My friend has a cabin near the Hood Canal, and has hosted a race on local roads that’s modelled after Liège-Bastogne-Liège (our version is named Tahuya-Seabeck-Tahuya, naturally). When I first rode up there, we went off tarmac and found a wooded, gravel road beside the canal - the highlight of this route.
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How did you get your start in cycling?
I started racing mountain bikes in 1990. It was a quick but enduring love, and all along the way I began riding and racing road bikes, and also cyclocross. My 8th grade algebra teacher had a son who worked at a local bike shop and also raced mountain bikes. In 1990, this seemed like the coolest thing in the world.
Who were the first people you rode with? How did they influence you?
One of the earliest and most consistent riding partners I rode with was Mike Clark, the co-owner of the shop The Highwheeler in Holland, MI. Mike introduced me to many, many great aspects of the cycling industry, but particularly the beauty of doing weekly morning rides before opening the bike shop, and the famed local Saturday morning sprint ride. It was during these years where I learned to ride in a paceline, draft, sprint, and keep my ego in check while riding faster than most adults.
What would you tell someone just starting out in the sport?
Forget about gear, gadgets, devices, and carbon wheels. Enjoy the solitude of riding on your own, and also riding with a group. Make time at least once a month to do a ride, and then sit around talking about the ride. Ride on the coldest day of the year.
What’s the one story from the history of cycling that we should know?
At the tail end of his career, and three years before his death in 2009, notorious Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke entered an amateur race in the suburbs of Milan. Having raced for the small Belgian team Unibet earlier in the year, VDB entered the unsanctioned race as Francesco del Ponte, using a fake license bearing the photo of Tom Boonen, and a home address of a hair salon. VBD claimed he needed to race and was feeling particularly strong and ready for a comeback.
Coffee ride, paceline, or three-day epic?
A three-day epic is something I am rarely able to fit in, but occasionally make happen, and when it happens it feels like gold. As mentioned above, part of the fun of a three-day ride is sitting around after the ride and sharing the moment with friends. We are lucky in the Northwest to have terrain that allows for short day trips where you can leave a major West Coast city at 6am in sunny and dry conditions, drive three hours to the most stunning alpine terrain, climb to snow, and descend back down and drive home, all in a day.