Casual Conversation – Amanda “the Panda” Nauman

My wife, Kerri and I took our first trip “across the pond” in 2017.  We flew over to support and ride in our friend Paul Errington’s race called The Dirty Reiver.  Not that Paul needs our support at all.  His event is legit.  Gravel riding in the beautiful country side of Northern England along the Scottish border.  Amazing.  While we were there we were lucky enough to get to know Amanda and David over a few days.  Definitely an experience that would be hard to duplicate.  Amanda recently agreed to take the time to have a Casual Conversation with me.  Amanda is every where it seems right now and deservedly so.  Now if I could just get her to ride tandem with me at Gravel Worlds…I’d even let her drive!  I promise not to spend the whole day gramming and checking Facebook!  Thanks Amanda or the time!!

Okay so here we go…
CASUAL:  Amanda I’m sitting here right now at 6am in my favorite morning “dad” chair. Kids are still asleep. Kerri starting to move around. Dogs outside taking care of a nature break. Peaceful… Me?? Second cup of coffee in my hand and looking at pictures of you in your Panda suit…

…that’s not as creepy as it sounds is it??? Okay. So You kicked butt at Dirty Reiver recently. You watched me get my butt kicked by the same race. Since then you’ve done a 400 mile road adventure over 3 days I believe it was.
Now…the Belgian Waffle Ride. Biggest question I have is…are the waffles as good as advertised? Bacon? Sausage? Is there like a whole Waffle Bar with thousands of toppings? Did you see the coffee pour overs at the third Dirty Reiver CP??? I almost cried. Seriously I got misty eyed as I rode away. I almost crashed. What’s the most amazing CP food you’ve ever had or are you riding too fast to even look? 😁

AMANDA:  Truthfully I skipped the waffles this year. But I hear they are amazing. The man behind the Rock Cobbler is also the man behind the waffles, Sam Ames. He has a knack for good food and good gravel. I would highly recommend his events in Bakersfield, CA if you ever wanted to travel out to California for some different dirt. There’s definitely bacon at BWR and a whole lot of whipped cream and topping options. But it’s one of those events where I’d rather eat all of that at the end of the ride, which he leaves as an option too! But unfortunately this year the heat got the best of me and it took me about three hours after the finish to even consider eating anything with how wrecked my body was. Too wiped to eat was a new level of exhausted and dehydrated for me!

I think the most amazing checkpoint food I’ve ever had was hot chicken broth. I don’t even remember where it was, I just remember it was cold enough and I was craving salt just enough that it was the most amazing sense of satisfaction. If it’s ever cold enough for me to need warm liquid at Dirty Kanza, that would be my winning formula!

CASUAL:  Okay. Now I’m hungry. No more Checkpoint food talk. I know. I know. I brought it up. You mentioned Dirty Kanza. Gravel endurance racing. You’re also a pro cyclocross racer. They seem like opposite ends of the spectrum to me. Consistent power/cadence over a prolonged period of time versus fast twitch burst interval. Admittedly I’ve never raced cyclocross so if that’s inaccurate, let me know. Is there a cyclocross training benefit to riding endurance gravel in the Spring/Early Summer or are they simply two separate loves?

AMANDA:  Yes, you’re right. They’re definitely opposite ends of the spectrum. Fast-twitch, high-intensity and bike handling skills are requirements for cyclocross. In reality those are three of my weaknesses, but for some reason I just love the game of cyclocross.

For ‘cross, the foundation miles need to come in the spring and summer because the quantity of racing in the fall is so heavy. Most of the base needs to be done in these months where I’m training for the longer gravel events, so I make it work perfectly. Admittedly I’m probably doing a little harder efforts than I should be, but that just comes with the love of competing at the highest level in these longer events. I can’t say no to a 200-mile race!

I was a competitive swimmer from the age of six all the way through college and trained specifically as a distance swimmer in my later years. I’m really good at staring at the black line at the bottom of a pool and motoring. 20 hours a week of swimming was my norm. Sound familiar? *Ahem* gravel. At the same time, I’m really good at tapering off those big training miles, focusing on high-intensity, and racing as fast as possible for events like the mile. *Ahem* cyclocross. To sum it up, I’ve found a way to perfectly fuel my competitive nature on the bike since I’ve graduated college. I love both disciplines equally. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a professional cyclocross racer or a professional adventurer at this point. Give me a bike with two wheels and I’ll turn anything into a good time!

