Back before I managed to work my life around to this point where I make a modest living doing various things with bicycles, I kept a roof over my head and food on the table in the world of computer software. In the early days I wrote a lot of code that made little dots form the patterns that people wanted on computer screens but as the projects and companies grew my jobs and titles would morph. I found myself spending more time in meetings and less time writing code, more time with people and less time with machines. Instead of being the compiler guy or the guy writing the AI & animation routines, I became the guy with an office instead of a cube. At one place I was a "Technical Producer", while I was "Director of Development" at another and "Manager of Quality Assurance" at a third. When asked what I do I'd honestly say "I send a lot of email and I go to a lot of meetings. When the phone rings I answer it." If pressed for time, I'd just say I was a manager.
Back in 1994, I was at the bookstore at the University of Washington to hear Allen Ginsberg read some of his poems. After the reading I went up to Allen to have him sign a copy of one of his books. He asked me my name and I told him. And then he said, "So, Kent, what do you do?" I told him I was a manager. "Hmm," he said, "so people do what you tell them to do?" "No," I replied, "that never works. I tell them stories. I ask them questions. We try to find things that are wrong and make them a little less wrong." Allen's wise eyes twinkled behind his round owl glasses as he spoke with a kindness I'll never forget, "sounds like you're a very good manager."
I'm not sure Allen was the best judge of business and I know there are some folks I've worked with who could have benefited from more direction than I was willing to provide but every now and then I hear from people I worked with years ago and what they remember are the stories, the questions and the fun we had finding our way.
Various of my friends from my days working in software have contributed to Team Turtle. The latest of these is Bjorn Simpson who not only donated to the Arthritis Foundation, he gave me permission to share this note, his blog and pictures of his own inspirational trip down the Pacific Coast.
The things we do and the stories we tell matter. Thanks to Bjorn and all the Team Turtle supporters. It's a beautiful world, Bjorn has the pictures to prove it.
Keep 'em rolling,
Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
I saw your blog post about the upcoming People's Coast Classic ride benefiting the Arthritis Foundation and figured I'd throw in a modicum of support. I rode those roads just last fall, and was awed and overjoyed to be there on a bicycle. I don't know if you know that you were something of an inspiration to me in getting back on my bicycle in the first place, and in the evolution of my general bicycle worldview, which is basically a wholesale theft of your "any distance is cycling distance" mantra. Cycling has become something of a defining element for me, and when friends ask about it I often have to begin "Well, I once had this boss named Kent…"
After a few years of becoming more and more of a bicycle guy (I remember seeing you several times, years ago now on our morning commutes, as I commuted to Bellevue and you to Seattle, though I'm not sure you ever recognized me), last September I took a month-long, 2000-ish mile solo self-supported ride down the west coast to the Mexican border. It was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. It was non-stop joy.
I blogged my whole trip at
And after the fact assembled a photo blog:
Enjoy your own adventure along the coast, and have a great ride!
Go Team Turtle,