SOA Professor Spins Wheels, Wins Big


Blink, and you might miss him.

On wheels accounting professor Mark Zimbelman is fast. So fast that he recently placed second in his category of the Men’s Master Road Race during the USA Cycling National Championships held in Ogden, Utah, on 10 September 2015. But this forty-six mile win was not his first brush with cycling success.

Zimbelman has competed in more than 150 races since he began cycling ten years ago. In 2007 he set a course record at LOTOJA, a 206-mile race from Logan, Utah, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He recently placed while racing against a lower-age category in the West Mountain Circuit Race. And for Zimbelman, the end of his racing days are nowhere in sight.

“I don’t have any plans to quit,” he says. “The main reason I race is because it pushes me to stay fit in January when the weather’s cold. I want to be able to ride even when I’m eighty.”

To reach his goals, Zimbelman puts in ten to twelve hours of riding a week year-round. In the winter, it’s base training on his stationary bike. As a race day approaches, he conducts intervals, competes in preparatory races, and simulates possible race conditions. While it’s the competitive drive that keeps him motivated, Zimbelman admits his success wouldn’t be possible without his biggest fans: his wife, Karen; five children and their spouses; and seven grandchildren.

“The main thing is my wife and family,” he says. “They’ve totally supported me. It makes a huge difference.”

As a BYU undergrad, Zimbelman originally pursued a zoology degree but switched after taking an accounting class at the Marriott School. Zimbelman earned a BS in accounting in 1984. After working six years in the field, he returned to school to get his PhD at the University of Arizona. In 1999, he joined the faculty at BYU.

In addition to the great people Zimbelman has “rubbed shoulders with” at BYU, he loves the school’s unique mission: “teaching secular truths in the light of the gospel.  There’s no other place like it,” he says.

Zimbelman has learned throughout his career that cycling principles often translate into everyday situations, allowing him to overcome seemingly impossible challenges—­on the road and in the workplace.

“In every race there’s time when you question whether you can keep going or whether you should just quit,” he says. “I’ve found that if I just keep going for a few minutes more, I’m back in the race. I just focus on keeping going, one pedal at a time.”