CASUAL:  Professional adventurer. I love that term and think it fits well within the Gravel, dirt, back road riding culture. For most of us the Gravel race event is great…but it’s a day. It’s a day followed before and after by backroad exploring. Recently my friends are pushing me hard to take the next step…bikepacking. I even bought a really pretty super lightweight tent about 3 months ago!! I’ve thought about opening it up. I suppose it works…need to try it some day. 😜. Any interest in ultra-endurance or multi day bikepacking events? What about just super casual chillin with friends style bike packing? Btw…I might take up bike packing in flip flops and changing my name to “Super Casual” (thanks for the name change idea StormG). 😁

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AMANDA:  I actually have a huge interest in ultra-endurance or multi-day bikepacking events. I recently became obsessed with the 2016 Race to the Rock story and Sarah Hammond. CyclingTips has a phenomenal video on it here:
https://cyclingtips.com/2016/10/video-race-to-the-rock/
Events like the Indian Pacific Wheel Race are also becoming way too alluring for me. On that note, if anyone knows how I can apply for those insane Aussie adventures, let me know. It likely makes me sounds like a crazy person but I’m becoming more in love with the romantic nature of these epic adventures. When I was in high school I had a religion teacher who told us his story of riding across the United States and ever since then, I’ve always wanted to do it. Someday… when work isn’t so pressing, I’ll get to it.

And certainly, super casual bike packing with friends sounds fun! I have a bike with all the right rack mounts built in on the RLT 9 RDO, it’s just a matter of getting all the gear and finding the time for it. Time and money are slim, so I need to get creative on ways to break into that arena. If anyone is looking to hire a Panda to join in on epic adventures, I’m your girl! If someone gave me all the proper gear and showed me the ways of the wild unknown, I’d be down in an instant. “Wild Panda” and “Super Casual” take on the _____ Adventure could make for a great video!

SUPERCAZ:  I’d be all over that! Let’s make it happen! You bring the Panda suit and I’ll pack my Wookie suit…

…not that I have a Wookie suit…

…okay I do have a Wookie suit…but enough about me and my evening leisure attire.

What’s next for Amanda “the Panda” Nauman for 2017? Any more gravel or gearing up for cyclocross? We both know I’m trying my hardest to talk you into more gravel… What’s on the Cyclocross schedule this year?

WILDPANDA:  It actually all depends on how many spots USA Cycling will be allotted for the American cyclocross World Cups in September. I finished out last season ranked 54th in the world after skipping Nationals for hand surgery and the general rule for World Cup selection is that the top 50 automatically qualify to race. However, the United States is historically allowed to have additional spots (16 total Americans per gender) over the top 50 riders; but I haven’t heard back yet from the USAC representative about the final team selection. The rest of my year will hinge on that answer because it will dictate training and travel leading up to it. I’d love to do Gravel Worlds and Crusher in the Tushars, so we’ll see how things play out!

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SUPERCAZ:  I’m still waiting for Sheek to commit to riding tandem with me at Gravel Worlds. He could pedal us to the podium as I Snapchat you updates all day long! Okay, Amanda you’ve been awesome. Thanks so much for the time put into this interview! Lets end this with FIVE Fast Questions.

1. Better hugger? The Panda, The Yeti or The Casual Wookie?’

WILDPANDA:  Casual Wookie. All the fuzziness. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/File:Fuzzball.ogg

2. Last movie you saw actually IN a theatre?

WILDPANDA:  This is so sad because I can’t even remember; it’s been so long. I can tell you the next movie I need to see in a theater is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I saw the original seven times in theaters when I was in high school. My Johnny Depp obsession knew no limit.

3. Favorite cereal when not in training? (I have a thing for BooBerry and FrankenBerry)

WILDPANDA:  The fact that you specify “when not in training” means you know me too well. Fat kid comes alive with any sugary cereal. I’ll go out of my way for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats, Life, and even Frosted Flakes if I’m desperate at a sketchy hotel in the middle of nowhere.

4. Bucket List vacation spot?

WILDPANDA:  Bali, Indonesia. My mother is Indonesian and I have yet to visit that paradise.

5. Favorite food truck food after a long Gravel Ride?

WILDPANDA:  I’ll order tacos from any ol’ food truck. But the best would be Torchy’s Tacos in Texas. Food trucks aren’t popular around home, but divey Mexican joints abound and cheap, fast, authentic Mexican is all I ever want at the end of a long ride. I visit Casa Ramos at least twice each time I’m in Emporia, just so you know the extent of this problem.

SUPERCAZ:  Amanda thank you so much for your time. Best of luck to you with the upcoming cross season. #crossiscoming

Hope to see you soon on the gravel though!

About BobbyT

Backroad cycling enthusiast, husband, father and friend. View all posts by BobbyT

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