September Cyclist of the Month: Rob Brown

By August Rob Brown had posted and replied to over 1,200 messages on the Cascade bulletin boards. Working night shifts enables Rob, a U.B.I. trained bicycle mechanic, to assist hundreds of Club members. But away from his desk, Rob also logs 10,000 to 12,000 cycling miles each year, which helped him predict his fourth bicycle accident.

Biking to work in a light mist, July 17, Rob hit a 12” x 18” metal plate on Battery Street, and landed on his hip. EMTs were quick on the scene. Rob spent five days at Virginia Mason after undergoing hip surgery. He leaves Washington Care Center in early September, and hopes to return to full riding capacity by winter.

Age: 60
Occupation: night manager, Belltown Inn
Hometown: Memphis, TN
Residence: Broadview
Commute: 9 miles each way, daily.
Bikes: 2002 LeMond, ’95 Bontrager touring mtb, Schwinn mountain bike, and a full-size folding mountain bike

What do you get out of biking?
I haven’t owned a vehicle in over twenty years. I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. I have asthma, and a mild form of epilepsy, called absence, caused by head injuries from a 1980 car wreck. (Absence seizures only last seconds, but can happen repeatedly, and are very painful; they can be aggravated by stress, like ‘driving a car’.)

Exercise helps my asthma and my diabetes because I take less insulin, and the endorphins reduce my absence seizures. Riding is also fun!

What’s your favorite type of riding?
Self-contained touring. My favorite tour was following the Lewis & Clark Trail from Portland to Lewiston, Idaho, and then up the Snake River, over nine days. I also led fully-loaded tours for Cascade in 2003.

I’ve been leading Club rides since 1995. I think I’m in second place, after Saul Kinderis, for the most rides ever led. I started “Treats”, which Jim Shedd later defined as the Tuesday Regular Eclectic Active Tours. My other popular rides were the Saturday Sojourns, named after The Moody Blues, and Sunday Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show, named after Neil Diamond.

ed. note: Rob was the Rides Committee Co-Chair in 1997-1998, and received Volunteer of the Year in 1997 for his efforts maintaining the Club’s computers

What are some of your favorite bike activities?
Crossing into Vancouver, BC for my first RSVP was memorable; it was my first long-distance ride. I also enjoy Chilly Hilly, Spawning Cycle, and RAW. And I’ve volunteered for Bike Expo since 1995.

My favorite loops are riding from Seattle to Edmonds and to Wallace Falls. Bremerton to Jarrell Cove on Harstene Island is another favorite. Bike camping and communing with nature all around the state has been my real joy.

Tell us about your cycling mishaps.
In three of my four accidents, my helmet was cracked rather than my head, so I suffered no head injuries. In 1995, I was hit by a car. In 1998, a mechanical failure on Interlaken locked up my rear wheel or brakes; I was thrown over the bike and broke my shoulder and collarbone. In 2004, I broke my shoulder and collarbone again while leading a ride on Cemetery Hill in Kitsap County.

Do you have any favorite bike accessories?
Since I work night shifts, lighting is important for safety. My bikes have 45-, 35-, 30-, or 20-watt lights, and I over-volt MR16 halogen bulbs to produce a 40% gain.

What do you like most about your involvement with Cascade?
I’m proud to have promoted cycling by recruiting quality ride leaders and volunteers to the Club. The educational and advocacy elements are important to me. The Club is like a bicycle wheel; some people say we should just ride, but if you take away any of the spokes, the wheel is not as strong. The Club can do things individuals cannot; we are more unified as a group.

On the walls of Cascade’s Magnuson Park office, you’ll find a Texas Share The Road license plate autographed by Lance Armstrong and a replica of a Greg LeMond Yellow Jersey, both on loan from Rob Brown.

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