Cyclist of the Month: Kole Kantner

biking more miles before 8 a.m. then you bike all day

Age: 44
Degree: BS Physics, University of Alaska – Fairbanks
Residence: Lake City, Washington
Wheels: 1992 Cannondale road bike

During 2007, Kole Kantner logged 32,015 miles on his 1992 Cannondale. Weekdays, Kantner begins his regimen at 4:00 a.m., cycling 40 miles to Redmond and back, before preparing breakfast for his two kids at 7:00 a.m. Then, it’s off towards Kenmore/Bothell to log another 15 miles before heading to the University of Washington, where he is Director of Computing at the Evans School of Public Affairs.

At lunch, Kantner logs another one and a half hours on the bike; after work he tries to top off the day by reaching 100 miles.

Kole grew up in Ambler – an Alaskan village of 200 residents where mail was delivered via bush plane. Attending the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, Kole and his wife, Van, bike-commuted regularly to campus, where Kole was studying and working as a Teaching Assistant.

In 1991, the Kantners joined the Peace Corps and worked in West Africa. The Peace Corps provided them with two bikes that sparked the couple’s interest in cycling. During their three and a half year duty, Kole rode over 18,000 kilometers, mostly touring remote dirt roads.

Learning bicycle maintenance in the harsh conditions, Kole became the regional bicycle mechanic for Peace Corps volunteers. It was in the dry northern portions of Benin and Togo where Kantner learned that regularly maintaining and replacing chains prevented having to replace entire drivetrains.

With his knack for keeping bikes alive, Kole waited until 2002 to buy his first new bike: a Novara mountain bike, which REI replaced three times when he successively cracked the aluminum frames after tens of thousands of miles.

Not unexpectedly, in 2003 and 2005, Kantner’s team rode the most rainy days to win the Soaked to the Gills award of UW’s Ride In The Rain commute challenge. Today, Kantner volunteers on the Ride In The Rain steering committee.

In 2005, pushing 190 pounds, Kole was feeling “fat and lazy” when he set in motion his goal to ride 20,000 mile in one year on a mountain bike with skinnies. “It’s cheaper to lose weight than to buy a new bike,” Kole admits.

Van supports his goals, and the family often bikes together 25 miles or more for errands to Costco and Ikea.

Although not very good at group riding, Kantner joined Cascade Bicycle Club after buying a Club Passport at a school auction. Kole first earned respect among his Cascade peers on Tom Meloy’s weekly Hills of the West Coast ride, where, riding a Novara Ponderosa mountain bike, Kantner beat other riders up the ascents.

Kantner has completed three STPs and three RSVPs. He rides from Seattle to Vancouver on Friday; on Saturday, he returns to the border to meet the participants and rides back to Vancouver again; then, Sunday, he cycles home from Vancouver to Seattle. RAMROD’s 6,000 foot climb up Sunrise is one of Kole’s fondest cycling memories.

Cycling tens of thousands of miles annually means coping with some mishaps, like a few accidents where he broke some ribs. Truthfully, Kole is more upset that his GPS batteries cannot ‘keep going and going,’ like his Michelin front tire, which lived for 19,900 miles. Surprisingly, Kole’s body has also weathered his cycling storm…last year, Kole bought his first pair of padded bike shorts.

Kantner is also a recent member of the Seattle International Randonneurs – joining after he rode the March Populaire – a 100 km-ride around Seattle that introduces new cyclists to the organization. Already having completed the 200 km and 300 km brevets, Kantner is working on the 400 km series, and hopes to finish the 600 km brevet in under 40 hours June.

That should be enough preparation for Kantner to finish a sub-ten-hour Seattle to Portland this July. Until then, look for Kole on his vintage Cannondale on the next Hills of the West Coast.

Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001 – 2005. Currently the Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six-seconds), Marlow works from his home office in Ballard.

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