Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leader of the Pack!

Oh my!
I just finished updating the Series Standings for the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series(AMBCS) at I have participated in only 3 of the 5 events of this years Arkansas Racing Series but looking over the Series Standings, I am very surprised to find myself in 1st place.

I have been out of racing for over 5 years due to health issues, (neck and back injuries, and the heart attack and surgery) but have made efforts to return back to being active with bicycling and even dabble a bit in racing just for fun. To make this possible, I have chosen to ride recumbent bikes. Now there are not many recumbent mountain bikes, so I decided to build my own. It took me a year to refine the project but transforming my Diamondback DBR V8 full suspension mountain bike to a recumbent has been somewhat of a success!

Indeed, I can, and do ride this "Frankenbike" on all the trails here in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains that I used to ride on a regular mountain bike. I call the project a success in that it does allow me to once again ride my favorite trails. But the project falls far short in the final result as it is a bike that fails in every every standard one would judge a mountain bike for rideability and performance.

It is heavy, it climbs poorly, it descends poorly, it cannot be ridden over even mildly technical terrain, and it is difficult to mount and dismount. Now there is an upside... It is comfortable! I am not hunched over, but instead reclined back in a comfortable seat with back support. Easy on the back and neck. But all the comfort in the world will not win races. To win races requires a skilled rider that is riding a light well handling machine. Me and my bike are none of that...

I no longer have the fitness level that would allow me to compete as a Class One (Expert) racer, and my bike does not in any way provide me with any kind of advantage. So when I do show up at a race, I now race with the Class Three racers (Beginners) in the 50+ (Old Farts) category. The first two events I participated in had very small fields thus I placed well as far as points as all I had to do was finish.

But the most recent event in Eureka Springs, the popular "Fat
Tire Festival
" had a very large field of riders in the 50+ and I rode the bike very well and finished in 5th place. The trail suited the bike pretty well and I rode very well. I was surprised and pleased. So, now checking the Series Standings I see that I am in first place as far as overall points. Yes, indeed, you can lead without ever winning an event. Some riders may win an event, but may not ever attend another. Thus their total points value at this point in time is lower than mine.

So now I feel that old competitive spirit sparking up again. I tell myself to settle down and get real, (remember what bike you are riding) but I would really like to take a shot at it this year. Kind of like my hero, Lance Armstrong returning to the Tour de France after a 4 year retirement.

Can I keep my lead by continuing to place well? I know I can't win an individual event as these old guys are pretty tough, but if I can continue to ride and place well, and avoid a crash, or a flat and ride enough events, I might at least place top three!

I will update as the year progresses.

October, 2009 Update- I have missed a couple of events as I will not ride my bike in wet weather. It is a very scary bike on wet roots and rocks. So have I slipped into third place in the series. I will be racing this weekend if the course remains dry at the Springhill Challenge in Barling, Arkansas. It is a flat a fast single track course with lots of twisty turns. Should be good for my bike.

Check out the following videos on YouTube, providing more information about my recumbent bike project.

Visit the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series

Support cancer research through the the Livestrong Foundation

Check out the great trails of the Ouachita Mountains

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's pretty awesome Mike! We've never met before but I will make it a point to introduce myself next time I see you at a race. Truly inspiring to see people like yourself overcome obstacles to keep doing what they love.