Porsches and Push-Bike Pros at Willow Springs
Note: This story was originally run on our sister site bikemag.com following the 2011 edition of the Tour of California, but with the motor-sports season just starting to enter full swing and Christian Vande Velde in the news with a hand-injury sustained at the Volta a Catalunya we couldn’t help but think back to this fine Spring day of bikes and burnouts.
Words: Joe Parkin
Photos: Anthony Smith
Video: Scott Smith
Every professional athlete I’ve ever met has really just been a larger, stronger and faster 12-year old, with an insatiable desire to try new things. And every professional wheel-sports athlete I’ve ever met has had some strong interest in other wheel sports. In other words, most racecar drivers like bicycles and most bicycle racers like motorsports. With this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that convincing three bike racers and a racecar driver to meet up at California’s Willow Springs International Raceway for a duathlon involving bikes and a smattering of Porsche’s fine vehicles was not a problem.
The format was simple: One time-trial lap of Willow’s karting track on bicycles followed by an out lap and one hot lap of the road course in one of the Porsches.
To make things a bit more ‘fair’ the two road racers, Cristian Vande Velde and Johan Van Summeren were handicapped on the kart track aboard Bike’s world-famous Sh*tbike before strapping themselves into a 911 GTS. The lone mountain biker, Carl Decker, was allowed to ride his Giant race bike and then follow in a Cayenne Turbo—undoubtedly the world’s fastest SUV. America’s only factory Porsche racing driver, Patrick Long, piloted a Shimano Dura Ace Di2-equipped Trek Madone on the bike leg, before pushing his Panamera (that has ample room for a bike in the rear cargo area) to its limit on the track.
Truthfully, though, in the interest of Bike magazine and its mountain bike readership, I stacked the deck: Carl Decker is not only a wicked-fast bike racer but an avid rally racer—he’s even competed in the X Games. And with an extra couple hundred ponies under the hood, Decker pulled off the overall win for Giant Bicycles, the Porsche Cayenne and mountain bikers.
No matter. At the end of the day, Van Summeren headed back to Belgium with thoughts of trading in his current 911 for a new one; Vande Velde got to hold the keys to the 911 GTS for a few more hours; Decker started to envision putting his Giant in the back of a new Panamera; and Patrick Long hit me up for bike-buying advice.
Are you’re wondering about Porsche’s roof rack? Don’t. It’ll take more abuse than most drivers could possibly dish out. Just ask the Sh*tbike.