Manuel Peña-Morros is an Haute Route Elite Ambassador from Mexico. In between his busy job and family life, he’s been training for Haute Route Mexico. We caught up with Manuel to gather some insider information and tips about the event and to give everyone a chance to get to know Manuel.
Hello Manuel, Thanks for joining us. Let’s begin with something simple. How long have you been cycling and what made you decide to do an Haute Route?
Thanks for the opportunity. It’s an honor and pleasure to serve as an ambassador and promote all Haute Route and Gran Fondo National Series events for the cycling community in Mexico. Mexico has a short cycling tradition (compared to other countries in Europe and South America), however, the cycling community is growing at an extremely fast rate.
I started cycling about four years. I started cycling as a means to stay healthy and in shape. However, this eventually evolved into a true love and passion for this amazing sport. As someone who starts in this sport (or any sport for that matter), I would read and view videos of anything I could find on the Internet and bookstores. I started to watch the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France like a surgeon (paying close attention to all of the details of the race, teams, equipment used, etc, etc). I started to learn a new and exciting language (i.e., watts/kg, Strava, powermeters, etc) and the culture surrounding the sport. As I learned more about the sport, I also started to learn about the different amateur events held around the world. One event that caught my attention was Haute Route Alps. The more I read and viewed videos about this event, my fascination with the organization and events took over. I even said to myself, I need to be part of this organization. I was completely and overly fascinated.
Your family is a big part of your life. How do you manage family life, work, and training?
It’s not easy, however family and work are my number one priorities and at the top of the chain. I believe you need to have a balance and always plan accordingly. I think it’s very important to prioritize, and if I know I have a work or family related issue, that comes as a priority. Nowadays, I tend not to overthink about training. If I can train that day, perfect, otherwise I plan my routine for the following morning. Sometimes I would catch up with my coach and let him know so he can adjust my training appropriately. My usual training routine consists of the following:
I usually wake up every morning around 6am and start training before 7am. By 9am I start my workday with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. This helps me start my recovery process and keep me going for the rest of the day.
On weekends, I also wake up very early and come home before noon. This gives me time to get ready and have the rest of the afternoon for my wife and kids.
What does an average training week look like for you?
Depending on my work schedule, I usually training Monday-Thursday about an hour and ride approximately 30 kms (approximately 600-1000 meters of climbing). I am currently training with CCC Pro (Competitive Cycling Center, for its acronym in Spanish). This competitive cycling center has two amazing and ex professional cycling coaches. Our training routine is scheduled through TrainingPeaks and progress is measured and reviewed with the coaches on a weekly basis. Part of CCC Pro’s social responsibility agenda, the organization sponsors young and aspiring group of underprivileged cyclists to become professional cyclists.
On Saturday’s I usually plan longer ride with my team, Brove Vatio, with approximately 80-130kms (approximately 2000-2500 meters of climbing). Just recently, a group of 15 members travelled and trained on the two first stages of Haute Route Mexico.
In total, I ride approximately 200-250 kms per week. I wished I had more time to train, however family and work are my first priority.
We know you’ve been out riding the Haute Route Mexico courses – can you give us a few insider tips?
In general terms and as if any multiday cycling event, preparation (i.e. training, studying the course, nutrition, supplements, etc) is absolutely key. Overall, the course is both physically and mentally demanding. It will truly test your climbing legs and stamina. As previously mentioned, I’ve been fortunate to ride both Stage 1 and 2 for Haute Route Mexico. Overall, I would strongly advise the following:
- Have your nutrition plan carefully thought out for the three days. Haute Route will provide great feed stations, and I would recommend bringing along whatever else works for you.
- Study the stages, but don’t overthink them. There will be lots of climbing, so think about pacing.
- Rest. Make sure you get a good and restful night sleep. Recovery is essential after a hard day in the saddle in order to tackle the next day stage.
