Men on Bikes Series: Andy Peterson

About Andy Peterson: 
31 years old, married 9 years to Megan, currently two kids Esther (4) and Fenton(2) with another boy on the way (due end of January). 

I am a traveled musician and have played drums since I was 5. Grew up in Downers Grove IL with my parents (Scott and Diane), still there, and 2 older sisters Casey and Jill. 

I am a trained Manufacturing Engineer and LEAN expert professionally but have a passion for being outside, running my chain saw, hunting, music, triathlons and Spartan Races, cycling, canoeing, traveling, movies, woodworking, landscaping and home construction. Really there isn’t much I don’t like to do…. It’s a problem. I’m like a shark; stop swimming and I die.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I started riding with my training wheels about 3 if stories serve me right. I think I was about 5 when I got off the old trainers and it was all peddle power for me after that. I grew up in the Chicago burbs with a bunch of kids my same age on the same block and we spent our lives riding around the neighborhood.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
I have always liked to go and see new places on my own and walking/ running just doesn’t get me there as fast as I would like. The miles from one place to another always seem so much closer if you have a bike. Even riding easy at 12-15mph is a way more efficient method of transport then legs alone, plus putting a card in your spokes is way cooler than pretending to ride a motorcycle and making the noise with your mouth… people tend to scatter when they see that guy coming.

Have you competed in events? If so, what were your reasons for competing?
I have competed in both bike events and triathlons over the years and have enjoyed them all. I am not a competitive person at all when it comes to sports. I would rather, and do, cheer on the other people around me while competing, like we are all on the same team, which is counter intuitive, but super fun. I participate in these events for two reasons; one is to prove to myself that I can, to push myself out of the comfort zone I think most people lull themselves into and two is they are just plain fun.

What would be your favorite competitive biking event?
I like multi surface endurance races. I am not a sprinter but I can gravel grind for days at a time. I may not be in the top 3 but I have never quit an event no matter what the weather conditions or race hardships were.

What kind of riding is your favorite? (paved, gravel, mountain, etc.)
I like to ride everywhere but maybe my top two are singletrack and good urban riding in city conditions. Both you have to stay on your toes, keep your head on a swivel, and there is always something new to look at.

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
Decorah was my first real experience riding off road. Where I grew up was flat, flat, flatty, flat so just getting into the hills was amazing. I got hooked up with Paul James who I met through my coworker (his wife) and instantly fell in love… a little with Paul but mostly the riding part. We went out at night, on my old ill-suited Trek, and had a blast. It was probably the slowest Paul had every ridden and I was leg and lung burning but it was like a whole new world (great I’m singing now) had opened up to me. I couldn’t believe people could ride these trails as smooth as I was seeing as I was clunky and awkward, but that soon changed with practice.

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
I have a bad habit of being optimistic. If I saw a wall of water coming at me I would probably say, ah we should be fine, it will dry out. I am an engineer by training and DNA so I always feel obstacles can be understood and overcome, so any nervousness I ever feel just gets filed into the brain computer as a problem to solve and boom onward I go.

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I do and want to get some for my 4 year old. Best invention since gears, and brooks saddles. I would say don’t think about having your foot trapped, just that the pedal is snuggling with your foot. If you think about getting your foot out you are going to fall, if you just act naturally it will come right out. Oh, and don’t over tighten them. Lastly be prepared to get laughed at if I am around, because people falling because they can’t get their foot out is one of my all-time favorite sights.

If you are a commuter what are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
I am a part time commuter, meaning at least once a week. My commute is about 20 miles to get to work, which is a great ride but I have to plan ahead. Planning for weather, stuff I need at work or at home is the biggest challenge. I prefer not to have to pack a bunch of stuff so I try to leave extra food at work for the next day or a change of clothes at the gym so I don’t have to pack them to and from.

Do you commute even if the weather isn’t ideal? Why or why not? If yes, what do you do to make it more tolerable?
I’m the weird guy who enjoys a ride more if it starts to rain, snow, etc. I feel it is more of a challenge than just riding when the weather is perfect. Plus, when is the weather ever perfect, this isn’t San Diego.

Have you had a bike biff? If so, how did you recover on a physical/mental/emotional level?
I fall quite a bit, and most of the time others can tell I have even before seeing me on the ground because I am laughing. I have never been seriously hurt but have had some awesome spills and they are humorous every time. Anything that is fun for me has hurt me in the past and it has never made me consider stopping for a minute. Activities include woodworking cuts with power and hand tools, drumming stick/ rim hits, biking wipeouts, cooking burns and cuts. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on.

Tell us about your bikes and why you chose them
I mainly ride my pride and joy Surly Karate Monkey. I call her Iron Hide after both my favorite Transformers character and because I like to ride steel bikes. When I got more serious about riding nothing off the shelf appealed to me and I wanted a bike that could do anything I threw at it. I use my bike to ride century road events, gravel grinding and single track thrashing... well maybe single track crashing, but I think I am thrashing. My Monkey is black on black with a mix of Shimano, SRAM, Race Face, Bontrager, Stans, topped off with a Brooks saddle. Like my riding personality my bike is a mutt, a beautiful mutt. I sold my motorcycle to build this bike by hand with the guidance of Travis the bike guru and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
My other bike is a hand me down 1970's Takara steel road bike from Japan. I bust it out for triathlons, dedicated road rides or just to feel more awesome than normal. It has down tube shifters, ventilated break levers, cork bar wraps and road slicks. Real men ride Champaign colored bikes, that's all I have to say.

What products/gear do you love and would recommend to friends?
I have chugged the Surly cool-aid for sure. I love everything they make and would own every model they make if it weren't for my very lovely kids and logical wife. I am also a huge fan of my Brooks saddle. I always heard from people that owned them that they are the best and I would agree. I have had mine for about 3 years now and have never had a bad day in the saddle. I am really interested to try out the new Brooks Cambium saddle as well being it is touted as tougher with a faster break in time with the same comfort. Another product I love are NiteRider lights. I have a 650 lumen model; it is awesome bright and lasts forever. Lastly I think wool clothing is the best material out there. I have an Ibex jersey, Ibex head liner, smart wool gloves and plan to invest in some wool blended bibs come spring. Marino wool breathes, is warm/cool when you need it, dries quickly and is super comfy, check it out, it is great stuff.

What do you love about riding your bike?
I love the freedom to go pretty much anywhere and showing non cyclists that we are a fun, responsible bunch. I learn just a few weeks ago that there are tons of places to ride completely across the Upper Iowa! I also go out of my way to be friendly and responsible around town and out in the community. Who wouldn’t want to do this is always my retort.