Bicycle bias robs victor of win

September 30, 2016/ Maria Parker


Tuesday October 4, 2016

Chuck Bramwell showed himself to be a leader of character and reversed his decision. He has now awarded Jason Perez first place overall in the California Triple Crown Stage Race. Thank you Chuck, and thank you to those who are fighting with us to right these wrongs. Please continue to put pressure on Brad Allen and the NC Senior Games to do allow David Wall to participate on his recumbent (his e-mail address is below).

On Sunday September 25th, Jason Perez received an award at the California Triple Crown Stage race breakfast, but it it wasn’t the one he earned or deserved.

After competing in the three extremely tough 200 mile races that make up the California Triple Crown series– the Devil Mountain Double Century (with 20,000 feet of climbing), the Central Coast Highland Double (with 14,436 feet of climbing) and the White Mountain Highland Double (with 13,529 feet of climbing)– Jason, racing his Cruzbike, had the fastest overall time and was the winner, according to the event’s published rules. Those rules were simple and fair:

“The total elapsed time from each of three grueling Doubles is added together and the rider with the fastest overall time for all Three Doubles wins the Stage Race.” [Source: California Triple Crown website]

In a move that must shock competitors and athletes in all sports, Chuck Bramwell, the Executive Director of the California Triple Crown, chose not to follow his own rules, but instead to change them and award the Stage Race win to the rider with the second fastest overall time. That rider’s name is Derek Stedman, an accomplished racer who rides a Specialized Venge. Derek’s effort in the 2016 California Triple Crown was incredible and his head-to-head race against Jason Perez throughout the series and especially in the final, grueling White Mountain Double stage, was, according to Jim Cook, “the most exciting moment I have seen in endurance cycling.” He finished the White Mountain Double Century 39 minutes behind Jason, leaving him 8 minutes behind him in the series and solidly in second place. Both competitors raced more than 600 miles and tested each other and themselves against 47,965 feet of climbing.

Instead of celebrating an unprecedented, historic win by a competitor racing a recumbent bike in a race series defined by vicious, relentless climbs, Chuck Bramwell changed the rules after the race series was over and gave the Triple Crown win to the second-place finisher. To “tip his helmet” to Jason Perez, he created a special division just for Jason and gave him first place in that division. In Chuck’s words:

“In 20 years of the California Triple Crown Stage Race, we have never seen a Recumbent rider climb so well and we tip our helmets to Jason. But we also tip our helmets to Derek who rode so incredibly well on all 3 of these extremely hard Double Centuries. After careful consideration, we decided to award Jason Perez 1st Place Recumbent and Derek 1st Place in the 2016 California Triple Crown Stage Race.”

As a competitor, this stuns me. We invest training, sweat and gut-wrenching effort, and we count on event organizers to uphold race standards and rules. Fairness makes a win sweet and a loss that much more galvanizing. Well-respected rules and standards mean we can focus on pushing ourselves and our sport forward to higher and higher standards of performance and competition.

Jason trained while working a full-time job, traveled long distances and slept in his truck to compete for this win. He took on the California Triple Crown to test himself against the best racers of any age, sex or division bold enough to take on the grueling Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Highland Double and White Mountain Double. Jason didn’t train and race to win a special division for recumbents (that didn’t exist in this event), he raced to win outright. And that’s what he did.

Chuck’s decision robs Jason and cheapens Derek’s accomplishment.

Unfortunately, this type of unsportsmanlike conduct by organizers is not uncommon in the cycling world. In January of this year, I got an e-mail from David Wall, a cyclist with two artificial hips who participated in the North Carolina Senior Games. After first asking for and being granted permission to compete in the cycling events on a recumbent bike, he entered and won the regional races, then went to the state finals and did extremely well, qualifying for the Nationals. After training hard for several months, and days before the Nationals, he received a letter saying he could not compete on a recumbent bike. Once again, after he qualified, the rules were changed and he was robbed of the opportunity to compete at the national level.

