Occupation: Biostatistical Programmer, Amgen
Alma Mater: University of Washington, BS Mathematics
Wheels: Glenn Erickson, Karl Strong and Felt
Lots of cyclists are in great shape. Many have fitness goals. Some train competitively. And a few decide to race. But only one cyclist rode from Lacey to the top of Paradise and then climbed Mt. Rainier, and returned…in 20 hours.
In many ways, Randall Nordfors grew up as your typical bicyclist. He biked to soccer, baseball practices and Boy Scouts. He fondly remembers neighborhood Stingray skidding and jumping contests as a kid.
It was at UW where he learned to push himself. “I broke my ankle playing soccer for the UW Junior Varsity team. But I still rode my orange Nishiki 10-speed to class, using only one leg to peddle — and the crutches strapped to my back.”
The Race Across America inspired Randall to complete his first cross country tour — traveling from Seattle to New York City in 1985. He’s also toured Whidbey Island and the Oregon Coast. In 1987, he caught racing fever and joined Puget Sound Cycling Club, sponsored by Gregg’s Greenlake Cycle. He finished competing with Saturn of Bellevue — racing Cat 2 under Dave Douglas’ leadership.. “Exercise is very therapeutic and cathartic; it makes you feel better about life.”
Randall has completed both RAMROD and the Seattle To Portland ahead of the pack. Recognizing his own competitiveness, he decided to leave group rides for more recreational riders.
When he turned 40, Randall stopped bike racing to focus on his career.
Up to three days each week, Randall commutes 20 miles to and from Amgen’s ‘Helix’ campus, located just north of Myrtle Edwards Park and the grain elevators. He likes that he can ride from Kirkland north or south to commute around Lake Washington. The other two days per week, he telecommutes and often enjoys a lunch ride. He also bikes downtown to watch the Sounders play.
Amgen provides a monthly cash-back bonus to its roughly 50 bike commuters. Each commuter also has access to a covered and secure bike garage, plus showers and lockers.
Although many commuters choose steel frames, Randall prefers his aluminum frame, which he had custom made with braze-ons by Carl Strong for sturdy fender attachment. In the summer, he commutes one of his four Felt race bikes. Although he enjoys the lighter weight road bikes, the Burke-Gilman Trail can be more like a mountain bike trail; “tree roots are destroying the Burke-Gilman, particularly around Mathews Beach and Lake Forest Park where the roots come up through the path.
His other pet peeve is riders busting through red lights. “I sometimes chase them down to tell them it gives cyclist a bad name, and it’s because of them I have to answer to people who complain to me about their observations of bicycle rider behavior.”
Despite his gravity towards lightweight bikes, he commutes with the standard commute gear: waterproof Timbuk2 courier bag, fenders, even a bell. “It sounds corny that my favorite accessory is a bell, but it gets attention better than shouting on your left.” He also likes his helmet-mounted Night Rider because he can direct the light wherever he needs, including at distracted drivers.
In 1997, Randall was hit by a car turning left in front of him. The driver was on a cell phone. She may not remember her conversation, but Randall keeps the memory alive in his crooked hitchhiker’s thumb. Needless to say, he’s a big proponent of Washington’s Vulnerable User Law.
“We should all be treated equally. Non-cyclists take advantage of the power of cars. When you self-power a machine, you realize, and respect, the energy required to do something. I wish everyone could learn more about their footprint by experiencing how much energy transportation requires.”
Ten years after his accident, Randall starting training for the adventure of a lifetime: to bike 162 miles and summit Mt Rainier in a day. His summit started at Tolmie State Park in Lacey, where he began his 81 mile bike approach to Paradise.
Assisted by International Mountain Guides, Randall reached the summit at 2 AM – after 11 hours and 40 minutes of cycling and climbing. Then, he returned to sea level where the trip began.
Learn more about Strong Frames at www.strongframes.com
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.