Cyclist of the Month: Dane Buson, A Numbers Guy

For 27 years, Dane Buson had accumulated less than 100 miles on a bicycle; meanwhile, he had piled up a personal weight of 280 pounds in a diabetes-prone family. Since 2002 – Dane has logged over 27,000 miles, acquired six bicycles, broken three frames, and gained a new found passion for 48-spoke wheels.

Age: 30
Occupation: Computer Programmer, Verizon Wireless
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Alma Mater: University of Cincinatti
Commute Distance: 19 miles round trip to Bellevue
Tell us about your experiences as a Clydesdale-class rider?
Through my school years, I weighed 280 pounds at my heaviest (I’m 6’1”). In college, I dropped down to 220, but gained much of it back after having our first daughter, Aixi. Since commuting to work in 2000, I’ve lost 90 pounds. Over three years – I’ve broken three frames, two handlebars, multiple rear wheels, and two front wheels.

Some of those were due to accidents. Now, I’m assembling my own wheels, using Alex rims, and I’m looking forward to building my first 48-spoke wheel soon.

Where did you learn your bike repair skills?
I attended a multi-session maintenance class at Bike Works in Columbia City. Then, I picked up “Zinn And The Art Of Road Bike Maintenance.” I also look online at Sheldon and Usenet Bikes Rec list.

How did you become involved with cycling?
My father and brother have Type II diabetes, and I have hypoglycemia [Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose (blood sugar) level drops too low to provide enough energy for activities.]. Health concerns were motivating factors. Plus, driving is a drag, and it’s a source of a lot of stress.

My mom and step-dad moved to Port Angeles a few years earlier. After graduating, my wife and I moved to Seattle in 2000. In July of 2002, I joined the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s Bike Buddy program, pairing up with Claire Petersky. I started commuting two days each week, and progressed quickly until I reached five consecutive days after a few weeks. I’ve been biking to work every day since then. My commute is 9.5 miles each way from Judkins Park [Central District] to Bellevue, mostly along the I-90 trail. We’re a one-car household.

Is your employer supportive?
I work with Unix, handling developer support for Verizon’s business-to-business web sites. Verizon offers a $25 monthly stipend to employees who exclusively bike or walk to work. Your manager signs off to confirm your participation in the program. Kun Hae Pak, Employee Transportation coordinator for Verizon Wireless, states “our Employee Transportation Program almost has 7% participation for the Bellevue campus. The incentive program includes walkers, bikers, carpoolers, telecommuters, and those who work condensed hours; we make it easy for employees.”

What type of biking do you enjoy?
I’m a utilitarian cyclist. I don’t really enjoy big, organized rides where you sit around and wait for others; I get the most mileage riding solo. I did enjoy my first Chilly Hilly and, in 2003, completed the [Group Health] STP in one day. The Tour de Kitsap is another one of my favorite events. Most of my cycling buddies are utility cyclists.

What are your general thoughts about club riding and Cascade?
I joined Cascade because I liked its focus on transportation awareness. It’s great for finding riding partners too. I started riding the Tuesday night series out of Coulon Park to learn pacelining for my first STP. I’d like to see more emphasis on training and safe riding, and less focus on helmet laws.

That sounds ironic: more safety, but no helmet laws?
I wear a helmet personally, but, in places like New Zealand, helmet laws have discouraged cycling. The best way to protect cyclists is to get more people out biking.

What else can we learn from other cultures?
The U.S. emphasizes racing and leisure over utility, which the U.K. and publications like Cycling Plus promote. Lighter weight, less durable components are not good for heavier riders.

What bikes do you own?
We own six bikes. My commuter bike is a Surly Cross-Check with a dynamo hub [a small electrical generator built into the hub of a wheel to power lights], and my own handbuilt wheels. Since the seattube of my 1970s French bike failed, I’m building an Xtracycle for grocery runs. I’m also installing drum brakes on an old Raleigh Twenty folding bike that I use for trips. I like messing around on my fixed gear too. We also have a Burley Deluxe trailer for the kids and a tandem; the tandem is nice because we can talk and we don’t get separated.

Dane, his wife Tina, and daughters Aixi (four) and Zuzu (one) live in the Central District, near Judkins Park.

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