An epic ride
Roadie warrior: Wheeling through the MS 150 on a homemade, recycled recumbentbike
It's not every day that thousands of cyclists flood the roadways for a 150 mile(ish) ride from Houston to Austin to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
So perhaps it's doubly strange when one of those thousands of bicycles is a contraption fashioned out of scraps and discards.
It doesn't faze Lee Schexnaider. For the last 10 years — three of which have included BP MS 150 rides — Booz Allen Hamilton Central South region team captain Schexnaider has been pedaling around Texas with his self-built, front wheel driverecumbent bike.
You know those bikes that look as if you handed the reclined rider a beer, he'd be all set? Yes, those.
"It definitely attracts attention," Schexnaider said. "People tend to notice you more."
But he wasn't looking for fame or notoriety when he crafted his ergonomic vessel.
"I had been having problems with my feet, and recumbent bikes are more comfortable," Schexnaider said. "But they tend to be expensive."
Instead of bemoaning the steep price tag, he bent steel with his own hands — sort of.
After doing his research, he decided he'd simply build a recumbent bike himself. "It was more of an engineering project than anything," the IT security consultant by day told us. "I'd always tinkered around with mechanics in the past, though, from cars to air conditioners."
The freewheeling project started off with parts from a friend's daughter's old bike, a frame from a flea market in Dickinson, and a knobby, off-road tire in the front. "It took months to create my first bike," Schexnaider said. "It was all trial and error."
Many iterations later, he's replaced the steel frame with aluminum, has used parts of a personal flotation device for part of the seat, and reinforced and cut down a child's booster seat for the rest of his rolling throne — among many other flotsam and jetsam.
And 10 years after his initial creation, he's the talk of the town.
"Recumbent bikes aren't as common. They were banned from races in the 1930s because they were beating everyone on them," Schexnaider said. "I get lots of comments. The kids think it's cool."
He's frequently asked whether he built bike himself. In fact, at this year's BP MS 150 – which starts on Saturday — his recycled recumbent will be the only homemade bike out there.
But don't expect him to be the one bringing up the rear.
"I can climb all the hills out there," he said. "I may climb them slower, but I can climb them."