Cyclist of the Month: Bruce Hill


Age: 61
Occupation: residential designer
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Residence: Eastlake
Wheels: custom Michael Celmins road bike

Imagine your work day includes a morning loop ride from Eastlake to Roosevelt Reservoir, or to Ballard, and back, followed by a leisurely lunchtime swim across Lake Union to Gas Works Park.

Bruce describes his daily ride ritual as a “cup of coffee in the morning.”

That’s quite an accomplishment for a senior who weighed 320 pounds six years ago when Bruce’s unusually sedentary lifestyle had reached an all-time high. He was spending $300-$400 per month commuting solo by car between Seattle and Tukwila for work.

But it wasn’t always like this. In Junior High School, Bruce biked eight miles daily to and from school on a Schwinn Continental with balloon tires. Later, while in the Navy, Bruce took his bike on the ship to ride, instead of taxi, around each port. And in the 1980s, Bruce was competing in six to seven triathlons per year in Southern California.

Recognizing the environmental, financial, and health benefits — Bruce landed a job in Fremont. “I wanted to do my part to protect the environment, get in shape, and save that monthly commuting cost.”

Bruce started dieting and walking regularly. After he lost 100 pounds, he started biking again.

And, in 2006, when his 1976 Mercedes Benz was totaled by someone running a red light, it was an easy decision for Bruce to become a bike-only household. “If I can’t get there by bike or bus, then I don’t need to be there.”

Bruce takes the bus, and sometimes his bike, to Pike Place Market, where he does most of his grocery shopping. “I remember driving once to Pike Place Market to buy a t-shirt for a friend, and paid more for parking than the shirt!”

Bruce was always a stronger swimmer than a cyclist, so he enjoys participating in triathlons and swimming in Lake Union. He thinks of Eastlake as a tiny beach town, nestled between the water and I-5. Although the water is not as warm as Southern California, Bruce points out that it is much warmer than swimming in the All Ireland Triathlon.

Today, Bruce can talk shop with the best mechanics who gather around his road bike, custom-built by Michael Celmins of Santa Barbara. Celmins’ builds experimental surgery tools, so you can imagine the detail of his fabricated frames. “It’s all Campagnolo Super-Record, with Cinelli 64-40 bars. Because of the occasionally wet roadways, I run Continental Sprinter Gatorskins at 110 pounds on the original Mavic GP4 rims.” He claims the only necessary repairs have been replacing spokes.

Bicycle safety is Bruce’s passion. His favorite accessories include the Nite-Rider MiNewt Duo lights, Cateye Solar cyclo-computer with cadence meter, and a helmet-mounted mirror. “You wouldn’t drive a car in traffic without a rearview mirror, so why would you ride a bike without one?”

Bruce enjoyed providing safety support by bike for the Solvang Century and the Big Sur Marathon. Support cyclists rode along with marathon runners, providing basic first-aid support and communication services. The Big Sur to Carmel coastal route that traces the marathon is still one of his favorite bike rides, as is the 56-mile Santa Barbara Triathlon course.

Despite working from home, Bruce maintains his fitness by cycling daily, and swimming occasionally. His lifestyle is now as green as the LEED-certified cabinetry he specifies in his designs. “You meet interesting people riding the bus or biking. I would not meet those people if I was sealed up in a car. ”

Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001-2005. The Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six seconds), Marlow works from his home office in West Seattle. Nominate a cyclist of the month!