Spencer Paxson recently killed it at the National Mountain Bike Championships, finishing seventh overall which is particularly notable because when he isn't mixing it up with other top-ranked professional riders, he's working 40-50 hours a week developing wind and solar projects around the country for Ridgeline Energy, a Seattle-based renewable energy development company.

Here's what he's been up to:

What does a day in the life of Spencer Paxson look like?
There is rarely a dull one, that is for sure.  Here's a classic from last week: Up at 6:45 to kit up for a short morning spin, getting into the office early to sort out the next week's worth of race travel..and devouring a bowl of Kozy Shack rice pudding.  Put away the bike suit and get down to business by 8:00 for a meeting to discuss environmental permitting and construction timelines for a large wind project, then complete a research project for implementing GIS into the small-scale solar-PV site prospecting.  The afternoon is spent on the phone coordinating with project managers and tending to various tasks.  By 6:00 it's time to roll out the door to the weekly crit series at Seward Park, great mid-week training for this time of year.  I'm feeling good these days for all the big races coming up, so my teammate and I go on an early break and lap the field, catching enough cash winnings for a stop by my favorite burrito truck on the way home.  Mellow-out time with some good music…and maybe some ever-ongoing bike maintenance before leaving for a big race in Colorado the next afternoon…  

Compare training and Mountain Bike racing to the sustainability movement?  What can each learn from each other?
Good planning, discipline, sacrifice, patience, balance, confidence…Both involve setting specific goals, and achieving those goals depends upon recognizing incremental achievements along the way.  I started preparing for Nationals in February, and as with any big endeavor, there were plenty of times along the way where it would have been easy to become disenchanted by the small defeats along the way.  Not every training day is warm and sunny, and many races are finished far from the podium  I'm trying to be competitive against others who get paid to ride their bikes with lots of time for training, and with the best equipment and advanced coaching.  Having those luxuries someday would be awesome, but for now I am motivated by my lack of those elements.  I've learned that once you realize that a passion makes you part of something larger than yourself, it's a waste of time to view that passion (bike racing, sustainability movement, music, renewable energy, etc.) in opposition to the other obligations of life.  It has to be integrated.  Embrace the challenges, then the little defeats turn into fuel, and then you focus on all the little achievements on the way to the big one.  350 seems to be driven in a similar way.  Big goals have to be balanced with everything else, priorities have to be connected to one another.  For me, I treat racing like the job, albeit the fun one (even though working on wind projects is really fun, too), with a workman-like approach to training and racing, where the default setting is "win", meaning "ride well"…even if I've experienced a setback.  I feel like setting these standards for myself has informed the rest of what I do, and it would certainly cross over to something like the sustainability movement.  

Are there other riders on the scene that understand 350?
I've definitely seen more green wrist bands this year.  I see a number of other 350 athletes on the mountain bike circuit, and people who don't know about it are always curious to find out.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
For general plans, I just moved into a house, and can't wait to build a fully functional bike shop in the basement.  At work, I'm looking to take on a larger roll at work as Permitting Manager, handling the timelines, budgets, and the thorny details of everything from federal land permits, avian surveys, to Renewable Portfolio Standard eligibility. For racing plans, I have my sites set on the World Cup Finals in Windham, NY at the end of August, and am hoping my performance at Nationals will be good enough to earn me a spot on the US team for the World Championships in Quebec this September.  Regardless, the season has been a big success.  Soon enough it will be time for a break, then cyclocross, and then prep for next year.

350.org is hosting a work day on 10/10/10, do you have any plans?
I'll be at a bike race.  Getting people on their bikes is a good way to promote the fight against global warming and right now that is my work.

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