PAA Racer of the Month – Bernie Labansat


January/February 2014

PAA got off to a fantastic start to the racing season in 2014, largely due to Bernie.His win at the Mothballs, three podiums and 4 top tens make him PAA’s “Racer of the Month” for January/February and deservedly so.We sat down with him and asked him what makes him tick.


Nickname? Bernie or as my close friends call me, Berns.


Who/what inspired you to start cycling?

I had three people inspire me throughout my two phases of my cycling.
One is the Fixed gear scene in Los angeles Back in
2007. I was just in love with the idea of getting around the San Gabriel
valley & LA area in a bike, especially a bike that had only one gear.
Aesthetics always seemed to play an important role in my 20’s.

My second inspiration came from an individual named John Gabriel;
many people in our SGV area call him “John the roadie.” This guy was the
first friendly roadie I ever met. This means a lot since single-speed
riders/fixed riders really didn’t get any respect from road cyclists; Still
don’t in my opinion haha… What John did for me was
that he showed me that gears on a bike would allow me to free myself from
flat roads and urban cities, and take me to other places like: mountains,
canyons, hilly neighborhoods, and further distances etc. I was sold on this
idea, mainly since he raced as a cat1 racer, also because he was fast. I never
met anyone that strong or that fast in my life. I wanted to be fast and
strong like him, I wanted to win. Not just win, but beat him one day. Yet I
had a problem, I couldn’t afford a geared road bike at the time, so my
conversion from fixed gear to road bike came much later.

The third and final person who inspired me into cycling was my brief
short-lived friendship with a guy named Jamie Magdonlano;
I hope I’m pronouncing his last name correctly. Anyways, I owe him my cycling
since he brought the love/life I once had for it back into me. I had quit
cycling in 2009/2010 so wasn’t really riding, yet a female friend of mine who
I happened to like had a boyfriend who happened to be Jamie. Jamie mentioned
 once to me that he wanted to get a fixed gear and ride with me sometime. I said to him, “get the bike and I’ll give you my time and miles.” Well, he contacted me two years later after I gave up my riding. and told me he wanted to ride. I told him okay, but what he didn’t know was that I hadn’t ridden my bike in a while. I agreed to ride with him, and I got my bike that had been
sitting outside in all types of weather, cleaned it with a water hose, a
dirty rag and rode.  Long story short, I fell in love with cycling that night and every night after. We would ride and talk, this meant so much to me because I felt connected to my city again, my bike, and a person who felt the same way I did about bikes. Our friendship lasted only one year, yet we rode almost every night till sunrise. We had an argument one day, then stop speaking to each other.  Weeks or months later, I got a phone call from his current girlfriend telling me to give Jamie a ring telling me he had been very sick and had been going to the hospital on and off since we last spoke to each other. Jamie had cancer, stage 4 at that. I couldn’t believe it. I spent every day with him at the hospital, I did my very best to comfort this guy who was 21 years of age. He mentioned how much he missed being on his bike to me, while he would tell me I would wonder about my weaknesses that were only mental/emotional. How I couldn’t even compare my problems to his, yet I seemed to be crippled from doing the things I wanted to do with my life. Jamie passed away in 2012, I went to his funeral and I felt numb, only because I still missed him and because I had not done what I wanted to do with my cycling (which is race to become a cat 1). I promised myself to do my best and complete my goals for myself, but also for people like my friend Jamie who had the same passions like I did but were unable to progress in life due to illness and death. So I hope my three inspirations help you understand why I love riding so much.

First bike? My first Bike was a peacock blue Bridgestone 100 road bike which I
stripped and turned into a single-speed. My first road geared bike was a Trek
team discovery replica. My first carbon road bike is my current bike which is
my Trek Madone 6.5 aka “Baby Blue.”


Childhood hero? My childhood hero well I had many but Since I don’t really remember
them, I’ll tell you my two young adult heroes. First, George Orwell and Second,
Charles Bukowski. Both of these men shaped me more
into a person than most people I have met in my life.


What do you love most about cycling? I love the fact that when I’m on my bike, my anxiety leaves my body,
and for the length of time that I am on my bike, I am in control of me. I
feel clear headed and able.  Master
 & commander of myself and surroundings.


Favorite race? My favorite race has to be Ontario Grand prix series. My favorite race to watch is the UCI world championship races.


Favorite ride? My solo rides….. I need them for clarity and healing. Second, Montrose.


How do you keep going when you are on the limit? I tell myself whose limit is it? If it’s my own than I can push it
always further since I set it. If it’s someone else’s, than I want to break
it and put in its place my own (limit). Example, a cyclist’s age in racing or
wanting to become sponsored or pro at a certain age etc.


Racing career highlight? So far it’s been Winning first place again at Moth balls criterium this season. It had been a while since I won a race, and a longer time since I felt like I could keep my placing’s consistent.


Job away from cycling? I am a full-time student at Mt. San Antonio College. I am also an EBay seller of bike gear etc. pays for my hobbies. Pretty much I am on a budget of living haha.


Other interests? I love reading, writing, and Film.  I love breaking down films, seeing what they are trying to say or what their influences are. I love to write Prose especially after reading a good book. I hike a lot but not lately since my knees and legs are always in demand to the pedal.


Favorite film? Memento, There will be blood, and Chariots of fire.


Favorite music? I love folk/indie/electronic. Example (modest mouse) or (Grizzly bear) or (Midnight Juggernauts)


Favorite food? Mexican food or Steak medium rare ( porterhouse)


Most famous person you’ve met? Kanye west and Charles Bukowski’s wife since I will never get to meet him in person (he’s dead). Kanye West was actually a real nice down to earth guy. I
meet a lot of people growing up and he was an interesting guy. Not like the
media shows him. Meeting Charles Bukowski’s wife for me was an extension for me to say thank you for your late husband’s writings. It saved me in many ways haha.


Best Advice? Best advice Is “Don’t Try.” Think about what I am trying to say with this? I learned this quote from Charlies Bukowski, but a little green alien Named Yoda said it as well. 😉


PAA’s Racer of the Month award is voted for by PAA’s racers.