Thursday, June 21, 2012

Regional Cycling Legends Part 1 - Mt. Larry Hibbard

Steel WÜl finally caught up with cycling legend Mt. Larry today and he was kind enough to share a few stories and answer some questions. Enjoy this exclusive interview.



Name- Lawrence Jeffery Hibbard
Height - 6'
Weight - 165
Bike - Specialized 29er stump jumper
Nickname - Mountain Larry Hibbard
Age - 54
Born - San Francisco


SWCC- According to urban legend, you used to live off the land in the Forest of Nisene Marks and slept in a hammock, any truth to this?

LH- Oh yea! I lived there off the radar for over two years........I didn't live off the land but I was... disenchanted with society and went to a place with some peace and quiet - no blowers, mowers, or vehicles. I would bury my stuff in 5 gallon buckets and cover them with brush and leafs every morning to keep the rangers off my scent. I actually did sleep in a hammock and I would carry this really big stick, cause you never know. Deer and boar would cruise through my camp on a regular basis and it took me thirty minutes to get there and I would ride with a flash light in my mouth..it was kind of on a wing and a prayer if you know what I mean. I would not hang out there during the day you know,  it was a place I went to sleep and.... look forward to those full moon nights. I felt like the fresh air helped develop my lung capacity.

SWCC- Do you remember who coined your nickname and when?

LH - Mike Battin coined it while I was racing the Santa Cruz Beach Hill Criterium. It was my first road racing experience and me and this other guy broke away 3 laps into the race and we stayed away the whole race. The announcer had no idea who I was so Battin walked over to the announcing booth grabbed the microphone and announced to the whole cycling community that that man is Mountain Larry Hibbard. I got second place when my foot pulled out of the toe clip at the finish line.

SWCC - You have managed to get on the podium over 3 decades of racing. What era would you consider your hay-day?

LH - Early 90's for sure! That was the Myrah era of battles, I was just so lucky to race against 3 national champions like Darryl, Natwick, and Myrah.

SWCC - Folks who know you claim that you have not aged since 1989 - what is your secret?

LH - laughing... I don't have any kids and I don't drive a car. I do allot of off road riding - just being at peace with nature - let me tell you ....the grays are coming in though.

SWCC - Tell us about Coolradbro.

LH - I always enjoyed drawing my whole life and someone suggested that I do a comic book and I finished the book in 1989 - I don't remember where the coolradbro came from , I guess I just kinda made it up. I made 500 copies or so of the comic book and either gave them away or sold them over the years. It is a loosely interpreted autobiography and some science-fiction thrown in there as he goes to another planet and does a mt. bike / surf biathlon to save the world.

SWCC - Do you remember soloing the "Dell" on your Mt. Bike after dropping the counties fastest road riders on the Saturday ride?

LH - Yea!..back in the hey-day. I think I was on my Rocklobster or my Yeti - I don't remember.

SWCC - Who did you sign your first pro contract with?

LH- Well..pro contract was Yeti but my first amateur contract was with KHS - I won Big Bear in the 19 to 35 category aka Expert and then won my next two nationals after that, that was 1990 and I got 2nd at cross nationals behind Myrah that year. KHS literaly signed me at the finish line and gave me 500 bucks, a kit, a helmet, and a contract. That was the year that I won the unofficial World Championships Cross Country and Hill Climb. It was the very first UCI Mt. Bike World Championships. I was dooking it out all year with Travis Brown and at the last minute after seeing the prize list, I decided to race the expert class instead of the pro race because there was way more swag that you could win and sell. Ned won the pro race that year.

SWCC - Steel, Aluminum, Ti, or Carbon?

LH - I have never ridden carbon - so I would have to say a Ritchey steel frame - there is something so amazing about the feel. They are super light and stiff. I have ridden Ti bikes - and they have too much  flex for me because I stand on the bike a lot..but I am carbon curious.....(laughing)

SWCC - When did you first start cycling and racing?

LH - I have been riding since I was 3 years old in Oregon on my dads farm. In high school I was the only guy riding to class and my teacher would say, "if you want to know what the weather is doing, just look at Larry" because I was either sweaty or soaking wet from the rain.I did my first bike race in Nisene Marks it was a cross race in 1986 on the lower trails. Technically I did my first BMX race on a Schwinn stingray - won the first heat and then got blown away. I also raced motocross in the 100 class as a kid. I shadowed Natwick when folks told me he was the national champion and I followed him around to see what he did. He had a huge influence on me and was a role model.

SWCC- Who do you admire as a cyclist?

LH - Cancellara - his wattage is amazing! I don't road race, but I admire them. Eddy is my all time favorite rider. I can't say Lance until the dust settles on him. I also really like Gilbert duclos-lassalle. I like Missy Giove as well - she was so crazy - she would do things that nobdy would do. I also look up to Miles Rockwell. Speaking of Missy Giovy - she was a teammate of mine on Yeti and we were racing in her home town in Vermont and she and I took a motorcycle up to this swimming hole that had an insane cliff that you had to thread the needle through some trees in mid air to pull it off. She stepped up to the cliff and started cursing at herself to get psyched up for the jump - she was kind of possessed or something and she just jumped with out hesitation. I eventually did it after some contemplation.

