Cyclist of the month: Kris Rhodes
Wheels: Surly Ogre, Surly Steamroller, Raleigh Prestige
Occupation: SDET at Microsoft
An avid bike commuter, Rhodes commutes from Seattle’s Belltown to Microsoft in Redmond – a 62-mile roundtrip the long way, 32-mile if he takes the shortcut across I-90 and through Bellevue – logging an average of 250 to 300 miles a week.
Originally from Perth, West Australia, Rhodes said he started riding to school when he was 8 years old and continued to do so all through high school.
“I rode a bike until I got it stolen. Then I got a car and discovered I like motorcycles,” Rhodes said. “I ending up driving in Uni because I was essentially doing 14-hour-days, and I was strapped for time.”
A job at Windows Phone brought him to Seattle, Wash., in 2008.
“At the time, I was overweight at 220 pounds. I had gotten into a sedentary lifestyle and my job was stressful,” he said.
Driving a rental car, Rhodes found that he spent too much money on gas and parking.
“I hated driving that car,” he said. So he decided to get back into biking.
To meet fellow bicyclists, Rhodes started attending the free Cascade Daily Rides.
“When you move to a new place, you want to meet people so you look at your hobbies. For me that was biking and rock climbing. But I got doored in 2008 and broke the cartilage between my sternum and second rib so climbing is out,” he said. “I met a wonderful ride leader, Scott Kralik, and mainly did the Thursday night rides in the summer. They are slow, easy-paced rides and were a great place for me to start. That was really the start of me riding in Seattle.”
Six months after starting to commute, Rhodes had dropped down to a healthy weight.
“My family has a history of heart attacks, and I needed to do something,” said Rhodes. “I tried the gym but didn’t like it and found that I really enjoy biking. Better health and fitness are just benefits that come with biking.”
To keep track of the wear and tear on his bicycles, Rhodes logs his mileage daily.
Between January 2009 and the time of our interview, Rhodes logged 3,368 hours in the saddle for a total of 50,870 miles!
“That’s why I go through so many bike parts!,” said Rhodes, who has completed the many Cascade rides –including STP, Flying Wheels, Chilly Hilly–on a fixed-gear bicycle.
Nowadays, Rhodes can most frequently be found riding his Surly Ogre, a 37-pound all-rounder he lovingly calls “tank.”
“This bike is bullet proof. It can go the distance. It can do anything but go fast,” said Rhodes.
Since 2009, Rhodes has been combining his passion for bicycling with raising awareness and fundraising for charity. Last month, he rode the Stinky Spoke in a “Crush Kids’ Cancer” jersey, he logs his miles on EveryMove.org for the Major Taylor Project, and he even once completed a hilly century ride in a full chicken costume.
“That was the 2010 Livestrong event,” Rhodes said. “I was going around raising funds but no one wanted to donate because me riding a bike is nothing special. So I said that if I’d raise $1000, I would wear a chicken suit and do the ride on my fixed-gear.”
The century was a miserably affair with cold temperatures and lots of rain. “People were getting hypothermia and I quickly became a water logged chicken,” recalled Rhodes. “But the cool thing was that the chicken suit worked as a safety mechanism–everyone saw me. I don’t think cars have ever been that aware of me.”
Rhodes raised $1300 for his efforts, and has a souvenir Livestrong backpack to prove it. The chicken suit was later donated to another charity.
“As someone who was a really poor student and who had to give up a lot, I believe that if you can help someone, you really should,” said Rhodes. “I can do it while riding bikes and Microsoft [with their matching program] makes it easy to do.”
While bicycling has rewarded him in many ways, Rhodes said the biggest rewards have to do with people.
“One of the most surprising things that me biking has done is that in 2008, I was the only person at Windows Phone to ride a bike. When I left in 2012, there were lots of bikes in the hallway. I think it’s in part because there was this constant reminder of this guy–this wacko–riding his bike rain or snow,” said Rhodes. “Biking has also opened a few doors. I’ve met some interesting people while riding in to work and got get to pick their brains while riding.”
Rhodes also inspired his father to start biking.
“My dad was overweight and had a second heart attack. He saw his son (me) biking all the time and bought a recumbent. He now bikes a lot, has lost weight and is doing much better,” said Rhodes.
When asked what keeps him riding day in day out, Rhodes’ answer was simple; “Not stopping.”
“It is much harder to stop and start again,” said Rhodes. “If you find something you enjoy, no matter how busy you get, don’t stop what you like doing.”
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at firstname.lastname@example.org.