SONOMA, Calif. (IMMEDIATE RELEASE) — Considering all that Bobby McMullen has been through, it’s reassuring to know he has a keen sense of humor.
McMullen, a self-described “train wreck,” has encountered just about every obstacle — from blindness to two kidney/pancreas transplants — but that hasn’t stopped him from fully enjoying life.
The Redding resident will take his zest for life to Infineon Raceway for the 2006 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, presented by X Fusion, as part of the Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic, July 13-16. McMullen will compete in the Super Downhill on Saturday, July 15, and hopes to compete in Friday’s Downhill.
McMullen is fully blind in his left eye and 80-percent blind in his right eye. When describing his right eye he says, “It’s like looking through a rolled up piece of paper with Vaseline smeared on the eye hole.”
McMullen, who is an avid skier, mountain biker and triathlete, has been legally blind since 1993 due to a degenerative eye disease. Moreover, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes — the most serious form of the disease — when he was 12 years old. He has also endured two kidney/pancreas transplants as a result of his diabetes.
His most recent cycling adventure came in the Race Across America, which began on June 13 in Oceanside and concluded one week later in Atlantic City (N.J.). McMullen was part of an eight-person team (Team Donate Life) that finished third in class and ninth overall out of 59 teams. Race Across America celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
“That was a wild ride but that’s what I’m all about,” McMullen said. “I was on the bike about four hours each day. We biked all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in one week.”
“Wild” is one way to describe McMullen’s world; “challenging” is another.
“It was tough when I was told I wouldn’t see again,” said McMullen, a 43-year-old massage therapist whose dream of becoming a lawyer was cut short by his blindness. “I was pretty pissed off and disappointed and it was hard to swallow. When you look at it we are in a sight-oriented society and those of us who are visually impaired face a lot of obstacles.
“When I got the news I went home and my dad came out to meet me and I cried pretty hard right then. But then it was time to get on with my life.”
And he has certainly done that. He made the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and won the U.S. National Championships in both downhill and Super G in 1996. He also made the Nagano Paralympics in 1998 in Japan.
His passion stems from his childhood where he was a standout athlete in Redding, earning varsity letters in three sports. He played football at Shasta Junior College before transferring to Weber State in Utah, where he was a walk-on for the Wildcats’ ski team. While at Weber State, he broke his femur in six places and shattered his hip during a high-speed ski crash.
“I was taught that if you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight times,” McMullen said. “I’ve taken everything that has been thrown my way and I will continue.”
McMullen races downhill by trailing his guide, who starts the trek down the hill in front of him and shouts instructions along the way. His guide is his girlfriend, Therese Connor, who is also a competitive mountain biker. It is an amazing sight to watch McMullen race down the hill, legally blind, with only his guide for instruction as he reaches speeds in excess of 30 mph.
“It is an unreal and intense experience for me” McMullen said of his downhill runs. “But I have a great communicator in Therese. She is the best I’ve ever had.”
For additional information on the Infineon Technologies Cougar Mountain Classic, visit www.cmclassic.com.
Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic
WHAT: 2006 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, presented by X Fusion, as part of the Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic.
WHEN: July 13-16.
WHERE: Infineon Raceway
MOUNTAIN BIKE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Cross country, short track, downhill, super downhill and mountain-cross
ROAD CYCLING: Road circuit race and road criterium (United States Cycling Federation sanctioned)
EXPO: Trade team trailers, cycling vendors, family activities and vintage bicycles
PARTICIPANTS: On-site registration is available for a full slate of racing classes, with entry fees ranging from $30 to $80. Non-competitive events for mountain bikers and road cyclists are $10 each.
SPECTATORS: $10 per car per day or a three-day pass for $20
CONTACT: For more information call 650-364-7612, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.cmclassic.com
Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic Fact Sheet, July 14-16
Infineon Raceway will host the 2006 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, presented by X Fusion, as part of the Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic weekend. Infineon Raceway will now host the most prestigious mountain bike race weekend in the country. Events include super downhill, downhill, cross country, short track and mountain cross.
Infineon Raceway, Highways 37 & 121, Sonoma, CA 95476 (800-870-RACE or www.cmclassic.com).
USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championship Events
THURSDAY, July 13
INFINEON MOUNTAIN BIKE MARATHON: This event focuses on off-road endurance competition with the Marathon National Championship. Mountain bike riders will ride the 7.7-mile cross country course for approximately nine laps while competing for national championships in nine different categories. This event begins at 7 a.m.
