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Southmoreland grad Hummel looks to defend national mountain biking title

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Mike Hummel stands center stage on the podium wearing the the American flag shirt he recieved for his big win, with son Garrett in front of him sporting dad's medal in July 2012.

Mike Hummel has been involved in cycling dating back to his days as a student at Southmoreland High School.

The 1993 graduate of Southmoreland has progressed in the sport to a point where he can be called a national champion.

Hummel, who now lives in West Newton, is the 2012 USA Cycling Downhill National Champion on the mountain bike in the Men's 35-39 division.

“It felt amazing,” Hummel said of the championship. “It's unexplainable.”

He earned the title in July with a time of 2:43.7 competing in the U.S. Downhill Championships at Beech Mountain, N.C.

“It's a timed run,” Hummel said of the race. “(There's) a course that comes down slopes, into woods and rock gardens with turns and jumps.”

Hummel outlasted some 15 guys in his division. The key for him is staying focused on the task at hand.

“Just focusing on what's 20 feet ahead of me,” Hummel explained. “More or less being able to control your breathing. There's a lot of adrenaline flowing through your body. You have to really be focused, have a clear head.”Something else he thinks about is “making it down in one piece.” Fortunately, he has not suffered any major injuries while racing.

“Just some regular bumps and bruises, nothing major. Thank God,” Hummel said.

Hummel first became involved in riding more than 25 years ago through a friend. In that time, Hummel has participated in cycling, BMX and downhill mountain bike racing.

“We used to race downhill mountain bikes,” Hummel recalled. “He got me involved in the Gravity Racing scene.”

Hummel, 37, entered his first BMX race in 1989. In addition to winning the downhill in 2012, other wins included the Capital Cup race at the Wisp Resort in Maryland and placing third overall in the 2012 Gravity East Series.

Hummel has a 4-year-old son named Garret, who is the National Bicycle League USA BMX National Champion. His 2-year-old son Ty will start racing this year. Their father built his own track for his boys to train.

Among the training regimen are learning to ride bikes without pedals that sport handlebars and a seat to work on balance.

“We learn to ride without training wheels at the age of 3,” Hummel said.

Hummel and his wife, Ashley, travel to many destinations for BMX races and downhill mountain bike races with their three children (they also have a daughter Alyssa, 16). Among the locations they will be traveling to this year are Ohio, New York and Maryland.

Hummel has been training to maintain the National Champion Title for 2013. He will defend it Aug. 3-4 in New Mexico. Other championships for which Hummel is training is the Gravity East Series at Seven Springs resort at a date to be determined and the USA BMX in Tulsa Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Hummel recalls his time living in Scottdale and attending Southmoreland with fondness. He was involved with student council and held the position of class president for three years. Hummel also participated in track and cross country while at Southmoreland High School.

“I had a lot of good times in high school, a lot of fun,” Hummel said.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or