Fair warning: This is a long post - so long, that it will be split into two parts because it's rather lengthy even sectioned off, but there's good stuff all the way through and potentially, I think, a little tidbit for just about anyone.
Sam and I are sitting in Paul and Trudee's house on a gloomy spring afternoon at their dining table chatting about life. Sam has known the couple for awhile now through a local ride group, but I've only personally become acquainted with the duo over the last year or so.
Paul has just returned from picking up sandwiches for the four of us and we sit munching, laughing about various topics. These two are a riot to be around. Not only do they both enjoy riding bikes, but they are full of energy, laughter, and stories of all kinds.
Paul, is best described as a frenetic fellow. His energy is unending and it's challenging to keep him sitting still for any length of time. He is filter-less in his words which is something I rarely find in people today. He is simply the sort who says what is on his mind. Trudee is the calmer of the two, but will also share her thoughts and ideas. She is entirely full of life, but her demeanor is simply calmer than Paul's. She is a happy, fun individual who has lots of stories of her own and occasionally chimes in, adding details that Paul has left out of tales. The two of them combined will make for a festive afternoon.
We finish eating and figure it's time to get down to business. I have a long list of questions, so we know it's time to get started. To give a bit of background, Trudee and Paul are married (still considered newlyweds, really) and have been in the process of opening a local bike shop. Because we don't have many bike shops in town, and even fewer that are good sources of supplies or information, I thought it would be nice to sit down with them and find out what they hope to have happen with their new shop, their history with bicycles, and overall thoughts on cycling in the area and across the U.S.
Trudee: I was a late bloomer, a scaredy cat. I remember my cousins giving me rides on the back of their bikes or handlebars because I couldn't ride a bike. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade when my grandpa finally taught me in front of his house in L.A. He ran behind me and let go and I crashed into a parked car.
Paul: I think I was riding a bike before I was walking. [laughs] Okay, maybe I was two.
G.E.: Do you remember your first bike experience?
Paul: Yep, my grandfather taught me how to ride a bike. He put me on a bike with no training wheels and put his foot on my ass and gave me a push... Let's just say it didn't end well. It was a white bike with an orange plastic saddle. Never rode with training wheels. That's one way to learn real quick. It was a good day.
G.E.: Have you ridden continuously since your first bike ride, or did you take a break?
Trudee: No. I rode a mountain bike for transportation in college, but that's about it. I don't think I ever even pumped up the tires!
Paul: I took many breaks, but I have always had a bike, even if I didn't ride. I remember always having a bike in the garage. It's always been something I liked but after doing marathons I wanted something else in my life. I maintain riding by being selfish and sacrificing other things in my life.
Trudee: Don't say that!
Paul: Why? It's true. I am selfish with my time.
G.E.: [laughs] Sometimes we have to be selfish with our time. So, Trudee, what gave you the push to return to riding?
Trudee: After six surgeries on my left knee, including three ACL's, my surgeon said I should give up karate and start cycling. It took me a couple more years to heed that advice. Cycling was intimidating: What to wear, how to change a flat, what to carry in the saddle bag, what route to ride, cars, etc.
G.E.: What type(s) of riding do you participate in?
Paul: I have participated in road, racing and transportation.
Trudee: And, Paul has a cross bike.
Paul: I think I like transportation riding the most. There is something about being on the bike, a sense of freedom, belonging to the planet. I don't know. It's hard to explain.
G.E.: How many bikes do you own? Do you have a current and/or past favorite?
Trudee: Four. My first Trek road bike, my custom Zinn road bike, a cross bike from eBay and an old mountain bike. My favorite is my custom Zinn because it fits me. It has 650c wheels and custom 155mm length cranks. All of my other bikes are too big for me - I can barely touch the ground, I have major toe overlap, my lower back hurts.
Paul: I now own one track bike, one custom Holland, one Fondriest, one Langster single speed, one Torelli, and a cross bike. The most I have owned is in the neighborhood of 65 bikes. Old Italian, old steel frames, Colnago's, Schwinn, Look. My current favorite is the Holland. My past favorite is probably my Look KG381 - one of the first carbon bikes out on the road... I liked the feel of it... It was very fun. If I could own one again, it would probably be that bike.
