 hours a week. Still, I did a few hours a week but just taking it at a pace that wasn't anything specific and just enjoying the scenery, you know—putting the miles in on Zwift because the weather has turned cold and just working on goals for next year. One of the first ones out of the gate will be BWR San Diego, and everybody knows that that one is no joke to finish. One hundred forty miles of pavement and dirt combined, so that will be something that I'm looking to accomplish for next year.

"Turning up to these events and have one of your main sponsors be a sponsor of the event, it's cool to see"

Overall what’s your take on getting into these new types of events and training?

Also, for myself, who’s always had goals in mind throughout BMX and hitting records and tricks that I've always wanted to see myself accomplish. Now to finish races and to be somewhat competitive with me and to enjoy many miles with great riders, that's been equally rewarding to me. Turning up to these events and have one of your main sponsors be a sponsor of the event, it's cool to see. 
 It's funny because I would be out on the course just riding around. I would just be riding with a group of people. Some people would realize that I'm that BMX rider from the X Games, and it was almost funny in a sense because they would say, what the hell are you doing out here in southern Utah riding a gravel bike? I would laugh between the miles, and that was like the same question all the time is wow, you ride gravel bikes? I would always respond by saying to you, why wouldn't I'm not just limited to riding BMX bikes.

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