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Where Beauty and Suffering Converge: Ambassador Steve Burns Shares His Experience with the Power of Bikes

Oct 23, 2014 | By Steven Burns, FAIA | 0 Comments

BQE Software's own Chief Creative Officer and  Team World Bicycle Relief 2014 Ambassador Steve Burns is adding up the miles this year as he shares WBR's work through his cycling. Today, Steve is sharing with us personally about a life-changing ride and giving an update on his incredible accomplishments this year--all for the Power of Bicycles! Read Steve's story below:

Recently, I had the most incredible cycling experience of my life. I spent 45 hours in the saddle and rode 522 miles at the Hoodoo 500, finishing in 3rd place for my age group. In case you’ve never heard of it, the Hoodoo 500 is not only one of the toughest ultra-marathon bike races in the world, but also one of the most beautiful. The route passes through three National Parks, three National Monuments, and several of Utah’s State Parks. It’s an incredibly odd feeling to experience so much suffering AND beauty both at the same time.

Since this was my first attempt at a 500 mile non-stop race, I set what I believed was a realistic goal of 42 hours. The idea is to keep moving since you must complete the 522 miles within the 48 hours. This year, two of the 13 solo racers DNF’d (did not finish). As scary as 522 miles might sound, I was more worried about the more than 30,000’ of elevation gain since most of the course is at altitudes between 7,000' and 10,600--whereas I live at the ocean! I wasn’t really sure how my body would perform for that long of a ride in those conditions. I think that’s what cost me the extra 3 hours. At least, that’s my excuse.

Helping me throughout my ride was my incredible support crew. My crew chief, Kevin van Dyke flew down from from Portand a few days in advance of the race to help me prepare all the equipment and the crew vehicle. Kevin is a veteran cyclist and crew chief, so he was of great help with the amazing amount of preparation that goes into an event like this. Another experienced rider and crew member, Sam Huffman, joined as well, helping with final preparations including the vehicle inspection and equipment check before the 7am start on Saturday. My third crew member was my 20 year old son, Jasper who had just returned from 2 months in Shanghai. He’s never really understood the sport of ultra-endurance cycling and agreed to come along simply for the pleasure of seeing me suffer. Interestingly enough, after the event he told me that while he didn’t understand the sport before coming along, now that he’s seen what we do, he really doesn’t understand it! Regardless, Jasper turned out to be a great asset on the crew. He was highly motivated, kept the GoPro running, and put together a nice 9-minute video of my race. While it’s impossible for me to convey the full experience in these brief few words, hopefully Jasper’s video will give you a small appreciation of what I went through.


I was incredibly proud to wear my World Bicycle Relief kit at the Hoodoo 500, but also on my daily training ride. This morning as I was doing my usual 28.5 mile loop around Palos Verdes, I stopped to help another rider change a flat tire. A jogger passed us and shouted out “Thanks for supporting World Bicycle Relief!” As he continued to pass us, I shouted back “No problem, I’m an ambassador this year.” And as he was about to round the turn he yells back “and I work for SRAM.”

"I know I’m playing only a small part in the wonderful things WBR is doing, but as I hopped back on my bike to finish the remaining 18 miles, I was putting a lot more watts through my pedals than normal. The Power of Bicycles is truly defining my year."

Finally, let’s take a look at how my stats are for 2014 so far:

  • 6,971 miles
  • 407,095’ elevation gain
  • 252,382 calories
  • 47.1 miles/ride average
  • 522.18 miles max.distance in a single ride
  • 30,971’ max elevation gain in a single ride
  • 500:26:08 h:m:s time in the saddle.
  • $6,585 raised for WBR (that’s a mere $0.95/mile)

This Saturday I’ll be doing the White Mountain Double Century. It starts with a 6,800’ climb up through the Ancient Bristlecone Forest to the summit of White Mountain. It’s one of the most spectacular climbs in California in my opinion. Once again, beauty and suffering converge in another demonstration of the Power of Bicycles.

To learn more about Steve and support him as Team WBR Ambassador, click here.

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The Author

Steven Burns, FAIA

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. After creating ArchiOffice®, the smart office and project management solution for architectural firms, Steve brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development.

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