Thursday, May 15, 2008

Priority Health Tour de Leelanau - Featured Racer - Brent Bookwalter of BMC Pro Cycling Team

Brent Bookwalter is a died-in-the-wool Michigander, being born and raised in the Grand Rapids area. From his first days as a mountain biker to his phenomenal young career as a pro road racer, Brent has always shown up here and there at Michigan races.

The first time I saw Brent race was in 2002 at the Stoney Creek Tailwind CX Michigan CX Championships where he raced the A's and was STICKING it to Jeff Weinert and Russ Tiles by bunny hopping the barriers. He must have been 18 and his bike handling skills were EXCEPTIONAL. Brent took third, but it was a close race right up till the final corner.

2007 was a year that saw Brent recovering from a broken leg after colliding with a road sign at an early season race in France. Now racing with BMC, Brent is making is FIRST EVER appearance at the Priority Health Tour de Leelanau with one of the strongest teams in the US peloten, the BMC Pro Cycling Team. If you were able to watch any of this years Tour of California, you'll recognize the understated white jerseys of the BMC team as the guys who were CONSTANTLY on the attack, winning the MOST AGGRESSIVE RACER and KOM jerseys for Jackson Stewart on Stage 1 and KOM on Stage 2, as well as the overal KOM for Scott Nydam.

Through the wonder of the internet and Blackberry's, we were able to catch Brent for a moment as he recovered from racing the Tour of Romandie in Switzerland last week and before racing the Tour de Picardie in France (May 16-18). Brent was nice enough to take the time to answer some quick questions about cycling, how he started and what's next...

1.How long have you been racing?

Started racing about 9 years ago on the mountain bike. My first race was at pando ski area and then cannonsberg ski area. I never would have thought then I'd be where I am today, but I was really blessed to have so much support from the mich. Scene along the way.

2. What was your first team/club and what other teams have you raced for?

My first teams were bike shop teams. North Kent cyclery and Alger Schwinn got me started when I was just a young guy. Those teams and everyone involved showed how much fun mountain biking could be, but also planted the seed of how hard work in this sport pays off.

3. When did you turn pro?

Turned pro on the road in 2005 w advantage benefits/endeavor. This was the beginning for the team that turned into priority health and then bissell.

4. What was your first race and how did you do?

EDITORS NOTE - missed this one....

5. What’s your favorite Michigan race?

Fav mi. Race?? Maybe the tdl after next weekend :)

6. What’s your favorite Professional race?

7. What’s are your cycling strength / weakness?

Kind of all a-rounder on the bike. Usually like the time trials. (EDITORS NOTE: Brent won the U23 National TT Championship in 2006!)

8. What was your first bike?

First bike was a schwinn predator. It was total coincidence but I got my pic in the paper the day I learned to ride that bike w no training wheels.

9. What is the funniest cycling moment you have had?

10. Do you follow specific training programs?

Fairly specific training but I keep it fun too!!

11. Do you coach yourself or have coach?
Coached by Rick Crawford.

12. What other interest or hobbies do you have?

Love to ride the mountain bike, and ski in the winter.

13. What’s your favorite place to ride?

Fav place to ride... Blue ridge mountains of north carolina.

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