Dedicated To

2018 Dedication to Shonny Vanlandingham

Shonny Vanlandingham – Fitness Past 40

Raise a pint to Shonny’s epic career Saturday, May 19th at 7:45p on the Main Stage.

This year’s Grand Junction Off-Road is dedicated to Shonny Vanlandingham, one of the most decorated American female mountain bikers in history. Hailing from down the road in Durango, Colorado, Shonny has captured 15 NORBA National wins, three NORBA Series Championships and is the most successful rider in NORBA history. Shonny is also the 2010 World XTERRA Champion, evidence of her multifaceted fitness and skill.

Although she is now retired from racing, Shonny is a shining example of fitness past 40 years old. We asked her advice on how to maintain fitness with age and all that she’s been up to since leaving the race scene.

You’ve had a long and successful professional racing career, including winning the world XTERRA title at 41 years old. What is the secret to maintaining fitness past 40?

I feel so blessed to have been able to make racing my profession for 15 years. The most successful racing seasons I had over my career were ones that I used group rides, runs and swim workouts to keep things fresh and push my limits. My advice is to mix it up, keep fitness fun by utilizing social exercise groups and try new sports or revisit prior sports from your youth. You may find a new sports passion even after 40.

Long-time athletes talk about getting a second wind at 40 years old. Did you experience that as well, or did training, racing, and recovery get more difficult past 40?

Strategic training with increased recovery time is key as we get older. I’ve always said, “Use what you have!” Years of residual fitness paid dividends into my endurance, so I chose race events wisely after 40. The longer the race the better when you’re racing 20 and 30-year-olds.

Have you always been an athlete? When and how did you find the sport of mountain biking? Was it before or after you were a triathlete, and what got you into the XTERRA side of things?

I was the typical jock in high school and played basketball, volleyball and ran track. I received a four-year scholarship to play college basketball and played a bit of pro basketball in Brazil before the days of the WNBA. After finishing my bachelor’s degree I moved to Hawaii and was a bike tour guide for fun. I learned that people were making a living racing mountain bikes so I decided to give it a try in the late ‘90s.

Growing up riding motorcycles was a natural transference to mountain biking (thanks Dad!). I raced for eight years as a pro mountain biker, then because of my passion for trail running, I decided to give XTERRA triathlon racing a go. The swimming for me was a new challenge. If I could keep the swim deficit short enough I was able to chase and catch on the bike and run. XTERRA has some great venues all over the world if you like to racecation.

Since retirement from being a pro athlete, you have not been slowing down a bit. Tell us a little about all the things you’ve been up to lately.

I was recently part of a production team that shot a mountain bike documentary in Nepal. Moksha is a film that follows three Nepali women who have dedicated themselves to spreading the joy that mountain biking can give to women across the Himalayas. This authentic and moving film shows their balance of adventure with cultural and family obligations while pushing for a much more gender and socially equitable society in their home country. The film will be shown across US venues in 2018 and 2019. Check out World Ride Nepal where you can support the empowerment of women in Nepal and take a trip of a lifetime biking through the Himalayas.

I am also starting some adventure bike tours in Thailand. I’ve taken up Pickleball too, which is arguably the fastest growing sport in the US. What’s Pickleball? Googlize it! Pickleball is fast-paced, addictive and not just for people over 50.

What was your favorite event/course on the pro MTB (non-XTERRA) circuit? Why?

The old NORBA in Big Bear, CA, because it was an epic loop which is also what Epic Rides is all about. Racecourses are tailored to racers, not course design convenience or TV coverage. I remember talking with Todd ‘back in the day’ at InterBike in Vegas when he presented the first Whiskey 50. It’s been fun to watch Epic Rides’ success, tapping into the roots of mountain biking. Kudos to Todd and the organization.

Have you ridden Grand Junction much, and the big question – are you going to participate in the event this year or just hang out and enjoy relaxing?

Yes, I’ve ridden Grand Junction and Fruita trails a lot over the years. What a great job they’ve done expanding the network with such trail diversity. I won’t be racing this year but I will be participating as guest emcee. Looking forward to some exciting racing!

Raise a pint to Shonny’s epic career Saturday, May 19th at 7:45p on the Main Stage.

 

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