G.E.: I had a Torelli... I loved that bike! I felt so fast - It was just too big for me. So, what's the fastest color bike?
Paul: Umm, I like white. Classy, streamlined. White bikes are cool.
Trudee: That's so boring! My bike is neon green, so that is the fastest color. Bikes should not be boring!
G.E.: Why is cycling important to you?
Paul: History [laughs]. The mental aspect of it. It keeps me mentally clean in the head. The health aspect of it. It brings a lot of enjoyment to people.
Trudee: Cycling helped me find myself. I spent a fortune on different diets - Weight Watchers, low sugar, Paleo... and exercises - cross fit, karate, DVD's, gadgets. I had a series of injuries and years of physical therapy - traditional, dry needling, muscle activation, Rolfing. I also had a series of bad relationships and some mental therapy. After I started cycling, I stopped dieting, stopped the get-fit-quick exercises, stopped the physical/mental therapy and found an amazing husband!
G.E.: You two ride together pretty regularly, correct? What is that like?
Trudee: Yes, we do.
Trudee: Paul rides along on some of my ladies group rides and we do rides with just the two of us. We are very different riders. Paul is a city mouse. He cycled for over 20 years in San Diego traffic, he doesn't drink much water, he never eats on the bike, and he pushes himself hard on almost every ride. I am a country mouse. I pick routes that have less traffic, I drink water and sports drinks, I bonk if I don't eat on the bike, and I like to putz along [G.E.'s note: As someone who has been on a ride with Trudee, I will say that she is not actually a "putzer" in my experience].
Paul: I really do enjoy our rides together. I don't think Trudee thinks I do, but I enjoy being out there with her.
Trudee: It was a learning process. When we were dating he was super nice and would make sure I was right there, and...
Paul: Yeah, but then you were yelling at me for looking back at you, so I stopped doing it. So, I just put my head down now and go.
Trudee: But, when we got married there's no more wheel to draft off of at all.
Paul: I just want to state, for the record, that she whines a lot.
Trudee: And what about the Palomar Mountain thing? No food. No water. I bonked riding up Palomar after following his lead, eating breakfast at 8 a.m., then nothing in between but water for a 2 p.m. ride that took 3 hours... no snack, no gel, nothing. Then, he lost me in the desert, [looks at Paul] right?
Paul: Yeah, because you didn't go where you were supposed to go.
Trudee: No, no. He gave me these detailed directions to go to this landing place with a flag...
Paul: There was a windsock, and...
Trudee: If you don't want me to go to the windsock, then you wouldn't give me all these detailed directions on how to get there.
Paul: So, she just kept on going and went to the final station.
Trudee: You told me how to get there.
Paul: So, I thought she had... 'cause people do crazy things in the heat of the desert... people get off their bike and start walking, they just do crazy things. She doesn't realize that.
Trudee: I'm with like 150 people.
Paul: She doesn't realize... no, we weren't. We were way ahead - fifteen to twenty miles ahead of everybody...
Trudee: And, we have Navy Seal guy...
Paul: We were way ahead of everyone and the Navy Seal guy told me to go up and there was a camping ground because we weren't going to stop. We were way ahead of the schedule. Okay, so I went along and she was like, "Oh, I can't keep up. Just go." So, I did. And, so, I gave her directions to meet me at the intersection.
Paul: At this white intersection...
Trudee: He said that as an option, but then he continued his story and he gave me directions to get all the way to the end.
Paul: I told her...
Trudee: You gave me directions to the end.
G.E.: So, you went to the end.
Paul: Yeah, we won't really know because she was all dehydrated and crazy that day. So, I end up going all the way back, looking for her... All I can think is it's the first trip, first major trip we've taken together... all I can think of is having to explain to her parents that she'd gotten killed in the middle of the desert. That's all I could think of. So, I roll in to the, uh...
Trudee: I was waiting...
Paul: To the camping ground and she was sitting there in the corner and I was livid. I was livid!
Trudee: I waited where he told me to wait.
Paul: Oh, I was so pissed. I don't think I've ever been so pissed in my entire life!
