- Lon Austin
- Central Oregonian - Sports
Prineville resident to compete in the Oregon Cross Country Series
Internationally known mountain biker Don McLaughlin lives in Prineville, but works in Los Angeles.
"I'm a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department," said McLaughlin. "I grew up in Prineville, my family is here and we love the small community atmosphere, but I have established myself down there as a fireman. Then we had a family tragedy that brought us back here and I commuted a couple of times back and forth and I went, `Wow we can probably do this.' My wife needed to be here so I kept commuting."
McLaughlin is home in Prineville eight or nine days in a row and then flies to Los Angeles to work.
"It is a direct flight from Redmond right to Los Angeles and it takes two hours," said McLaughlin. "I work in South Central which is right next to LAX. Usually I work three or four days in a row and then come home."
McLaughlin has been a competitive adventure racer and more recently an endurance mountain biker. In 2006 he took second place in the National Endurance Mountain Bike series and represented the USA in the masters world championships in British Columbia. In both 2006 and 2007 he was on the winning team in the 24 Hours of Adrenaline cycling race, winning the five-person coed portion of the event.
"I raced for Big Bear Adventure Racing," said McLaughlin. "It is a 24-hour bicycle race where you continue to do laps for the entire time. Each team has five racers and they total the laps for everybody on the team and their times. I was always setting the fastest laps and the most laps for our team so I was kind of the leader.
This year McLaughlin is planning on doing a different type of bicycle racing. He plans on running in the eight-race Oregon Cross Country Series, as well as riding in two long charity events. He is sponsored by Sunnyside Sports in Bend as well as Champion Nutrition and he is riding for Fire Velos, a firefighters' charity organization. Fire Velos is a fire department based cycling club that rides in charity events throughout the United States. All money raised by the club goes to provide financial assistance to fire department based groups and causes. Their largest cause has been the Firefighters' Cancer Support Network, but they are expending the charities that they are raising money for.
"I am riding in two charity rides this year," said McLaughlin. "The first ride is seven days long and it is for the Firefighters' Cancer Support Network. We started doing the ride last year from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We go down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way. The San Francisco Fire Department kicks if off. We ride a fire boat across the bay. It generates a lot of media attention and usually we have a movie star or athlete that rides a portion of the course with us."
For his second charity ride, scheduled for October, both McLaughlin and his wife Kara, also of Prineville, are riding the Peak to Peak ride from Big Bear Lake to Mammoth Lakes in California. It is expected to take five days and goes up Highway 395.
McLaughlin does not yet know what division he will be placed in for the Oregon State Cross Country Series, which begins April 6, in Portland.
"I have been doing long races and they don't know where to put me," said McLaughlin. "I will be either in the semi-pro or expert division, and my goal is to win the series. I am scheduled to ride in five of the eight races in the series. They take each individual's five best races and throw out three races so as long as I don't have a bad race not riding all of the series shouldn't hurt me."
The entire McLaughlin family is now riding. His daughter Madyson, a second grader, began riding this year, and 5-year-old Kadon comes along with the family pulled by McLaughlin on a trail-a-bike.
"Prineville is a great place to mountain bike," said McLaughlin. "There are so many untouched trails and fire roads in the area. I love the community of Prineville and I love that my family is back home. There is a lot more racing in California but to be here for my family there is nothing more that I would rather do. I hope to represent our community well."
McLaughlin, a former marine, credits much of his past success to never giving up. He said a lot of people take the firefighter's tests a couple of times and then decide that they aren't going to get hired and give up.
"Other guys take the tests for years and test and test and six years later they finally get hired." he said. "Mountain biking is the same way. The year that I finished second in the endurance racing series my first race I had three flats. I was left way behind and I could have just quit, but I've never not finished a race so I kept going even though I was behind. I ended up ninth in the race so I got points for the series. I wouldn't have been second in the series if I hadn't kept going. I am all about making every effort in everything that you do."
If you are interested
April 6, Hornings Hustle, Portland
April 20, Peak Sports Mudslinger, Eugene
April 26, Bear Springs Trap, Mount Hood
May 3, Spring Thaw, Ashland
May 11, Cascade Chainbreaker, Bend
May 18, Fall City Firecracker, Fall City
June 15, Test of Endurance 50 miler, Eugene
June 22 Picketts Charge, Bend
Aug. 4-10 San Fran. to LA Fire Velos Charity Ride
Oct. Peak to Peak Charity ride, Big Bear Lake to Mammoth Lake, California