As a way to show you the people behind PeopleForBikes.org, we launched a quick interview series on the first Friday of every month. The theme? Bicycling firsts. Last month we interviewed PFB president Tim Blumenthal. Second to bat is PFB’s VP, Bruno Maier (also known as Rex T. Rider).
What is your first memory of bicycling?
I have thousands of bike memories. These experiences riding are what I love most about this sport and activity, and the rides and crashes have come to define me in some way. While I have more interesting memories and some events that changed my life, my first memory of bicycling is when I was four years old. Every so often I would commute to preschool with my dad, who commuted to work by bike for more than 30 years. We lived in northern Dayton, OH at the time and were located close to the Great Miami River Trail. It was safe, convenient, and a great experience for any four year old. My guess is that these early bicycling experiences (on separated facilities) got stuck in mind and led to a life of pedaling bikes.
When did you first fall in love with bicycles?
I’ve fallen in love with bicycling three times in my life. Bicycling was a huge part of my life growing up in Ohio. It was my ticket to freedom. Living in a small community, bicycling was both my transportation and my recreation. Bicycling allowed me to get to school, the community pool, friends houses, hiking trails, and jobs. These experiences gave me a level of independence that most children don’t experience today.
I fell in love with bicycling a second time when I was working for Brunswick Bicycles in Chicago, IL. I had lost my childhood passion for bicycling. I wasn’t riding. I was overweight. I wasn’t happy. My coworkers Ed Miyashita, Jason Rico, Mark Boufford, Larry Pizzi, Rob Kaplan, Jack Gresmer, George Simone, and Richard Wittenberg re-introduced me to bicycling. Their passion for the sport was contagious. At the age of 28, I took up riding again. The impact on my life was immediate. Most importantly I was healthier and happier.
The last time I fell in love with bicycling was when I moved to Madison, WI with Pacific Cycle. Being in a city full of recreational and enthusiast cyclists, and working with so many people who loved the sport, it was easy to fall in love again. I’ve spent thousands of hours riding the dairy roads of Wisconsin by myself, with friends, and with my own children.
When did you first know bicycling would be part of your career?
When I was young my father owned a bicycle shop, Centerville Cycle, in addition to his job as environmental engineer. I spent too much time at bikes shops and regional trade shows as a child that I never wanted to work in the bike industry. However, it was fate.
The independence my bicycle provided as a child set the stage. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time playing golf, working in golf pro-shops, and caddying at Moraine Country Club. Caddying provide me the experience to communicate with business and community leaders on a weekly basis. One of those individuals was Tony Huffman from Huffy Bicycles. Tony encouraged me to apply for an internship at Huffy between my junior and senior years at John Carroll University. My experiences and observations working as an intern for individuals like Bill Smith, Mike O’Gara, Ray Thomson, Mike Fritz, Reid Roney, and Mike Melton convinced me this was the industry where I wanted to work. For me, working with bikes is way better than selling pharmaceuticals, insurance, or appliances. I can’t imagine not working in the outdoor industry, and specifically with bikes.
What is your favorite thing about bicycling?
My experiences and memories are my favorite things about bicycling. Whether it is riding with my brothers, sister, and dad from Dayton to Cincinnati to visit grandparents, riding with my dad from Cincinnati to South Carolina at age 12, teaching my kids how to ride, finishing my first Ironman, snow commutes, or night rides, bicycling is just fun. Bicycling has had a positive influence on my life. I just hope that I’m able to give back to the industry as much as it’s given me.