ENVE Composites – makers of incredible wheels and components produced by riders, for riders – has its manufacturing facility and test lab in Ogden, Utah.
For the third straight year they sponsored XTERRA’s ENVE Performer of the Year award, which is presented at the Night of Champions dinner on the eve of the XTERRA USA Championship just a few blocks from their headquarters.
Selecting just one racer out of the amazing collection of XTERRA amateur racers is a tough task, as so many racers had great seasons this year. There was one who stood above the rest, however, and that was Rob Ricard - a 37-year-old Naval Architect from Berwick, Maine.
Ricard won his division at all six races he entered (Jersey Devil, Richmond, French River, Garnet Hill, Sky High, and STOAKED) and he won the overall at five of those events. In June, he took the top spot at the XTERRA East Championship that doubled as the USA Triathlon National Championship this year.
We caught up with Rob at the XTERRA USA Championship race to learn more about this year’s ENVE Performer of the Year…
XTERRA: When did you first start racing XTERRA?
Rob Ricard: My first XTERRA was in 2012 at XTERRA STOAKED. It’s still my favorite because it was my first and I’ll never forget it. I crashed on the first lap of the bike, taco’d my front wheel, then nursed the bike thru the second lap and into T2. After that experience I was hooked.
XT: Where did you come from, the road? How’d you get hooked?
RR: Started with road tri’s, accomplished everything on the road that I ever wanted to. Felt like when I started in tri’s that I had to race on the road. Once I’d done everything I set out to do there it’s like I told myself that it was ok to now go and do what I really wanted to do. Get out into the woods and play like I was a kid again. I knew XTERRA was out there, and just finally got off the fence, bought myself a mountain bike and did it. What I like about XTERRA is the challenge, it’s as much you against the course as it is against other racers. Race the course well and your place across the finish line will take care of itself.
XT: What’s your history on the Nationals course here in Utah?
RR: I raced Nationals for the first time last year but was fighting Lyme disease in the weeks leading up to the race. All the reservations were in place so I made the trip anyway and was so glad that I did. Although I was much more of a participant than a competitor last year, I got to see how spectacular the course is and couldn’t wait to come back healthy and try again. The terrain is so much different than what I’m accustomed to (rocky, rooty New England singletrack).
XT: You did a lot better this year, finishing third in your division. Are you happy with that?
RR: After Saturday's race it's clear to me that I've got to up my game to compete with all of the great bike climbers who come out to play in Utah. I've got every intention of coming back next year to give it another go.
XT: What do you swim, ride, and run in?
RR: Ride a Specialized Stumpjumper 29’er (hardtail); and Niner Jet 9 RDO (full suspension). For running I train on the road in Asics, race trails wearing Inov-8. And in the water it’s a DeSoto T1 (love the custom fit achievable with a 2 piece suit).
XT: Any notable pre-race rituals?
RR: Oatmeal 3hrs before the start, get transition set up with time to spare (I don’t like having to rush on race morning), start swim warmup 30m prior to the start.
XT: Who is your favorite XTERRA athlete?
RR: Josiah Middaugh (one tough dude); honorable mentions have to go to Conrad (always been super friendly), and Branden Rakita (met him for the first time while doing reconnaissance of the “dry way” at Richmond this year. He spent 10 minutes with me showing what he’d found for the best route across).
XT: What made this year so special for you?
RR: Obviously, winning in Richmond was huge for me. After that race I started to wonder what might be possible this year. Getting wins at several point series races (a huge thanks to race directors in the northeast region for stepping in to fill the void of XTERRA races) gave me more confidence. And to cap it all off with a return trip to Ogden; I really couldn’t have asked for a better season.
XT: Who is your role model?
RR: My dad – always has been. Started running with him when I was a kid and I think about him every time I hear the national anthem played before races. He got me started in sports and I’m so thankful that he did.
XT: Did you dedicate Nationals to anyone in particular?
RR: This one goes to Dawn, the love of my life. She’s been to every race and supports me in so many ways she doesn’t even know about. She doesn’t do all the training but she’s with me in every workout and out on every race course. She’s the “D” in Team RAD. RAD stands for “Rob And Dawn”.
XT: Do you have a personal mantra?
RR: I’ll parse a phrase a coach once told me. Don't be afraid to crash and burn. That's where the demon lives. It should be miserable.
XT: Finish this sentence, XTERRA is…
RR: Living an adventure.
XT: Any random thoughts for us?
RR: I’ve never heard anyone finish an XTERRA (especially if it’s their first one) and say that they hated it and never wanted to do another one. Quite the contrary. They want to know where to sign up for the next one. I wish more racers would give XTERRA a try, I think they’d get hooked.