Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet 14

I rode my cross bike, complete with knobby tires, into town yesterday.  Round trip it’s a little over 20 miles.  I knew that I would be racing in the evening and consequently kept the pace easy.  I also didn’t want to get all sweaty prior to my meeting, so I kept the pace below 14mph, and simply rolled along enjoying my time on the bike.
This is what I call riding under the “sweat threshold” or ST.  Most of my bike riding involves some sort of training, so either I’m hammering hard or hammering kind of hard.  Either way I’m pushing the flats and attacking the hills.  I’m so deep into this mindset that when it’s time to slow down and take it easy I really have to focus; a few minutes of inattention and I’m huffing and puffing my way back up to 20 mph.

So many commuters seem to think that they have to change out of sweaty clothes once they get to wherever they are going, but I figure if I can stay under the ST I’ll arrive dry and ready to go.  I’ll admit that here in hilly Seattle riding under the ST is a bit of a challenge, but with a little concentration it’s totally possible.
Riding 14 mph versus 20 mph only amounts to a time difference of 13 minutes over a 10 mile ride.

I suspect that many folks are put off bike commuting –and bike travel in general – because they mistakenly believe that there is this big complicated rigmarole associated with two-wheeled travel.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Yesterday I rode 10 miles into the heart of Seattle under a light drizzle wearing the Gent’s Pants I’m developing for my company – Greenlite Heavy Industries – a polo shirt, an REI vest and a Pendleton wool shirt.  I was comfortable, kept under the ST and arrived at my meeting invigorated yet sweat free.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Triple Bottom Line

Yesterday I was listening to my local NPR station and the guest brought up something she called the “Triple Bottom Line.”  She was referring to businesses that focus on three elements of success:

It was good to hear someone put something that I’ve been thinking about into legible, concise terminology.  My new company – Greenlite Heavy Industries – definitely has a triple bottom line.

The art of business is to stay in business, and thus positive cash flow should be the primary goal, but it shouldn’t be the only goal.  Making money is a suitable goal, but it doesn’t have to be the mission of a company.  I started Greenlite with the mission of getting more people to lead more active lives.  Human beings were designed to be active, without daily activity our minds and our bodies atrophy; stagnant minds and bodies are ripe pickings for the drug companies.  Drugs neither make us healthier nor happier.  Stimulation of mind and body is the social goal of Greenlite Heavy Industries.

I see the automobile as a scourge.  It is the root of all of America’s recent, current and pending wars.  Why was Bin Laden pissed at the U.S?  He was very clear on this point: he was fighting against American troops on Saudi soil, what he in his religiosity considered heathens on sacred soil.  Why were American troops there?  To guard American oil interests.  It’s not complicated.  Oil is the source of unimaginable environmental destruction – 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico how do you get your mind wrapped around that?  The energy industry (i.e. oil companies) have almost unrivaled political power in this nation.  Making any significant strides in alternative energy is impossible due to the political power of big oil.  The automobile has made the United States of America stagnant, sad, stupid slaves.  Without the internal combustion engine we are powerless.

The best alternative energy source available to mankind is food.  Why is the assumption that in order to get from here to there one should exert no physical effort so prevalent?  Cars should be used for long trips, walking or bicycles should be used for short trips.  The environmental goal of Greenlite is to get more people out of their cars and onto their feet and onto their pedals.

I want Greenlite Heavy Industries to be a force for good in my community, in my nation and in my world.  In order to do this I think that I have to write down and continually reflect upon my purpose in starting this endeavor.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I’m a real rule follower, the sign says “Don’t Walk” I don’t walk; green means go, red means stop.  I’ve been this way my entire life, and so I guess this is why I look for ways and places to separate myself from the rules, to do my own thing.  At first it was through mountaineering that I discovered the freedom of a world sans rules.  I instinctively avoided, I dare say even ran away from, guided or otherwise organized climbing groups.  Instead I found my “boys” and we did our own thing.  We went out in bad weather, we had no “team leader” and we left at home most of the ten essentials.  This was anathema to many “Mountaineers” who saw climbing as akin to a military expedition; we did our best to steer clear of the Mountaineers.

Now my freedom is found on the bike.  Much of my training is done solo, and I simply put on my kit, pump up my tires and get out there and ride.  On my bike I make my own decisions.  Yesterday I had to ride on the Burke-Gilman bike trail, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon and the trail was thick with every manner of cyclist, runner, jogger, walker, roller and crawler.  I slowed down, took my time, kept my cool, this was, after all, the first time in six months that I’d ridden in short sleeves – why get all uptight.  Near the University of Washington I got in behind a quintet of “serious” bikers: they were adorned with all manner of blinking lights, fluttering ribbons and orange slow moving vehicle insignias. 

