Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 210: Motivation Tuesday-Meet Bonn Turkington

Today I'll be interviewing Bonn Turkington, an incredible cyclist who has been winning some big road races this summer. He's placed 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and has had four, 1st place races! He's also an author who writes books in the genre of fantasy. It's great to see that Bonn has balance in his life and that he enjoys his writing as much as he does his biking. Sit back and let's enjoy hearing from Bonn!


Tell us a little about yourself
I'm 27, and a CAT 2 cyclist with Canyon Bicycles. Given that the rest of this is about cycling…I will try to mention a few other bits. Besides riding I also do a fair bit of writing. It gets confusing trying to tell people which one I mean (say them aloud and you will see what I mean). I'm the author of Velwythe: Resurrection of the Mind. Initially, I self published the book after graduating from Utah Valley University. Since then, however, I lost my business after I was the victim of bank fraud and identity theft. Recently, a publisher picked up the book and I am back on the shelves. Other than writing, I also tutor students of all ages, working through the company Totally Tutoring Utah. It's impossible to get away from papers and stories. If I'm not writing one myself, I'm editing someone else's. And it's exactly what I should be doing; I couldn't be happier helping people like that.

When did you start riding a bike?
Like many kids, I grew up on a bike. Riding around the neighborhood or to the park was an everyday thing for me. Occasionally, as I grew older, I would borrow my parents' mountain bike and head out into the hills. It wasn't until the summer of 2005 that my road cycling journey began. My uncle received a road bike from a friend, a classic Moser frame with a hodgepodge of other parts. It didn't fit him and he had no desire to ride on the road anyway (he has been a competitive mountain biker for decades). So he donated it to me. I brought it home from California and took a spin. At once I was hooked. It felt like I was riding some sort of super hovercraft or something. The speed and freedom, the sense of connection with the world around me-I had found my calling.

What motivated you to start riding?
It wasn't until I found a local team and got involved with their group rides that I started taking the cycling seriously. After joining the team and going on a few rides I began looking at the world differently. Hills and mountains weren't just beautiful, they were goals. And I wanted to conquer them all. And the descents after climbing those mountains? That's sheer joy (with an appropriate mix of terror). If it weren't for the danger of getting it caught in my rear wheel, sending me crashing and tumbling hundreds of feet down a canyon ridge, I'd make wearing a cape mandatory for all descents. Sure there are other extreme sports that offer higher speeds or a closer look at your own mortality. Still, it's hard to beat riding down a canyon, taking switchback after switchback as fast as a car, and hitting speeds over 50mph. The sense of flying is real and it's amazing.

How do you find time to workout?
Just because I love riding doesn't mean I get to whenever I want. Making it a priority in my life, and having a fantastic family that accepts and promotes that, is the only way. Whether it's getting up early to get a big ride in before a tutoring job, or saying no to a movie with friends, or doubling up somewhere else in my schedule, riding comes first (other than the obvious family obligations, of course).

What made you interested in racing/competing?
Racing and riding began almost simultaneously. Finding my love for cycling by joining a team meant that there was little separation between casual riding and racing. The spring of 2006, when the racing season began after the winter hiatus, I entered my first race. It was fast, it was hectic, it was insane and I was hooked. For the next few years I raced when I could. While riding was a priority, I only raced a few times a year. Of course I loved racing! But at least through school, riding on my own was mostly sufficient. But when I lost my business and the life I had been working for over a decade vanished, I felt as though I had nothing. In order to find some bit of success and value in my life, while trying to recover from the horror of what happened, I rode. And I raced. And I did it a lot. I didn't know what was going on in any part of my life-except for when I was on the bike. There, everything was simple. I ride this far, doing this workout and will see these results. That's all there is to it. And when I began winning…that just made it so much sweeter.

How do you motivate yourself when you don’t want to workout?
I'd like to think that, even at my relatively slow and amateurish level, motivation isn't everything. You reach a certain point in training where you are no longer motivated, but dedicated and committed. Workouts, training, racing-it doesn't take motivation, it becomes a natural part of what I do. That's not to say motivation doesn't play a role. But I'm a pretty organized and routine oriented guy. I don't need to be 'motivated' to get out there on a hard day when I'm dedicated to the results I want.
Where I need motivation is in the winter. Mounting my bike on the trainer and spinning in place for 3 hours while the snow falls outside (assuming we're not in global warming winter where it snows maybe twice the entire season and you see honey bees in January), that's where I need motivation. On those days I will allow myself something extra special for lunch, or have a treat that night. Or it might be thinking of something fun planned for the weekend. Whatever it is, I dangle that idea in front of my handlebars and ride hard towards it.

What is a typical day of working out look like for you?
There is no typical day for me. Between recovery weeks where as little as 30 minutes might be all that I need, to epic 6+ hour rides, my training is varied. But I do have favorite places to go! Both of the Cottonwood Canyons are favorite haunts of mine. Riding out to East Canyon Reservoir and back is one of the prettier rides in the area. And of course, my favorite mountain of them all, American Fork Canyon. Can you tell I like mountains? As with most competitive cyclists I follow a structured training plan. What I do on a given day is largely based on what time of the year it is and what races are coming up. And the weather. I won't ride outside for very long on smoky days. Or snowy days. Or days with lightning (it's hard picturing myself as anything other than a mobile lightning-rod).

