Michael Henao is a name to keep a watch for as this fast-rising rider in sport biking is quickly making a name for himself; however, he got an unexpected boost after a video of him taking on the Colorado floodwaters went viral thanks to GoPro.
Henao (pronounced “Hey-Now”) is in his early 20’s and makes friends everywhere he goes in the sport bike community; but don’t be misled because he is a very fierce competitor on the track. He’s currently living in the Boulder, Colorado area after moving there from south Florida.
The love affair with bikes began at an early age and blossomed into a thriving career. “When I was growing up as a kid, I had a bicycle and just loved it,” says Henao. “I kept thinking to myself that it would be nice to go faster without having to pedal! I worked with my uncle by doing handyman services and saved my money to buy a scooter. Then I bought a sport bike when I was 19 and within six months I began picking up a reputation on the street that earned me the road name of Loco, but, I quickly learned that the street was not the place to push the limits.”
“Once I got into the track scene – and I went in cold turkey with no experience – I got to go as fast as I wanted and could really push the limit. I would start at the back of the back and I would finish in the middle to the top of the pack. I didn’t know how good I was but other people were praising my abilities.”
As the conversation turned to Henao’s now infamous viral video of him tackling the floodwaters, he was very forthcoming. He’d been en route to a friend’s house about 45 minutes away as he was catching a ride to a race in Sturgis, SD. On a beautiful autumn day with blue skies, he was having a fun time on his pride and joy, a Suzuki DR-Z400SM which is a street legal bike for hard-core dirt bike enthusiasts.
Henao was taking a route that he knew well and was surprised when he came upon the waters running over the country road. He hesitated a brief moment and since he knew the road so well, he thought he could make it across with ease.
“Look, I’m not stupid,” said Henao. “I would not intentionally try to ride across the river. There are a lot of people leaving comments on the video ranting about how careless I was. Simply put, I knew that road, there’s never water across that road, and my friends were waiting for me so we could get on the road to Sturgis.”
“Looking back, the only thing I wish that I had done differently was to re-route the vent tubes on the carb because they hang really low. If I go into water that is 18” then that could cause a vapor lock.”
Henao explained that once he got to the deeper water he was “revving the hell” out of the bike; his front wheel was floating so he was using it like a rudder. The back wheel had all the weight plus he was wearing a backpack that added another 50 pounds so the wheel was getting traction.
Once the bike began to lose traction Henao had to think quickly. “The only time I got spooked was when I was first sent underneath the water and I was still wearing all my gear,” he said. “My first reaction was ‘Oh shit! Oh shit!’ and then I collected myself and tried to hold on to my bike. I was also thinking how my phone was submerged and I wouldn’t be able to call my friends to let them know what was surely going to delay my arrival. The waters took the bike out of my hands and I finally stopped and then managed to crawl out of the water.”
Henao said that a Boulder judge gave him a ride home since he’d lost both his means of communication and his means of transportation in one fell swoop.
It took Henao two days to simply locate his bike and then another nine days before the water was low enough to dig the bike out. “She is very precious to me,” he said referring to his bike. “I don’t have a name for her; I just know it’s a girl because it would be kind of weird to be riding a dude!”
The bike had a complete tear down and the motor sent back to the manufacturer; the motor was returned just a few days ago. The frame is currently being sent out for powder coating and Henao shared that any pivot point and bearing has got to be changed.
Henao shared that his friend, Shelina Moreda ensured the video from his helmet cam got into the right hands to ensure he had his fair share of notoriety. Moreda is a racer in her own right in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series.
When asked what his next adventure would be, he’s anxious to get up into the air and go skydiving again very soon.
Definitely keep a look out for this fantastic rider that is quickly making his way up the ranks.