Cyclist of the Month: Max Shalitmontagne

Not a fat kid who plays StarCraft anymore


Age: 18
Occupation: student
Hometown: Seattle
Wheels: 1986 Team Fuji

Remember the kids in high school who patrolled the hallways? Well, that’s Max Shalitmontagne—except instead of the standard issue Maglite, Max patrols the streets on bike with a mini Kryptonite u-lock, wearing a black-and-white striped road jersey.

As a volunteer Cascade Ride Ref, Max rides Chilly Hilly, Flying Wheels and Group Health STP for free. The worst four offenses during events? 1) Listening to earphones, 2) passing riders without alerts, 3) not wearing helmets, and 4) walking bikes up hills in the middle of the road.

Just graduating from Garfield High School, Max is one of the youngest LCIs (an instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists to teach BikeEd). For Cascade, Max teaches Urban Cycling Techniques (based on the League’s Traffic Skills 101) and Urban Riders—a hands-on bike safety program for teens 11-17.

Because of Max’s young age, and perhaps his ability to trackstand for an hour, students have more interest in his classes. “Students respect his abilities,” says Robin Randels, classes coordinator. She recalls Max cycling over 30 miles from West Seattle to Redmond for a 10:00 am class, after riding at a Friday Critical Mass rally until 2:00 AM.

Max is an assistant instructor, a junior mentor, for Group Health-sponsored Bicycle Camps for kids. The Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation coordinates the summer camp program with various King County YMCAs. Up to twelve kids attend each five-day camp, offered June through August. The bicycle camps are held at Magnuson Park and other venues.

Day One: Road Rules and casual park ride
Day Two: Learn how to ride on a track at the Marymoor Velodrome
Day Three: Mountain bike with Trips for Kids at St. Edwards State Park
Day Four: Freeride stunt course and basic bike maintenance
Day Five: Ride ten miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail

Alleycats are Max’s favorite events. Often coordinated by Emerald City Bike Bloc, or local bike messengers, alleycats are informal bike races that emphasize participation over competition. The races can be intense, but the social aspect is what draws riders.

The Westside Invitational is another popular Spring event: four days of bike activities, including a scavenger hunt, alleycat, time trial, bike polo, and Emerald City Sprints—400-meter indoor roller races on the second Tuesday of the month.

Another alleycat, the Resurrection Race, required each racer to carry a homemade duct-taped wooden cross. On the course, racers encountered a giant stuffed Easter bunny at a cemetery. Each Resurrection checkpoint presents another obstacle, like purposely deflated tires, a cracker eating challenge, and bobbing for beers. But Max enjoys challenges. That’s why he does things like the Christmas Disaster cyclocross race…on a brakeless Fixie…at NIGHT…in the S-N-OW.

Max also volunteers at The Bikery — a nonprofit, volunteer-run bike shop in the Central District. The Bikery teaches people how to fix and ride bikes. For every hour that you volunteer, you receive $10 in Bikery credits, which are often donated back to the organization. The Bikery is open Saturday through Tuesday, afternoons through evenings.

Max taught himself bike mechanics by hanging out at Aaron’s Bicycle Repair in West Seattle—as well as reading the cyclist’s bibles: Delong’s Guide to Bicycles and Bicycling, Glenn’s Complete Bicycle Manual, and, of course, anything by Sheldon Brown. He also browses YouTube for how-to videos.

Max credits cycling for his active, independent, and mobile lifestyle. “Now I can pretty much get anywhere without asking for a ride or waiting for the bus. I’m not a fat little kid who plays StarCraft anymore. I wasn’t that fat, but I was fat on the inside.”

For fun, Max enjoys Humpday Hustle at UW in Red Square. After his computer broke, Max started biking more because he no longer checked how far or how fast he was riding. Now he rides until he doesn’t want to ride anymore—as far as Olympia or Bellingham. Although his solo adventures surprise them, his parents are obviously pleased. His dad proudly shares a photo of Max riding his bike to senior prom.

This fall, Max attends Evergreen State College where he plans to study industrial design. He hopes to find a part-time job at a cool Local Bike Shop: a LBS with knowledgeable techs that promotes bikes for transportation. Since he cannot prevent potholes or aggressive drivers, Max hopes to use his skills to design better bikes for everyday cyclists.

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.

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