Stumptown LA barista Ben Biros interviewed Dusty Woodard and shot photos of the Los Angeles fixed gear road race Fortune 700 for this guest post.
Ben hails from Pennsylvania and went to film school in Boston, where he first fell hard for third wave coffee and bike culture. He first “met” us when he helped out with a Stumptown-sponsored alley cat race. “I received a pound of Hairbender for manning a checkpoint, and have thought Stumptown rad ever since.”
Welcome to the family Ben and thanks for this sick guest post from LA!
It’s currently 100 degrees in the blazing late-morning sun of Pasadena, California. We are just outside of the Rose Bowl stadium, obstructing the road that loops its way past empty arena parking lots and the sloping hills of a golf course. About 40 cyclists are here, ranging from somewhere between 16 and 35 years old, all wearing lycra and all either next to or on top of a fixed gear bike. At the center of the chaos is Dusty Woodard, herding cyclists to the starting line with a megaphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He and Dan Barr are this year’s organizers for the fourth annual Fortune 700 Team Time Trial and Circuit Race, which is about to start. Big prizes are on the line for the event, prizes from places like Aventón, CBNC, and of course, Stumptown.
Although in its fourth year, this is the first time Dusty and Dan have been at the head of organizing for the Fortune 700. In previous years that task went to Christopher “Cono” Contreras, who tragically passed away in May while racing. Dusty and Dan stepped up to put the event on in Chris’ memory, and it went incredibly well. I sat down with Dusty in the new Los Angeles Stumptown to talk about the race.
So tell me about how the Fortune 700 got its start.
There were a lot of alley cats and at the time neither Chris nor I were messengers so we couldn’t technically throw an alley cat. So we decided to throw a race that was something a little more along the lines of a Tour de France or something that we could get people to show up and hopefully train for, just kind of a different criteria from the standard ‘there and back’ or scavenger hunt alley cat race. So we decided to do a two-stage race that’s a two-man team time trial and it was fixed cog only – that was an issue. Pretty much every race that’s been an issue.
Why did you decide to do it fixed gear only?
Well at the time that’s what we were both really into, like track bikes and the fixie craze were both trending super awesomely. At the time that was the only bike I had. We wanted to do something that was all-encompassing. We could have the tough roadies who trained extremely over the top, and then also the party riders who were more into the social aspect of it. Have it be a place where everyone can come together. Like if you’re a novice it’s a good place to come racing and learn from people who have a little bit more experience, and then people who are taking it very competitively have their own dynamics with the other super competitive people. But so everyone can come and have a good time – it’s bringing the lycra-wearing kitted up carbon-fiber-everything to the people with the conversion road bikes. It was to bridge a gap between the two. Chris and I both kind of felt there was a gap between the party riders and the racers, and we wanted to just solidify the whole community. Just bring more togetherness.So fast-forward to this year, after Chris died, tell me about where you were with the event and how you were feeling.
After Chris passed, it was a really big blow to me. He was a father figure, a hero, and probably one of my best friends. Whenever I had questions I’d ask him. So that was really tough and instantly after his passing someone was like, oh we’re gonna throw a Fortune 700 race. And I was like, hold the phone, no you’re not, because you have nothing to do with Fortune 700. That was me and Chris’s thing, we started it together. At first I was really frustrated that someone thought they had the right to take that, you know, and I just stepped in and said, nobody’s throwing this race, but if anyone is, it’s gonna be me. So I got together with a couple people and we started talking about getting the race together. Dan Barr and I pretty much were the ones who grabbed the bull by the horns so to speak. He encouraged me more than anyone, he was saying “this race has to happen, we have to keep going.” For me I was still in a state of not wanting to do anything. So he encouraged me to do the race and helped me out a lot along the way. So Dan and I decided to be the ones to carry on the tradition. I went through a bunch of Chris’s contacts, I used some of my own personal contacts. Chris and I used to go to Interbike, the trade show in Vegas every year. So we knew a lot of people in the industry. Chris was an amazing athlete and just a rad person all the time. It wasn’t very hard to pick up where he left off. I had helped him in years past to get the race organized, as far as sponsors and getting fliers made and bringing bananas, all that. So basically we just took it from where he left off and I brought my own ideas into it and went from there.
So how do you think it went?
We had a lot of help from SoCalCross with timing, Dorothy Wong definitely stepped up to the plate and I’m eternally grateful for that. It really helped the event go well. My fiance, she really came through, she had never done timing before, she was like, “oh yea I can do this.” There are so many little things that go into having a successful event, and I couldn’t have done it without her help, or without the help of Dan and Dorothy, and a lot of other help from the field marshals. There’s definitely going to be more Fortune 700′s.