Anybody who has ever ridden a Summit Mountain Challenge mountain bike race knows exactly who Jim Jimenez is. He’s the fellow who stands at the top of the hardest climb of each race, ringing cowbells and screaming at the racers to encourage them to go faster. When the Alma resident is really on his game, he’s known for shouting things like, “Nice shift!” just as a racer drops two gears to complete a grueling climb. Jiminez missed the SMC finale on Wednesday when he arrived late and headed to the top of the hardest climb of last year’s course, only to find out the course had been changed. The next night, however, he showed up at the end-of-season awards party, where he was called up to the podium and given a standing ovation by dozens of appreciative racers. Jiminez will be back for the Fall Classic on Sept. 11-12, and said he’ll be yelling as loud as ever at Summit County cyclists who take part in this year’s 24 Hours of Moab in October. Jimenez said he gets much of his inspiration to support local racing from Dede Senfdt, a crazed European cycling fan who has been a fixture at the Tour de France for nearly two decades, showing up at every stage wearing a red devil’s suit.Where do you get your drive?”I can’t race, but I can get out there at my own pace and cheer on everyone who does it. I know what it takes to get that far, and I appreciate that effort. Actually, people always thank me for what I do. But if it wasn’t for them and their effort, I’d just be a fool in a cowpasture with a couple of cowbells.” Have you ever raced?”I (road) raced for a club team in college (at Cal State Fullerton). It was just a bunch of guys who got together on Wednesday nights. I actually got dragged under a car and gave cycling up for 10 years.”How did you get into mountain biking?”Well, I hadn’t thrown a leg over a bike in 10 years, but then some friends of my wife (Meg) said they were going to ride up into the hills with a 12-pack and then drop down the hill (on mountain bikes). This was around ’89, and I was on an old Specialized Stumpjumper and being able to ride down the dirt roads unencumbered by traffic. I was hooked, mountain biking was my thing.” Anything special about the cowbells?”I was working at a catering company the last year of the Saturn Cycling Classic and we had these cowbells as a promotional item. I asked if I could have one and they just gave it to me. The other one just happened because I wanted to get louder without losing my voice. The Saturn one is autographed by Tinker Juarez and the bronze one is autographed by Marla Streb.”
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