Justin Leopold enjoys the best of all worlds.
If he’s not playing with his kids, 2 1/2-year-old Lucas, who is a ball of fire, and 8-month-old Cameron, the Independence stay-at-home dad is out on his bike – getting fit, enjoying nature and racking up some pretty impressive wins in his home state.
Leopold won the Missouri State Road Race in 2012 and is preparing for the upcoming Truman Cup, the first bike race around the historic Independence Square.
The 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. event will feature men, women, masters and juniors. The start and finish line will be at the north side of the Truman Courthouse, 120 W. Maple.
The race will feature a criterium setting, where bikers race for a short distance over a period of time. Some criteriums can be 60 to 75 minutes.
“You race, and turn left,” joked Leopold, as Cameron squirms in his dad's arms. “You have criteriums and road races. The road races are up to 100 miles or more. I really enjoy both forms of racing and am looking forward to this weekend’s criterium on the Square.”
Leopold, 30, picked up cycling when he was stationed in the Navy in Norfolk, Va.
“There were two ways to get around the base, bike or drive,” he said, “and biking was a lot more convenient and healthy. I really got into it, and it just escalated into what I do today.”
He looks back on his time in the Navy as a life-altering experience.
“I didn’t know much about biking back then,” he said. “But the more I biked, the more I enjoyed it. I was self-reliant and I wasn’t spending a lot of money on gas for a car. And I got healthy and had a lot of fun. It’s like golf or tennis – a sport you can enjoy your entire life.
“I don’t see myself competing into my 50s or 60s, but I know I’ll still be biking.”
When he’s not biking or playing with his kids, Leopold can be found in his bike shop. It is an attachment to the family home that used to be a garage.
“I have everything I need in here to take care of my bike,” he said. “Your bike is so important. If you take care of it, it will take care of you.”
On most days, Leopold will try to get in between 1 1/2 to 4 hours on his bike. That type of dedication has helped him enjoy a great deal of success throughout the Midwest. He currently ranks seventh in the state in criterium racing (78.51 points) and fourth in road racing (276.07 points).
“I’ve had some success,” the low-key Leopold said, “and I’ve had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get out on the road when my kids are old enough to go with me. That’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
THE TRUMAN CUP: Registration opens at 8 a.m. and closes 30 minutes prior to the start of each race. Day-of-race registration will incur an additional $5 fee. Registration is located in front of the Courthouse near the start/finish line. You must have your current USAC license. Riders may enter a second race for $10. One-day licenses will be available for beginner riders and are not available to riders who have previously upgraded beyond beginner categories.
A one-day license is $15 and is available at registration. Online registration is available until Thursday at USAC. KCA, MOBRA, and USACycling rider insurance fees are included in the entry fee, but online registration fees will have a small additional charge.
For more information log onto www.jacomoracing.com/TRUMAN_CUP.html.