MTB Racer Profile: Jeff Rupnow Q&A

Jeff Rupnow is a very prolific racer.  He is on the Paradise Garage Racing team and has attended every OMBC race over the last two seasons.  Jeff loves to compete.  He has been a staple on the podium this season in the Expert 35+ division and I wanted to learn a little bit more about how he achieves that success and what motivates him to race so often.  I hope you find this Q&A as interesting as I did.


Jeff Rupnow races his mountain bike

Jeff Rupnow races at S&S Trails in the 2014 Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series.

Quickdirt: Tell us a little about yourself – age, city, family situation, etc…  Have you always liked bikes?

Jeff Rupnow: I live in Columbus but originally from Willoughby, OH, 20 minutes east of Cleveland.  I have been into bikes my whole life.  Started out like any kid having a few different department store bikes growing up.  Then my first “real” bike, an 89′  Schwinn 564 road bike, so I started off as a roady.  I rode that thing everywhere, but while riding I kept seeing trails off to the side of the road and really wondered where they went.  This led to my first attempt to ride on an mtb.  I borrowed a friend’s dad’s Trek 930 and hit the trail.  That ride ended abruptly a few minutes in when I tried to jump a dirt pile, crashed and broke my arm.  Those few hundred feet were all that was needed for the mtb bug to bite and I was all in.

After that I saved up my pennies and purchased my first mtb, a 94 mid season Cannondale Delta V 700 which I thought was the coolest bike ever at the time. My friends and I would ride every chance we got on the trails behind Quail Hollow and Bedford.  Then I moved to Columbus in 94 to go to OSU for engineering, but that did not last long because I found the trails behind Tuttle Park and the Garden of Roses (which I live by now).  Then on the weekend I would try to catch a ride down to Wayne to ride Door Run or Main Corridor or up to Alum to ride Phase 1.  Phase 2 was not even built yet.  Then I got a job as a bike messenger which lasted for 18 years, it was the best job on the planet.

Jeff Rupnow on the podium

Jeff has won 3 of his 8 OMBC races this season. There are 3 races left and he is on top of his division. Can he pull off a series championship?

How long have you been racing and how did you get into it?

Started racing because friends were doing it and I have always been competitive in everything so I thought I would give it a try.  My first race was probably around 93 or 94 and I remember race courses like Alpine Valley, the Dirt Criteriums in Mansfield, Velo Z, Alum Creek P1 and Caesar Creek.  Still have some NORBA trophies and results from back then too.  I remember before I owned a car, riding my bike from the dorms at OSU to Alum Creek to race.  Thankfully a really fast guy everyone called Titanium Joe that road a Fuji Ti drove me home because I was just wasted after that race.

My list of past race bikes are as follows:

-Cannondale Delta V 700

-97 Stumpjumper

-Amp Reasearch B4

-Dean Colonel

-Niner Air9

-Breezer Cloud 9.

Jeff Rupnow mountain bikes at Mohican State Park

Jeff warms up before the OMCB XC MTB race at Mohican State Park near Loudonville, Ohio.

You have raced in 18 consecutive OMBC (Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series) races.  That’s the second longest streak after my streak of 22.  Why do you prioritize these races?  What draws you to them?

The competition is what brings me back time and time again.  There has not been a time in my life when I was not racing something, from remote control cars, to real cars, to bikes.  What brings me back to OMBC is that I would eventually like to win a series championship and you never know what will happen at each race so I go to all of them.  Some are scheduled just to be workouts and some are scheduled to be races but with each one experience is gained.

Jeff Rupnow mountain bikes at Dillon State Park

Rupnow says that the OMBC race at Dillon State Park is one of his favorites because of all the technical challenges.

How much time do you spend training – frequency and duration?  How do you figure out what kind of workouts to do?

I spend anywhere from 8 hours to 16 hours a week training.  Right now I try for about 700-800 TSS a week.  Every other week I try to get down to hocking hills and do an 80 mile road ride.  Once a week I try to ride my mtb on the trails.  Then there are usually a couple of recovery rides a week on the Olantangy Trail, and the rest of the hours are spent on the trainer doing specific workouts – sometimes threshold, sometimes power, sometimes vo2 max, and sometimes anaerobic.  It really depends if it is a race week or not, what priority a race is and what period I am in on my training schedule.  I am really a numbers person and like to analyze all the data and build workouts accordingly.

(Editor’s Note: TSS stands for Training Stress Score.  Power meter users use it as a measurement of the overall intensity of a workout.  You can use it to keep track of your total training workload as well.)

Any training tips for novice racers?

Ride lots and lots, find tires that work for you, work on your weaknesses, hook up with friends to ride to make sure you get out.  Try different things ie. Fit, body positions, shock settings, lean angles…

Jeff Rupnow leads the pack at Mohican State Park

Jeff’s performance this year is no accident. He works hard to be successful. I’ll be rooting for him in the final races of the year because I think he deserves to be a champion!

What are some of your favorite races and why?

I would have to say MSP (Mohican State Park) and Dillon are my favorite two OMBC races.  MSP is just super fast and Dillon is nice and technical.  My favorite long race is Syllomos Revenge and Brady’s Run 6-hour race.

What makes a good mountain bike event?

I think the participants make the event.  The more participants the better.  The longer the event the better also.

What are your goals for the rest of this season and beyond?

My goal for this season is to try as hard as I can to win the series in my class.  There are also a couple of KOMs (King of the Mountains) at Great Seal I want to get by the end of the year.  Another goal would be to have a 400 ftp but that is not going to happen this year, and maybe never but that won’t stop me from working for it!   (FTP is Functional Threshold Power – measured in watts)  Another goal is to become a certified cycling coach at the end of this year, got a couple of athletes lined up for that which is exciting.  Of course the big dream would be to become pro, because that would just be cool.

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