Ben Ortt: 2013 Ohio Men’s Expert Champion – Profile

Ben Ortt won the 2013 OMBC Men’s Expert Championship over Steve Twining by a razor thin margin. This was his third title in the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship (OMBC) series.  He is an unassuming guy, but his cool facade hides a fierce competitor.  When he lines up he is always in contention with the best riders and I wanted to find out a little bit more about what pushes him to cross the finish.

Ben Ortt wins the OMBC Men's Expert division for 2013
Ben Ortt wins the OMBC Men’s Expert division for 2013.

James: Have you always liked bikes?  How did you get into mountain bike racing?

Ben: I guess that I have been riding mountain bikes long enough now that I can say yes.  But even before I started mountain biking I can remember always having some form of bike to play on.

I started racing cross country mountain bikes in 1998.  It was a combination of things that got me started – the 1990s mountain bike hype, and I had broken to many bones racing motocross.

James: What keeps you motivated to train for races?  What do you like about racing?

Ben: I think that getting to ride is motivation enough.  I just like to get out to one of my local trail systems and ride.  I do get burnt out on riding.  Typically August is my normal burn out time.  Then I just buckle down and train as much as I can mentally tolerate.

I think my favorite part of racing is all the post race talk and gossip.  It’s great to just sit and listen to peoples stories.  There is always some tales of disaster and near death happenings.
James Knott and Men's Expert Champion Ben Ortt

James Knott and Men’s Expert Champion Ben Ortt

James: How much of you talent is natural and how much of it do you owe to hard work?  Were you always a good racer?  How many miles or hours do you log during a typical week?

Ben: Most of my success has been the result of hard work. There are a lot of people that have way more talent on a bike than I do.  It has taken lots of miles of practice and training just to be on par with them.  I still work on my basic riding skills – turning, braking, riding obstacles.  It seems like there is always something I can work on to be faster on the bike.

After looking at my strava account.  I don’t think I rode that much.  Anywhere from 6 to 12 hrs a week.  Most of my rides are off road.  My longest ride of the year was a road ride of 63 miles.

James: You mentioned that you used to be very secretive about your training, can you give us any insight into your philosophy for preparing for a race?

Ben Ortt rides his mountain bike

Ben gives credit to hard work and training over natural talent.
Photo from Facebook

Ben: One of the things that I do is lift.  I like to be in the Gym at least once a week.  My focus is mainly legs and core strength.  Then my normal riding / training on the bike.

As far as race prep goes.  My biggest obstacle is work.  Making sure I have weekends off so I can race is sometimes the hardest thing to get done.  Next to that I like to go to the courses and pre-ride them.  Making sure I can ride all the difficult sections clean.  Knowing the course really helps you to go as fast as possible.  After that, I make suspension changes, pick what tires I want to run, and plan out my nutritional and hydration requirements for that course.

James: What is one thing that a lot of riders could do to improve their speed on the trail?

Ben: One thing I was told years ago about going faster was don’t use your brakes. Sounds so simple, but you will go faster when you’re not on the brakes.

James: What’s the most fun race that you’ve ever been in?  Do you have any races on your wish list?

Ben Ortt enjoys fishing

Ben enjoys fishing and hunting when he isn’t riding his bike.

Ben: My favorite place to race is mount snow in Vermont.  Huge climbs some 5k and longer.  Then fantastically rocky and rooty down hills.

The one event I want to do but never have isn’t even a race.  My local mountain bike club (AOA) puts on a Halloween ride every year.  I have been wanting to go for years now.  And things have never worked out.  I’m still hopeful that I will be able make it one of these times.

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