Every sport has a hero—that one person who continually challenges, beats and changes the very face of the game. For adventure racing, that person is Mike Kloser.
In the early 1980s Kloser dabbled in the pro mogul skiing circuit, won a few national titles and switched gears to mountain biking. Throughout his 12 year career he won the World Mountain Bike Championship title, was a World Downhill medalist and two-time World Cup Overall medalist.
He picked up adventure racing in 1997, and almost single handedly helped define the sport that is sweeping the nation’s most rugged racers. “Mountain bike racing is one dimensional,” he says. “Adventure racing is so diverse and that’s what I love about it. Pretty much anything I do in the outdoors is training.”
These days, Kloser is team captain of Team Nike, the world’s most successful adventure racing team. The team has won five Adventure Racing World Championship Titles, Three Eco-Challenge titles, Five Primal Quest Championships and too many National Championship Titles to count. At 47, there’s nothing slowing down this avid racer.
Kloser and Team Nike even brought their racing skills to Farragut and competed in the 2009 Crux and the Crucible Adventure Race (see this month’s Cover Story). “I thought they did a fantastic job with the race,” he says. “I’ve gotta commend David Adlard on a great event.” Kloser won’t be attending Adventure Sports Week this year because he’s gearing up for a June race in France, an August race in China and then in September looking toward World Championships in Spain.
“I’m scaling back a little more,” he said. “I’m doing some individual racing to keep up on my conditioning and trying to spend more time at home with the family before my kids go off to college.” Despite “slowing down” Kloser has taken on the new adventure of designing outdoor equipment. Over the course of 20 years he’s worked closely with gear companies to test and perfect state-of-the-art equipment.
“Finally, I’m taking my ideas and venturing out on my own,” he said. Coincidentally, Kloser’s company is called Out There. “I’m trying to really focus on not just making another backpack,” he said. “It’s more about designing products that are functional.” Here’s a list of racing gear that has brought this adventure racing hero to the ends of the world and back.
RUNNING SHOES: “My favorite shoe is the Nike Air Zoom Trail S,” Kloser says. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure that they make them anymore.” On expedition races Kloser brings three to four pairs of shoes. “You can count on at least one pair being thrashed at the end of a race,” he said. Team Nike also uses Sportslick silvion antibacterial gel for their feet.
SOCKS: “I love Wool Eater socks,” he says.
SHORTS: “I’ve been into Nike stuff for so many years now with Team Nike,” he says. “I typically go for a cargo short for long treks and for shorter races I’ll use a running short with a long inseam and side pockets. Anything with Dri-Fit material.” When on his bike Kloser wears thin chamois bicycling shorts.
SHIRTS: Team Nike generally races in their cycling tops. “We try to go minimalistic, but if it’s cool out we’ll have a base layer, dry fit top and maybe a fleece or SilLite fabric for an ultra light rain jacket.”
BIKE: Kosler has been on a giant anthem full suspension bicycle for about six years now. “The geometry and full suspension design is very functional especially for long hours in the saddle with heavy packs,” he says.
SADDLE: Fizik Saddle or Aliante saddles.
CYCLING SHOES: Nike YVR cycling shoes.
HELMENT: Kloser usually wears a Giro Pneumo cycling helmet.
GLOVES: Team Nike uses SixSixOne gloves for all their bicycling, climbing and trekking.
HEADLAMP: Princeton Tec Apex Pro LED Headlamp.
KAYAKING SHOES: Kloser said he bounces around a bit but primarily sticks with the Nike Air River Spike Water Shoe or the Nike Toketee Mid Water Shoe.
GOGGLES: “I like anything with a mini scuba goggle shape,” he says. “No tiny little racing goggles.”
PADDLES: Epic Wing Paddles are the lightest most durable paddles.
BACKPACK: “We typically used a Nike Pack we have specially designed but on shorter races a Nike ACG bag will do.”
SUNGLASSES: Kloser said he prefers Oakley Flak Jacet XLJ Sunglasses because of the extra large lenses.