Trudee: So, another thing we learned is that I was responsible for my own food. So, if I'm hungry I have to tell him. So, we've done that a couple of times since then and I'll say, "I need to eat!"
Paul: It's a good idea because I don't like eating.
Trudee: I need food. So, one time we just had to stop to have a bar, and another time we had to stop to get a bar because he doesn't eat on the bike.
G.E.: So, he just doesn't think about it?
Paul: No, no I don't.
Trudee: So, that's helped. But, now we have a good system where I ride my pace, I ignore him. He rides up and back and up and back, and I just kind of do [trails off]... You know, it works.
Paul: It's fine. It works.
Trudee: So, we ride together and then he leaves and...
Paul: I like hills. I'm the climber. You're pretty good on the flats. You lose a little bit on the hills, but you're pretty good. It's my recovery ride when I ride with her. [laughs]
G.E.: [laughing] It's like when Sam says, "Oh, Paul says his legs are hurting," before a ride and I'll say, "Oh, so you have a chance of keeping up?"
Paul: I have to punish him for the last time he kicked my ass.
G.E.: I know. Sam did tell me about it.
Paul: I was so pissed off. I was totally brooding about that all day long.
Trudee: Well, and Paul was on a different bike, too.
Sam: That's what I said. He was on his cross bike, so I took advantage.
Paul: It's like, you started up Nelson hill and I, I'm doing okay...
Sam: You were breathing...
G.E.: He's like, "I knew when I could hear Paul breathing that I could..." [laughing]
Sam: He... he was trying to do that thing where he comes up to try to get ahead of you and he's breathing hard, so I'm like, yeah...
Paul: You knew it! [laughing]
Sam: I knew it was over then.
Paul: I was like, dammit! I was so pissed off. [laughing] You don't know how pissed off I was.
Trudee: Yeah, but he doesn't feel bad when he drops you!
Sam: But, that's just Paul.
Trudee: I know it.
G.E.: Sam has accepted that it's just Paul, I think.
Trudee: That's how it is when I ride with him.
Sam: It's like one out of every ten times... and I'll just get ya. [laughing] It's that tenth time, and I'm fine with that.
Trudee: One time I did pass him because he was waiting for me, and then like ten seconds later he caught me and I [mock breathing heavily] was like, "Oh, I'm tired," and he said, "Don't do that if you can't hold it."
Paul: [laughing] If you're going to do that then you've gotta build on it. What was that anyway? That was funny.... We were out riding one day [trails off]...
G.E.: We've had a couple of those where I will take off and Sam will say, "Wait, what happened?"
Paul: Yeah, I know. Exactly!
G.E.: He's like, "What are you doing?"
Paul: That's my thing... if you can't hold it...
G.E.: And then he'll catch me and I'm like, "Okay, I can't do this anymore." I'm dying. [laughing]
Sam: You know, when someone is behind you...
Paul: That's what makes cycling so fun, especially when you can ride with friends. When I was late 20s, early 30s probably, I was racing for Sparkletts and stuff... it was... it's just a different atmosphere. I would rather ride with Sam any day of the week.
Paul: But, you know, it's fun. It's just fun. I enjoy being out there with a friend.
Trudee: For women, nine times out of ten, they smile when they wave or ride by, and I get so happy.
Paul: I just enjoy riding with Sam. It's fun... Alright. Enough sappy stuff.
|The guys race the Haystack Time Trial in 2015.|
Paul: That was a good day. I would say that the misery of the rain was almost as bad as today [Note: it was pretty rainy that day, and even hailed, as it did the day of the Haystack TT].
Paul: That was... that was really horrible.
Sam: It was kind of... discombobulated, but it came out...
Paul: It kind of goes back to... Sam and I ride together, so I know his nuances, and he knows mine.
Sam: I'll just fall in.
Paul: You know my... I have a... I have crazy lines.
Sam: And, I'll just follow.
Paul: Yeah. I like all the guys we rode with, but I just don't ride with them as often. I like riding with Sam, and yeah, I'd do a time trial again.
Sam: The time trial was fun.
G.E.: [To Trudee] Would you do a time trial?
