Friday, April 15, 2016

A Publication About My Grandfather's Life in the North

Studying to split firewood with Grandpa,
November 2007
Well, the secret's out - I've been writing a memoir about my grandfather's journey from New York City to the Bering Sea by canoe, starting in 1971 when he was 50 years old.

My grandfather told the most wonderful stories to me, and to dozens of other people, about his journey and his life in the north. When so much of the rest of my life comes with trigger warnings, about personal stuff, societal problems, and environmental issues, I find that my grandfather's stories give me comfort and a sense of direction. So I decided to preserve his truth and his stories. I'm preserving them for my future self, and for others to whom they may be meaningful.

Here is one for you to read, on Tamim Ansary's excellent storytelling blog:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Bicycles, Commuters, Athletes, and Intellectuals

Our bike shop, Lulu's, at 3089 Telegraph Ave
in Berkeley, California
For years, I was an elite racer,
riding the most expensive equipment, smiling for photos, and driving or flying thousands of miles a year to race Olympic and National champions. It was a beautiful and fulfilling endeavor.

It was also a little surprising, since I grew up in an intellectual family that looked down on athletes as "shallow." We rode bikes. My daddy used bicycles as interesting example problems in the course he taught with Peter Doyle, called "Geometry and the Imagination." We went places on bikes - to school, to my daddy's office, to the pick-your-own strawberry farm, to summer camp three states away. But we didn't "work out."

After years as an athlete who rode in weightless circles for the sake of pure motion, it's nice to be back, running a commuter shop that caters to scholars. Because getting around was the whole reason that cycling became my passion.
Riding to Preschool behind
the "World's Greatest Geometer"
(my father)
Cycling medals, National and State championships

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sunscreen by Zealios

Ever since my Daddy died of melanoma - well, ever since he was diagnosed with melanoma back in March of 2011 - I've taken sun exposure pretty seriously. I get a lot of sun on my bike. I need to wear sunscreen. But some sunscreens are toxic, some are hormone disrupters, some only pretend to protect against cancer, and some actually increase your risk of cancer. Marissa Axell pointed out this sunscreen rating website a couple years back, and I've been consulting it religiously since: . Frequently I find myself in the baby section of most drug stores before I find a sunscreen that satisfies the criteria of protectiveness and non-toxicity. So when I learned that my road team for 2014, Threshold p/b Leadout Endurance Coaching, has a sunscreen sponsor, I was skeptical. I was pretty happy to discover that Zealios uses the same active ingredients as the baby sunscreens I was spending hours finding at the drug stores, making it as non-toxic and protective as the sunscreens come. What's more, Zealios doesn't give me the ghastly glazed-white look that I get from most of the baby sunscreens. It is perfectly translucent and waterproof, and feels nice and smooth on my skin. The best sunscreen I've tried. SCORE!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Randy Shoquist

I woke up this morning with a memory on my mind.
Randy Shoquist was a great match sprinter, and he was this really humble bike mechanic.
The first time I met him, I was riding my Schwinn High Plains around Portland, and I'd tacoed one of the wheels. It was a $300 mountain bike I'd had since I was 12. I went to 3 or 4 shops and all of them said it would cost me $150 to replace the wheel. I was just a poor college kid making minimum wage on my summer break. Thne I took it into Randy at Coventry Cycles...
"And he bent it back for you?" Dennis asked.
"I did that 3 or 4 times yesterday."
"Randy stepped on my wheel a couple times and handed it back to me, charged me $10 minimum shop labor. I was pretty happy.
"The next time I encountered him was a few years later when I started racing. He had the flying 200 record at Alpenrose. He held that track record for 30 years. It was amazing.
"Then a couple years after that, Mike Murray, who was in charge of the velodrome in Portland, said that Norrene, my racer friend who promoted and took a couple people to the London Olympics, did "more with less than anyone else he knew. And Randy Shoquist did less with more."
And I looked at him and I said, "Randy went really fast."
That was what mattered to me. The physicality of it. Not whether you were sponsored or traveled to a bunch of fancy races. Physical speed.

