Adventures with Kate Major
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Thu Sep 13 2012
ST: Kate, it is good to chat with you.
Kate: It has been a while.
ST: We assume all is well.
Kate: That it is! Moving to San Fran late last year was a change, but a good one and life is all about change and new adventures.
ST: Taking about adventures, we heard that you have slightly different plans than Kona this year in October, and we are not talking about the XTERRA World Championships in Maui either.
Kate: Yes, I do and this event makes me feel like I did when I did my first Ironman. I will be back in Australia, racing the Crocodile Trophy Mountain Bike Endurance race Oct 20th-28th. It is a 9-day stage race, covering approximately 960km and roughly 39,000ft of climbing. We camp at night after each stage; it begins in Cairns and heading out west, into the outback. Average daytime temperatures are expected to be at least 40deg Celsius.
ST: Do you think that will be warm enough for you?
Kate: I do love hot conditions but 9 days of it, in the outback, riding in it. I think I will be happy to get into some air conditioning by the end of it and have a proper shower.
ST: Will you miss being in Kona?
Kate: I love Kona and it holds a special place in my heart and always will. This will be the second year that I have not raced there since 2001 but I know for me to be on the start line, I need to be really hungry to compete at the level I want to race at, at the World Championship. I felt I needed to have a new challenge last year and took on the REV3 Series, which was great and this year after a short triathlon season, some thing told me to take this opportunity I have now to do the Crocodile Trophy.
ST: When did that idea first come up?
Kate: I saw a man in a hotel car park in the Northern Territory covered from head to toe in dirt, dust and dressed in cycling gear. On the roof of his once white 4WD, was a mountain bike also covered in dirt and dust and it caught my eye like a diamond’s sparkle would most women. I asked him what he had been doing and he told me about this race called the Crocodile Trophy and he had just finished it. He looked absolutely buggered and from that moment on, I knew one day, I too would do this Crocodile Trophy race that he spoke of. I have only ever had the same feeling when I was forced to watch the World Ironman Championships at the age of 12 on TV (my brother was older and twice the size!). After watching that, I knew one day I would do that too!
Kate: I needed something different to focus on this year and decided I should take the opportunity whilst I have it to do this race. And whilst having that opportunity, I wanted to do something more than just race for myself. I have always wanted to do something for my late friend’s foundation - The June Canavan Foundation and knew this event would be the perfect match. June was known as Australia’s top Sports Medicine Doctor and loved the outdoors. She hiked glaciers, cycled over mountains, played squash, hockey and would try anything, given the time and opportunity. She was killed in a light plane crash on her way to Papua New Guinea to hike the Kokoda track - raising money for the charity she started, called Klocking up the K’s. The aim was to raise money for the school of St Jude in Tanzania and to hike five mountains starting with the letter K. She only had two to go! I would like to continue her legacy and hopefully encourage others to get out of their comfort zone and try some thing new!
ST: I am sure June is smiling down at you.
Kate: I hope so! There are some people you are fortunate enough to meet in life that make a significant impact on you and she is one of them. I will be thinking of her throughout this ride and hearing her laugh and saying ‘you’ll be right’!
ST: Do you have good mountain biking skills?
Kate: After finding myself laying on my back after slamming down into a dry river bed, landing on some rather large rocks that gave me a concussion….I thought I cant go on like this and need to do something about my mountain biking skills or lack there of!. So I bit the ego bullet and asked my friend Jessi Stensland how she got better as she wasn’t that good when she started mountain biking (sorry Jess!) but persevered and now rocks it! Jessi suggested I go to the All Women’s Sport Camp, held in Tahoe, CA in August. She said the mountain bike coaches Marla Streb and Courtney Knudsen taught her a lot of little, basic things that made a huge difference to her riding. I did the DH, and XC clinics, rode the pump track for the first time (so much fun and a great skill builder) and rode another day with Jess and her friend Darcy and it set a good platform for me to go away with and continue to practice.
I have also joined the local Luna Chix ride a couple of times and that has been great too to continue to learn from other good female riders and have fun. I still have a long way to go to get to where I would ideally like to be but I am working on it!
ST: If I recall, the event is more about endurance and attrition versus technical riding skills. Is that a fair statement?
Kate: Yes it is more of an endurance race but they added another day this year and made the first day, short but it is more technical. I think with these distances, heat, and terrain that as you fatigue, things become more technical. I f you are more technically sound then you wont use as much energy as someone who isn’t which will prove vital when the days accumulate. It seems that a lot of ex pro road cyclists compete in this race (many teams from Europe). That is partly what attracted me to this race…the hardest, hottest, longest, mountain bike endurance race…. and it is in a part of Australia I have always wanted to mountain bike!
Kate: Haven’t you seen Crocodile Dundee? We Aussies carry a ‘real’ knife with us at all times in the ‘outback’! There are two things for certain - I will be riding through those water crossings or running as fast as I can after letting others go first and the other thing. I will not be washing any clothes or drinking water from a near by creek or water hole as I can guarantee Crocodile Dundee wont be there to save me.
ST: What are the major concerns for you when it comes to this event?
Kate: The first was putting a tent up and bringing it back down and trying to fit it back into the miniscule bag it came in, so I have been practicing in our living room!
The second was ‘I wonder if I could raise money for June’s Foundation doing this thing’. Then came the reality of the miles, elevation gain, that many days continuously riding in the saddle (I don’t care how much you ride…ouch!) and being a new athlete to such a tough sport/event that I have never done to that extreme and will my triathlon sponsors approve of this slight diversion. But the one thing that over ruled all of those questions was that the only way to find out would be ‘to give it my best shot and try it’.
ST: Along those lines, is all well with sponsors?
Kate: Yes, I have been fortunate in that my sponsors have supported me in the sport and they are continuing their support of me participating in this race, which is really nice to have. Wilier, Saucony, Profile Design, Sidi, Nathan, John Cobb saddles, Rudy Project, Reynolds wheels, Udo’s Oil and Computrainer, plus a few other companies have joined in to support me. Mt Tam Capital, a local Hedge Fund Company whose owner is an avid athlete. Squadra are making custom kits for me for the 9 days as there are no washing facilities along the way and no, I am not going to the watering hole! DeSoto is providing me with arm coolers for the event so my arms don’t get fried in the scorching Aussie sun and Mikes Bikes are providing me with all the spare parts I might need for the race.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Kate: You can go to www.katemajor.blogspot.com to donate to the June Canavan Foundation. I hope to have cell coverage during the race to tweet/FB what’s going on, Down Under and where possible, if you could support the businesses that have supported me to do what I am doing would be appreciated!
'It’s Impossible’ said Pride. ‘It’s risky’ said Experience. ‘It’s pointless’ said Reason.
‘Give it a try’ whispered the Heart.
It isn’t easy trying some thing new in life, especially when you have been at the top of a profession for a long time. In order to take the first step you have to lose the ego. Yes, we all have one, some different strengths/types and start at the beginning and be willing to learn new things. It is exciting and challenging and yes, frustrating at times but life is about experiencing new things all the time, just like when you were a baby. Make it an opportunity and enjoy the journey and what you have achieved by giving some thing a go.
ST: Thank you Kate, we wish you a great time and a safe journey.
Kate: Thank you for helping me spread the word about raising money for the June Cananvan Foundation whilst mountain biking through the top end of Australia.
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