Next up in our rider profile series, none other than Ms. Clarissa Finks. Clarissa, or Red as she’s sometimes known, is a staple of the Stowe MTB scene. Her ever-present smile belies a fierce competitive streak lurking beneath. Seriously, check the mid-race pics for the smile, then check the post-race pics where she’s usually found on the top step of the box (still smiling). Red was kind enough to answer some of our inane questions for your reading pleasure. So without further ado…
Name: Clarissa Finks
Hometown: Waterbury Center
Occupation: Hardgoods Category Manager – Burton Snowboards
Number of years riding: 15 years
Favorite local trail: Flo is kind of the obvious answer but the part of Brooke’s trail that descends back to the 4-way intersection of the climb trail and Bear’s is my secret favorite. The day I chased Brooke [Scatchard of Sinuosity] down it I happened to be Strava’ing and got a QOM that I believe held through all last season and I have yet to beat it myself!
Favorite non-local trail: I don’t know that I’d call Burning Spear a non-local trail but that’s my favorite non-SMBC trail – to go real non-local I’d have to say the River Trail in Portland, ME. It’s a trail I can ride to from my Mom’s house right in Portland and it’s the first place I remember really getting the feeling of “Oh I get this thing called mountain biking and it’s really fun!!!”
Smooth and groomed or rough and rooty: Depends on the day
Weapon(s) of choice: One weapon of choice this season b/c she’s a beaut and does it all!! Liv Intrigue SX
Most memorable ride: Too many to choose.
To Strava or not to Strava: Strava – can’t help it, I’m competitive by nature.
Post ride beverage of choice: Budweiser… I know I can hear the gasps… can’t deny it, I love shitty beer.
Tell us how you got into MTB? I fought it for a long time but I started riding bikes because my mom is a badass mountain biker and in college she finally talked me out of my soccer gear and on to a mountain bike. I didn’t have time to take on a new sport but after two torn ACL’s I found myself on a bike rehabbing. After that first ride out with my mom I was pretty hooked – it was the same sensation I get from snowboarding in the trees and I loved it from the start.
How did you end up in Stowe/Waterbury? I work in Burlington and spend all my time not working in Stowe so I moved to the coolest town around which happens to be right in the middle of both
You’re at pretty much at every SMBC trail maintenance event. That’s rad. Not really a question, just a statement. Feel free to comment. My comment is that SMBC has absolutely killed it by aligning trail days with fun food and beer-filled events afterward!! Fantastic job getting so many people to come out and help support the trails!!!
What’s the Little Bellas program all about? Little Bellas (www.LittleBellas.com) is all about getting more girls on bikes, and who doesn’t love that!! It’s a mountain bike organization whose goal is to help young women realize their potential through cycling. It aims to create a community that will empower girls through the sport and emphasizes the importance of goal-setting, promotes healthy life styles and recognizes the positive effects of strong female bonds. It brings together girls ages 7 – 16 with female mentors in a program that uses mountain biking as a vehicle to teach important life skills and most importantly have fun!! I’m actually on my flight back from Sea Otter while writing this – I was fortunate enough to be able to head out to coach at the Little Bella’s Camp that happens in the middle of all that chaos that is the Sea Otter Classic. We ran three days of Camp (Friday – Sunday) with some girls attending single days and some joined us for the whole weekend. Getting out on the trails, working on skills at the pump track, lemonade socials with the pros and touring around the venue with the girls was an absolutely unforgettable experience and I cannot wait to go back again next year!
26 vs. 27.5 vs 29. Feel free to say something inflammatory and/or derogatory toward a particular wheel size: I don’t like to fight about wheelsize, I think if you can’t realize the benefit of each to the individual rider/riding-style than you are a total weeny. My personal preference is 27.5.
You’ve made quite a name for yourself on the enduro circuit. What drew you to enduro racing? I have to give all the credit to Nate Simpson – he got really excited about it. At first I was just a spectator but decided to give it a go myself a couple seasons ago at the Highland Enduro. It was absolutely terrifying but I kind of liked it. From there he really wanted to do the Eastern States Cup Series so I tagged along and quickly discovered I had found my race format. Last season I really committed and trained for the race season which seemed to have paid off! This season I made it on to the Liv/Giant Co-Factory Team and am excited to race with this new crew!
When you show up to an enduro, just about every rider in your class is racing for second place. What’s your secret to success? Is it the bright yellow shoes? Don’t be humble here—you’re pretty much never NOT on the podium. While I appreciate your exaggerated confidence I actually have yet to win a Pro race – or even a stage for that matter. I am super competitive so of course I’m going out there to win but in the end I’m focused on doing my best and riding my bike with my friends. I think that’s why I immediately dove into the Enduro scene because it feels less like racing and more just heading out to ride with my homies. The crew of people that run and race the ESC Series [Eastern States Cup] are incredible and every weekend racing is an amazing weekend of riding bikes with your friends!
Enduro World Series…that’s pretty serious. How did that all come about? Yeah, shit’s about to get real. EWS is the best of the best and what better way to test what you’re made of than to dive in. I’m a sucker for a sporting event that requires winning a lottery to enter so I threw my hat in the ring for the 2016 Aspen stop and I got in!! My first summer of racing I raced one of the BME [Big Mountain Enduro] stops at Keystone so I have a very small window into what to expect from racing in Colorado but since it’s a few years later and an EWS stop I know the level of the course and the competition is going to be off the charts! My goal is to have fun and finish and if both those things happen I will consider it a success!
I heard you’ve been killing the banked slalom game on your snowboard too. That pretty much makes you the Bo Jackson (or Deion Sanders) of Stowe athletes. Haha – yep pretty much!! I’ve been snowboarding for longer than riding a bike and the growth of Banked Slalom events all over the country is a really great thing. Unlike pipe and slope events, Banked Slaloms are so accessible for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Sadly I was traveling and missed the event at Stowe this year but I’ve made it a tradition to head over to the Sugarloaf Banked Slalom in Maine and this year was a blast!
Seriously, how about some words of wisdom for those of us juggling busy careers/schedules but still aspiring to greatness at weekend races. Any top secret training tips you can share? It’s all about creating a routine that works for you and that you can stick to. For me it’s surprisingly been the ol’ 5AM wake up to get my training workouts in before work. At first it’s awful and you don’t want to do it but once you get in to the routine, it’s strange but you actually start looking forward to checking it off the list and making it happen!!
Pretty sure you should thank your sponsors here: Haha!! I would love to thank Liv Cycling and the Liv Co-Factory Team. I’d also like to thank Darn Tough Socks for keeping my feet happy and most importantly Earl’s Cyclery for taking the absolute best care of me and all my bikes!! Finally I’d like to thank Burton Snowboards as my life sponsor and for giving me the flexibility in the summer to do what I need to do on race weekends and being supportive of taking time off to volunteer coaching camps – yes it’s my job and what I get paid to do but without that paycheck I wouldn’t be able do any of this!!
Thanks Red for taking the time to catch up. The Stowe MTB Community is super stoked to see you taking your skills and ear-to-ear grin to the world stage this season. Good luck and keep us posted!