If you have been following along with the Cedar Cycling #ridelove hashtag, you will no doubt have seen a cyclist with the handle DMongan making some seriously epic day-to-day rides, much of the time with his lovely lady.
It's been our mission as of late to talk to these riders, especially the ones doing it for the love of just getting out there on your bike, and get inside their heads to see where they came from and why they ride.
Today, we chat with DMongan, known hereafter as Dave. Dave is a cyclist. He rides his bike for the love of it. And he's been doing it for a long time. Here's his story...
Cedar Cycling: When and why did you get into riding bikes?
Dave Mongan: Growing up, I rode BMX "competitively" from age three to six, which is kind of a joke. Cru Jones (from the movie Rad) was my idol, so I just wanted to ride bikes, deliver newspapers and one day conquer Helltrack. Turns out it doesn't actually exist.
CC: At what age were you like, “Shit, this is a lot of fun and I want to take this more seriously.”?
DM: Whatever age I was when I saw the movie Rad. Three, maybe? God, I loved that movie. I loved riding BMX, but I wasn't very good at it.
I didn't pick up road cycling until I was 29, mostly because I just didn't get it. I grew up doing classic American sports, and the structure of road cycling—3+ hour rides—was pretty foreign to me. Running and surfing in my 20s helped teach me the patience necessary for cycling.
CC: What was your first bike? (First bike = not the training wheeled one, but the first one you seriously used)
DM: I actually had one of the first titanium bikes—a Titan—when I raced BMX as a kid. A five-year-old with a titanium bike in the 80s is pretty ridiculous, isn't it? I wasn't complaining…I loved that thing. Few five-year-olds can lift their bike above their head, but I could!
CC: You ride a lot, as evidenced by your Instagram feed. When did you go from commuter to fun-core road cyclist?
DM: It's a prolific feed, isn't it? I get so much shit for all the pictures, but who doesn't want to see what they look like on the bike?
I started road cycling eight months ago in May 2012 after commuting for a about six months. A friend of mine, Kevin Lakritz, runs Mission Cycling and finally convinced me to go for a ride. My first club ride was out to Fairfax, about 40 miles round trip, and I had to turn around early. I got lost on the way back, bonked on a small climb about 15 miles from home (though I didn't realize that's what was going on), and felt generally terrible after. Yet the scenery and camaraderie hooked me. I ended up riding more than 3,000 miles in the last 8 months of 2012.
Side note: Kevin also talked me into an 80-mile ride to Point Reyes a month after I started. He’s a tough coach.
CC: Tell me about what brought on the transition.
DM: After a couple club rides, I bought a Mission Cycling kit that included a "Headlands Raiders" jersey. The raiders are a group of guys (anywhere from five to 40 people, depending on the weather) who ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands at 6:30am every Tuesday and Thursday. You can't wear the jersey until you do a raid, so I did. It's only 18 miles round trip, but the pace is brisk. My legs were burning and I struggled to keep up on the ride out across the bridge, and then I had to do Hawk Hill, which is a 1.7 mile climb that we all use to test our fitness (Strava segment: http://app.strava.com/segments/229781).
I finished the ride, but felt absolutely gutted for the rest of the morning (first raid on Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/9089843). I probably ate 3,000 calories after and showed up to work late and exhausted. Ironically, I think it's that feeling, as well as seeing the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise, that hooked me. It's a pretty decent place to ride. From then on, I just wanted to do that ride and not feel exhausted. Once that happened, I started focusing on my Hawk Hill time. My first ride was 10 mins 30 secs in May and I eventually dropped it to 7:49 in October, where it still (annoyingly) stands.
Beyond the ride, it's a great group of people from their 20s to 50s who keep things light. Some guys race and go out early for intervals and repeats, while others are just club riders out for some morning exercise before work. It's competitive, and we all take turns busting each others' asses up the hill, but no one hesitates to give someone a pull or lead them out for a Strava PR. Occupations and equipment differ, but Hawk Hill doesn't discriminate. It's a nice equalizer.
CC: What do you ride these days?
DM: The most original bike in the world: Specialized Tarmac SL3. You never see another on the road.
I started on a Surly Crosscheck and did nearly 1,800 miles on that with SPDs until finally snagging the Tarmac on Craigslist. It was actually built up by a mechanic with some nice bonuses like Mavic Open Pro rims with Dura Ace hubs in place of stock. I finally upgraded to road shoes and pedals in December, and my tootsies are much happier for it. Life is good.
CC: What has been your favorite bike ever ever ever?
DM: The Titan, hands down. I felt like Knight Rider on that thing.
CC: You’re based in the bay area: Where do you most enjoy riding and why?
DM: Because I'm so new, I honestly haven't ridden in enough exotic locales to say what's best. I haven't traveled much at all, sadly. Marin is beautiful and has tons of great climbs and routes within riding distance of my house, so I get pretty lazy about traveling. I plan on branching out in 2013, just because.
CC: If you could put your bike on a car, boat, plane, anything and go anywhere to assault pavement in a far off (or close) land, where would you do it?
DM: Anywhere there's a good climb and a friendly cafe with cold beer and outdoor seating. I’m not that picky.
Thanks for sitting down with us and chatting, Dave. We look forward to more shots of your rides. And what say we all go out for some beers sometime soon?
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