Kris R, our dailymiler of the week this week, is an interesting character, a cyclist who puts in hours on his bike every week. Some weeks he rides as many miles as others would consider good for an entire month.
Here are a few facts about Kris that you might need to know before we begin:
- Name: Kris Rhodes
- Age: 27 this year
- From: Perth, West Australia originally, but now in Seattle, Washington
- Occupation: Software developer (test division). I break stuff for a living.
- Joined dailymile: March or April 2009 (Kris added and backdated all his workouts recorded on MapMyRide for 2009 so that he’d have accurate info for that year on dailymile. If you look at his profile, the workouts go all the way back to January 2, 2009.)
- Bikes: A Kona 3-speed get-around-town bike, a Surly fixie commuter, and a Raleigh road bike for when I want to go fast.
- Likes: Biking, dogs (especially blue heelers), tequila, bakeries, cafe’s.
- Dislikes: Mechanicals, flat tires, inattentive trail/road users, beer (I know, worst Australian ever), coffee, getting soaked 2 miles in to a 30+ mi ride.
Favorite food after a long ride: Pho, with everything, or chicken soup.
- #1 tip for making long rides easier (apart from training): Draft a total hottie in pacelines. You may not get there faster, but at least the view will be nice and you probably won’t care all that much.
Now that you know a little about Kris, listen in to the conversation Mike N had with him recently about his cycling exploits.
Mike N: Kris, you rode over 13,000 miles last year. Whatever possessed you to ride that much?
Kris R: I plead insanity. Some form of mad cow disease/swine flu/bird flu/flying swine flu. For the most part, I just wanted to try and circle the globe on dailymile to see that nice 1.00 times around the world lifetime achievement. I’ve turned around and now I’m heading back in the other direction (as @MichaelRoper suggested)
MN: Tell us about your unique, or should I say unusual, hill climbing strategy.
KR: On not-so-steep hills I unclip and put my heel on the pedal. It has the same effect as using a longer crank on the bike as well as putting less stress on the ankles. I injured my ankles a while back so now I know to take it easy up the hill I climb every day, unless an eBike is involved. Then all bets are off. I’m at 2 wins, 2 losses against those motorized bikes.
MN: What do you do to increase visibility and safety while riding on busy city streets?
KR: I have a fantastic set of lights and a big silver backpack, and I ride in a predictable manner that either assumes I’m invisible, or puts me in the most visible spot possible. While high visibility gear helps, it’s useless if you ride like an idiot. I don’t mess around either; I’m usually riding at the same speed as most drivers, and if I see a driver wants to turn right and I can safely reposition myself to let them through, I’ll let them through.
MN: You sent me several pictures to use with this article. What’s with the one of you in a chicken suit?
KR: That photo was taken at Livestrong Seattle 2010. I asked my friends to donate, and they were very non-committal about it. So I said, “What if I did the entire 100 mile ride on a fixie in a chicken suit? Would you donate then?” And they said they’d pay to see that. I held them to their word, bought a chicken suit and did the entire ride in a chicken suit on the fixie. The ride was reasonably tough and had freezing cold rain for all but the last half hour. I learned two things that day: chicken suits weigh a lot when they’re soaking wet, and when wearing one, you have to be covered wherever the suit touches you – the suit rubbed through several layers of skin on my neck during the course of the ride, which was the only part of me that actually touched the suit. Like most things that are difficult, it was absolutely worth it – I raised $1300 for my efforts. I have an awesome Livestrong backpack to prove it and even now people still crack chicken jokes at work. I don’t have the chicken suit any more either – I donated that to charity too. At the time that photo was taken none of the Livestrong participants knew there would be no Livestrong Seattle 2011, so apart from having a cool story behind it, that photo also has a moral behind it too: There is no time like right now to do the things you believe in the most.
MN: What is your favorite place to ride?