I was stuck behind the recumbent guy who was droning on about the “tough centuries” when we came to a stop sign at a point where the trail crossed a street.  As we slowed I pulled up alongside the lead rider, and as we approached the intersection an oncoming car slowed and came to a stop, I gave the driver a wave and rolled through the intersection and continued on my way.  From behind I hear “oh I guess you don’t have to stop.”

I ride in a team kit and I take my role as a spokesperson for the sponsors seriously.  I acknowledge drivers who show a little courtesy, I wave to every passing cyclist, and I even pull over if I feel that I have a driver trapped in behind me, I never flip off or yell at inattentive drivers I just let it roll off.  So consequently I didn’t give the old gal the middle finger salute, nor did I turn around to explain to her that the driver had stopped, he and I had made eye contact, and that the smartest thing to do in that situation was to accept the courtesy and continue on my way.

I’m sure at this moment in time she is probably writing her own blog post about that crazy “racer” who flew past her riding reckless and irresponsibly.   “Why doesn’t he just follow the rules!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Worn out Jeans - Only $300

I got a chuckle out of this hang tag, which I found on a pair of two hundred plus dollar jeans. How exactly does "each hole and rip" remind you "of a different story" when each hole and rip was made on a machine in some Asian factory. Jeans certainly do weave a tapestry telling the adventures and mishaps of their owner, but faking that "character," worse yet charging you one to two hundred bucks for that faked character, I say no thanks.
Currently I am searching out that perfect denim for my next project - urban cycling jeans. The denim will be raw and you can bet that they won't be "characterized."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cool Ride

Saw this slick ride shining in the sun at the Volunteer Park Crit last Saturday. I've never heard of a David James bicycle. The city bars and eighteen gears made this one unique ride. I missed getting a shot of a vintage silver and maroon Davidson.

Monday, April 9, 2012


A creative display of pride in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back in Gear

I raced last Thursday and Saturday both with very encouraging results. After the Independence Valley Road Race debacle of two weeks ago I was questioning whether or not to even enter another bicycle race, luckily I seem to be back on track and at least able to hang with the group. On Thursday I raced the first of the weekly Seward Park Crits and on Saturday I raced the much more serious and deep fielded crit at Volunteer Park. Volunteer Park was my first foray into the Masters grouping; it was a thirty five plus Masters so I was still maybe ten years older than many in the field, but still I felt somewhat like I was with my peers – or at least my generation.

Saturday morning I weighed in at one hundred and sixty nine pounds, that’s probably the first time since my expedition to Manaslu – ten years ago - that I tipped the scales at under one seventy. I seemed to have cut a little of the extra weight around the edges and it certainly has helped me improve my cycling ability. Now I know why all these cyclists are so weight obsessive.

I have changed up my diet a bit. No more oatmeal for breakfast, and as little bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes as possible. I suppose it’s kind of a paleo approach, which I think is super valid. Two hundred thousand years of evolution can’t be all that wrong. I’m eating a lot more vegetables, a bit more fruit and a bit less meat – though I am by no means moving towards a vegetarian diet. As far as I can see, athletes need protein, and protein from lean meat – grass fed, free range – is the best source.

I think I can push my way down to one sixty five.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Young and Carefree

I'm halfway through Laurent Fignon's autobio - We Were Young and Carefree. I first started watching the Tour in 1989 and was excited to be able to "talk the tour" with a couple of racers in the office. Fignon seemed like kind of a jerk, but he seemed less of a jerk than LeMond, so I rooted for Laurent. the 89 ended with a time trail and this was the year that LeMond rolled up to the starting ramp with a bike sporting a pair of rule stretching traithlon-style handlebars. He made up nearly a minute on Fignon and won the Tour by eight seconds.

In his book Fignon refers to LeMond and one of cycling's great followers. Ouch.

The book is full of excuses and pages of how so and so done him wrong, but it's a good read. I particularly liked this passage, seems pressient for today's "video kids:"

And when I got on my bike, the call of the wild infected me with blasts of emotion. I had the feeling that I cold conquer anything, and I would, even though I didn’t know how or why; I would be dragged along merely by the yearning for it, like an explorer in new territory. Our minds were probably less restrained than those of our children. Living in virtual worlds has become their daily bread. As for us, the state on things meant that we were rooted in real life. And that is the magic of cycling: the simple forward motion from the power in your legs treats you to great bursts of freedom. Your legs and nothing more. That’s the little miracle that is the bike, where man and machine conjoin. It’s a unique invention. The union of a man with himself.