"Opening up a bike store, now, makes me feel kind of like Randy."
"And it's a humble kind of bike store."

Photo by James Mason,

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


What I do, I like to do well. I’ve had some success racing bicycles on the road, the track, and in cyclocross. I’ve won elite national medals on road and track, and a masters national medal in cyclocross.
Last year, I got back onto the velodrome after a decade of absence, and I combined that with road racing and cyclocross. I had some success. But I learned – the hard way, as I seem to learn so many things – that, though I can do any of those disciplines well, I can’t do all three disciplines at a high level in one season.
“Discipline” has as much to do with punishment and domination as it has to do with devotion, understanding, and a life of faithful practice. Depending on its inflection, “discipline” can give a life structure and purpose, or, like in an abusive relationship, it can leave a person broken, fragmented, shut down, wandering, and lost.
So which discipline is it going to be this year? Well, cyclocross. That choice has more to do with timing than anything else. After a three-discipline season in 2012, I was hammered, overtrained, molested by a long string of injuries and illness, burnt out, and sick of cycling. I tried to quit racing for good in April. By June I had discovered (the hard way) that I love and enjoy and want and need to race my bike. It’s the end of July and I’m just toeing my way back towards the discipline of riding. Cyclocross happens late enough in the year that I can still hope to get all the way up to speed before the season ends.
The pure intense physical endeavor of racing is fun and games and punishing pain and grim hard work and serious indolence and satisfaction. I’m, tentatively, stoked.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Free Range Human

What does it mean to be a free range human?

Being a free range human means that my life, my work, my income, my self-expression come naturally and develop organically in healthy relationships to other people and the world around me. It means that my routines are comfortable and have enough space to let me be myself, and enough structure to allow me to coordinate with other people and develop stronger disciplines over time. For years I tried to fit myself into other people's molds and ideas of excellence, for instance the full time job. The most fulfilled people I know might roam around and move stuff for a living; they might sit and think for a living; they might ride bikes and talk to people for a living. It's a different combination for every free range human I've met, as unique and recognizable as a fingerprint. It's a way of dancing with life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I started racing bikes in 1997 out of Portland, Oregon, where truly elite level racing was kind of rare at the time. For better and worse, I was always strongly independent and suspicious of authority. I quickly racked up some impressive national level results, but I also racked up some physical issues. I quit racing for a couple years, and when I started my comeback, dealing with the injuries and nagging issues became a necessity. In 2006, at the urging of my friend and teammate Sonya King who was interning as a PT in his office at the time, I started working with Curtis Cramblett on some lower back pain that kept me from racing and training. He was a big help, and he helped me to resolve my low back pain.

Injury would rear its ugly head again during the 2012 season and the 2012-2013 winter, in the form of debilitating pain in my right knee and my right hip. That’s a full year and a half of right leg dysfunction. I worked through it on my own and managed a good late summer season on the road and track, and a good mid-season of cyclocross racing. Then my knee started bugging me again, then my hip, and I missed the most of the end of the cyclocross season. I had a dismal nationals and skipped world championship altogether because I could not train or race around the hip pain.

I am stubborn and it took a complete athletic breakdown lasting months to send me back to the physical therapist for help again. I emailed Curtis. Curtis is a busy guy who travels a lot, and he recommended his colleague at Revolutions in Fitness, Mark McMahon.

Mark does excellent work. He’s got skills – he’s like a Rolfer, a Chiropractor, a Physical Therapist, and a Bike Fit expert all rolled up in one. He refers to different techniques and modalities from moment to moment depending on what will be the most beneficial. He doesn’t waste time. Like Curtis, Mark is also a sweet and inspiring guy. Working with Mark, I was consistently back in training within 2 sessions – after the full year and a half of tenuous contact with the bike.

We’re continuing to work together to resolve the issues that I’ve accrued over the years. Be better than I’ve been, and let Mark help you work stuff out before it becomes debilitating.