Lightning riders

Barclay Brown

In addition to helping put together the Lightning web site many years ago, Barclay competed in several races on Lightning bicycles.

Cycling resume

Barclay Brown
  • 1st place HPV and course record, Furnace Creek 508, 2000
  • 1st place Recumbent, course record, and gold medal, El Tour de Tucson, 2000
  • UMCA John Marino Competition, 8th place nationally across all classes
  • 8th place overall/1st place HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) in the 2000 World 24 Hour Championships in Eldridge, IA; 434 miles in 24 hours; qualified for solo RAAM
  • 1st place and course record, HPV Trike Division, 2000 Race Across America on team iXL-Greenspeed; 2975 miles in 6 days, 20 hours
  • Two world recumbent records in the 1999 Ultramarathon Cycling Association’s World 24 Championships (12 and 24 hour)
  • Fiesta Island Time Trial, 2002, 2nd place Age Group, 11th overall (hpv)
  • Atlanta Athlete of the Year (Atlanta Sports and Fitness Magazine), 1999.
  • Cross Georgia E-W UMCA record, 1999
  • California Triple Crown, 2001, 2002
  • In the top 5 nationally in all divisions of the UMCA National Points Challenge with over 8,000 miles in Ultra distance (100+ miles) events, 1999
  • Completed three century events for the Leukemia Society and a 500-mile Alaska charity ride, raising thousands of dollars for research.
  • First place recumbent finisher and second place overall in 1999 Texas Ironbutt 24 hour race.
  • Sixth recumbent finisher in the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris race, 1999.
  • First place recumbent finisher and Silver medal in the 111-mile El Tour de Tucson, 1998
  • Fifth place International Human Powered Speed Championships, 4km pursuit race, 1998

Race accounts

You can read his crew chief’s account of the 2000 Furnace Creek 508 here.

Brief autobiography

My first few years of ultra cycling, I think I was known as “the recumbent guy,” or just plain “the recumbent.” On the reclining seat of my recumbent bikes, I have ridden and raced more than 40,000 miles in the last five years, including Paris-Brest-Paris, Furnace Creek 508, and team RAAM. Honestly, I can’t imagine doing it on what we call a “wedgie.”

Comfort was not the deciding factor when I started riding recumbent bikes … it was speed. I hadn’t been on a bike since college when I started dating a cyclist in 1997. I wanted to ride fast. At least as fast as she was. The relationship didn’t last, but my passion for cycling did, and the rides just kept getting longer … and longer … and longer …

My best ultra experience was Furnace Creek 508 in 2000 when I set the Human Powered Vehicle course record, finishing the race in 40:49.

I was racing in my fully faired Lightning F-40. The bike has a nose cone, fairing, fiberglass tail, and a spandex cover, making it like a speeding bullet on the downhills.

I was flying down the steepest descent of the course in the pitch dark and trying to brake to keep the bike at a reasonable speed when friction from the brakes heated up the rim and literally burned the tire. My crew said they actually saw flames coming from the front tire when it blew. OUCH … what a spill. The bike was torn up and so was I. Luckily the crew was able to patch my wounds with electrical tape while I repaired my rim with medical tape, and we were back on the road again, faster than ever. The power of adrenaline!

My worst ultra experience was probably Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999. I think I had trained enough for it physically, but in the lonely hours of the second night I truly felt like a stranger in a strange land. When the hallucinations began and I saw 50’ bears dancing towards the road, I tried to remember how to yell “go away” in French, but after so many long hours on the bike my language skills escaped me and I had to resort to squirting the offending bears (actually trees) with my water bottle.

What I like best about ultra cycling is the camaraderie plus the host of challenges that you face in training for and riding in an ultra race or event.

First, there’s the training. When I’m not traveling for work I usually ride 2 centuries over the weekend, or one century and one fast club ride, plus a couple of weeknight rides. The coaching that I’ve gotten from John Hughes really helped me set up a plan that works.

Then there’s the equipment. With a background in engineering and technology, I’m into making the bike as aerodynamic, light and high tech as I can get it. I race Lightning recumbent bikes, which are designed by Tim Brummer, a racer and former aerospace engineer. The bikes are designed for speed and efficiency. My newest bike is a carbon fiber recumbent with a 3lb frame and the latest DuraAce Triple drivetrain.

I have it equipped with an HED 3 Tri-spoke carbon wheel which helps in both aerodynamics and climbing since its so strong and stiff. The front is a deep-dish carbon HED Jet wheel, also very strong and light. Plus the wheels look really cool on the carbon frame!

And I swear by the NiteRider Storm and Blowtorch HID lights, which give 40 watts of light for 4 hours on a single charge! I never out-run them no matter how fast I’m going on those overnight descents.

I also still race my fully faired F-40, and have a recumbent low racer that is best suited for track racing and time trials.

Come race day, if my training is on target, I think it comes down to nutrition and motivation. I use Ecaps nutrition products, Cytomax, and Accelerade, and I eat “real” food as much as possible during longer events.

My favorite treat during a ride is to meet a cute female cyclist :-) And my favorite craving after a race is usually a good meal, with great food that makes me feel like a normal human again. It’s amazing what a Caesar salad, grilled pacific salmon and a nice glass of Merlot will do.

What do I think about when I ride?

Anything and everything. I solve problems. I plan my life, and new projects. I calculate how much time I lost on the last hill! Once I worked out a logic decision tree for a complex career decision I had to make.

And riding with other people keeps me motivated on the long rides. I used to be a runner and never found it to be a very social sport. In long distance cycling you are spending lots of time on the road together and you really get to know some very interesting people.

I also have done some volunteer work in getting others involved in the sport of long distance cycling. I have served twice as a mentor for the Team in Training cycling program, training novice cyclists to ride a century. Remember your first century? It’s great to be a part of that experience.

I also coached a team of cyclists to train for a 6-day 500 mile ride through Alaska last August to raise money for AIDS vaccine research.

Favorite place to ride and why?

My favorite place is a new place. Somehow I get tired of riding the same roads over and over. I’ve done the coast highway around San Diego so many times, even the gorgeous ocean has become dull. So I look for new routes, new places and new events to ride.

Place you want to ride but haven’t yet and why?

I still haven’t done a cross-country tour like a Pac Tour … that would be a kick.

Ultra cycling goals/what’s next?

My current goal is to beat the recumbent record of 35:39 in the Furnace Creek 508 in 2002.

How ultra riding influenced or affected other areas of my life?

Ultra cycling has made me an athlete while I always thought I was just a nerd. Being Athlete of the Year in Atlanta in 1999 was such a kick for this last-chosen-for-the-kickball-team kid I remember growing up.

For a forum for questions and sharing ideas, visit the P-38 page on Facebook.