A Great Ride
photo of JB

As the president of Trek Bicycle, I’d like to share my stories about interesting people, places, and the bicycle with hope of inspiring you to find your great ride.

JB
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02/26/2014

Brutal Honesty: A guide to a healthy company

 

A few years ago, something terrible happened. In the span of a few months we suffered three massive employee health crises. One of our longtime employees died in the prime of their lives. Shortly after, another one of our people along with a spouse of an employee experienced life-altering medical catastrophes. All from preventable health-related causes. I knew something had to be done. Everybody thinks this is a company of 0% body fat, ultra-fit cyclists. The truth is that in addition to those people, we're very much a midwestern company facing the same issues as everybody else. After those tragic few months, we began a journey to a wellness plan that today has changed lives and created healthier, happier, employees. Here's what I believe are the 7 drivers to a successful Wellness program:

1. Mandatory Biometric screenings and Health Risk Assessment (HRA). We began to tie employee and their dependents' score to premiums and we hold them accountable. If you're not going to care about your health, than Trek is not going to pay for it. Learn more about screening and onsite programs at http://www.the-hero.org/.
2. Onsite Clinic. We give our employees access to an onsite nurse at all times.
3. Onsite Fitness Center. Make sure it's open 24/7 and host classes. We bring in trainers for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, and the classes are packed.
4. Onsite Café. We have a café that offers healthy food options and a great salad bar. We implemented a Twinkie Tax (higher price for unhealthier options), removed the worst offending food, and let the employees know the caloric count on the menu.
5. A Blueprint for Change program. At Trek, we've seen huge results from our whole wellness program. Employees sign up and instantly have a personalized fitness schedule, nutrition counseling, challenges, and goals.
6. Tobacco-free campus. Learn about our program at http://www.alerewellbeing.com/quit-for-life/
7. A One Wellness program. We created a targeted program for high risk employees that includes fitness, nutrition, wellness classes, lab checks, and regular meetings with physicians.

Do your country a favor, do your company a favor, and most importantly, do you employees a favor and be brutally honest about the health of your company. The future depends on it.

If you have questions, we would love to help. Here's the email of one of the people who has implemented our wellness program: Mail_TrekWellness@trekbikes.com 

Jb


01/06/2014

3 things you can do to make cycling safer in 2014

Fellow Cyclists,

I love working at Trek. I love riding my bike. Last year I rode over 6,000 miles. Many of those miles on my 22.4 mile route to work from Madison to Waterloo. I love the exercise, I love the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening, I love all the sights along the way. To be honest with you, the only thing that makes me nervous are the cars. While there has been a lot of progress made over the last 20 years on making cycling safer (27,000 new bike projects around the United States, thousands more dedicated bike lanes, a 3 foot passing rule in 24 states, and the list goes on) the reality is that there are too many people who die riding a bicycle every year, and there are far too many near misses.

A year ago, I gave a speech in Las Vegas about this. The goal of the speech was to motivate people to work together to create a Bicycle Friendly America. At the end of the speech I was approached by Brendan Lyons from Arizona. Brendan told me that my message was inspiring and that he was going to do what he could do to help make Arizona a more bicycle friendly state. Unfortunately, in October, I received an e-mail from Brendan letting me know that while on a ride with his girlfriend, he was hit by a distracted driver and seriously injured. After 21 days in the hospital, he is finally out and is making good progress. While he is working hard to regain his health, he is working even harder to make the United States a friendly and safe country to ride your bicycle.

Brendon_lyons
Brendan and I after my Interbike speech in 2012

 

There are over 60 million people who ride their bike every year. Republicans, Democrats, men, women, old and young. The bicycle is a very simple solution to congestion, environmental issues, and health issues. As a nation we can reap all of these benefits as long as we continue to work to make the roads safer for cycling.

I have always said that in the United States we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, who show up. In order to create a bicycle friendly America we need people who care about cycling to do something. If you really care, here are three specific things that you can to do help make a difference:

1. Watch and share the Dear Motorist video with cyclists and drivers alike. We are all in this together. 

 

2. Join PeopleForBikes. They are working tirelessly to create safe, separated bikeways throughout the country.

3. Send me a note at John_Burke@trekbikes.com with your best ideas for improving safety. Great ideas can come from anywhere, and I want to hear yours.

Join me by setting a goal to make a difference in the effort to make America a more bicycle friendly country in 2014.

Jb.


