January 3, 2012
Home, these days, is Winthrop, in the heart of Central Washington’s Methow Valley. That’s where Hanz moved his family after leaving Bike Friday.
“It was basically a major lifestyle change,” Hanz says. “I went simply so my kids could get away from the city. And get away from video games. We’re out in one of the most beautiful places in the country.”
It doesn’t take long to get Hanz raving about his new home and its endless outdoor opportunities. It takes even less time for him to pay tribute to what he left behind.
“It’s great, but I do miss my customers,” Hanz says. “I miss that interaction with them. Talking to them. Actually, we have about a dozen Bike Friday owners in the valley. I have customers who come out to visit me. And, once or twice a week, I’ll see someone on a Bike Friday touring through the valley. If I have a chance, I’ll chase them down and talk.”
Of course, that’s one of the summer features of the Methow Valley. What lured Hanz more than anything are the winter enticements. Primarily for him, the 200 kilometers of first-class cross-country ski trails that snake throughout the majestic valley.
“I’ll tell you, if Eugene had snow, we might have never left,” Hanz says. “Up there we get lots of sunshine, and lots of snow. We have some of the best groomed trails in the country. We’re just two miles from the school and the grocery. But 45 miles from the nearest city.”
Hanz admits he needed a break from the hectic job of helping build Bike Friday to what it is today. He also needed to find the right place for him to raise his children, Stella, and Gretta, now ages 6 and 9. They have a nice spread where his wife Lisa keeps her horses, and they all enjoy the outdoor life.
“There’s just so much for us to do there,” Hanz says. “My kids are really blossoming there. It’s interesting in that it’s such a small community, yet they have more friends that they had in Eugene. Close friends. I know more people than I knew in Eugene. I know about 100 kids up there.”
Hanz knows them from getting involved. He coaches skiing and soccer, and last year started a youth mountain bike program.
“That’s something that I really enjoy doing,” Hanz says. “I have the time to really be with my kids and spend time with them.”
He hasn’t completely left Bike Friday behind.
Last fall, when Bike Friday ran into difficulties with its rack supplier, Hanz came to the rescue — despite some difficult times.
“We basically just moved into a new house when all that happened,” Hanz says. “In a matter of weeks, I had to transform my carport into a shop.”
It became a lesson in essence of the heart of Winthrop.
“I asked my neighbor if he could help me out,” Hanz says, referring to John Albright, who worked with a local contractor. “He said, yeah, I moonlight.”
Hanz pauses for a second.
“He’d come over at 5 and work until 11,” Hanz says. “He was hammering and I was making racks. He did a great job. Totally sealed it up. Now its my shop.”
What happened next, though, caught Hanz off-guard.
“When it came time to settle up, he said don’t worry about it,” Hanz says. “He said we’ll work out some trades. It will all come out in the wash.”
The first installments came when Hanz snowplowed John’s driveway last winter. The rest, like life in the Methow Valley, will sort itself out.
“Really, it’s just a great place to be,” Hanz says, “we just love it.”
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