David Wall on his Cruzbike Vendetta
David Wall on his Cruzbike Vendetta

Changing the rules after a competition is blatantly and outrageously unfair and unsportsmanlike and barring recreational athletes from competing in events because they ride a non-traditional bike is not just wrong, it’s a giant step backward in making the world a healthier and greener place.

Please consider emailing Chuck Bramwell and the leadership of the North Carolina Senior Games to let them know that you disagree with their decisions. The emails I sent to each are at the end of this post. Feel free to borrow wording.

Before I close, I want to credit the ultra cycling community, Race Across America and the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association for leading the way in supporting technical advances in the shape of the bike. We athletes who ride and race on non-standard bike frames are grateful for the opportunity to compete on safer, more comfortable bikes and to continue to push the boundaries of the sport and science of cycling.

Thank you for raising your voices against the type of action taken by Chuck Bramwell and the North Carolina Senior Games. Our sport is made better by inclusivity and competition.

Maria Parker

Email to Chuck Bramwell – Executive Director of the California Triple Crown :
From: Maria Parker <>
Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 5:47 PM
Subject: Jason Perez and the California Triple Crown Stage Race.

Dear Mr. Bramwell,

I recently learned that Jason Perez, who earned first place in the California Triple Crown according to the rules on your website, was given, instead a newly created recumbent award and that the second place finisher was given the overall win.

Though I am grateful that you welcome all bicycle types in your races, this is incredibly unfair to Jason who finished 8 minutes ahead of the next rider. I most strongly object to the change in rules after the competition was over simply because Jason rides a different shape of bike.

When I was the first woman to finish the Race Across America in 2013, some complained that the woman who came in second should have been given the overall winner’s award because she was on a traditional bike. To the credit of the Race Across America Organizers, they did not bow to pressure from these complainers.

I would ask that you do the same. Follow your own rules, award Jason the overall win, and give the other riders first, second and third place in their own division.

As an athlete who rides a non-standard bike, I am grateful for the opportunity to compete, but on behalf of Jason and others, I also ask to be treated with respect and justice.

Thank you,

Maria Parker

First Female Finisher RAAM 2013

Email to Brad Allen – President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Senior Games:

From: Maria Parker <>
Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 5:49 PM
Subject: Senior games ban on Recumbent bicycles

Dear Mr. Allen,

Early this year I learned that you barred an athlete from the Senior Games based on the type of bike he rides. David Wall, a 63 year old with two artificial hips, rides a recumbent bike. After getting permission to ride his recumbent bike in the games, David trained for and competed at the regional and state levels. He was excited to go to the nationals.

Unfortunately, he received a letter saying that the rules had been changed and that recumbent bikes were no longer allowed. This after the fact rule change, is patently unfair to an athlete who loves to ride and compete and to all athletes who choose to compete on safer, more comfortable bikes. It is also in direct opposition to the spirit and mission of the North Carolina Senior Games.

When I was the first woman to finish the Race Across America in 2013, some complained that the woman who came in second should have been given the overall winner’s award because she was on a traditional bike. To the credit of the Race Across America Organizers, they did not bow to pressure from these complainers.

I strongly object to the unfair rule change after David had already qualified for Nationals.

Please reverse your decision and allow David Wall the opportunity to compete in Nationals.

Secondly I ask that your organization, an organization that has a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit staying fit and one that allows seniors to compete in Cornhole and Bocce, open the Senior Games to athletes who ride non-traditional bicycle platforms.


Maria Parker


  • Paul Gagnon

    Very well stated Maria thank you for your continued leadership…

  • Maria Parker

    No one does this alone. We’re grateful for the community of athletes on all bike platforms that see the injustice and work to right it. Thanks Paul.

