Juneau cyclist balances the world on two wheels

Jim Sheufelt takes on bicycle racing, once went on 11,000-mile tour

Posted: Monday, June 11, 2007

In 1995, the cyclist who's now vice president of racing for the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club embarked on the tour of a lifetime with his wife.

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Jim and Janice Sheufelt circled the globe, riding in Central America, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe. Amazingly, they burned through only one set of tires in the 11,000-mile trek, and the bikes held up well.

"They're still in the garage," Sheufelt said. "They just do light duty, going to A&P now. They're semi-retired."

More than a decade after their adventure, the Sheufelts still love cycling. Jim Sheufelt, a stay-at-home dad, helps organize races and meets for a club with about 75 members. Janice Sheufelt, a physician and medical director with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, rides her bicycle to work. They're also on teams that will compete in a 24-hour race this month in Whitehorse.

A 41-year-old originally from Michigan, Sheufelt has lived in Juneau for the past three-and-a-half years. Prior to that, he and his two daughters and wife of 19 years lived in Yakima, Wash. And before that, they spent another three-and-a-half years here.

They moved to Juneau because his wife, who's part Tlingit, wanted to work for SEARHC, he said.

Sheufelt joined the Freewheelers in 1997. It's a club that encourages "bicycling for health, recreation and transportation." The members promote cycling safety and sponsor events.

The most recent race, the North Douglas Time Trial, was won by rider John Bursell. He finished the 10½ mile course in 24 minutes and 12 seconds. The next local event, the 24-mile Nick Frangos Memorial Race, takes place on June 30.

"You get to know a lot of the people that are active in the club," Sheufelt said. "It's a nice community of riders."

Not all his cycling is competitive, of course. He enjoys riding tandem bikes with his wife and daughters from their house in Twin Lakes to the Douglas Cafe. His equipment includes a "Giant TCR" bike for the streets and a "Rocky Mountain Element" for off-roading.

His interest in the sport started in the early 1990s, when he and his wife would ride on borrowed bikes, he said. It really sparked in the spring of 1993 during a ride through the mountains from Boulder, Colo., to Winter Park.

"That was our first really big mountain bike trip, and then we were pretty hooked."

• Ken Lewis can be reached at ken.lewis@juneauempire.com or523-2263.

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