Name: Alex Capece
Where ya from? Washington, D.C.
A Little Bit About You: 4 years in with the District of Columbia Fire Department, Alex has seen his share of the darker side of his city and the better places too. He says, "I've explored the back alleys and the bike paths. I appreciate the function, utility, durability, and form of every tool I use in my journey, and I like to push the limits of each and every one." Alex's contest application essay came in the form of a website entry. Find the whole thing here.
We've got some questions for you:
Foundry: Other than getting a free bike, what does winning a Foundry do for you, for your life?
Alex: I'm not just a fireman; I'm a writer. This gives me the freedom to write about the second passion in my life: cycling. Sharing my experiences, my gear, and my literary skills with the world sounds is an amazing combination which I've already done with firefighting—the chance to do so with cycling is an amazing opportunity.
Foundry: If you are chosen, what will you do with the bike?
Alex: Take it to my shop, to show it off and push them to become a Foundry dealer. Take it on group rides, to tell everyone about the utilitarian beauty that is Foundry Cycles. I fully intended to begin racing this season, anyway—so why not on a Ratchet? I will do everything in my power to make sure it never sits on a shelf or in a box for any more time than it takes for me to recover from my last excursion. TL;DR: Ride that sweet, sweet machine until the wheels fall off.
Foundry: In what ways will you promote Foundry?
Alex: I have my cyclist friends at the firehouse. We have our group rides at BicycleSPACE. There's the guys I've met through the bike shop and the District citizens I've befriended over a simple chat regarding our logo stickered onto their downtube. Promotion isn't a regulated thing—it's a process that's constantly changing, always pressing out the customers you think will produce the most profit. It sounds a bit harsh, but at the end of the day, we're all businesspeople seeking to maximize what we can out of what we're given. Each and every opportunity with a new person is an opportunity to push your product, and I plan to do that with every soul I meet. Commuter, racer, whatever—everyone can use Foundry's tools. The key is making them understand that.
Additionally, I have long been planning a large firefighter cyclist movement. As indicated by this post on RaisingLadders, I have several connections, charitable foundations, and ready-to-go-cyclists who would love the opportunity to blend cycling with firefighting. Certain professions are not simply a job—they're lifestyles. A vocation, if you will—literally from the Latin word for "calling." Saving lives is one of them. Inspiring others through physical activity and aesthetic beauty are others. Your company is offering the insanely unique opportunity for me to do all three, and I would adore the opportunity to spend a year (if not more!) doing so.
Foundry: How did you get into cycling?
Alex: When I was in high school, my occasional hobby turned into a serious addiction upon the discovery that I was finally tall enough to ride my father's bicycle—a 1982 steel Colnago with downtube shifters and a custom triple crankset (special-made for the ridiculous hills of Portland, Oregon!) that I had been drooling over for years. I remember the first time I hefted it into the air, admiring the deep burnished maroon and wondering how something made of metal could feel so light. I entered my first race later that year… and I was horrible! I arrived across the finish line dead last, but I didn't care a bit. I had completed it—and I swore I would keep riding for as long as my body allows it. My coursework in college was too intensive (strange clinical shift hours along with a part-time job in an Emergency Room) to join a collegiate cycling team, but I kept riding. Eventually, my love of endurance riding was borne from the 2007 Pennsylvania MS-150, in which two other paramedic students and I finished bonked, sunburned, exhausted—and grinning from ear to ear. Ever since, the journey has been one of riding, working in the bike shop, and staying in shape for my job and my family.
Foundry: Why do you ride? Why is cycling significant in your life?
Alex: Plain and simple: to be able to take care of my family. While beating the streets all day and night on a fire engine or an ambulance, I run so many sick people who just don't take care of themselves. They wouldn't need eighteen different daily medications, or thrice-weekly dialysis, or trips to a methadone clinic if they could just care for themselves. Even on the job, many of my brothers and sisters in the Department have back problems, knee problems… you name it, these old-timers have it. It's a physical job, for sure—but there's no reason to be a forty-year-old with eighty-year-old ankles. I find cycling an exhilarating and technically fascinating way to keep myself (and the wife!) in good shape, and an excellent healthcare plan for the future. I would be distraught if I found myself unable to play baseball with my son, or to chaperone my daughter's camping trip. Whether I'm selected or not, rest assured that you'll find me in another fifty years, still wildly pedaling around the neighborhood like a little kid.
Foundry: What's the best ride you've ever done?
Alex: The Pennsylvania MS-150 I mentioned earlier. The ride was two days of glorious weather and excruciating climbing (I had heard that Pennsylvania is often rated one of the hilliest courses in the nation, usually in the top three. I had no doubts about this fact after the ride was over, that's for sure!) I spent the first night in a camp hammock, staring at the sky and pondering my apprehensions about the next day. Could I finish? Did I train hard enough? What should I eat? Will I bonk and have to SAG it to the end? The next morning, I slowly set my tender parts back onto the bicycle and set off. Within an hour, my body fell back into the rhythm I had so painfully carved out the previous day, and the three of us collapsed across the line several hours later. Burned, bonked, and aching—but alive and happy. Beer has never, ever tasted so delicious.
Foundry: What's the hardest or worst ride you've had?
Alex: Last year, when I first began working at BicycleSPACE, I had a moment when I over-estimated my own abilities. "I work in a bike shop—that means I'm a stellar rider, right?" Well, no. I've since learned my lesson—but pride definitely came before my fall, as you'll see. I went on a particularly crushing ride one afternoon, which started off with an inadequate meal beforehand and not enough electrolytes during. My legs began to cramp, the sun felt like it was cooking me alive, and my vision tunneled. I was out of fluids, and even turning around felt like a literal uphill battle. Each revolution of the pedals brought another skewering pain in my quads—and then I actually fell off the bike, Jure Robič-style (may he rest in peace). I thrashed on the ground, desperately trying to clip out and fold my bleeding legs under me to stretch the muscle fibers. I dragged myself off the trail and laid there for about thirty minutes, tossing half-assed explanations to concerned passersby who inquired about my situation. After gingerly standing up (and abandoning any possibility of riding home), I barefoot-limped my way to a Metro station and took the train back to my house. I was tender for almost two weeks, even having to take off a shift from work so I could recover properly—I certainly wasn't running into any burning buildings after that!