Trudee: Oh, geez. No!
Paul: If I had a custom tandem, I would do one with Trudee.
Trudee: Yeah, and then I'd be yelling at him. [laughs]
Paul: No. I would be yelling at you. [smiles] The one thing about time trials is that if you go out too fast and hard, you'll never make it.
Sam: It went well... because, you said what to do. It wasn't very long [the sprints]... like 30 seconds or something, and then back off. You just have to hold out for that 30 seconds. I feel it when I do it normally riding, it's like I'm quitting. Every once in awhile there's that spot over in Lyons and I lose it right there and you pass me. Every time, right there.
Paul: Oh! Up on Apple Valley?
Sam: Yeah. I just don't hold it, and I don't know... it's quitting.
Paul: No, it's not quitting. There's just some hills... and, that's not really a hill, but it's psychologically it's a bitch.
Sam: You can't back off.
Paul: There are hills that just... just kill me man, and I'm like it's 3% and I'm like, oh my god this is going to...
G.E.: Sometimes those are worse than the steep ones.
Paul: It's so mental.
Sam: There's a lot of that here. That subtle, 3% for like ten miles.
G.E.: So, Trudee, is there anything female-specific that has ever hindered you from riding or wanting to ride?
Trudee: There are definitely different challenges being a female cyclist. The biggest for me was being uncomfortable "down there." I found that bike shops just try to sell you a new saddle. I tried a Terry saddle and it was too soft for me. I felt like I was sliding with every pedal stroke. Paul changed my positioning on the bike by lowering my handlebars...a lot of times, women ride with their bars higher...lowering the handlebars helped take weight off of the problem area. He also told me to change my position while I ride - to stand up now and then. I have also learned that there is a big difference in the feel of a chamois.
G.E.: What do you view as the biggest obstacle/s to getting more females on bikes?
Trudee: I think it's just hard to start; it's scary. Cycling is an intimidating sport to learn. Everything about it is scary. How do I ride with traffic, how do I signal, how do I turn, I can't use clip in pedals, what do I wear - I don't want to look like a sausage in spandex, I'm cold, I'm hot - my back hurts, my girl parts hurt, I don't know how to change a flat, I don't know routes to ride, I don't know what to carry in the saddle bag. I also think women aren't always good about thinking about "me," about making time to do something for themselves.
|Trudee on a group ride leading the Velodames|
Trudee: I think group riding can be intimidating for some women. I used to get a stomachache before every group ride. I also get stressed if I don't know the route, the mileage, the elevation changes, and I get stressed turning left. So, with the women's rides, I try to do familiar routes - nothing fancy - with more right turns. I think five riders may have shown up the first ride and three were my friends for support. The group ebbs and flows with 1-12 riders per ride. It's just as fun for me to ride with one person as it is 10. I am doing the rides again this year and I hope to add a friendly beginner ride - 10-12 miles per hour - after I finish my MBA... with all my new free time. The best part is getting the women out. We stay for a beer or wine after - For some it's their only night out from kids.
G.E.: Do you have a favorite brand or piece of riding clothing, or a piece of bike technology that you can't live without?
Trudee: Clothing has been a hard learning experience for me. I tried to be thrifty and I have many things I got on sale that I hate - they're unflattering and/or uncomfortable. I have Giordana bibs that I love. They have a longer leg and cover my tummy. I also have a new pair of Giordana bibs that I bought for a Christmas treat for 50% off online that I hate. I have worn them twice and got saddle sores both times!
Paul: Yeah. I like shoes.
Trudee: He does. He really likes shoes. [Paul pulls out a catalog to show us his favorites]. I don't know if there's anything for me.
Paul: You like your Garmin.
Trudee: Yeah, I do. I do like my Garmin. Just personally, for me. I like to see that I'm improving.
G.E.: Okay. Fair enough. We talked a little bit about transportation riding earlier, but have either of you had the opportunity to ride here in Longmont for transportation?
Paul: No, not really.
G.E.: Do you think there's anything that could improve our local roadways for cyclists. You do use local roadways to get out to back roads to do sport cycling, so have you observed anything that could be improved?
