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Pedaling his dream

By Alixann Spaulding

Everyone has a dream, yet most people don’t get to see it realized. Brent Bookwalter, 26, a 2002 Rockford High School graduate and son of Harry and Bunny Bookwalter of Cedar Springs, is one of the lucky ones. The 97th Annual Tour de France commenced on July 3, and Brent is amongst those pedaling through France.

He has spent a lifetime dreaming of the Tour, and, until the 25th of July, his life will be the Tour.

“We are really proud and excited for him,” said his father.

Brent is part of the BMC Team, along with Cadel Evans, the current World Champion of bicycling. Brent is a domestique; he works to break the wind and to help get Evans to the front.

Brent is doing a good job, and on July 13, Cadel Evans wore the yellow jersey that signifies the person in first place. “To think that in my first Tour de France I have the chance to be part of a team with the jersey is something incredible,” Brent wrote in a Tour de France diary he has been posting. His tour roommate, Karston Kroon, has been in the tour at least four times and this is the first time he’s been part of a team that held the yellow jersey.

Unfortunately, the team later lost the lead because Evans suffered a broken elbow and the injury overwhelmed him.
Brent is a professional bicycler, who was once part of the Priority Health Bicycling Team, and the junior state champion. After graduating from Rockford he went to Lees McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina. He had a bicycling scholarship, and won seven national titles for his school. He now resides in Athens, Georgia, with his girlfriend, Jamie Jenkins, but still considers Michigan home.

BMC was one of the teams that got an invitation to the Tour and Brent was one of nine team members representing BMC. However, Switzerland’s Mathias Frank sustained a broken thumb and injured thigh, leaving the team with only eight members.

The Tour is 3,642 kilometers and 23 days long, with only two days of rest. The race has 20 stages, including 6 mountain stages and 4 medium mountain stages, and it is said that the total of the inclines is equivalent to climbing three Mount Everests.

The race began in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on July 3, and ends in Paris Champs-Elysees on July 25. On July 13, Brent finished the ninth stage, which involved riding in the Alps, and broke through the halfway point.

To keep up on how the team is doing, visit http://www.bmc-racing.com/us-en/team/index.html.

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