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Russett, Oklahoma

Former Madill student enjoying staying fit mountain biking
By David Seeley, Sports Editor - Daily Ardmoreite - May 19, 2005

No one ever knows just what might come out of a childhood activity -- and end up being a major part of that person's life. It has been so for Madill High School graduate Paula Stout.

Little did Stout know that riding her bike all over Johnston and Marshall counties would lead her to become a mountain bike fan.

"Mostly, it was a fitness thing," said Stout, who graduated from Madill High School in 1985. "I've kind of been riding my whole life. Whenever I grew up in the Madill-Tishomingo area -- I actually lived out in Russett -- my parents wouldn't take me to town to see my friends. So, one day I just said that I'd ride my bike to town. I was age 11 or 12, and my parents said, 'Do it!' So, I did it, and I just ended up doing it all the time. Then, I just got back into (riding) for fitness reasons. That's probably been my biggest focus -- for fitness. In high school, I wasn't involved in sports, so this is really my first sport. Staying in shape is quite important to me right now."

Then, she decided to take the bike riding one step further.

"I got bored with just ordinary pavement riding," Stout said. "Last August was my first mountain bike ride. I got a rude awakening on the difference between the two. I was used to riding 15 miles a day on my cage trail, and this was a 14-mile race. It was a 6-hour race, and they told me to do as many laps as I can do. I thought I'd get four or five laps in, and 3Ý hours later, I got my first lap down. But I loved it, and I've been riding mountain bikes ever since then. Every single ride I can get my hands on, I've been racing. I started racing (competitively) this spring. I would have to say that I'm a little obsessed with it. I actually have to work hard not to bring it up in conservations. People talk about being burned out with it, but right now I'm on such an excited high that I just can't imagine being burned out."

Now, she's a part of a mountain-bike team.

"We have a team, the Central Kansas Mountain Biking Club," said Stout, who now lives in Wichita, Kan. "We aren't necessarily racing this series (Tour de Dirt) as a team, but we're putting our name down as being on that team. If we score points, it goes toward that team score. We're not doing any team thing right now, but if you can make it to that race, we make sure we put down that we're with our team.

Former Madill High School graduate Paula Stout rides in a mountain-bike race near Lawton on March 6. She will be in a race this weekend in Midwest City.

"It was based out of Lindsborg (Kan.), and then it started to spread into central Kansas. Originally, the LATR stood for Lindsborg Area Team Racers, but when it started branching out to places like Great Bend and Wichita, they changed the name to Lower Altitude Team Racers (LATR)."

The bad news is that her mountain biking races don't come too close to her hometown area.

"The closest I've gotten was we started a race in Lawton with this series we're doing right now," Stout said. "We did a race in Lawton on March 6 at the 12 Miles of Hell Race. The one I'm going to this weekend is actually around Midwest City at Lake Stanley Draper. Tulsa was the one the article (in the Lindsborg News-Record) was written about. We're going to Watonga (Roman Nose State Park) in June. In the fall, I think there's a 24-hour race there. We'll probably set up a tag-team to do 24 hours of riding. They don't come as far south as Ardmore. I think Lawton's about as far south as we've gotten."

But, conversely, her bike riding tour has taken her to places she had never been.

"I had never been to Lawton before, and I had only been to Tulsa once before I moved out of state in 1996 to Wichita," Stout said. "I had never been to Watonga. I think it's cool and interesting that I moved out of state, and come back and traipse around the country and get back to see what the rest of Oklahoma looks like. That's a pretty interesting thing to me. It would be great if we can get some Tour de Dirt to go down closer to home so my family can make it to the races. They haven't been able to make it to any yet, but I hear rumors some may head to Oklahoma City (Midwest City) this weekend."

Luckily for Stout, she's got a job that's somewhat flexible to allow her to train -- and race.

"I'm considered a instructional developer, but basically I'm a computer geek," she said. "What I do is build multi-media tools for training a sales force worldwide. I basically build CD Rom-based and Internet-based training. I basically sit on my behind all day, which was another good reason to get out on a bike.

"My job is basically 8 to 5, but when I was getting ready for my first race, they allowed me to move my hours around a little bit. They let me work through lunch so I could get off an hour earlier to train every day. Since I'm not required to work on weekends, it allows time to go to the races."

She will get to have a chance to return to "The Sooner State" with this weekend's race at Midwest City.

"I'll probably go down Saturday and ride the course to see what it's like," Stout said. "Then, I'll probably go down and see my mom and dad. I was in town last Friday to do a Relay for Life walk with my mom and sister in Madill. I'd say about once or twice a month, I swing down there. I always bring my bike with me to do some rides, and check some trails. I haven't had a chance to check out Lake Murray's trail, but I've heard they have a good one that's been in production for a while. I hope to try that one out soon."

Stout hopes she's able to continue her mountain bike routine for some time to come.

"At this point, I haven't had my worse wreck yet," she said. "I'm hoping when I do, I don't get too timid. I'm afraid of becoming timid because I am 37 years old, and I'll be 38 in August. I really hate that I found the mountain biking so late in life. I'm loving it so much. I'm hoping that five or 10 years down the road, I'm still doing this. There are some people who we race with, mostly men, who are in their 50s and 60s doing mountain bike riding with us. To me, I'd love to maintain a level of fitness to be able to still be doing this then."

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