Monday, May 19, 2008

Priority Health Tour de Leelanau - Featured Racer - Mike Simonson of Trek Midwest Pro Mtn Bike Team

Mike Simonson winning the 2006 Iceman Cometh

Making a brief foray into the world of road racing at the Tour de Leelanau will be a well known face in Michigan mountain biking, Mike Simonson. As a former member of the powerhouse Bell's Mountain Bike Team, Mike notched up BIG wins at the 2006 Iceman Cometh and the 2006 & 2007 Ore-To-Shore mtn bike races.

In 2008 Mike is racing in the dirt for the Trek Midwest Pro Mtn bike team. However, for the Tour de Leelanau, he has joined up with the South Lyon Cycle Racing Team for one event to bang elbows with some of the best professional road race teams in the US. Mike's attendance at the TdL promises to be very exciting.

We were able to catch up with Mike at the Tour of Kensington Valley where he was giving his road racing legs a little stretch and racing the 100 mile Pro 1/2 event on his 29er with road tires and a flat bar!!!! (the true ROADIES were STUNNED!!!!!)

1.How long have you been racing?

I started racing BMX back when I was 12 years old. I got into the BMX dirt jumping scene when I was in high school, then when I started going to college I got into MTB'ing. I think I was 19 when I started getting really serious about racing.

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

I got involved with Flying Rhino club out of Clarkston MI back when Robert Linden was racing MTB's. I used to ride MTB's in the winter at PLRA with him every Saturday in my early teens. Then I got invlolved with Bart Wellesly and his Cannondale team for a while. From there I started racing on the Bells team with Trek bikes, then Quiring bikes later on. Currently I'm with the Trek Factory MTB team. I

3. When did you turn pro?

I guess the term Pro in MTB racing is a subjective term. Not sure I'm really even a Pro yet. However, I recieved my UCI pro card in 2006, and have been racing elite in the Midwest since 2000.

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

My first race was a Paul Bunyon race when I was 14 years old. Robert Linden talked me into the sport class. It was an absolute muddy mess. I dropped out aboout halfway through. I thought those guys were crazy fast.

5. What’s your favorite Michigan race?

Favorite MI race is Iceman. It just doesn't get any better then that. All my best friends get together for a huge bike race, then we party the night away afterwords. It's almost TOO much fun. Steve Brown does a great job with it every year. And the Bells party never lets ya down. If you haven't made a trip out to the party bus, you haven't lived.

6. What’s your favorite Professional race?

Favorite professional race is a tough call. Sea Otter is very cool. It's a real circus. Shenandoah100 is another great one.

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

Well if I announce that, then everyone will know... seriously though, I think my strengths are on flat rough and rolling courses. Weaknesses are on insane climber courses. I've got a "Belgian Classics" kind of style. I guess that comes from riding the hilly dirt roads around my house so much.

8. What was your first bike?

First MTB bike was a Trek 900. It had a rigid fork.

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

I guess just all of the hilarious commentary we have on some of our training rides. When you're out there with the same guys for 5hrs a day every weekend, you tend to run out of things to talk about, so the conversation can go in silly directions.

10. Do you follow specific training programs?

I usually set up a schedule of the big races I want to do well at. Then train for each one specifically in between. If the next race is 100 miles with a lot of climbing, then I'll work specifically at that distance and try to mach the elevation as best I can. It's best to give yourself at least 6 weeks in between major races, but sometimes the schedule doesn't always work out like that.

11. Do you coach yourself or have coach?

I coach myself mostly. I read a lot of books and articles. Lately I've been consulting with Art Flemming. He's pretty knowledgable about the sport and specific training.

12. What other interest or hobbies do you have?

I play a little golf here and there, and I have also been known to play the drums from time to time.

13. What’s your favorite place to ride?

The dirt roads by my house up in Oxford and Metamora. Miles and miles of road with lots of hills and barely any traffic. If you've ever done the Kinentic Systems Back 40, then you've ridden on same the roads.

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