- After concluding each stage, start your recovery process ASAP. I would strongly advise taking advantage of the massages at the event. In addition, consider recovery nutrition. Don’t wait too long to take advantage of the post-ride meal.
- Train gradients above 6%, if possible. Train, train and train!! This will make the difference once you start climbing the mountains surrounding Valle de Bravo.
Regarding the course, the roads are generally quite good, but it is important that you keep and eye out of potholes and road imperfections, especially in the first stage course and downhill descent between the towns Donato Guerra and Ixtapan del Oro.
For stage two, we will tackle almost 50kms of climbing non-stop from Real de Arriba to the Nevado of Toluca. You will find and experience amazing views.
In terms of mechanical recommendations, I strongly advice to leave your Lightweight’s and Bora’s back home. DO NOT to bring any carbon clinchers. Alloy clinchers are strongly recommended. Since we will tackle all kinds of climbs, its is strongly recommended to change your current gearing to a low gearing (compact chain set, 50/34 or 50/36 with at least an 11/30 cassette.
You’re a member of various cycling clubs/organizations in Mexico City. Tell us about them.
I am honored to form part of the advisory board of Vatio. Vatio is Mexico City’s premier bicycle shop, with two strategically located stores, and hosts a wide variety of cycling related activities inside their clubhouse and rides appealing to all levels of riders. Their emphasis is to provide riders with an unforgettable and life time experience; from weekly and safe rides around Mexico City’s most renowned sites and climbs to social gatherings inside their facilities, where members and customers gather to share cycling stories, camaraderie and passion for all things cycling, while enjoying a complimentary ice-cold beer or a freshly brewed cup of joe.
At the same time, and as mentioned before, I train with CCC Pro during the week. In addition, I am truly honored to form part of Brove Vatio, a passionate and highly competitive cycling team comprised of 70+ members. These two groups have helped me develop to become a better cyclist.
I’ve also had the privilege to help and work with other organizations, including Noowhi Cycling Hub, Haute Route Mexico’s official logistical partner, among other cycling clubhouses in Mexico City.
We know you’re an Haute Route Ambassador, what is it that you do and what is the best part of being an ambassador?
Becoming an ambassador has truly been amazing experience. This is the first time I have been an ambassador to any brand and the “ride” is just above and beyond what I expected. At first, I was a bit skeptical about sending my application form, because I have never been an ambassador to any brand. I never expected to get a response back. However, in early November I received my acceptance letter and I was jumping up and down from excitement. I did not know how to respond. So my first action was to send the email to my wife. She asked me, is this something you want to do? And of course I replied with an affirmative, YES!
From that point, I’ve had (and continue to have) the utmost privilege to promote Haute Route and GFNS. I want to make sure potential attendees are well informed regarding the events. The Haute Route kit is really a conversation opener. I strongly believe Haute Route needs and deserves to be promoted with cyclists who are passionate about multiday events and understand the value of a company that caters to passionate riders. There are many one day events that anyone can participate in, however, Haute Route takes more commitment from riders who truly want to train and prepare themselves for a three or seven day event.
The best part of being an Haute Route and GFNS ambassador is the ability and opportunity to promote and share the passion for cycling. I firmly believe in what the organization is proposing and the personalized attention to details. I’ve been fortunate to share this passion for cycling to a select group of cyclist that have trusted my knowledge and advice to join these type of events.
Any other words of advice about Haute Route Mexico you can share with us?
Overall, the three days we will tackle together in Valle de Bravo will absolutely mark a before and after in your cycling continuum. For those cyclists considering joining Haute Route Mexico and believe they have not trained properly, have no fear! The Compact course is a great ride and you’ll experience many of the best parts of the area.
Otherwise, the full course will absolutely test your climbing legs and stamina.
Join us and be prepared to immerse yourself to the excitement of riding in Valle de Bravo. This will definitely be one of the best and most demanding courses in the region. Overall, enjoy, have fun and enjoy the beauty of this great place.