If it hadn't been for a leg injury 2 1/2 years ago, 37-year-old Ken Leybourne might never have given up competitive motocross for mountain bike racing.
But after going through extensive surgery to repair a crushed femur, he was told he'd never be able to race motorcycles again--a tough pronouncement for someone who had been riding since the age of 12. His doctor, however, recommended bicycling for rehabilitation.
Leybourne installed a stationary bike in the garage of his Aliso Viejo home and started back, one pedal stroke at a time. He made enough progress that soon friends got him to try mountain biking.
He finished his first race in the top five, then promptly threw up. Despite that inauspicious start, he found mountain bike racing to be "addictive."
He's competed in local and national races, and hopes to qualify for the world championships in Germany in September and go on to next year's Extreme Games.
In the meantime he fits in 200 miles of training each week while managing Bicycles Etc. in Mission Viejo. In 1993 he started a bicycle parts manufacturing firm.
"Every now and then you're talking to somebody who says, 'You do that? That's crazy.' But I've practiced at this, and you get to where you're a step above the rest of the crowd. . . . You always want to finish better, to go faster. But then it's, 'Been there, done that.' You've always got to go to the next step."