Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Staff Profile: Kevin Madzia

Kevin Madzia started at Century Cycles on a whim in the fall of 2004, after a career as a computer programmer trying to weather the ups and downs of the dot-com boom and bust. He had also just completed a bike tour from Seattle to Boston, and he (along with CC colleague Ray Query) just recently completed another long ride from Cleveland to Guatemala City. In the course of both of those trips, he helped to raise almost $25,000 to benefit The Melanoma Research Foundation.

Q. What do you enjoy about working at Century Cycles?

A. A big part of it is being able to help people, both in enjoying cycling to the fullest and staying healthy. I wish I could say that were the main reason, because that would sound very good, but really I just like bicycles a lot, and it's such a blast to be able to be around them all the time, as well as all the cool components and accessories. It's like Christmas almost every day when a new shipment of products arrives!

Q. What is your biggest accomplishment on a bike?

A. I have done lots of fund-raising rides, but (and maybe this sounds a bit grandiose) I feel like I have something to be proud of every time I get on a bike. Especially when I ride to work, I feel like I'm accomplishing so many things at once--a good workout, one less car on the road, and promoting Century Cycles and our products.

Q. What was your first bike?

A. I probably had a tricycle, but don't have any memory of it. My first two-wheeler was brown and had a banana seat and training wheels; I don't remember what brand it was. I taught myself to ride without the training wheels by taking off the right one and leaning to the left for a while, which they now say is the wrong way to learn!

Q. How many bikes do you currently own?

A. I'm embarrassed to say that at the moment I'm not really sure, but it's somewhere around ten. I have one in pieces that I'm working on getting back together. I am the luckiest guy in the world--I won a mountain bike in a raffle three years ago, and I just found out that I have won another one, which I am still waiting to receive. I should start playing the lottery...

Q. Which is your favorite?

A. I can't single any one out; I don't want to hurt their feelings. One of them is cursed, but I won't say which.

Q. Road or dirt?

A. Some of the purists say that I can't sit on the fence forever; I have to call myself either a roadie or a mountain biker. But, I enjoy both equally, and would not want to have to give either one up.

Q. What is your favorite trail or ride?

A. The 25-mile mountain bike loop at Mohican State Park.

Q. Most asked customer question?

A. "Do I need to lube my chain?" Yes! There are lots of different kinds of lube, and lots of philosophies for how to do it. But keep in mind that bringing up the issue of chain lube to a die-hard cyclist is like bringing up religion or politics on a first date. If you ask five different people, you'll get five different answers. Ask some questions, do some basic research, but don't get too bogged down by the details...it's better to do it wrong than not do it at all.

Q. What one piece of advice do you wish you could give to every customer?

A. Wear a helmet, no matter where you're riding. We try to walk a fine line when talking to customers about this, because we want to emphasize how important it is for safety, but not scare them away from riding altogether. So, I'll say it here for the record. I have crashed a few times in my cycling career, while mountain biking, road biking, and yes, even on a little bike path, and if it weren't for wearing a helmet all of those times, I'd probably be laying in bed with tubes coming out of my nose right now. Remember that, just like when you're driving your car, no matter how confident you are in your own abilities, you have to watch out for the people around you, too.

Q. What's the best piece of cycling advice you've been given?

A. "You're not supposed to wear underwear under those shorts."

Q. What three words describe how you feel on a bike?

A. Independent, flying, rebel

Q. What do you do when you're not working at CC?

A. I like to ski and golf, although don't do either as much as I used to, since cycling is less expensive and doesn't take as much planning. I'm also an Internet addict; like many people these days, I've been spending a lot of my spare time on Facebook. I maintain four different personal blogs, plus I just finished a web site for some friends who just opened a winery.

Q. About your recent bike trip to Central America; what was the aspect you thought would be most challenging but turned out wasn't?

A. We had very good luck with our bikes, and had almost no mechanical issues to speak of.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect that you didn't expect to be so hard?

A. Just the tedium of doing the same thing day after day after day. As much as I love cycling, even that can get boring after doing it every day for two months!

Q. What's it like to ride in an approaching hurricane?

A. We had one day of heavy rain for several hours in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. It's like any rain, though. You get completely soaked in the first five minutes, and after that, you can't get any more soaked. Hurricane Ike passed right over us, but we were hunkered down in a hotel, and I slept right through it. The worst part of any rain is peeling off your wet clothes at the end of the day, and putting on your cold, wet shoes the next morning.

Q. What advice would you give to people hoping to embark on 1,000+ mile bicycle adventures?

A. Use thorn-resistant inner tubes--I didn't have a single flat tire with them. Get good bike shorts. You may not notice the difference on several short rides, or even one long ride, but several days of long rides in a row, and they will make ALL the difference. Do a couple of "dry run" tours of two or three days each to test out your bike setup and other gear; you'll want to make some adjustments to your gear once you get some real-life experience with it.

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