07/19/2013

l’Étape: Toughest ride of the year

Last Sunday I participated in l’Étape du Tour. It is an annual citizen's race in France that covers one of the stages of the Tour de France. This year’s was stage 20: Annecy to Semnoz. My wife Tania and I ride l’Étape every year and this was our eighth straight start. It was a beautiful race day. We started in Annecy, which is one of the most beautiful places on the planet; An amazing lake in the middle of the French Alps, with crystal clear blue water. The race kicked off at 7 am. Bright sunshine greeted the 13,000 riders for a route that would cover nearly 90 miles, 5 mountain climbs totaling a little over 11,000 feet of climbing. Sounds pretty bad. Well, last year was a lot worse, so I was optimistic.

Group

One of the great things about this event is every year we take a great crew along with us. This year we had Mark Joslyn, the head camp counselor at Trek, who is AWESOME to have with the group, and Nick Schaefer who runs Trek France and is the best domestique anyone could ever have. We had Tim O'Meara who lives across the street from me, and my old college roommate Tony Zullo (think Raymond from Everyone loves Raymond), and we had the Bobber. Yes, Bob Burns, Trek's general counsel, who had a few too many beers three months ago and got talked into this event late one evening.

The gun sounded and we were off. We rode around the lake for 10k and then headed up Col du Port followed by a short, but 6.4% climb up Col Leschaux. All Good. After around 65k we reached the base of Mont Revard, which was a 16k climb at 5.4%.

Mountian-in-the-distance

By this time, the group had dwindled to Tania and me, along with Mark Joslyn, and Tony Zullo. Hard to believe, but I was feeling really good with 2k to go to the summit so I pounded up the rest of the climb figuring that we had around a 40K downhill in front of us where I could recover. The pounding part worked out really well. We were passing a lot of people and I thought all of that training and my new power meter had paid off.

Switchback

At the top of the climb we stopped at the Trek Travel rest stop. I asked for a piece of paper because I wanted to leave Bob Burns a motivational note. I went with "Godspeed John Glenn," crossed out the John Glenn and put in Bob Burns. I added "Don't ever give in" and down we went.

The descent over Mont Revard was over 40k and it was awesome. Two problems. One: it ended. And two: it ended with the start of the final climb up Semnoz. It should be noted that Neil Rogers of Velonews was with our group and he reached a max speed on the ride of 62.4 miles per hour. Crazy!

Speed

Let's just say that Semnoz was a bastard. It is 11k at 8.3%, but according to my Garmin it stayed in the 10% plus category the entire way.

Climb2

I thought I was going to refuel on the downhill. I did not. I died after 1k on the Semnoz. It was a brutal climb. It started out tough and never got any better. While it took a while to make it to the top, we eventually got there and our time of 7 hours and 22 minutes was one of our best ever at l’Étape.

After we finished, we retreated back to Annecy to wait and see if Bob Burns would make it or not. After 10 hours I received a simple text from Bob "Finished!" The most amazing ride of the day was put in by the Bobber. While Bob does not look like he is built to climb the French Alps, he more than made up for that with a big heart. Just like at work, Bob always gets the job done. We must have had 50 people from Trek at the post-race party, and I presented Bob Burns with a signed yellow jersey from all of the Trek participants. It was another great day to work for the BEST bicycle company in the world.

Bob_finish

Jb.


06/10/2013

Three stories from this year's 20-Year Club

Every year we have a 20-Year Club dinner for those Trek employees who have served the company for 20 or more years. We honor the new inductees and this year 12 new members joined the club. I talked about the accomplishments of the class of 1993 and then introduced each of the 12 and thanked them for their incredible service. After I finished handing out awards, I told the entire group that what made me really proud of Trek was not the numbers, but the incredible company that we have built over time and the good things that we have done to make Trek a very special place. I then shared three stories with the group to make my point. All three have happened in the last six weeks. 


Continue reading "Three stories from this year's 20-Year Club" »


11/13/2012

One Last Great Thing

Today, I'm excited to announce the publication of a book I wrote about my father's life. When I began writing, I thought it would be something for my kids to have to help them remember the lessons of their grandfather. But the further I got, the more I began to think that these lessons are universal and could resonate with a much larger audience. It never occurred to me to write a book about my father, but the man led an extraordinary life and I'm excited to share his story. I've included the first chapter for you below. The full book is available here. All profits from the sale of the book go to support DreamBikes – a nonprofit bike shop staffed by members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Madison and Milwaukee. I hope you like the read.

Jb


09/21/2012

Interbike advocacy address - the good, the bad, and the future

This week I had the honor of addressing the attendees at Interbike. I wanted to talk about the good and the bad news and the "state of the union" about what's going on in bicycle advocacy. It was an awesome group of people capable of doing great things. Remember, the world is run by those who show up! Here's the video of the keynote:

 

09/04/2012

One person does make a difference

Leslie Bohm passed away on August 20. On Sunday I had the privilege to share a few memories at his services. 

