It’s fitting that when we called up Ben Hoffman for bike tips, he’d just come off of a 163-mile off-road ride through the Tucson desert, where he does his early-season training. Throughout his 12-season pro career, Hoffman has earned a rep as one of the best all-around bikers in the biz, a skill that’s put him on top of Ironman podiums, snagged him XTERRA medals, and earned him a second-place finish in Kona in 2014. Here’s how to start crushing like The Hoff.
To me, riding is such a social thing. It’s encouraging and inspiring to be out there with other people. There were four of us on the ride today, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.
Be cautious to not put yourself right in the front and in the middle of everyone on your first group rides so you don’t cause a crash. You can learn a lot from watching others ride and picking up on their cues.
Nobody can predict the future entirely, but ask yourself what your goals are. It’s easy to get excited and see what the pros are using and to think you need that. You can always upgrade.
Making sure you have somebody fit you properly on your bike, according to what your physiology allows, is important. Somebody really inflexible won’t do well on a slammed front end that doesn’t have the ability to have a higher stack height—they’re going to be in trouble.
Mix It Up
Mountain biking helps me deal with surges in races. It also helps from a bike-handling standpoint. There can be obstacles in road races as well, and mountain biking helps me be able to react and respond quickly.