Lauren Murray Returns to the Austin Rattler MTB

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Todd and Lauren Murray at the 2018 Austin Rattler MTB.

After finishing her first-ever mountain bike race at the 2018 Austin Rattler MTB, Lauren Murray is back for more this year. Find out what she’s learned since last year, how she’s training for her upcoming season and why her dad — 25-time Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB finisher Todd Murray — is her favorite training partner.

The 2018 Austin Rattler MTB was your first-ever mountain bike race. What were your impressions of the race? How did your training come into play?
The 2018 Austin Rattler MTB was definitely a test of my physical abilities. Although it was my first-ever mountain bike race, I am not a stranger to a little mud. Coming from a cyclocross background I can say that the 2018 Austin Rattler was one giant, epic cross course. I have never seen so much mud in my life, but this actually played in very well to my strengths. I was able to jog through sections of the course that were un-rideable. 

My training did not really prepare me for the course conditions. Suffering on the bike in training helped me be mentally tough for the race. It was the hardest bike race that I have ever done, but I am very thankful for the experience!

If you could go back and give yourself once piece of advice you’ve learned since the race, what would it be and why?
If I could go back and give myself a piece of advice it would be to consume all of my calories in liquid form. Nutrition is obviously very important in endurance racing. Many athletes, including myself, spend a lot of time dialing in the proper amount of calories to consume per hour. I came to Austin very prepared with my Double Stuf Oreos packed nicely way in my mesh top tube bag. To my surprise, not even 20 minutes into the race, I went flying through a low standing puddle and a giant spray of muddy water went straight through my mesh bag and on to my only source of calories for the race! Needless to say, I was eating a lot of mud that day!

Lauren (left) on the podium with 14-time cyclocross national champion Katie Compton (middle).

What other racing have you done since the Rattler?
I was able to race my second full season of cross, which I was super pumped about because I got my Cat 3 upgrade! I have also been dabbling in a bit of road racing and gravel racing. I have not raced any other mountain bike races, so the 2019 Austin Rattler MTB will be my second mountain bike race ever. I am still trying to find what discipline of cycling suits me best, but right now I like to do it all!

Your dad and you are both set to race this year’s Austin Rattler MTB at Reveille Peak Ranch. What are you most looking forward to about the race? What’s your strategy for taking on the new course?
I am really excited to see what the new course has to offer. I hear it has a little bit more climbing than the previous year, which I am hoping will play into my strengths. I am also looking forward to racing with my dad this year. Last year we did not stay together during the race.

My strategy for the new course is to try and keep consistent lap times. Last year, I made the mistake of getting caught up in the flow of people and going out too hard. I am hoping that training at a higher elevation in Colorado will be an advantage. On the flip side, I am really going to have to plan my fluid intake because I am not used to 80-degree weather!

Your dad mentioned you’ll be training for the LT100 MTB together this year. What’s it like riding and racing with him? What are your goals for Leadville? How does training with him push you to meet those goals?
My dad is the best training partner I could ever ask for. Not only is his motivation contagious, but we are also fairly evenly matched when it comes to intervals, so we are really able to push each other. Racing with my dad is awesome. He is like my own personal pacer, mechanic, and domestique. I cannot thank him enough for all of his support. I know that when I am racing with him he will do anything in his power to help me succeed.

My main goal for Leadville is to first and foremost finish. I have never ridden 100 miles on my mountain bike before, but in the back of my mind I really want to see if I can break 9 hours. Conditions would need to be perfect for me to achieve this goal, so we will see how weather, nutrition, hydration and mechanicals factor in on race day!

The Sugar Beats Cycling team.

 Anything else you’d like to add about your upcoming season?
I am super excited to be a part of the Sugar Beets Cycling team this year. We are a local women’s racing team in Fort Collins, and our goal is to help empower women to get more involved in racing bikes through clinics and weekly rides! The majority of the women on my team are also endurance mountain bikers, so I am really eager to learn from them.

Todd and Lauren Murray at the top of Columbine Mine.

What’s your favorite memory of supporting your dad while finishing his 25 consecutive LT100s?
Growing up, I actually did not really like to go to Leadville. I was not really interested in cycling. Waking up before the sun, just to sit outside for the entire day was not very appealing. I also felt a lot of anxiety when crewing for my dad. He is a big fan of NASCAR, so each family member is assigned a certain job to make his pit stop the most time efficient. My job is always to lube the chain and you have to be fast!

Everything came full circle this summer when I rode up Columbine and it was the hardest thing that I have ever done. I am still amazed because all of these years I had NO IDEA what my dad was doing out there after we would see him at the aid stations. My dad has been competing in the LT100 for more years than I have been alive, so I thought it was fairly normal to ride hundreds of miles. After riding 60 miles of the course last summer, I now have a new appreciation for what it takes to compete in the race.

Ready to test your training? Register to ride the 2019 Austin Rattler MTB on April 13.

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