Jb 

I want to thank Lynn, Griffin, and Cooper for the honor of being here. 

Trek’s first customer was Elmer Sorenson the owner of Penn Cycle in Minneapolis. Elmer opened his bicycle store while he was a master mechanic for Northwest airlines. Elmer lived a long and happy life and as I walked out of his funeral service a decade ago, a Northwest 747 flew low over the church. I knew that was a sign from Elmer.

Leslie loved politics, debates, and elections. When I talked to Lynn on the phone the other day and she told me to watch out for the traffic in Boulder on Sunday because the President of the United States would be speaking in Boulder. I just smiled to my self because I knew that was Leslie at work. The headline...President Obama Speaks in Boulder

Over the years, Leslie and I became good friends. On the surface, we did not have a lot in common. Leslie was short, I'm tall. Leslie was quiet, I can be loud, Leslie always took his time, I can pull the trigger. However, we did have a lot of similarities, we both loved v-neck sweaters, we both loved the bicycle business, we both loved to ride our bikes and swap stories of our favorite climbs in Europe, we both thought the bicycle was a simple solution to the major issues of the day like climate change, health issues, and congestion; and we were both total overachievers with our wives. The first time I met Lynn we were having drinks the four of us. Tania and I, Lynn and Leslie. At one point I said to Leslie, “we really did well picking our life partners” and Leslie gave me that big Leslie smile and said “John we sure did. We have to be the two luckiest guys in the world.” The last thing that we had in common were ideas. Leslie loved ideas. 

Leslie was all about ideas and the lessons of life. Leslie lived an extraordinary life, and every day to Leslie was another opportunity to learn. Today in Leslie’s honor I want to review four of the lessons of life that he leaves behind:

1. Lesson number one is Unbridled Optimism. Leslie was optimistic about everything. Shortly after I learned of his cancer, I did some research and the research told me that Leslie was going to have a tough battle. I called Leslie to see how he was doing the next day. Leslie, this is John… I heard about your cancer, how are you doing? “John thanks for the call. I'm doing GREAT. The smile coming right through the phone. “You see I have an awesome family and they have been giving me such great support, and you know I have excellent doctors and they have put me in a special program because I am really fit and have a great attitude, I am going to beat this thing” In March at the National Bike Summit Tania and I had drinks with Lynn and Leslie and I asked him how are you doing? Leslie's reply “Great, I rode my bike 50 miles on Sunday with my family. We had a great time. ” But Leslie how is the cancer? “Well they just don’t know what to do, whether I should have surgery or stick with the chemo.” And then with his BIG Leslie smile he looks at me and says “John I just wish they would crack my head open, and take this thing out, so I could get on with my life.” Business, politics, bicycle advocacy, cancer, Leslie had one outlook in life and that was to Be Positive. 

2. The second lesson is Take Care of Others. One night early in his life, Leslie was with his sisters and other cousins. In a conversation, Leslie mentioned that he was feeling a little guilty because Aunt Sara seemed to favor him more than the others. To his surprise, each of the others said that they too felt guilty at having been Aunt Sara’s “favorite” They realized at that moment in unison , that Aunt Sara had managed to make each of them feel uniquely special. Leslie took Aunt Sara’s lesson and applied it to his personal life and his business life. Leslie not only succeeded at making other people feel special, he genuinely cared about others and went out of his way to take care of others.  If Leslie ever invited someone to go on a bike ride with him, he really meant that he would ride "with" that person. Even though Leslie was a strong rider in his own right, he was never one to push someone to ride beyond their own ability. Instead Leslie, would match their pace, and make sure that everyone had a good time. Once, on a winter hut trip in Colorado, Leslie was with a group that included a woman who was not as prepared for the back-country as she should have been. Leslie hung back to encourage the woman and assist her on the trail. Then the two of them became separated from the rest of the group as a storm moved in. Leslie dug a snow cave and kept the two of them sheltered and safe until the storm blew over and he could get the woman to safety. He literally saved her life that day because of his concern, and because of the fact that Leslie always put other people first in every aspect of his life.

