Endurance Cycling With The ‘Hardest Biker in America’ (Jay Petervary)

Jay Petervary is the hardest endurance cyclist in America. He holds the course record on the Iditabike 350 mile route, as well as the 1,100 long route to Nome, Alaska, the Continental Divide Trail, and more. GearJunkie athlete Tom Puzak recently headed out to train with him in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of the country (and Jay’s home training grounds) in Eastern Idaho.

Here are six things Puzak learned from Petervary while riding for three long days on a tour with his Victor, Idaho, company, The Bike Tender.

Petervary, planning a route

1) There is no room for negative thoughts. When Jay is on the bike, it’s only positive thoughts. For Jay, it approaches a near-Zen mind state. He teaches that a negative thought must become so foreign it’s as if you have an inability to even process it. Instead, focus on how you can succeed and be thankful for your ability to ride your bike.

2) Think outside the box. Jay builds his own bike parts, makes his own cycling apparel, and rides a different bike than the next guy. Jay is riding a Salsa titanium road frame with a custom blend of road and mountain bike parts this year, and he is always experimenting with unique bars and bags to keep him comfortable during his massive efforts. It’s not always race-grade parts either — use what works best for you, even if it’s not the lightest or newest part on the shelf.

Ready to roll

3) Smart beats brute force. When you’re doing multiple-day races (his Continental Divide record is a little more than 17 days) you must keep moving. It’s less about hammering and more about moving forward constantly — Jay is extremely efficient, always thinking, solving and planning for ways to stay moving forward constantly.

4) Keep your mind engaged. Endurance sports involve constant low-grade pain, so quell the noise by engaging your mind. Jay does not use GPS. Maps keep his mind busy surveying the terrain, navigating the course. “I like to think about what’s over the mountain range over there. I study the map and explore.” Jay even mounted a Satellite radio player to his bars on a long ride to this end.

Pre-ride briefing

5) Be competitive, but don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s ok to want to be the best, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Jay told me “I’m not saving lives or making millions out here.” So have fun with it, even as you compete.

6) Drink good coffee. Jay carries good coffee with him, even when he’s racing. He’ll get real serious about a fresh pour-over in the morning. I tasted it. It was glorious.

—Tom Puzak is a contributing editor. He races on Team GearJunkie/WEDALI.

Riding with Petervary