FRIDAY, July 14
INFINEON CROSS COUNTRY: The cross country event will be contested on a 7.7-mile course that will navigate almost the entire Infineon Raceway facility. The course will feature climbs, descents, fire roads and swooping singletrack, as well as a challenging 5-10-minute climbs. The pro men’s event begins at 2 p.m., while the pro women’s event 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 15
INFINEON SUPER-D: Super-D is an exciting gravity event that will reward pedaling power and descending skills on the challenging Cougar Mountain course. From the Le Mans-style mass start it will be a rush to the end, including two or three power climbs during the descent to the finish. The National Championship events get under way at noon.
INFINEON AMBC MOUNTAIN CROSS: This exciting event features four riders springing out of a start gate and rocketing down a 30- to 45-second course filled with bumps, jumps and bermed turns. The competition is fierce, with elbows flying, legs pumping and aggressive racing guaranteed as only the top two racers progress to the next round. The pro events begin at 6 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 16
INFINEON AMBC MOUNTAIN BIKE DOWNHILL: The mountain bike downhill course could be one of the best downhill courses in the world. Perched high atop Cougar Mountain, nearly 400 feet above the raceway, this course will be 90-percent visible from the finish line, and should offer spectacular, fast, world-class downhill racing. On a clear day, from the start house, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. Runs will span approximately three minutes with plenty of natural jumps, and banked and off-camber turns. Pro events begin at 3:30 p.m.
INFINEON SHORT TRACK: Short Track (formerly known as Dirt Crit) racing is 30 minutes of non-stop attacking and recovering for riders. It puts a premium on aerobic fitness and bike handling skills and is sure to offer plenty of excitement. Men’s and women’s pro events begin at 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively.
In addition to the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships, the weekend will also feature road cycling events that will be contested on the same 12-turn road course usually reserved for motor racing events, including NASCAR.
FRIDAY, July 14
SUPERCUTS ROAD CRITERIUM: Criterium does the most to capture the excitement, speed, and close-quarters maneuvering usually found at Infineon Raceway's annual NASCAR weekend. The course covers much of the lower section of the racetrack, and will send cyclists around its hairpin at Turn 11. And since the fearless sprinters who will excel in this event are cycling's version of motorsports' drag racers, the criterium runs straight down the racetrack's quarter-mile strip. Women’s criterium racing begins at 3 p.m., while the men’s pro event begins at 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 15
SUPERCUTS ROAD CIRCUIT RACE: The 12-turn, 2.52-mile Infineon Raceway road course will be the venue for the road circuit race. These events will run 90 minutes for the amateur divisions and two-three hours for the professional divisions. The track's twisting, climbing layout will encourage breakaway runs and attacks by riders. Pro events begin at 11:30 a.m. (women) and 2:15 p.m. (men).
SUNDAY, July 16
SUPERCUTS SIX-HOURS OF ROAD CYCLING: The endurance racing craze hits the 12-turn, 2.52-mile Infineon Raceway road course with a six-hour road cycling endurance event. Riders can compete alone in the solo category and or on four-member teams, and the racing rules are kept simple. The ride starts at 10 a.m.
2005 MTB National Champions:
MEN: Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Cross Country); Travis Brown (Marathon); Adam Craig (Super-D); Eric Carter (Mountain Cross); Cody Warren (Downhill); Adam Craig (Short Track)
WOMEN: Mary McConneloug (Cross Country); Gretchen Reeves (Marathon); Kelli Emmett (Super-D); Jill Kintner (Mountain Cross); Melissa Buhl (Downhill); Shonny Vanlandingham (Short Track)
The Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic will also offer a variety of activities for families and recreational riders. Riders can enjoy the Supercuts slow ride, which will be a casual ride around the 2.52-mile Infineon Raceway road course on Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m.... Young riders (eight years old and under) are invited to learn riding skills and safety at the Shimano Kid's Bike Rodeo. This event is free for kids and runs from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. on Sunday.... Shimano will also host Youth Series races for children 14 years old and under. Racing will be held in two-year age groups, and all participants receive an award for their efforts…. Cycling enthusiasts will enjoy a vintage bicycle concourse throughout the weekend. The concourse will feature a variety of beautiful and historic bicycles from some of Europe's and America's finest builders, including Masi, Benotto, Cinelli, Ritchey, Specialized, Fisher, Breeze, and Cunningham.
$10 per day per vehicle. A three-day parking pass is available for $20.
For more information or to enter this event, please visit www.cmclassic.com or call (650) 364-7612. On-site registration is available for a full slate of amateur racing classes, with entry fees ranging from $30 to $45. Non-competitive events for mountain bikers and road cyclists are $10 each
VP of Media/Community Relations
Highways 37 &121, Sonoma, CA 95476
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