August 17, 2015/ Jim Parker
The Achilles heel of recumbent cycling has always been climbing performance. Maybe that’s why recumbents flock to the flat races like Bike Sebring and Calvin’s Challenge, but no recumbent racer has yet attempted the epic climbing challenge of the Hoodoo 500 in the eight-year history of the race. The route, 519 miles with 30,000 to 41,000 feet of climbing (depending on your reference source), peaks in thin air at an altitude of 10,600 ft. This is not the typical event that recumbent racers win… or even dare to enter.
That is, until now. Not one, not two, but THREE Cruzbike racers will line up at the starting line in St. George, Utah. Maria Parker and Ben Tomblin will race in the solo division, and Lief Zimmerman will race in the stage race. The racers and crew will experience three National Parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef), three National Monuments (Pipe Springs, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Cedar Breaks) and crisscross numerous Utah State Parks including Anasazi, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kodachrome Basin and Snow Canyon.
Even if they come in last place, they will have experienced riding through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful territory in the world; and they will set the mark for recumbents.
That’s not to say I’d bet against them doing better than last place…
Cruzbike racers have had an especially good year so far in 2015, with outstanding performances (wins or records) at many of the most competitive races in the U.S. that don’t ban recumbents: Bike Sebring, Calvin’s Challenge, the Assault on Mt. Mitchell, Big Jay’s Fat Ass 12-hour, and HPRA races in Florida and Michigan. I believe Cruzbike’s dynamic boom technology gives it a significant climbing advantage compared to fixed-boom recumbents. Combine that with the well-known ergonomic and aerodynamic advantages that recumbents have over standard bikes, and we have reason to believe this daunting Utah race will be an interesting one. RAAM legend Seana Hogan will be defending her Hoodoo 500 course record, just as Maria will be aiming to set her own. These two powerhouses of ultracycling haven’t raced the same event since RAAM 2013. Certainly the men’s races will be exciting, too.
I am very proud of all the recumbent racers out there, no matter what brand of bike they are racing. It takes a lot of courage to enter any race, and especially on a recumbent. Athletes who ride recumbents have been discriminated against and banned for too long. By competing with integrity on a recumbent in the races that allow us to compete, we are opening minds and making cycling a better, more inclusive, sport. I’d like to thank the organizers of the Hoodoo 500 for welcoming us at their race.
Maria Parker, Larry Oslund, and Ben Tomblin hanging out before the start of the Assault on Mt Mithchell, May 2015.
The stage race begins on Friday, August 28th and the solo on the 29th. Hoodoo you think will win?
The other question you may be asking yourself is: “Why isn’t Jim Parker racing in the Hoodoo?” I will be racing in the 100 mile race at the Mid-Atlantic in Washington, NC exactly one week before the Hoodoo. I plan to give this event my best shot, and I will be in no condition for a 519 mile race at high altitude seven days later. I want to see if my sub-4-hour century ride last year was a fluke, or if I can pull it off again.