Friday, November 7, 2008

Lives Defined: Flo Leibowitz

ORbike just did a racer profile on Flo Leibowitz. She definitely embodies our motto, "Define your life. Ride a bike." And we're adopting her "run what ya brung" mentality! Check it out:

Flo Leibowitz got into cyclocross like a lot of other cyclists just testing out the sport: on her commuter bike. But unlike most other riders, once she was hooked, which happened pretty much right away, she didn't swap her Bianchi San Jose out for a more cross-styled bike. "That bike is a singlespeed, and that's the real serendipity in it. It is the only bike I own that can take cross tires. But I realized that I really liked not having to worry about shifting and now I won't race cross any other way. I love it when people yell 'Go single-speed!'"

She's riding a single speed commuter bike, she's 57 and she is blind in one eye. Flo explains it away simply, "I love the 'run what ya brung' mentality." Melissa Boyd, who suggested we profile Flo for this series, considers Flo a mentor, even though it was Melissa who got Flo into Cyclocross. "Flo has enough enthusiasm and courage to take on the entire women's field riding her singlespeed 'townie' bike!" Melissa says.

Flo is an experienced road racer, and has won state masters championships in road and criterium. Flo says she loves crits and thinks of cyclocross as a crit on dirt. She's no stranger to challenges and likes to tear it up on the tough sections of the course, "Runups - love 'em. Props to the Psychocross runup this season, which was steep, full of sand and right after a bunch of barriers. Also hard the grass, packed gravel and dirt."

Being blind in one eye definitely presents some challenges, but nothing that keeps Flo down. "Steep descents weird me out and sometimes I just walk 'em. And it took me a while to get used to riding in a pack the first year I raced on any kind of bike. But now it doesn't seem to matter much anymore. I guess you learn to compensate with other cues."

Flo, who by day loves her job as a philosophy professor at OSU, sounds pretty tough. And she is, for sure, but she also has a dirty little secret that she was brave enough to divulge to ORbike readers, "I don't actually like mud all that much. Maybe they ought to have a 'Princess' cross race for those of us who don't really like getting, um, dirty. Oh, right, they do - they call its road racing."

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