The Ultimate XTERRA Christmas List

The Ultimate XTERRA Christmas List

By Melanie McQuaid (as published at

Dec. 5, 2008 — I am not a huge fan of the commercialization of Christmas. It is possible that I am still suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after discovering Santa was actually my parents. More likely, I am resisting the expectations that come with the Christmas holidays. However, there is something magical about how Christmas truly brings out the best in people so I certainly am not crossing this holiday off my list.

As far as the whole gifts part of Christmas, I am a huge fan of PRACTICAL gifts. I love the look on someone’s face when I give them a gift and I especially love watching them put that gift to good use. No one is ever getting a set of tube socks from Melanie. No, those socks will have to be breathable, cushioning, anatomically correct running socks that the giftee will thank me for on our Sunday run the following week!

I started to think about the best, most useful and practical gifts for the XTERRA triathlete on your list. Most of these gifts will be high on any triathlete list, regardless of their chosen discipline. I consulted with the coach in me to make these suggestions as I feel that most of these items are very useful tools for improvement or at least enjoyment of the process. The fun part will be seeing your friend or loved one absolutely thrilled to be given such a thoughtful and useful gift that is not an ironing board. READ ON…

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Latest Article For Triathlete Magazine – August 2008

Build off-road power

Take a few tips from XTERRA’s top girl and get ready to suffer

By Melanie McQuaid

Aug. 29, 2008 — Racing a mountain bike is all about power. XTERRA racing requires big fat watts produced in short bursts, followed by lung-burning, uncomfortably long periods of grinding out the watts in between. Periodically there will be respite found in sections where the power output is interrupted by technical challenges, which gives your legs a chance to grasp at recovery while you focus on navigating the trails safely. It hurts quite a bit to race a mountain bike well because going fast off road is all about finding the fastest route from point A to point B and hoping that there will be enough left at the end to finish. Ideally, the finish line and your last reserves meet perfectly.

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Mel McQuaid reviews the Powertap SL MTB Disc

As published on

By Melanie McQuaid

April 22, 2008 — For the last many years that I have trained, first as a mountain bike athlete and more recently as an off-road triathlete, with about 80 percent of my riding hours on a road bike. This came naturally, as I have always done my interval training using a power meter and up until 2008, I did not use a power meter on my mountain bike. The time I used to spend riding trails focused more on quality endurance and technical training.

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Elite Performers And Elite Attitudes

Teaching Your Body To Follow Your Mind

As published on (NOTE: I am available, subject to my racing calendar, for speaking engagements/appearances. You can contact me through this website. This article is adapted from a recent presentation I made.)

By Melanie McQuaid

Feb. 26, 2008 — I really admire exceptional ability. Being a professional athlete, it’s easy for me to quantify my ability based on medals, titles and racing achievements. In life, there are exceptional achievers all around us, some of whom get recognized and others who don’t. Bill Gates is recognized as an exceptional achiever in business and now as an ambassador of philanthropy. David Suzuki is a scientist who has been recognized for his efforts with regards to the environment. Clint Eastwood is recognized for his achievements as an actor and as a director. The general public recognizes such individuals for displaying exceptional abilities in their field. What is interesting about high achievers is the attributes that make them exceptional is consistent regardless of their vocation.

So what does this mean to us as competitive triathletes? I think many athletes in both the pro and the amateur ranks share the same attitude much of the time. It is more a difference in priorities than in talent that separates the top pros from the ranks of the field. Often our potential is determined by our own vision. Yes, it takes a certain amount of talent to be an exceptional athlete, but I also believe it takes a lot of elite attitude to make something of that talent.

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My Weekend With The BMC Pro Cycling Team


As posted to :

Mel McQuaid’s weekend with the BMC Pro Cycling Team

By Melanie McQuaid

Jan. 29, 2008 — I have a very strong passion for the sport of cycling despite my new excitement about triathlon. I guess once you are a cyclist, you are always a cyclist at heart. This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel down to Santa Rosa, Calif., as part of the BMC “World of Sponsoring”. I was there to pose down with the new BMC women’s specific “Shiver” dual suspension mountain bike. During the trip I had the chance to hit the road with the BMC boys on two occasions. They are a great team, both the riders and the staff, and they truly made my weekend special and really kick started my enthusiasm for the 2008 season.

Our first night was in Palo Alto after which we moved to Santa Rosa. When we arrived I had the chance to swim in a pool adjacent to our hotel (dubbed the “Flaming O” by the guys but really it was called the "Flamingo"). I was late to join a masters group but found the locals were very friendly in helping me get oriented on their local pool etiquette. Triathlon is reinvigorating the masters swim clubs across the country! My hair and swim cap were heavy clues for a number of the swimmers that I was a particular pro on the XTERRA circuit and the fact I was recognized just goes to show that triathletes are taking over!


The team was creating some noise in the California area. Santa Rosa is a little hotbed for cycling and is home to none other than America’s favorite cycling son, Levi Leipheimer. In fact, the Tour superstar actually dropped in on a dinner we were having one night just to say hello to the team and say "happy birthday" to Mike Sayers, who was celebrating that night. A few of the guys on the team actually live in the area and train with Levi so it was pretty cool to have him coming by to hang out for a while. We also rode to the “Service Course” where all the BMC team gear is warehoused and met with Team Swift, a junior team that is sponsored by BMC and mentored by the pro team. It was great to see all the young teenagers rubbing elbows with their cycling inspirations.

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Fun In The Offseason

As published on

Fun in the off-season

By Melanie McQuaid

Dec. 10, 2007 — November and December are finicky months. Here in Victoria we can get anything from torrential downpours, to 60mph winds, to gorgeous, blinding sun. What we do not have is snow — ever (well, maybe for two days every four years). For some athletes living in Victoria, the temptation to keep training all year round is strong. However, too much training in November can lead to sluggish mid-summer results. Other athletes have no problem pushing triathlon activities to the back burner and find it difficult to get moving when the weather is gloomy. The sweet spot would be somewhere in between the two, where you are motivated to train but are “hurrying slowly” towards fitness by incorporating a variety of other activities. As we are not “snow” people, to get away from our favorite triathlon activities on a regular basis we need to find other fun things to. I think the two most popular winter activities for athletes in Victoria include riding cyclocross bikes and “run/hikes”.


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