Monday, December 19, 2005

PRQ #4: Salem Mazzawy

This is entry #4 in the PRQ-Pro Racer Questionnaire Series

Salem Mazzawy


Salem Mazzawy is a perennial favorite in the competetive XC racing scene in New England. With a background in downhilling and and XC racer's lungs he's got a potent combination for the technical riding up there. He had ridden down here years ago with one of my friends. I heard the story: they were riding a brand new trail that was fairly technical relative to our trail system, and he hit is sight unseen at race pace and cleaned it like nothing. It took me months of riding to clean it all.

He's also one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever talked to about bikes. With a keen understanding of geometry, handling, and suspension tuning. Definitely knows his shit. I actually bought my Iron Horse Hollowpoint off Salem after I tracked him down to ask him about racing on them to two New England Championships. He helped alot with the setup.

Some pros just race, but Salem lives the cycling life commuting and touring. Also doing some off beat stuff like racing a fully rigid hardtail in the pro/ex class.
The Questionnaire


-Who are your sponsors that you'd like to recognize?
Thanks to
Iron Horse
Coyote Hill Camp
DT Swiss
Crank Brothers

-What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?

It's what you can offer beyond racing these days. I teach riding skills clinics through the years, try to show up on local group rides, and help out with R&D feedback.

-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
Yikes, 16 years total and 11 years as a pro.

-Where do you live and do you live their year round?
Central CT

-What are your goals for 2006?
I'd like to win my 11th New England title, but also, there is a chance I will be more involved with the production end of the company at Iron Horse which could be an interesting new aspect.

Bike Geek Stuff.

-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
This past year, I raced a fully rigid IH Rogue Team belltown5, a beautiful blue Azure azurecomp, and one race on the 5" MkIII mkiii_team. I also train a lot on my classic IH Victory 853 Reynolds road bike IHVIC2 , and a K2 Enemy cross bike enemy_lg, along with a handful of rather junky bikes I love.
*Editor's Note: I believe that Salem had a hand in the developmemt of the IH MKIII and Azure. Done good judging by how well regarded they are.

-How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years
After my experiences with the DW-link, I wonder if Dave Weagle will ever be inspired to try a linkage fork. Oh, and as much as it makes me gag, you know 10 speed is coming. I'd rather see a very effective internally geared hub (an up-market Nexus) that allows for the ideal driveline like on a single speed.
*Editor's Note: DW Link, can I hear an Amen Brother.

-What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?
Would? I do buy old Suntour top mount thumbshifters but that isn't exactly retail anymore. Oh, and I think the ubiquitous silver, ground-smooth-welds Taiwanese stem than comes on all production bikes is a great product--really.


How many hours a week do you train? (Min, Max, Average)
As for time on the bike (good thing you didn't ask mileage, as I have no idea), it can be as low as zero, but those are infrequent rest weeks about once or twice a season. I probably average somewhere around 15+ hours, but have put in 40 hour weeks here and there, but those are as rare as the zeros. Usually it is on a touring bike when I have a couple week gap in races, and I head out on an overnighter trip.

-Do you have a coach?
Gag, no. I've learned a lot from a few coaches, but now I work better on my own.

-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or 'just ride'?
I am a little more organized early in the season while I am coming on to form, but after that, it is more tweeking and fine-tuning, with more time to just enjoy the miles.

-Do you strength train?
I do some upper body, particularly shoulders, work to help keep everything in place after a couple bad crashes and to increase durability for future ones. Other than than, riding a single speed, while rather silly, is a lot like lifting.

-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Recovery? Maybe that's what I've been doing wrong. Seriously though, there is probably where I had to learn the most in years past. I find rollers and ice baths work wonders on my legs,

*Editor's Note: BRRR!
but still, most important is to not push hard again until the body is ready.

-What is your nutrition protocol for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
Early start time: raw rolled oats (neigh, neigh)

about 3-4 hours before, a Clif bar and hour out, then a mixture of sugar and salt in my water during the race (at the intensity of a race, you body can't really use all the junk in most sports drinks). Later start: A light breakfast with some fat/protein for satiety, then as above.

-What is your pacing strategy for a 2-2.5hr XC race?
I used to start harder, but I've taken to getting dropped off the line. Interestingly, after the first 1/4 mile, I am running the same pace as everyone else, but I've never had to go anaerobic, and by mile 3, I'm usually where I belong, but feeling much fresher than I used to.


-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and

I have a very low stress life. That was an easy one.

-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Guilt would be stressful, so I don't do it.

-What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time jobs who want to race our best?
Fake your death? No, seriously, find a way to commute by bike, but be careful of burning out, so if at all possible, vary your route (don't just go direct to work--make it a real ride). For me, it works best to do that in the morning, but I don't mind waking up early. Beyond the fitness, it is very gratifying to take one more car off the road. Oh, and you can fit a lot of groceries in a pair of paniers.


At 10:03 PM, Blogger X said...

Browsing the internet for a mail-order-bride, I found Salem Mazzaway...the next best thing! I have learned so much from Salem over the years. I suggest to anyone who happens upon this to listen to what he has to say, and solicit him for...more information.
-Ethan Gilmour

At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Salem the only top-level XC racer on an IH these days? I'd be interetsed to see who else is a top national competitor riding an Azure, since that bike may be technically a Marathon XC bike but could podium XCO in the right hands just the same.

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