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.
Let's follow the money and see who should be on the stand and who should get a pay raise. Lance is worth 125 million dollars, Roger Clemens is worth 60 million dollars, Secretariat was worth 3 million dollars, Phil Knight is worth 14.7 billion dollars, Hal Steinbrenner (Georges son) is worth 4 billion dollars. In my book, Lance, Roger and Secretariat are entitled so some serious back pay for all the swag they sold for companies over the years. After all they were the ones that had to do all the work and sacrifice their bodies, lives, and well being while training and using performance enhancing drugs.
How many tickets did the freaking Steinbrenners sell to folks over the years so we could see the one and only Roger Clemens while he was lubed to the gills? George Steinbrenner's attention to detail was legendary and his own managers called him 'Manager George'. If you think for a minute that George's inner circle did not know about the Clemens dope factor than maybe you also believe that Johan Bruyneel has never seen a blood transfusion. The Steinbrenners would never go in front of a congressional hearing because they own a few of them for crying out loud.
Why are we putting the race horses on the stand? When money was absolutely flowing into the offices of Phil Knight (nike) and John Burkes (trek), do you think that they were concerned as to how Lance was winning? These multi billion dollar companies don't just throw millions at an athlete without doing their homework. Before they sign on the dotted line, they have teams of people who ensure they know everything about their athletes including: trainers, coaches, friends, heart rates, blood types, life insurance policies, financial history, credit, weakness, family, strengths, and last but not least their dreams. The corporations fed on those dreams to the tune of billions (1,000,000,000). Nike decided to donate to cancer research on July 27th 1999 (Lance's first TdF win). Lance did not chose his story (single mom, world title, the cancer, the comeback) it just happened and savvy money makers quickly identified it as a sure thing.
What I can't figure out is why did Clemens take the stand. I would have pleaded the 5th and demanded that my partners in crime join me (Steinbrenners, addidas, MLB, ect...). When the athletes get tuned up with banned substances they are with a team of specialists, but when they get busted they are all by their lonesome. I am not advocating drugs, I am just pointing out the fact that the corporations have absolutely nothing to loose and everything to gain with a sponsored athlete who happens to be bigger stronger faster leaner. If I was Lance, I would be pointing our the fact that lots of folks got rich while ensuring they got "their" 7 TdF wins. After seeing what the fat cats are pulling down working with a legal safety net, I think Lance is grossly underpaid because he has to pay for his legal safety net and I am sure it is not cheap. If they want the sport to be clean, then they simply need to change the rules and go after the folks pocket books who are manipulating the drugged puppets.
Can you spy the common theme here?
Speaking of race horses - do you think that Marion was getting good advise? When she got busted, her people had her back - her way back, and she was left to fend for herself.
For the record: drugs do not make mediocre athletes into superstars, they help world class athletes go 5% faster.
Before June 11th I would have told you that I knew every nook and cranny of the north coast but that all changed after a two day boogie with my 8 year old daughter. She is already planning our next tour with Papa Bill. On the long push home while spinning up out of Waddell, I interrupted her singing and asked her to lift her feet off the pedals only to confirm that my suspicion was correct...
Tom officially closed his shop this week and I will miss hanging out there getting the latest updates on the original Steel WÜl guys. For a guy who did not have a computer or phone strapped to his hip, he sure did have his finger on the pulse of all the living cycling legends. His shops over the last two decades have functioned as the de-facto hub for all things rootsy. Until very recently Tom's shop was the home for Rob Parson's USA team Raleigh and Katrin's Olympic sew-ups. We wish you the best with your new gig and happy sailing.
JACOB, Ride like a pro and stay lean for life with cycling!
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I received that email message today from Bicycling Magazine and someone there evidently thinks that I am a cross dressing behemoth of a man who needs to loose 50+ lbs. To paraphrase my friend John Caletti I might be showing one of two extra Christmas cookies on the waistline, but 50 lbs would put me in the Atle Kvalsvoll category of cyclists and I probably would not pass my annual physical agility test at 120 lbs.
I understand where they are going with this message and I think it is all positive for the most part, however there are two things that they slipped in there that are absolutely insane. Ride like a Pro? Cycling blunts your appetite?
On what planet do we encourage folks to ride like a Pro and then give them the impression that it is good for their health. The line has been blurred so bad between Pros and everyone else that folks are starting to think that they are riding like Pros. Have you ever seen the Pros in casual wear walking around? They are not exactly the picture of health (BJM excluded), as a matter of fact they are always on the edge of sickness due to their extreme lifestyle hence the wool caps, hand sanitizer, and vitamin ritual. I will give a SW jersey to the first person to get a ProTour rider to do 30 push-ups in a row.
I thought of Doug E. Fresh when I read the claim that cycling blunts your appetite. Cycling not only increases your appetite but will make you eat combinations of food that your never thought was possible before. Below is a photo taken by Frank Schleck inside his team van showcasing the typical daily intake of a single rider. Grand Tour riders do speak of a phenomena towards the end of the race where they start loosing interest in food and that is because their jaws and digestive tracks are so overworked that they start shutting down. I tend to be food motivated just like Brent Marks and our African Basenji. Mama WÜleur and I used to meet Damon Kluck at Marian's ice cream when he was pedaling for USPS and watch him knock back a triple scoop of 10-20 and I am pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that he put in 6 hours that day. Remember to ride for fun, ride with friends, and ride for food.