Paul: I think more detailed mapping would be good.
G.E.: Like, online mapping?
Paul: Well, online mapping, but also handout maps, and I know they're working on that. Uh...
G.E.: Oh! The city bike map?
Paul: Yeah. And... I think they need to establish better bike routes.
G.E.: That's true.
Paul: I know that they're working on it though. It's a work in progress.
G.E.: It always is - for everyone, everywhere, I think. Do you think anything different, Trudee?
Trudee: No, you know, I feel like they're making progress, but you know, I'd like to see the bike routes go ALL the way through... like Francis [Street]. You can't just stop randomly.
Paul: That's what I mean.
G.E.: Well, and then it stops before we turn to head to our house, but I can look out the kitchen window and I see them, the cyclists. They're still riding through even though there's no bike lane, so some feel like they have to go up on the sidewalk, or, you know [trails off].
Trudee: Yes. And, the road is wide enough to go to at least 11th.
Trudee: And then there's that gap. We haven't lived here when the greenways were all open [The greenways have been closed or partially closed preventing full-city passage since September 2013 due to flooding.]
Paul: I think that's the gapping that we see - it makes it frustrating.
Trudee: So, we hope that helps when the greenway is back open again, so that people can get through town again.
G.E.: That would be nice - to have passage through the city again on the greenway. So, what do you view as the main obstacle to getting more people out riding a bike both for transportation and for sport?
Paul: I personally think it's safety. I think it's people's fear of cycling with cars. I think that's the main part.
Trudee: Yeah. I think Colorado is tough, you know, especially with the weather. And then, there's that guy that cycles every day down highway 287. I personally have stuff. You know, I have stuff that I would have to carry with me, and I think that's sometimes what prevents people from riding.
Sam: I've seen that guy - riding down 287. He's out there every day... rain, snow, doesn't seem to matter.
G.E.: Sam has shared several times about seeing the commuter riding down the highway. I have serious respect for someone who rides every day, and especially such a distance, in all sorts of weather. Do you view Longmont and the surrounding areas as safe places to ride?
Paul: I think in general people are really fairly courteous with cyclists.
Trudee: Yes, definitely.
G.E.: You haven't read enough of my blog posts obviously [laughs].
Paul: Well, I've also experienced worse. I've biked in a major city with the fifth largest population in the United States. So, yeah, coming from that...
G.E.: In comparison.. Yeah...
Paul: It's nothing by comparison. You're always going to come across those a-holes that, you know, drive too close because they don't like cyclists on "their roads;" but yeah, for the most part, I think it's fairly safe. Especially, if you rode on some of these roads that we ride on in San Diego, you would definitely be hit. Yeah. There's no doubt about it. If you don't have a bike lane to go on, you know you're going to get hit riding there. I just did it anyway. I also got hit a lot. Thirteen times to be exact.
Trudee: Yeah. We think Longmont and Boulder County are generally quite a bit safer. I notice a difference depending on where I'm riding even locally.
Paul: But, it really is one of the cycling meccas for the world.
Trudee: Pretty much... you're always going to encounter jerks out there.
Paul: And, that's to be said about everything in life. There's always going to be assholes.
G.E.: What is the best experience or encounter you've had with a motorist while out riding? Is there anything that sticks out in your mind as a good experience?
Paul: Yeah, actually. Um, I was... the time... a few years back, I had punctured both lungs and broke eight ribs and broke my collar bone. The guy - one of the motorists - saw me go flying across two lanes and he got out and he held my hand and sat with me. Yeah. It was very, very... it was comforting because I couldn't breathe - I was gurgling, blood...
G.E.: Do you know if he was a cyclist?
Paul: I don't know...
G.E.: I'm just curious... always curious.
Paul: I... He could've just driven around and left me laying there in the middle of the street. So, that was a good experience.
Trudee: I've had motorists stop to make sure I'm okay. The only thing is that sometimes they've left because I said I was okay and I really wasn't okay. So, like, for me as a cyclist, I'm not leaving you. Like, at all.
G.E.: That's a good point. Somebody falls over. You don't really know because it's almost our instinctual response to say, 'Oh yeah, I'm all right.'
