If you had told Tom Gibbs six months ago that he would be standing onstage at this year’s Bike Month Awards and Recognition Celebration as the 2012 Group Health Commute Challenge Captain of the Year, he probably wouldn’t have believed you. After all, he’s so new to bike commuting that he doesn’t yet own a set of fenders.
This article first appeared as the Cyclist of the Month column in the April 2012 issue of the Cascade Courier , our membership newsletter. Nominate a Cyclist of the Month! Cyclist of the Month: KEITH BOARD Age: 49 Occupation: Chief Editor, NW Cable News Wheels: Bianchi Coast to Coast bicycle; Nimbus commuter unicycle Keith Board has ridden a unicycle since 1974 . But as it turns out, his story begins in 2006, on two wheels, not one. The first time Keith pedaled the two miles between King Street Station and King 5’s offices on Dexter St., where he worked, he wasn’t sure he would make it. “Sweat was pouring off of me,” he said. “I wanted to vomit. I thought, ‘I’m only 43 years old. I’ve got to fix this.’” He had been given an Orca pass by his workplace to commute by train and bus from his home in Buckley, Wash., but it was slow and inconvenient. Then, on Feb. 22, 2006, the man sitting next to him on the bus wet himself. It was the final straw. “I told my wife, ‘I’m done with the bus.’” From there, it was a numbers game. Driving to work would cost the family $18 per day. He weighed 255 pounds. “I bought a bike for $45, and my life changed dramatically,” he said. Within months, he had lost 15 pounds. Seeing Keith’s transformation, his wife decided to join him. “I told her, ‘You’re going to have to catch up.’” The first bike ride they went on together was only five miles long, and her experience was similar to what his had been: she lay on the couch recovering for hours afterward. Slowly but surely, they increased their mileage – and a year after they started riding together, in 2007, they pedaled all 206 miles of the Group Health STP. “Riding together helped us solve family problems,” he told me. “I also lost 75 pounds.” He added, jovially, “I’ve learned not to say how much my wife has lost. So let’s just say that she lost weight, too.” Cascade rides have been at the center of their journey together. Keith also rode Chilly Hilly and High Pass Challenge in 2007. “That first HPC was miserable,” he said. But he finished in seven hours and 57 minutes – just in time to receive a gold medal. “They might as well have handed me treasure from King Tut,” he said. In 2008, he rode HPC with his youngest son, Kasey, who was just 13 years old at the time. In 2009, he and his older son, Jake, rode the STP in one day, on Jake’s 17 th birthday. As a family, they’ve embraced bicycling for transportation as well as recreation. “We’re like born-again Christians,” he said. “We’ve had this life-changing experience, and we’re thinking, ‘How could we have missed out on this for so long?’”