KR: Locally, the Sammamish River Trail, which is part of my ride home every day. It’s an 8 mile stretch completely separated from cars in the middle of wine country. I’m pretty much the worst Australian ever because I don’t know much about wine or beer, but about 6 miles/10 km north of where I start, there’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, a vineyard with pretty nice wine and lots of events going on. Right next to Chateau Ste. Michelle is Red Hook brewery, which is a nice “rest stop” on the way home for my beer loving friends. The smell of hops makes me smile every time. Heading south on a clear day Mt. Rainier is clearly visible in the distance too.
Anywhere else, pretty much anywhere with a smooth road and good scenery. Orting, WA is pretty nice – they have a ride called the Daffodil Classic which is stunning and very cheap to enter. Sammamish Valley, close to Seattle, if you know the right places to ride through, can also be amazing. Levi’s Gran Fondo down in Santa Rosa had one of the most amazing views of the ocean as you descend one of the hills too.
MN: You mostly ride a fixie. How did you decide on the gear ratio you use?
KR: It was the one that came with the bike, and it just seemed to work. There are some pretty steep hills around here too, and a 67″ gear is about the best I can do if I want to get up them every day.
The other part of this was to force me to go a little more slowly. On my old bike that was not a fixie I was regularly hitting 40-50 mph (64-80 km/h) on some of the hills around here. I wouldn’t even think about doing that on my motorcycle without a full face helmet and full protective gear, and even then I know from experience that hitting the ground at that speed hurts a lot.
MN: I noticed these words on your Twitter profile: “I’ll have gears and coasting…then you dirtbags will pay.” What’s up with that?
KR: Hahaha… again, with the fixie you’re limited to the gear you have. In my case, I sacrifice speed for the ability to climb hills more easily. I think that was the day there was a moderate northerly breeze and I was riding home from work at a pretty casual pace when some guys from work recognized me and heckled me. They let me ride off to the front for a bit, then worked together to catch me and pass me, heckling me as they went.
Most cyclists are a funny bunch that lack self control and will usually chase anything that moves; they rarely like being passed even on Tour de Commute. I gave chase and made sure that they had to hold a high speed down the trail just to keep me from passing them again, heckling them all the way and yelling things like, “You’d ride faster if you didn’t have all those heavy gears weighing you down.”
I ended up passing them in the end after they got completely gassed and pulled the paceline until the water stop at the end of the trail, where we all had a good chat and laugh about it. I received an email from them later saying how they all appreciated meeting me in person for the first time and of course the feeling was mutual.
There is a sense of camaraderie that is generally lost when we opt to cage ourselves inside a box of steel, plastic and glass, something that only those who willingly expose themselves can understand. I’ve met many awesome people on the trails, many of which I am still friends with today and keep me grounded to the important things in life.
MN: Have you ever thought about racing?
KR: I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Last year I had to go back to Australia, which put all plans on hold for investigating it further. My biggest problem is actually getting to the events – we have crits and road races around here, but most are driving distance [away], not riding distance, and interfere with work. There’s one that is about 15 miles away on the other side of some respectable rolling hills, but it starts at 4:30-5:00pm. I’m usually leaving work at 5:00pm. In total there were 2 races that I could actually get to as a spectator to watch last year. One was a crit in Fremont, the other was a CX race in Greenlake.
The one type of racing that I can make about half the races on a regular time schedule is actually track racing at Marymoor Velodrome. They’re a mile from my workplace and even better, they have rental bikes down at the tracks, so I wouldn’t have to disassemble and reassemble my bike to make it track legal/ready. I’d love to give that a spin once the season starts. Because it’s an open velodrome, it’s subject to the mercy of the weather, but I’ll take what I can get.
MN: One last question…are you ever going to let me have the top spot on my leaderboard?
KR: Haha… I remember you screen capturing the last time you were above me on the leaderboard. Just wait for a busy week at work and you’ll have your chance – it’s hard to ride much when you’re at work 12+ hours a day.