The new XTERRA world champion on the race of his life, snakes, and South African BBQ.
If you haven’t heard of Bradley Weiss yet, you will soon. In October, the 29-year-old South African nabbed his first XTERRA Triathlon World Championship crown, besting a star-studded field filled with former world champs. This season, Weiss will toggle between the trails and the roads, keeping his eyes on more XTERRA wins as well as a berth in the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa for a chance at a different kind of title on his home turf.
I practically grew up on a mountain bike. I live near Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, South Africa, which has endless trails. The terrain is amazing. I did some mountain bike racing when I was younger, but I never had any dreams to do it competitively. Mostly, I would just go out with friends.
I’m very close with [four-time reigning XTERRA world champ and two-time ITU World Triathlon Series world champ] Flora Duffy and her husband, Dan Hugo, who’s also an XTERRA pro. They’ve played a huge role in my triathlon career. We’ve lived together, and Dan has allowed me into his training circles. When you’re waking up at 5 a.m. day in and day out, it’s nice to have that companionship.
I’ll see some wild stuff out on the trails. The other day, I nearly got bitten by a highly venomous Cape Cobra snake. It was sunning itself on a rock as I rode by on my bike. I gave it a fright, and it struck at my back wheel. Good thing I was going pretty quickly, or it would have bit my leg!
I do 80 percent of my bike training on the road, so riding a road and time-trial bike is not too foreign to me. Stellenbosch is jammed with top Ironman triathletes, like James and Jodie Cunnama, and I’ve been able to learn from them. I’m planning to start with 70.3 racing this season and maybe one day work up to an Ironman.
I had raced in Maui three times before this year but never performed to my ability. So I didn’t come into the race with a lot of confidence. I was shocked when I found myself in the lead. When you’re winning, sometimes you can get a little manic and do silly things, and I managed to stay calm and handled it really well. I’m proud of that.
I feel like I’m just getting started with XTERRA. I want to become a multiple world champ. I look up to [fellow South African] Conrad Stoltz, who is just a legend in the sport. He has won the XTERRA World Champs four times. I want to match that.
Race: XTERRA Danao in the Philippines
Place to Train: If I’m not in Stellenbosch, I’m in Boulder. I’ll go there for a couple of months during South Africa’s cold and rainy season.
Athlete: Flora Duffy. She’ll kill me if I say otherwise!
Off-Season Activity: My family has a house on the Breede River on the Western Cape of South Africa, and I love to go there and do a lot of water skiing.
Tunes: Before a race, I’ll listen to some Imagine Dragons or some techno beats.
Post-Race Meal: A South African braai. Basically, it’s a barbeque with some sort of meat cooked on the fire.