2005 Florida HPRA HPV Racing Report
2005 HPRA Florida Challenge
An Apprentice’s Blurred View

By Jose A. Hernandez

Shari Bernhard started the South Florida HPRA Challenge five years ago and turned it into a yearly tradition that I personally looked forward to with child-like excitement and anticipation. But because of health issues, Shari needed a volunteer to coordinate this year’s race. The mere thought of NOT having a 2005 HPRA Florida Challenge was something I couldn’t live with. Hence, my offer to coordinate this year’s race was an immediate and largely unconscious reaction, much like a knee-jerk reflex. But once I became fully cognizant of what I had just gotten into, I consciously and purposely began to PANIC! 

In desperation I sent Garrie Hill an email in which I begged for help. Fortunately for me, Garrie offered to come down to South Florida, provide us with lots of equipment, supplies, direct the actual race, handle the insurance detail, provide special prizes, spend a small fortune, become our major sponsor and my personal HPRA mentor in the process. Garrie’s help made my job a lot easier. All I had to do was to coordinate the event’s logistics and promote the event. I quickly chose a date, reserved the race track, a picnic pavilion, a party room at a local restaurant for the award ceremony and also setup an informational web page. A bunch of members from our Florida Recumbent Riders Club and my wife also came to my rescue (Thank You Susan, Coni, Mike, Ken, Craig, Dana, Cathy, Walt and others).. Thanks to our volunteers, the registration process was efficient and smooth. We managed to complete the registration and inspection process in 45 minutes flat! The recumbent Gods must have thought that our efforts were good and they sent me Walt Smyser, one of our most active club members, who took care of many important details like designing a poster and race cards, securing a megaphone, inspection stamps and laptop PC and most importantly, designing a spreadsheet to accurately record and calculate scores. Thanks to Walt, the race results were available a couple of minutes after the last racer crossed the finish line. 

Our promotional efforts included setting up a web page, distributing posters, and announcing this race on a number of Internet Boards. The event took place during Broward County’s official “Bicycle Week” and as a result; we also got some free publicity from the local government and the Sun Sentinel, a local newspaper. In spite of our promotional efforts, we pretty much failed to make this event attractive to the general public as few spectators were present but, we did have 29 registered racers, many of which competed in the newly created Trike Class, and we also had several women and two juniors. I was especially happy to have a junior class as they’re the future of our sport. In order to attract as many racers as possible we sought to offer lots of prizes. Thus, we solicited sponsorship from numerous Bicycle Manufacturers and bike shops. Three shops, Atlantic Bicycle, Bicycle Spot and Power On Cycling responded immediately as did five manufacturers: Bacchetta Bikes, Catrike, RANS, Reynold’s Weld Lab, and Sun Bicycles. Needless to say, I really appreciate the support of our sponsors and shamelessly call on other Recumbent Manufacturers to see the light and understand that their support in events such as ours is a great way to simultaneously promote their products and expand our bent horizons. 

After months of preparation and nervous anticipation THE DAY was upon us. The weatherman had predicted good weather but he was WRONG. The weather wasn’t good. It was PERFECT! Without a doubt, March 12 qualified as the most glorious day of the year. Immaculate azure skies and balmy 65-72 degree temperatures set the ambience perfectly matching the upbeat mood of the riders. A calm breeze from the west kept us cool all day long and grew into a stiff head wind, turning the 200 Meter Flying Sprint into a very challenging affair. 

The race started promptly at 9:30 AM and ended by 4:30PM, 7 hours by a standard watch but it felt like 7 minutes by my biological clock. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun and I guess this could explain my distorted perception of time. More likely, I was simply in a serotonin induced daze or dream like state in which memories are imprinted as an asynchronous array of blurred images and fleeting impressions of people smiling, recumbent bicycles zooming by, the distant and non stop chatter of conversation and the happy sounds of laughter, cheering and applause. 

But not everything was completely out of focus. I clearly remember the intense facial expressions of some of the racers as they flew around the track, especially those of the Bacchetta Team members. I was very impressed with their pace line technique, and the apparent ease in which they secured the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the stock class. In sharp contrast, Carol Mitnik’s ever present ear to ear grin simply couldn’t be missed. Carol was obviously having a great time during the 20 minute endurance race and was not at all concerned with catching up to Anita Hutson who was clearly dominating the Women Class with her Bacchetta Aero. I was equally impressed with Steve and Theresa Spencer who came all the way from Chicago, Illinois to win 1st place in the Super Stock Class and 2nd place in the Women Class, respectively. I also managed to catch more than a quick glimpse of Regis Hampton’s Black Cat and Charles Huffman’s Trice Monster, who secured the 1st and 2nd place in the Trike Class respectively. The image of George Reynolds as he zoomed around the track on his awesome Z Bone wasn’t missed either and neither was the phenomenal performance of Dana Barlow’s Two Strange as his son Lance launched it at 38.2 MPH against a brutal head wind. 38 MPH is a phenomenal speed, especially when you consider that Lance had only trained for a short time. Two Strange is a 21 year old streamliner that was originally raced in Indianapolis in 1985 and until very recently, laid dormant in a garage for more than 20 years. But of all the day’s images, the sharpest and most memorable was quite possibly that of Ryan Mitnick, whose face shone in pride and happiness as he received the RANS 2nd prize award.

As Shari indicated in her recorded message to those of us at the award ceremony, this race was about achieving our personal best and having fun. I think we clearly met Shari’s criteria and because of that, I’d say that our 5th Annual HPRA event was a great success.

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