Rider Profile: Barney Brannen


What do you do for work?
I’m a lawyer. Basically, I do civil litigation. I don’t go to court anymore on criminal matters, but pretty much anything else that will get me in court, that’s what I like to do.

Where are you from? and what brought you to the Upper Valley?
I was an Army brat growing up, so I was from where ever Uncle Sam sent my Dad. By the time I graduated from high school, I had lived in 14 different places. But my parents both grew up in Georgia, so that’s sort of the center of gravity, although I’ve lived in the Upper Valley for about 25 years now.  I came here after grad school and a year of working in Seattle, just because this is where my wife at the time and I thought we should raise our kids.  It’s a great place to raise kids.

How long have you been riding?
Well, like most people I’ve been riding bikes my whole life, but I’d guess I’d say I’ve had varying periods of more serious interest in bike riding and, most recently, basically since I moved to the Upper Valley.  First, I was really into mountain biking, starting in the early 90′s, like 92 or something like that. I bought my first mountain bike and did that pretty actively and exclusively until the mid-2000′s, as my age started catching up to me and my knees started to protest the abuse that mountain biking sometimes puts them through. I started getting more into road biking then, but fortunately the additional fitness I’ve gotten from road biking has enabled me to go back to doing more mountain biking again.

Do you remember your first bike?
I don’t remember the first bike my parents bought for me, though I can sort of picture it as one of those banana seat bikes.  The first bike I bought myself was a Peugeot PX-10E. I was probably about 12 years old, and we were living in Germany at the time.  Back then, around 1970, all the former allies still had lots of military presence in Germany, so we went to a French base where I bought the bike for, I don’t know, I think it was an ungodly sum of money in 1970, probably $150 or something like that, that I earned washing cars and mowing lawns.

What bike are you currently riding?
Well I’m currently mostly riding my trainer, sadly, but this winter I got a fatbike for the first time – a Framed Minnesota 3.0 – so when I’m really riding that’s what I’ve been riding mostly this winter.

Do you have a favorite riding memory?
A lot of favorite riding memories, and since I knew you were going to ask me this question, I was trying to think about what I would call my favorite. I think certainly one of the top memories would be in the fall of 2011, Kayla and I went out to California and rented an RV, and we basically started in Sonoma County and worked our way south along the coast, just doing some of the greatest most classic rides in America, until we got down to Solvang, where we did a double century. That’s a thing out on the west coast.  It was crazy.

If you could ride anywhere in the world?
You know, I’ve been really fortunate particularly in the last few years since my kids have graduated from college and been on their own, to be able to ride in some really great places.  We’ve been to Mallorca a couple of time.  We’ve been to Ireland and France, and we’re going to Italy this year. So. I kinda feel like I’m pretty privileged to get to ride in lots of places. But one place that’s sort of recently piqued my interest is Vietnam.  I read an article about riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail on mountain bikes, cause a lot of its still unpaved and pretty rough roads.  I think that one’s kind of out there right now as sort of maybe on the bucket list.

What’s your favorite thing about riding?
I guess my favorite thing about riding is just the companionship. I’ve made some of my best friends riding, some of the people who were already my friends have gotten into riding, and it’s a sport that I think promotes companionship.  It’s a kind of thing that even if you’re being competitive and riding in races (and those aren’t necessarily the same thing, since I ride in races and I’m rarely competitive!), it’s still about the companionship and community that you form around riding.

Favorite post ride beverage?
Haha, I suppose I should say it depends on the time of day, but the truth is I pretty much always like a good beer after a ride.  If I have to name a brand right now I guess I’m kind of into the Bengali Tiger from Five Points Brewery in Brooklyn.

Besides riding what else do you enjoy doing?
Boy, riding is taking up a bigger and bigger part of my life, in part because I enjoy it and it’s something Kayla and I enjoy together and also in part because I’m finding that the limitations of a bum knee have made my other pursuits like skiing more and more difficult.  I’m still a pretty active skier, both alpine and cross country, but unfortunately back country and tele-skiing has sort of faded somewhat because of the knee pain.

Do you have a favorite band or musician?
I love music, but you know I don’t “love” music, so I’m not one of those people who considers themselves a real music aficionado.  I just sort of catch on to people for a while.  Recently I heard this guy, Sturgill Simpson, who is a sort on an avant-garde country musician, and I’ve been really into his music lately. He’s just recently been on tour and was playing at Higher Ground in Burlington a couple of weeks ago.  I had hoped to get up there to see him, but I just got sucked into work and couldn’t make it.

Any parting thoughts?
Yeah, let me come back to the question you asked me about what I like about cycling. I think the other thing I would say about cycling that I think makes it such a great sport is that it’s so open for people to enjoy at any level – I mean from the just person who literally goes out once a year or gets their bike out of their garage in late May thinking, “Oh, the Proutys coming” and rides once or twice a week so they can accomplish the 35-mile ride, to people who are pursuing masters level racing, to (obviously there are professional athletes, but they’re sort of off the spectrum for most of us) everywhere in between.  Now, aided and abetted by the bike industry, there are so many different ways to ride bikes, too.  You can ride fat bikes; you can ride mountain bikes; you can ride gravel bikes.  But I think it’s a great sport, because it does invite people of all levels of interest and ability to sort of enjoy at whatever level suits their interests and their abilities.

barney and kayla




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