About Me

It looks like the Boston to Santa Barbara trip is about full, as we've learned that Sophie and Skip will be the other two leaders on the trip. Our roster is all but full, and planning for the trip will really begin to take off in the near future. As such, I figure it's fair to introduce myself.

My name is Jose Hiram Soltren, and I am a cyclist and an engineer.

The whole obsession with computers and bicycles began when I was a teenager. I had a need to go places, and a need to have a computer to complete school assignments and keep in touch with other people. As I had no money to speak of, but an abundance of cleverness, I soon learned how to fix my own computers and bicycles from parts scavenged from the trash. (I'm from New York city, where there is enough trash around for useful components to crop up every now and again.)

In what feels like no time at all, I was riding my bicycle literally everywhere, and funding my bicycling obsession with money made on the side by fixing people's computers. I was riding my bike to high school, and doing some road and track racing on the side. Life was pretty awesome. I was slim. I was fast.

Things sort of fell apart at MIT. I stopped riding, joined the crew team, and absolutely hated it. I had no direction, no motivation, and lived with a bunch of jerks. I was stressed out all the time from school, and was doing pretty poorly in all of my classes. I quit crew after a year, but that didn't help much.

After two god-awful years at school, I did a bike trip from Seattle, WA to San Francisco, CA with a good buddy of mine, Mike Short. This trip was totally unsupported, just the two of us and one Bob trailer. It was the most excellent thing I ever did. It also gave me enough time to finally think. I knew what I had to do: move the hell out of my frat and do Bike and Build eventually.

My third year at school was pretty excellent. I moved out of the frat, decided to be a Bike and Build trip leader, met my still-current girlfriend, took some of the best classes I took at MIT, did really well in them, and so on.

Bike and Build was awesome. More later.

After Bike and Build, I was in really awesome shape, had this great tan, and felt really positive about life. (The trip does that.) I blazed through all of my classes, doing anywhere from passably well to quite well. I rejoined the MIT Crew team and realized two things quickly. One, my coach was obsessed with the 6'4" sophomores who had rowed in high school, and could care less about the 5'10" senior who was faster on the erg than most of those hotshots but had poor form. Two, as I discovered, I'm just not a rower. In his book "Daniels' Running Formula," running coach Jack Daniels describes four types of athletes. A Type 3 athlete has almost no inherent ability but plenty ofdrive, whereas a Type 1 athlete has inherent ability and drive. I'm a Type 3 rower, but a Type 1 cyclist (I hope).

There was also the whole weight issue. I was a svelte 180 lbs going in to MIT, and a blubbery 225 lbs when I left. I'm now down to 175 lbs; I lost all of that weight in about 4 months. More on that later.

So, where am I now? I work as a computer admin at D.E. Shaw & Co. in NYC. I've been cycling for over 10 years now. I'm doing Bike and Build again, on a brand new route that I helped design. I'm riding my bicycle for 90 minutes every morning - I have Kreitler rollers, PowerCranks, and a PowerTap to make life more "fun". I'm really psyched about this new Bike and Build route. I'm going back to MIT after the trip for my Master's. I have vague aspirations of becoming really fast and winning a bunch of races. I love my girlfriend.