3. The third lesson of Leslie's life is to be Open to Ideas. There is a great passage from Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite poem that goes like this: “Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas.” Leslie loved ideas. At a Bikes Belong Board meeting Leslie was making the point that we needed to get better organized. “This really isn’t that difficult. All we need to do is take a look at the NRA. Leslie goes into a five minute monologue about the NRA and how they do it. They have great messaging, incredible marketing, and they have 4.2 million dedicated members, and they are advocating for guns. We are advocating for bicycles. Our cause is so much better and yet they are kicking our butts. We can learn from these guys?” From across the table I ask Leslie... "Leslie how do you know so much about the NRA. Well I did some research and I was so impressed with their work that I wanted to learn more, so I signed up and became a member of the NRA so that they would send me all the material. It’s really GREAT stuff." “Leslie are you really a Member of the NRA?” With that Big Leslie smile, “I sure am!” Leslie was very passionate about his positions in life, but he was always smart enough and humble enough and decent enough to look at all sides of any issue, including the NRA.

4. The fourth lesson of Leslie's life is Find Something that You are Passionate about and Make a Difference. In 1997 I met Leslie for the first time at the National Bike Summit. We had been summoned by Congressman Jim Oberstar to get involved at the national level in making sure that bicycles were part of the national transportation budget. At that time cycling received less than $20 million in federal funding. Leslie was part of the industry group that got together and helped to make bicycles part of the Transportation Bill in 1997. We worked hard and won the battle, bicycle funding went from $20 million to over $200 million. We sat in the basement of a lousy Washington hotel feeling pretty good about ourselves. There were four of us and Leslie turned the celebration into a question. Where do we go from here? A debate took place and a decision was made to create Bikes Belong, an industry organization that had the mission of more people on bikes more often. Not only was Leslie a founding member of Bikes Belong, he actively (and I underline actively), served as a board member for the last 15 years. In that time federal funding for cycling increased to over $1.3 billion and more and more places across America are starting to look like Boulder, Colorado because Leslie was passionate about cycling and wanted to make a difference. 

Unbridled optimism, taking care of others, being open to ideas, and finding something that you are passionate about and make a difference are four of the characteristics that made Leslie the Legend that he was. On top of those four there really is one other. Leslie was just a good person to the core.

While Leslie’s life was cut short at 59 years, history will show that Leslie packed 100 years into his 59. A few years back my father was in poor health and with his death imminent a friend told me something that will stay with me the rest of my life. She said, “John, his body will die, but his spirit will live on.” The same holds true for Leslie. While he his body died on August 20, 2012, Leslie’s spirit will live on and that spirit will be a guiding force for his wife, his two sons, the bicycle movement and the many others who had the privilege of knowing Leslie Bohm.  


07/18/2012

Leslie Bohm, rock star.

Friends,

I awoke this morning to check my e-mail and saw a CarePages update on Leslie Bohm, one of the foundering members of Bikes Belong. About a year and a half ago, Leslie found out he had brain cancer and has been fighting it ever since. Leslie's wife Lynn, who is a rock star, wrote an update that I have shared below.

After I read this, I emailed a note of encouragement to Leslie and I think he would want to hear from all of his friends. If you have been lucky enough to know Leslie over the years, he is a very special person, so take a minute to send him a note on his CarePage or via Lynn at lynn@catacom.com

I am a list guy and here is my list as to why Leslie is a very special person:

1. Short on size, big on personality. 

2. Leslie can light up a room. I have been lucky enough to know a handful of people who can illuminate a room when they walk in. Leslie is one of those special people. Big smile, the big handshake, and the booming voice out of the small man "John how are ya!!!"

3. Great note taker. I have been to a lot of Bikes Belong board meetings. No one can take notes like Leslie.

4. NRA member. This one might surprise you, but Leslie is an NRA member. He thought they did such a good job with membership and message that he joined to learn and pass along those lessons to Bikes Belong.

5. Optimist! Great leaders are optimists and Leslie is a very optimistic person. When I saw him in April and we were talking about his brain tumor he told me "John, they just don't know what to do, radiation, or just have surgery. I hope they have the surgery. Just crack my head open and get this thing out of me. That would be great!" Leslie's optimism is best seen in the bike movement he loves. No problems, only challenges, and Leslie has a strong belief that in the end, the bicycle will prevail.

6. Founding Member of Bikes Belong. Back in the day there were only a few of us from the industry who cared about advocacy. Bikes Belong was founded in the basement at the National Bike Summit back in the late 90's. Total attendance at the Bike Summit: 75. People in the room that founded Bikes Belong: 4. Leslie was one. In the years since the founding of Bikes Belong, federal funding for bikes has gone from $20 million to over $1.2 billion. Thousands of miles of trail have been built and the accomplishments of the movement are too many to list. The bicycle movement owes Leslie a big thank you.