SWCC - How many races do you think you have done and out of those how many podium finishes do you have?

LH - I know that I have won at least 120 races. It is hard to say..lets see, I was doing 20 to 30 races a year and I podiumed most of the time - I would say I made the podium 3/4 of the time.

SWCC - Describe a perfect day for Mountain Larry Hibbard.

LH - Art, PE, and spending time with the love of my life Nicholetta!

SWCC - Who were your cycling mentors?

LH- There were a lot...everybody played a role. This town has a huge support system. I would say Natwick was my first true mentor - he was the shit! I wanted to be like him.

SWCC- Out of all of your national and world cup medals, what race stands out as the greatest?

LH - Wow...lets see, uummm...it's a toss up between the bronze world championship medal or the silver national elite cross medal - although there is nothing like standing on a UCI podium.

SWCC - Do you own a vehicle?

LH- No! I owned a motorcycle in high school - I also had a Gran Torino in highschool until I crashed it. I never owned another vehicle until I was 40 when I got a VW gulf. My mom called me over to her place and she had it outside waiting for me as a gift. The gulf war broke out and I was getting to comfortable and realized that I needed to get back on my bike. The only reason to ever have a car is so that when you are driving you don't have to hear all the other cars. I had that VW for 4 years and someone hit it at the canerey parkinglot and I sold it to my buddy for 150 bucks so he could take it to Mexico.

SWCC- What motivates Larry Hibbard?

LH- I think that just knowing there are beautiful places to ride in Santa Cruz - everything is so accessible and you just can't help but go out and experience it.

SWCC - How many different disciplines have you medaled in?

LH- Let's see...I won the Panoche Road Race one year, I got 3rd at Cat's Hill Crit, I have medaled in cross, mt biking, road, triathlon, biathlon, xterra, I won the Regional xterra in Half Moon Bay one year.

SWCC- Is it true that you finished a race once with a stick as your handlebar?

LH- Yes, I qualified for the US World Championship Cross Country team the year it was held in France. I did not have a very good spot on the line and I went from almost dead last to the top 30 and as I passing Max Jones my handlebar snapped in half because I had so much adrenaline pumping. It was the first time I ever broke a bar. The crazy thing is that I just read an article about Tim Guild the week before which described the same situation, so I did exactly what he did and I grabbed a stick from the course and wrapped the stick and my broken bars with some of the course ribbon and tied it off. The weirder part is that Tim and I share the same birthday....anyway, I finished the race and even past some people at the end and with a lap to go a stick broke off my rear derailer and I tried converting it to a single-speed which did not work so well so I decided to run the last lap. The course marshals were pleading with me to get off the course but I refused because the US coaches told us before the race that it was important for us to finish so we could get a better spot on the starting line for the next year. I wish I still had that stick, but that bike was stolen from the airport on that trip home.............crazy.


Larry equipped with his state, national, and world medals

custom Hibbard artwork



I have known Larry for over 20 years and he always has time to stop and chat with folks. If you have ever been passed like you were standing still by a sinewy guy with a backpack in cut off jeans with headphones blazing on a bike that costs as much as your helmet -don't trip it is just Santa Cruz's own Mountain Larry Hibbard commuting to work at mach 10. 




5 comments:

  1. This is the best fucking thing I've read all week. Great post, Jake.
    Mountain Larry has a new fan.
    BC

    ReplyDelete
  2. Larry is a monster racer and a local race legend. I was racing Expert class for Fat City Cycles at that time in the 90's.He was so strong and fast he would pass me like I was standing still. No matter how hard I tried I could never catch Larry.He use to ride his bike from Santa Cruz to Lake Berressa and destroy the whole field !WITH NO SHOCKS on lava flows and a shitty course ! Then Larry would hop on his bike and head home!Unbelievable!Truly one of a kind.Thanks for the interview . This brought back some very fond memories when I was still racing. Dave Hunt former Team Fat Chance Expert Class Racer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. One of the few riders who would strike both fear and joy when he rolled up to the start line. Always a smile on his face and dynamite for legs. great article.

    ReplyDelete
  4. New bumper sticker- "Mountain Larry Pissed On My Shoes."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Xterra Half Moon Bay. Guy with the same age as myself on his calf walking around before race wearing bibs and carrying around an O'neill spring suit. I thought two things: The water is freezing and that guy is going to have a hard time swimming in a non triathlon specific wetsuit. And two: I wonder if I will see him on the bike?
    Saw him on the bike. For about five seconds. Then he quickly disappeared. Nice to hear he is the same fast and humble individual.

    ReplyDelete