Trudee: But I definitely notice the drivers - when they give you room, or they wave.
Paul: Definitely. You can spot the cyclists. They'll swing way out.
Trudee: Yes. I love that. It makes me feel safer.
G.E.: And then, what would be the worst experience, if any, that you've had with a motorist?
Paul: Uh, do you really want to know that?
G.E.: Yeah, I do.
Paul: Ahh... Going to work, commuting to work one morning, there was a guy with his daughter on the street in his car and he yelled out a derogatory term at me and we almost came to blows. I bit my tongue, but...
Trudee: Did you catch him?
Paul: Yeah. It was right at the stop light. I said to him, "Excuse me?" and he called me the name again and the poor girl with him was just mortified. You could see she was [trails off]... and I almost couldn't hold myself back, but I did...Yeah...I did say, "Why don't you step out of your car?"
G.E.: How about you, Trudee?
Trudee: Well, so, I'm not very confrontational like Paul, but if I'm mad or something, sometimes I'll be [fake yelling] 'Are you kidding me?' but I don't fight with them. People do say things out their windows though sometimes or rev their engine, or, you know... refuse to give you any room. A lot of people cut me off turning. They'll speed up, cut me off, and I have to slam on my brakes.
Paul: I don't necessarily think it's malicious... uh...
G.E.: It's unawareness...
Paul: It's unawareness because they don't realize how fast you're going. I think there are people that do it just to piss you off, but I think... I try to feel... that it's not a malicious thing every time.
G.E.: [To Sam] Like the guys on 9th that tried to run us off the road? I went to the police station, but they really didn't do anything.
Sam: Yeah. The worst part was the guys in the car were laughing about it as they nearly ran us off. They were pushing her and there was no where to go but off the road.
Trudee: I'm a screamer and I think it helps. I don't scream at them, but I do a little "ah" scream and when I've had people with their windows down, they do hear it and they've totally reacted. You're right, sometimes it's not malicious, but sometimes, I think that's saved my life.... being a screamer.
G.E.: It can get a little crazy sometimes. Do you ride through the winter months, and if so, do you have any tips for dealing with weather that is less than ideal?
Paul: Get a fat tire bike. It will make your life a lot easier.
G.E.: Yes, see Paul and Trudee at Long Mont Velo. [giggles]
Paul: And, you know, just dress warm. It's all about just being out and not so much about the speed you're going.
G.E.: Just accept that it's going to take longer to get where you're going?
Paul/Trudee: [In unison] Yeah.
Paul: You're not going to be able to hammer like you do in the summer time.
Trudee: I feel like Paul's getting safer with older age.
Paul: I am.
Trudee: Sometimes it's icy and I'm like, yyeaahh... I don't know. I worry about him being incapacitated if he falls.
Paul: I'm not worried about that.
G.E.: You should be worried about that!
Paul: I'm more worried about the pain because I know it's going to get worse as we get older.
Trudee: And after not working from August to December...
Paul: Well, that was actually short compared to my last time. I was out for a year.
Trudee: But, mentally, financially... it wasn't good.
G.E.: Sounds... not great. So, what are your current bike-related goals?
Trudee: [Looks at Paul] Do I have current bike related goals?
Paul: I don't know... do you? I think you're going to do some triathlons this year, right?
Trudee: Well, I'm not going to run though.
Paul: No, but you could do one of those... what do they call them? Aquathons? Duathlon? They're a duathlon but it's like bike, swim, bike.
Trudee: Yeah, I'd like to do that. I can do bike, swim. And then... yeah, I want to get over that 19 miles per hour speed. Just train to beat that.
Paul: You were there last year, so... Me? Personally, nothing. Just get the bike shop open.
G.E.: That's going to be enough, I'm sure.
Paul: Yeah, I mean, I need to ride... I need to ride, but I don't think I'm going to do any races this year. Maybe next year. I'd like to do more time trials next year, but I need to get a TT bike though.
That's where we'll leave off for this portion of the interview, but Paul and Trudee had a lot more to share. I should be able to have the second portion of our chat up within the next couple of days (hopefully sooner).
Part 2 is now up and can be found by clicking here.