Shaun Palmer Back in the Saddle

Shaun Palmer Back in the SaddleShaun Palmer burst onto the downhill mountain bike racing scene in the mid-90s with a brash style and bigger-than-life persona. Quickly building a world-class resume in the sports of snowboarding, mountain biking and motocross, Palmer became America’s prototypical “action sports” hero. The savvy X Games star parlayed his fame into a successful Palmer snowboard company and lucrative video game contracts.

Then, in 2005, Palmer nearly died from an overdose of alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs. However, after the incident, Palmer cleaned up his life and was well on his way to qualifying for the USA Olympic snowboard team—when he blew out his Achilles tendon at a World Cup event in 2006. Now, Palmer has his sights set on redemption, namely making the USA snowboard team for the 2010 Olympics.

Last weekend Palmer made his return to downhill mountain biking, finishing second at the California Golden State Championships in Fontana. For his comeback Palmer reuinted with Intense Cycles, who he first made history with in 1995 when the then-rookie rider piloted the flagship Intense M1 to a series of wins, making headlines for both Palmer and Intense.

“Something that not many people know about Shaun is that he is really technically savvy,” says Intense Cycles President, designer and founder, Jeff Steber. “He understands what works and can give specific feedback on how to improve the bike’s performance. He is a great R&D guy and I’m really excited about working with him again.”

“I have always done better in my sports when I stayed involved in two or three at a time. The worst thing for me is for my bad brains to sit around idle. I have to stay busy and the panic of racing downhill will keep me sharp and help me to achieve my Olympic dreams”, says Palmer. ” Of course, I miss being at the races and I miss the fans but mostly I miss hanging out with my friends, especially Peaty.”

The folks at Intense have hinted that there will be future collaborations between Palmer and Intense in the years to come. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I hope that mountain bike racing might once again see the Palm’s bitchin, custom-painted team bus.