Occupation: owner, Alki Bike & Board
Commute: 5-10 miles from West’s Seattle’s Highland Park to Admiral Junction
Wheels: 1993 custom Wynn road bike
Stu Hennesey could talk for hours about alternative transportation and sustainability. But Stu’s ten-second elevator pitch could be: less oil dependency, cleaner air, and healthier people—through bicycling.
Stu started racing CAT 3 (with the local Schwinn Rainbow Cycling Team) in 1976. It was around 1985 when Stu, a former Cascade ride leader, founded Alki Wednesday Night Ride Series. He was so passionate about riding that he ditched his car for eight years.
When he started raising kids, he had to drive more, but he also rode more: getting his sons, Patrick and Julian, into BMX racing at the ages of eight and five, respectively.
Gabi, Stu’s wife, can thank cycling for their marriage. The couple met during Stu’s eight and a half month self-guided tour from Seattle to Belize. Stu rode along the Pacific Coast to Baja–via the notorious 50-mile Rosarito to Ensenada route–to Mexico City and then to the Yucatan Peninsula, before continuing on to Belize. Neither of them predicted that they would later tour Germany, England and Ireland together as husband and wife. The family hopes to do a self-guided tour of Morocco someday.
In 1987, Stu purchased Alki Bike from Frenchman Jean Pierre Ossau, renaming the business Alki Bicycle Company. In 2000, after the shop moved from Alki to Admiral Junction, the shop transitioned to Alki Bike & Board, to reflect the shop’s growing snowboard sales [about 20% of sales overall]. The shop employs eight full-time workers.
Stu witnessed two industry trends: from mountain bikes to race bikes. He hopes that transportation and cargo bikes will be the next wave. “Commuter mileage is rough on bikes. There just aren’t many choices that can withstand the punishment. My most frequent repair is wheel building and replacements; rim brakes wear through lightweight racing rims, and minimal-spoke designs are not strong enough for daily commuting,” reports Stu.
To avoid costly repairs, Stu recommends periodic maintenance, particularly cleaning and lubricating, between tune-ups. At SeattleFreeSchool.org, up to four cyclists can sign up to attend Stu’s free one-hour bicycle maintenance clinics, where attendees work hands-on with their own bikes.
Stu’s custom Wynn is set-up old school, complete with a Shimano generator front hub to power his front headlamp and a Planet Bike Superflash rear LED light, his favorite accessory.
Stu donates to the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association, as well as local auctions for schools, Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bike Works. However, Stu really prefers to spend his time teaching beginner cyclists about how bikes are the most affordable, usable tools at their disposal.
In his multi-faceted role as volunteer coordinator for Sustainable West Seattle, Stu focuses on two of his passions: alternative transportation and edible gardening.
A BOB trailer assists Stu with his hauls from McClendon’s hardware store and PCC. “I enjoy studying permaculture and I’m a scavenger gardener—so I’ll scavenge dirt, materials, heritage seeds, …” During one ride, Stu even scrounged sprouting red and russet potatoes for his homegrown potato tower.
Racers and bike enthusiasts have plenty of resources. So Stu is working with Spokespeople to start a West Seattle group to help beginner cyclists learn how to ride in traffic. He also coordinates events, like Streets for People and Car Free Days, with Cascade’s new bicycle ambassadors.
“I really appreciate Cascade’s direction towards riding for transportation, and I enjoy seeing the Education Foundation programs in schools. It’s not just a glamour sport.”
“We’re lucky to have the ability to ride where we want to go. Let’s smile at each other and create a cooperative, not a competitive, community.”
You can talk with Stu about sustainable transportation at the second annual Sustainable West Seattle Festival on Sunday, May 3. Visit www.SustainableWestSeattle.org/Festival for more information.
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!