Trail and Tarmac Q&A with Brent Bookwalter

Brent sat down with Trail and Tarmac during the Tour of Dubai to discuss racing, training, the Bookwalter Binge, and burritos.

Brent Bookwalter is a professional cyclist for BMC Racing Team. He’s raced the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia and was helping BMC take home the Team Classification win at the Dubai Tour when he answered our questions. Keep reading to see what Brent has to say about racing, training, the Bookwalter Binge, and burritos in this week’s T&T Q&A:  

[T&T] What is something you wish you knew when you first started cycling?


[Brent Bookwalter] That there’s no secret to it — there’s no magic bullet. There’s no one piece of equipment that’s going to do it, no one training workout, no one supplement, no one team, or one race that will make it all change for you. Being a good cyclist is an accumulation of really thin layers, laying them down over time, and seeing the results. It takes consistently working on training, technique, racing, and diet to see it all add up.

[T&T] Do you have a piece of cycling gear you can’t live without?

[Brent Bookwalter] My mountain bike is honestly something I can’t live without. For me, riding my road bike is essentially my job. The mountain bike is something I can ride to relate to cycling, keep myself in shape, but get back to that pure passion and fun of being on two wheels and being free.

[T&T] Can you share one tip for amateur riders looking to elevate their game?

[Brent Bookwalter] My number one piece of advice is to listen to others. Seek out the advice and opinions of those around you who have more experience or who have accomplished more than you. Look at where they’ve been and where they’re going. Based on their experience and your personal goals, decide what information to filter out and use. Whether you’re a Junior in Kansas or a Cat 1 in California, there’s a wealth of people around who want to help. That’s one of the great things about cycling. Seek these people out in your community and use them to your advantage.

It takes an army to keep me going every day — my personal coach, our PR officer, my teammates, my family. Build your own personal team with the people around you.

[T&T] What’s your favorite race of the year?

[Brent Bookwalter] That’s a tough question for me. I like races, enjoy them, and appreciate them for different reasons. The ones with the best memories in my mind are ones I’ve either won or ones that my family has been at to support me. This sport has taken me around the world to so many far away places, some of them more uncomfortable than others, but having friends and family close for a race makes all the difference to me. That usually means races in the US.

T&T Note: The UCI Road World Championships will be in Richmond, NC this year. Here’s the official site of Richmond 2015.

[T&T] Tell us about your own race, the Bookwalter Binge. Will you have it again in 2015?

[Brent Bookwalter] We are having it again in 2015. It’s going to be the second edition, and we’re hoping for more cooperation from mother nature this year. As we saw last year, it’s not just about the riding, it’s about the spirit of cycling, and the spirit of helping each other and helping others who can’t help themselves. Last year we partnered with Trips for Kids. This year we’re going to partner with a different organization, one with a similar charitable vision. Look for exciting news and more information on dates and venues and charitable partners soon.

[T&T] What cycling-related website do you visit most frequently?

[Brent Bookwalter] To be honest, I try to stay out of the cycling news world a bit. So much of my life is already consumed and focused on being on the road and around the sport. If I’m looking at a cycling website, it’s just to see results.

[T&T] What sorts of tips or tricks do you have to stay healthy and prevent injury?  Do you use any specific mobility tools or cross training techniques?

[Brent Bookwalter] One thing I’ve really gained a greater appreciation for over my career, especially the past five or six years, is the need for balancing the whole system of the body. We’re two dimensional on the bike, just pedaling up and down all day, so I think it’s really important to do cross-training activities that push your system to grow, force your bones to build some density, and force your muscles to work in a different way. That really counts for a lot.

For me in particular, I’ve had the chance to work with some really great core training specialists throughout the years including Herriott Sports Performance out of Seattle and Rev Training out of BelgiumDavid Bombeke and his colleagues work with our team. They use a lot of dynamic movements and specific core strengthening routines. We do a lot of Redcord Training and things like that.

[T&T] How do you prepare to ride in the cold weather?  Is there any cold weather gear you can’t live without?  

[Brent Bookwalter] I grew up in Michigan, where I would ride in cold weather like it was nothing. We would go out in 0°F and rip down snow-covered back roads. I feel like I’m getting a little soft in my old age. Now, the best way for me to prepare is to not look at the forecast or the temperature too much and let the weather psych me out.

But in seriousness, staying fueled-up and fed is big, and so is staying warm and layered-up. Stay dry and dress in layers so that you can take stuff off and never build up much sweat. I like to go out the door wearing as much clothing as I can without overheating. A lot of cyclists I see riding go out the door dressed with the absolutely minimum amount of clothes possible to not freeze, but I dress with as much as I can without being hot. It’s good to be warm, our bodies work well when they’re warm as long as they’re not profusely sweating. Remove layers as you warm up.

[T&T] What’s your ride nutrition of choice (before, during and after)?

[Brent Bookwalter] I like to focus on real food. Like I said before, there’s no magic bullet, food, or supplement. I focus on eating good quality macro-nutrients, proteins, carbs, and fats. I eat in moderation, in amounts I like and feel comfortable with, not stuffing myself and not starving myself.

Before a race, I like a good old American breakfast with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. During a race, I like things like little sandwiches and muffins. Of course, you have to throw in the Powerbar Gels and Powerbars. I really like their Harvest Energy Bars, because they taste a little more “real-foodish.” After a race, if I could take my pick, I would have a burrito. They’re impossible to get at some of the races we do, but I love a good burrito.

As a member of the 2011 Tour de France winning team, Brent Bookwalter helped Cadel Evans top the podium in Paris. Brent is a top time trialist, finishing just two seconds off the winning time set by Olympic gold medalist Bradley Wiggins in the 2010 Giro d’Italia. His list of accomplishments is long — he is an extraordinary cyclist, teammate, and a true force to be reckoned with on the bike. We’re delighted he took a break from the Dubai Tour to answer our questions. If you want to keep up with Brent, follow @brentbookwalter on Twitter.

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