What is your philosophy about eating?
I love to eat! What, there's more to it than that? Oh...I didn't realize. Simply put, I love to eat. Most people like certain foods and have a significant list of cringe/vomit inducing foods. But I'm one of the few people who actually likes just about everything out there. Of course, with my focus aimed at winning races, a healthy diet is a must. Luckily, I love fruits, vegetables and everything healthy. Not only can I feel the difference each morning when I wake up, that a healthy diet allows, but I appreciate the natural flavor of real foods. Simple pleasures, simple foods. Slicing a home-grown tomato and watching the juice drip down the knife. The aroma of a fresh peach sitting in front of me. I love it all. When you can feel good, mentally and physically, about what you eat, it's obvious you're doing it right.

What is your philosophy about weight loss?
Weight loss isn't a big issue. With an active lifestyle and healthy eating, maintaining a good weight is fairly easy. I love food-ribs, steak, pancakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesesteak sandwiches-there are very few things I can't at least appreciate. Going without something you love is just crazy. But when there is an important race coming up, and weight becomes an issue, I pay a bit more attention to what I eat to make certain there isn't any unplanned weight gain. While I never have to lose weight in a general sense, getting to a prime weight isn't too hard if you remember what you are doing it for. By thinking of what I'm eating (or not eating) as a means to a goal, that goal being a win, it's not hard to manage my weight.

How do you prepare as far as rest pre and post competitions?
The weekly crit series doesn't require a lot of specific preparation just before, during or after. Those races are more part of training and I frequently use them to test new food, drink or supplements. But for larger races, such as state championships or long distant events (Tour De Park City), more careful planning is involved. Taking it easy the night before, day before or week before a big event is important. Legs up, stretching, eat well…all the usual stuff. Some of my more quirky traits offer more excitement…or at least add a bit of flair to an otherwise standard method of preparation.
Before long races I like to lay out all of my food and drinks (including supplements/vitamins and other important bits) on a table. With a marker and piece of paper I will write down everything I will begin the race with (bottles, extra drinks, bars etc), what I will get at each feed zone, and what other extra bits I might need according to changing circumstances (hotter than expected, harder pace and so on). It takes some of the stress away and allows me to relax as much as possible.
Further, I like to have a movie or game night before a race. It's a way of unwinding with family and ensuring my mind is as clear and carefree as possible. I do best without any worries going into a race and that's the best way to wipe the dry-erase board in my brain. And the movies need to be funny, otherwise my adrenaline gets going and sleep is impossible.
Lastly, my bike needs to be in perfect working order. That's not unusual (though looking at some of the bikes on the starting line of these races, I'm beginning to think I'm more an anomaly than I believed). My preferred tools of cleaning are some up-beat music (think BT, Jamiroquai or something along those lines), simple green, a toothbrush and some old rags. Give me an hour and the bike will look better than it did brand new.

What advice would you offer to someone that wants to make a change in his or her physical activity?
Start slow. Too often we get caught up in making goals that seem impossible to reach, then feel like every little thing that happens is a setback. Discouragement sets in quickly like that and a once lofty goal dies the quick yet painful death of a New Year's resolution. It's fine to have grand goals, like running a marathon or riding a century or hiking to a certain peak. But day to day, week to week, month to month, goals need to be modest but challenging. Athletes at every level have goals. It doesn't matter what your own goals are as long as you are working towards them. I personally find it just as motivating to hear of people who have never been active in their life finally run a 5K, or drop 100 pounds as the story of an Olympic gold medalist.

What goals do you have for yourself in the near future?
I received my upgrade to a CAT 2 earlier this year after winning Tour De Park City in the 3s. That was a major goal of mine, one I have had on my mind for years. With that done, I want to focus on getting more race experience with a faster, more developed field, specifically in a few major out of state races.

What is your family involvement with biking?
My family couldn't be more supportive. From standing in the baking sun at distant feed zones in obscure races to helping with dinner on the days before races so I can stay off my feet, they do more than I could hope for.

What brand of bike do you ride?
Specialized. Tarmac SL3. A mix of Dura Ace and Ultegra components. Easton wheels. Nothing too fancy or flashy, but it gets the job done.

Where can we follow you on your journey?
I am on facebook and post interesting bits about rides and races there. Twitter was interesting for a while, until I realized all that's on it is ranting or 140 character ads. So just facebook or better yet, face to face on group rides. (You can also get more info on Bonn's books at velwythe.com)

Any parting words of advice?
Don't worry about what others do. You can't compare yourself to anyone, so don't even try. Doing so only leads to resentment and depression. And most of all, enjoy the ride.


Thanks Bonn for a great interview. I think one of the most amazing things I saw was when I was scanning through Bonn's Facebook site was a picture of his fuel that he'd laid out for his next day's race. He's got his racing down to a science!

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