Vicksburg bikers take to the streets

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 25, 2004

Despite a few scrapes, a crash that resulted in a titanium rod being inserted into his leg, and enough road rash to pave a driveway, Jim Clausner insists that cycling is good for the body.

After all, he points out, most of his injuries in more than 20 years of pedaling around Vicksburg have come from a few incidents.

“I’ve been run over by a guy with one eye, and fallen four times,” Clausner said. “Lots of people ride for decades and never go down. I’ve been riding for two decades, so I feel like I’m good until 2010 or 2020.”

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Clausner often bikes around town for sport or to commute to work, but on Saturday he’ll take a stab at competitive cycling. He and two friends, Jay Rosati and Billy Crabtree, will compete in the 30-mile road race at the State Games of Mississippi in Meridian.

The State Games, a sort of Mississippi Olympics, began last Friday and conclude this weekend. The event allows people from all over the state to compete in various events, among other athletes from their age groups.

That was a plus for the 52-year-old Clausner, who laughed and said he wasn’t going with the intention of winning any medals.

“It’s good that they have age groups. I might have a chance to win something,” Clausner said. “I’m just what you would call a real serious recreational rider.”

Clausner is serious enough that an accident more than 20 years ago barely slowed him down.

He was out biking one day when a car, driven by a man with only one eye, turned into him. Clausner broke his left leg in four places, and doctors failed to set it properly. He recovered from the injury and continued cycling, but the injury lingered for years.

In December 2002 23 years after the accident he finally had surgery to repair the leg. A 12-inch titanium rod and five titanium screws were inserted to fix it. The surgery kept Clausner off a bike for about six months, but not forever.

By last summer he was riding again, and now he estimates he bikes about 100 miles per week. Later this summer, he plans to do a triathlon in Pensacola, Fla. Biking is just in his blood, he said.

“A, it’s fun. It’s fun to go fast,” Clausner explained. “B, it’s a good way to keep your fitness level. And C, it’s easy on your body. And, I’m an engineer so I appreciate all of the materials and construction of the bikes.”

Clausner, along with several other cycling enthusiasts, is also trying to generate interest in the hobby in Vicksburg. They are seeking to form a loose-knit cycling organization in the city, where bike-riders can get together for evening rides.

Clausner was part of the last cycling organization in the city, the River City Bicycling Club, which disbanded about 10 years ago because of waning interest.

“We’re just trying to get better communication between riders in the city,” said Scott Somershoe, another local cyclist.

“Our Wednesday evening rides are basically people that I’ve met through there,” Somershoe said, referring to weekly rides in the Vicksburg Military Park and the former downtown bike shop, The Broken Spoke. “Now we’re branching out.”