Two area cyclists to compete in six-day South American race

Two area cyclists to compete in six-day South American race

January 19th, 2012 by Jim Tanner in Sports - Outdoors

Stephen Lebovitz, left, and Brad Cobb take a break during a December training session near Tuscon, Ariz., in preparation to compete in the six-day Trans Andes Challenge beginning Monday in the mountains of Chile and Argentina.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

ONLINE

Trans Andes Challenge official site: transandeschallenge.com

Carmichael Training Systems: trainright.com

Most people's "bucket list" of things to do in life might include a trip to Europe, getting tickets to the Super Bowl or taking an exotic cruise.

But for two local men, scratching off an item will involve six days of grueling bicycling through mountains in South America.

Chattanoogans Stephen Lebovitz and Brad Cobb leave late this week to compete starting Monday in the Trans Andes Challenge, a mountain bike stage race through the Andes chain in Chile and Argentina.

"I'm just really excited to do it," Lebovitz said this week. "I think it's going to be challenging and demanding, but also beautiful and a lot of fun.

"I've never done a multi-day race. I've done some long one-day races, but never anything international and exotic like this."

He is the president and chief executive officer of CBL & Associates Properties, while Cobb is the president of Bowers Automotive Group, so they are used to high-level success. Next week is different, though: They will be among 250 riders who will travel 45 to 50 miles each day on single-track and dirt roads.

The race will start in Panguipulli, Chile, and finish Jan. 28 in Pucon, Chile.

The two Chattanoogans have competed in single-day races throughout the United States, including the Leadville 100 in Colorado, which attracts some of the top riders in the world.

"Stephen came up with the idea and we signed up, not thinking we'd get in, and we got in," said Cobb, who leaves for Chile today, a day before Lebovitz departs.

They are making the trip with the help of Carmichael Training Systems, which is owned by Chris Carmichael, former coach to seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. The Trans Andes Challenge is part of the "bucket list" the company suggests for the competitive racers it works with.

Carmichael and his staff gave Lebovitz and Cobb training assistance and will provide coaching support and nightly accommodations during the race.

Lebovitz said the biggest difference preparing for the Trans Andes Challenge was adjusting their training routine to prepare for six consecutive days of hard racing as opposed to one-day events.

"We've done two training camps -- one in Colorado and one in Tucson," Lebovitz said. "Those were long days of riding for four days in a row, with extra sessions on nutrition and fitness and other things to help us out. So it's definitely taken it to a new level in terms of training."

Cobb intends to have a high finish.

"I don't know exactly what the competition will be like because there's racers from a lot of different countries," he said. "I always like to be in the top 5 percent of the racers, so that's always my goal.

"Now, I could wind up in the top 50 percent or I could be on the podium. I just don't know."

Lebovitz also hopes for a good finish, but that is not as important to him.

"Brad's a faster rider than me, so his goals may be different than mine," Lebovitz said. "Our major goal is just to finish and be safe and enjoy it and work hard, because we've trained hard."