As Restwise has grown, we’ve been fortunate to be introduced to a remarkable group of athletes around the globe. This installment of the Restwise blog introduces you to Vlad Sabu, an aspiring World Cup mountain bike racer who hails from … Romania.
RW: First, welcome to Restwise! Second, I’ve got to ask you a question. For an American (who might not know a lot about Romanian history), anytime you use the name “Vlad” and the country “Romania” in the same sentence, there is only going to be one natural association: Vlad the Impaler. Do you get a lot of that when you travel?
VS: Hello and thank you very much to accept me in the Restwise team. Regarding the association with “Vlad the Impaler”, I get it more often outside Romania. But this thing makes me feel stronger, so I think is a good thing.
RW: You’ve been a great advocate for us since you first started using Restwise last year, and it looks like your results are really starting to come in strong. Do you have any recent races you’d like to share with us?
VS: Using Restwise helped me to prepare more meticulously my training. I feel like I am getting stronger and I hope that I will be faster and get better results. Until now this year I had 4 races, with a victory and a 3rd place. Getting better results motivates me a lot.
RW: I noticed in one of your race photos some very stylish socks. What’s up with the GQ fashion statement?
VS: The socks have a special story for me. I was searching some with pink accents as the pink is in general, identify the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer brand and express moral support for women with breast cancer. I also have some pink accents on my racing bike and my trail bike is totally pink.
RW: Tell us a bit about the mountain bike racing scene in Romania?
VS: I started to race in 2002, after riding in 2001 and 2002 with my friends on the trails near my home. Since then the mountain bike scene (not only the race scene) grew up, and in the last couple of year, it exploded. There are a lot of bike and parts dealers, all the bike marathon races gather more then 300, and up to 1500 riders. This year, a friend of mine started in my hometown a local championship, especially for kids and amateur riders and it seems that motivates a lot of people to join this kind of racing. And to have a XC race with a total of 250 riders means a lot. Hopefully some kids will end up to race in the World Cup when they’ll grow up as for me I know that I can race in a World Cup, but without any important results.
RW: Do you get a chance to race very often in Western Europe? There are a lot of really, really fast mountain bikers in places like Switzerland and France!
VS: I had the chance to race in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. I had the chance to ride at Salzkammergut Trophy in Austria, where a lot of fast riders where in, including pro riders. They are fast, but in Romania is hard to live decently if you only ride bikes, because this sport doesn’t have such an impact yet. I think that some year will pass until cycling in Romania will be a “job”. But be sure that if I’ll have the chance to race in France, Switzerland, Spain, UK or other countries, I’ll do it.
RW: What are your goals for the rest of the year, and how do you see Restwise playing a part in achieving them?
VS: For me the most important thing is to finish my studies, as this is my last year, then I plan to ride my bike and enjoy it. I hope that I’ll get more podiums this year, because this is the thing that motivates me most. At the Romanian Championships I hope to get enough UCI points that next year to ride in a World Cup. Restwise helped me this year to train in a wise way and this thing helped me in training but also in the daily life as I knew when to sleep and to push harder. So if the recovery is a mystery to you, Restwise is the answer.
RW: Do you have a coach, or do you self-coach? And how to you integrate the Daily Recovery Score into your training methods?
VS: Right now I am my own coach. I read a lot of books about training, nutrition and recovery and maybe someday I will coach some other riders too. I’ve learned a few things during this years: If you don’t feel like you should train, than you should probably sleep more. I have some training plans made for each day, depending the races that are coming and how important there are, but if it’s necessary and the daily recovery score tells me, I change the program for the rest of the day or week. Until now it seems that I am getting faster and hopefully I will fast enough to get some good results.
RW: How about longer-term? Any audacious dreams for your career?
VS: For me mountain biking is not a career, because I can’t live from mountain biking. My sponsors support me more with parts and the trips to the races, but I don’t get a paycheck and this is correct because I don’t have such important results. I don’t think that I’ll become a Pro rider but if I’ll be faster and if the things will remain the same way, after I finish my studies I can get a job and ride my bike.
RW: We know a lot about the big American bike companies. Are there any great Romanian brands that have a loyal following?
VS: There are a lot of big American companies, but the Romanian bike brands are still at the supermarket bike level. It is very hard to get something better than the companies that invest a lot of money into the technologies. But right now is good that we have a lot of bike dealer that import everything that is important.
RW: If you have an iPod, what bands are on your favorite play list right now?
VS: Wow, now that’s a tough one. Usually I am listening to the radio, but if I have to name a few bands right now I am thinking at Hooverphonic, Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Lemongrass Gorillaz, Muse, Kid Cudi, Reckless Love, Enemy Lovers and even AC/DC, Metallica, Hammer Fall, Nirvana or Jamiroquai.
RW: There may be a number of readers who could be interested in bringing their bikes to Romania to ride or race. Can you put your travel agent hat on for a moment, and give us some advice?
VS: Right know nobody is doing something like this but if someone is interested to ride in Romania and he/she has a GPS, bikemap.net has more tracks from all over Romania that can be downloaded. If someone is coming near Cluj-Napoca, I would like to be a guide and show the mountain near the city or even other places that worth to be seen.
RW: Out of curiosity, do you ever carry a spear with you when you race? You know, just in case one of your biggest rivals is about to pass you on a nasty descent?
VS: Thanks for your time, Vlad, and have a fantastic rest of the year!
RW: I would like to thank you too for this opportunity. Wish you all the best!