Where are they now? Chasing down... Shaums March

  
  


by Andrea W. Doray
 
Shaums March hears a different drummer. Seriously, though (all puns aside), March “changed the way people look at mountain biking,” according to some of his peers. And, as a coach offering clinics, workshops, and camps across North America, March is also improving the way riders approach the discipline.
 
That’s because March, racing age 39—a two-time UCI Masters World Champion—brings a versatility to racing and coaching that he has perfected since he was 11 years old. March says he did “a little bit of racing” while riding BMX as a dirt jumper and free style competitor. “I didn’t really love the competition part at that point,” says March. “I was always on my bike but basically I found riding an outlet, a way to express myself.”
 
As March grew into his teens, he got his first look at a mountain bike. “It was so cool I was drooling!” March laughs. He started using his brother’s bike and those of friends, and began racing on a whim. “I signed up at the very last minute on the day of a race where my brother was riding,” he says. “I didn’t even see my brother’s race!” Although March finished last, he was hooked.
 
“Once I got into mountain biking, I liked being part of that group,” March says. Everyone was so friendly and the riding was so much fun that I got sucked in.” In 1994, March competed at the end of the season, and although he again finished last, he started 1995 with a higher-end bike that he bought from a friend. “After that,” March says, “I raced in every event I could find.”
 
March had found his competitive spirit.
 
The Championship Dream
 
March began competing in races around California, where he lived in his late teens and early 20s, such as those at Big Bear. “I was sleeping under my truck in those days,” he recalls. “But I was starting to get some recognition.”
 
March was a self-described “character in a big circus,” riding with an eight-inch fiberglass dinosaur spine on his helmet. However, even after he suffered an injury, March was California’s State Champion in 1996 and two years later finished fourth in the X Games downhill event. “I was experiencing a little boom in my riding,” March explains. “I could see a rapid progression in my riding.”
 
Indeed he was…he was racing with top professional competitors and just kept pushing himself. “I was trying harder and harder and consistently placing first or second,” March says, “but I was trying too hard. I crashed out and realized I needed to slow down.” March says he just wasn’t ready, even though he continued to qualify for major events, including world cups.
 
That’s when he started to focus on his championship dream. “I was a good rider but I needed help,” March says. “I needed to work on my mental control. I used hypnotherapy and meditation to relax and improve my breathing. It really worked for me and I began to enjoy the sport again.”

Injuries plagued March, though, including a fractured C7 vertebra in his neck. He turned to homeopathic treatments and massage to manipulate a piece of bone away from the tendons in his spine. When he suffered with a hernia, March rode with duct tape during his events. But he was not about to stop racing.
 
March calls 1998 the year of his comeback. “I was slowly ramping up,” he says, “and I earned a couple of podiums in the national series.” Then, in his first victory as a pro, March won the NORBA downhill event in Breckenridge, CO.
 
Earning a Spot in the History Books
 
March continued to earn podiums despite additional setbacks, such as an event in Vermont when he encountered some major equipment problems. “I could have done well,” March recalls, “but I ended up commentating in the announcers’ booth.”
 
More injuries in the late 1990s could have sidelined him as well, but March was able to qualify for major events until he had to take a year off after surgeries to repair his leg. “I started slow again in 2002,” March says, “and was riding in smaller races and local series.” March burst back onto the scene as the fastest North American at the 2003 World Downhill Championships, and finished second overall in 2004 at the British Columbia Cup series.
 
Then, in 2004, March was entered into a masters world cup event in Canada. “Someone else signed up,” March says. “I was training other people, but I got in a couple of runs. I was not expected to win!”
 
Yet win he did, and he again stood atop the podium at the same event in France the following year.
 
During this time, March also began coaching other riders, establishing himself as a premier mountain biking instructor and trainer.
 
Fast Forward to 2013
 
“Starting to coach was a good turn for my career,” says March. And, according to his colleagues and students, March’s turn has been good for the sport as well: he has coached both men and women riders to championships of their own.
 
Earlier in 2013, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) acquired the rights from March for his International Mountain Bike Instructor Certification (IMIC), and launched its Instructor Certification Program (ICP). The program offers professional training and certification for people who lead group rides and teach mountain bike skills clinics. March has joined the IMBA staff to develop program curriculum and serves as the ICP’s lead instructor trainer.

Among his favorite students are his children, Isaac and Asia. “I want them to get into the sport for fun,” March says. “Isaac does everything—soccer, skiing—and has already chosen mountain biking over BMX. Asia is really into ballet and she also enjoys riding the trails!”
 
March is quoted on the IMBA site as saying: People think that [mountain biking] is just a matter of throwing yourself down a hill; they don’t realize how precise it is.”
 
And that is precisely what Shaums March has shown us!
 

 


This Article Published January 17, 2014 For more information contact:
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