  • Dick Crandall

    Couldn’t agree with u more, don’t care if it’s a pogo stick on wheels. If you pedal it your in. Everyone has a choice to ride any bike, if they pick the wrong one so be it. If u change rules there should be notice long before event not during or after. Recumbents get discriminated against because they r faster. That’s like disqualifying a race car because of the location of the motor. See us in Sebring

  • Maria Parker

    Exactly!! See you in Sebring.

  • Warren Beauchamp

    I had a similar issue at the recent Kickstand Classic race which advertised “any kind of bike” After I won the race 19.2 mile race on my recumbent bike by almost 2 minutes the organizer came over and told me that I would be placed in a special category. I got to stand on the podium but it was for winning the recumbent category and no time was announced. Then the 1st place upright bike rider was given the first place overall prize and they announced his time. I was miffed but you get numb to this stuff after a while. At least they let us race.

  • Maria Parker

    Warren, this just isn’t fair. I refuse any longer to accept this. Let’s not be numb, let’s not grow cynical. We need to put pressure on race directors when they do this kind of thing. Can you please send me the details and the race director’s name and e-mail if you have it? It’s ok if you’re put into a separate category, but race directors should at least acknowledge that you were the fastest rider and the overall winner – first across the finish line. If they’re going to let you race, they have to let you win.

  • Chuck Bramwell

    I wrote the following e-mail to Maria today:

    I made a mistake and have posted the correction on the 2016 California Triple Crown Stage Race page at

    including the fact that the Stage Race will follow the ruling of the Race Across America in your amazing 2013 achievement.

    Please understand that I simply just did not know who to handle this situation because it had never occurred in the California Triple Crown Stage Race before. I thought I was making everyone happy but I was wrong.

    I believe that I have corrected the results now. Please let me know of any suggestions on how I can fix my mistake.

    With great respect to you for not only your great RAAM ride but also you’re amazing example of Never Giving Up!!

    Chuck Bramwell
    California Triple Crown Guy
    “There is nothing a good day of cycling won’t cure.”

  • Maria Parker

    Thank you Chuck for doing the right thing! You’ve shown what a real leader looks like.

  • Kerry Hales

    They just reversed again! Jason was declared the winner and not in some “made-up” category. Who would really think that you can change the rules after the race? Sounds like a politician to me.

  • Maria Parker

    I’m impressed with Chuck. He thought about it and made the right decision – now hopefully Brad Allen and the NC Senior Games will do the same.

  • Jim McGowan

    What a great turn around. Personal integrity won out! I am pleased to see this happen. Thank you, Maria. Thank you, Mr. Bramwell. I trust that this will serve as a precedent to follow for Mr. Allen and the NC Senior Games officials.

  • trplay

    I agree, Chuck has shown great courage and character reversing the decision. Hat is off to him.

  • Tom

    Wonderful news – and kudos to Chuck Bramwell for doing the right thing! This result shows a well informed recumbent community willing to take action.

  • Maria Parker

    Yes, we are grateful to our community who worked with us to right this wrong.

  • Geoffrey Moran

    In Australia I enquired if a recumbent could ride in the L’Etape the answer was no saying there were safety concerns. I replied upright bikes are far more dangerous ie, just watch cyclists flying off bikes headfirst in a “pile up”…………..seems like the Tour De France 90 year old relic design is still stopping the ordinary citizen, the old, the infirm and those just wanting to have a go from being part of the cycling world. I started my working life as a draftsman using pencils, rubbers, .18mm ink pens on a drafting “machine” that tilted and that you stood up to. You needed a steady hand and a good eye. You could only produce one plan at a time. I finished my working life (young at 50 yrs old) sitting in front of a computer that had colours, zoom in, zoom out, extremely accurate and when sent to the printer could plot out several copies in minutes exactly the same. So everything was way faster. No one would want to wait for a hand drawn plan now. Imagine if they outlawed computers and printers and said hand drafting only. Industry would grind to a halt. The upright bike is old technology which is inefficent and dangerous. Hopefully governments will begin extolling the great virtues of recumbents.

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