When it comes to household names in cycling, there’s Lance Armstrong and… who else? We’ll make the case for Lennard Zinn, whose bike maintenance books — among them, the best-selling Zinn & The Art of Road Bike Maintenance — have prime real estate on the shelves of anyone who knows a bottom bracket from a Krispy Kreme. Zinn is a former member of the U.S. national racing team, a technical writer for VeloNews.com and owner of Zinn Cycles in Boulder, CO, where he also designs and builds custom bikes. His college thesis? Building a bike. We caught up with Zinn to talk about what to look for when buying a bike, prepping for cyclocross season and not stressing out.
Q. What’s one thing every man should know?
A. That their wife is always right.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A. I worked my way out of a deep clinical depression.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. Supporting my wife in starting a new school up from scratch for the second time in two years, this one being a huge project in Denver. Building beautiful, well-fitting, and superbly functioning custom bicycles. Writing informative columns for VeloNews.com. Getting strong and fast again for cyclocross season.
There’s no need to worry about these things you’re stressing about; in the great sweep of time, these will become trivial.
Q. Name one thing you can’t live without.
A. A bicycle.
Q: Who or what influences you?
A: My wife and (adult) daughters; their counsel is priceless. Feedback from my customers and coworkers. Knowledge I gain while riding and working on bikes, much of which comes to me when I least expect it. My coach.
Q. What are you reading right now?
A. Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.
Q. Name one thing no one knows about you.
A. I can’t, since “no one” would include me, and if don’t know it, how can I tell anybody else about it?
Q. It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
A. Grilled wild salmon and sweet corn with Pomegranate Acai Naked juice.
Q. If you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
A. You’ve got a LONG life ahead of you. There’s no need to worry about these things you’re stressing about; in the great sweep of time, these will become trivial.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As a caring and thoughtful husband and father, first and foremost, and as a good friend.
Q. Bike maintenance can be intimidating. What’s the best way for a beginner to approach it?
A. One step at a time, using one of my maintenance books. Take on a job that you know you can do, follow the instructions carefully and build from there, developing confidence as you go.
Q. What do you think is the most interesting or important thing happening in bicycle design and fitting today?
A. The wide dissemination of good information about fitting resulting in highly trained bike fitters all over the country. And in terms of the hardware, electronic shifting and hydraulic braking.
Q. Do you have one really special cycling memory?
A. Racing the Tour of Ireland 32 years ago with one of my best friends on the team, Matthew Hecht. It was joyous and at the same time a missed opportunity for a really great result when I was riding really well by making significant tactical errors. Instead, I came back with an injury that took almost a year to heal. That injury — a torn, calcified gastrocnemius muscle — turned out to be one of the best things ever to happen to me, as I learned so much from it about myself and set myself on a completely different path from where I had been headed, starting my business, marrying my wife of now 30 years, and building a wonderful life out of it.