Leslie and friends at the Bike Summit
Colleagues at the National Bike Summit March 22 in Wash. DC. L to R: Tania and John Burke, Pro-bike leader in House of Reps; Earl Blumenauer, Leslie Bohm, Chris Kegel, and Lynn.

 

Take a minute today and send a note to Leslie. He would love to hear from you.

Jb.

Leslie

We haven't updated this CarePage because it's hard to write. You've all been such wonderful support that we want you to know what's going on.

Leslie is very sick. He developed a bad staph infection from the surgery at MD Anderson, which took a while to diagnose. He had a second surgery at Boulder Community Hospital for the infection. During the process of diagnosing the infection, we learned that Leslie had tumor in a new area of the brain that was developing quickly - it didn't show up on the MRI after the surgery but was there a few weeks later.

Leslie has been a graceful inspiration in his illness. Our plan is to bring him home and bring in nursing care.

This, of course, only begins to tell the story. There are so many of you we would like to contact individually. We so appreciate all your love, your prayers, your good thoughts and kindnesses. We hope you'll pray for him, in your own way, now. We read him your notes and texts, and they bring on that Leslie smile.

Love,

Lynn, Griffin and Cooper

 


07/11/2012

An Amazing Day at L’Étape du Tour

This past Sunday I got in the saddle for my seventh straight L'Étape du Tour. The Étape is a race put on by the Tour de France organizing group ASO, and is usually held on the course of one of the hardest stages of the Tour. This year’s version was 152 km (94.4 mi) over five climbs: the Madeleine, the Glandon, the Croix de Fer, the Mollard, and La Toussuire. The 152km didn’t sound that bad. The problem was the 4,808 m (15,777 ft.) of climbing.

We arrived at the start line at 6:30 am with rain pouring down and ominous skies. The forecast called for a 70% chance of rain and scattered thunder showers. The Country Manager for Trek Germany-Austria-Switzerland, Petra Schmiedel, who was in our group, told me not to worry about it, that it would be a beautiful day in the mountains. Since Petra lives in the Alps, and that was what I wanted to hear, I went with it. 

The race stated and it was 15km of flats before the start of the Madeline. All good. We hit the Madeleine and it was, as advertised, a 22k climb at 7.5%. It was a BEAST. We made it to the top feeling pretty good. Next was a 22k decent and everyone seemed to be passing me by. We head up the Glandon and that was also a BEAST. It never stopped and I started to enter into the hurt box half way up the climb.

Ascent

I said to my wife Tania, “I really need something cold to drink,” and she told me "tough luck, nothing around here until the Trek Travel rest stop on the descent."

Wrong! There was a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant with this old lady out of the movies behind the bar and one customer who was the French version of Norm from Cheers holding the bar down. I had three Cokes and two apple juices and got back on the bike. Up to the top of the Glandon and another 3K to the top of the Croix de Fer. Made it. Three climbs down, two to go. One small five km climb and then one category one climb. The hardest part is over.

WRONG! I make it to the Trek Travel rest stop and for some reason my body says, “Oranges.” So I go oranges. I ate 6 oranges. I double my yearly orange consumption in 6 minutes. Back on the bike to the Mollard, a 5.7km climb. Turns out this climb was a BASTARD. 5.7K of seven, eight, and NINE PERCENT! I was DEAD half way up the climb and I started to think that perhaps this was not my day and I would get sucked up by the grim reaper, the ASO bus that picks you up if you don't make the time cut off.

Summit

I finally make it to the top and head down towards the final climb up to La Toussuire. Bruno is manning the Trek Travel rest stop at the base and he has a good spread, although my body can't really eat anything. I manage to eat a Snickers bar (My friend Dr. T. says they are better for you than energy bars) and drink a few Cokes. Bruno, who is a rock star, has somehow acquired 72% of the ice that exists in France. I load up 3 water bottles with ice and head up the last climb. According to Bruno, the 18km climb at 5% is not so bad.

WRONG! We get going over seven, eight, nine percent for the first 10km. The optimist in me says, “Wow this is great. It must be flat the rest of the way.”

WRONG! With the exception of two flat kilometers, it was a BEAR all the way up until the final kilometer.

I ended up finishing at 11:11 minutes. For the day, 9,000 riders started and only 4,400 finished.

Another day of living the dream!

Jb.


07/02/2012

Congressman Blumenauer's comments on the transportation bill

Congressman Earl Blumenauer has been a great supporter of bicycles over the last 20 years. Earl issued a statement in regards to the Transportation Bill and I think it is worth a read.

Congressman Blumenauer Statement on Surface Transportation Authorization

Jb.

 


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