Introducing Project Y Subject Athlete #3: Hahn Rossman
SECTION No1 Introduction
The world will surprise you. It just will. Accept it. If you haven’t yet at your age, in this age, here and now, then either you’re a bona fide psychic or verifiably mentally deficient. Either way, people are going to know and recognize that you’re not operating with the same expectations as the average human. For the rest of us, the best we can do is accept surprise, roll with it, adapt to it. So when we received nearly one hundred (100) applications for Project Y: DK200—a number that far exceeded even our highest expectations—we knew that in order to make that cut, our five Subject-Athletes needed to be something special, something extraordinary.
The vetting process was rigorous and multi-faceted; the attributes considered included Current Perceived Physical Fitness, Athletic and Non-Athletic Palmarès/Awards/Notable Distinctions, Application Creativity & Information Communication, Style, and On-Camera Presence.
The Sage Getting to Know Hahn Rossman
As you well know, the focus of Project Y: DK200 is an attempt to gain a better understanding of what motivates people to attempt feats that push well beyond their understood physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. While the Dirty Kanza is one example of such a feat, you could easily make the argument that Paris-Brest-Paris is another. After all, Paris-Brest-Paris is a non-stop 1200km race. If you’re confused as we are by kilometers I’ll save you the time: we’re talking about a 745mi round trip. In our assessment, this definitely checks all the limit-breaking boxes; and for his part, Hahn has done it twice. Racing PBP once is interesting on its own but going back for a second round is, for us, what really set the hook.
Because of his PBP double and all the racing/riding/training that goes into doing it, we have to assume that either Hahn is an exercise robot or that he has spent no small amount of time in a position, place, state of mind wondering “WHY?” Maybe he’s unlocked a door and gained special insights; likely, he’s traveled into the murky ether of his mind to battle with questions about doubt and determination only to emerge on the other side having successfully completed this long-haul French Bicycle-Event-That’s-Technically-Not-A-Race twice. As of yet we don’t know for sure where he’s been and what he’s learned but we’re hoping to find out, and we’re betting that the realizations he’s derived from his intrapersonal odyssey will be of great use in helping us to understand our questions of WHY.
1) What’s your name? Age? Hometown? Current Residence?
Hahn Rossman, 46, Seattle, WA (always Seattle!).
2) Do you have a day job? If so what is it?
I run a boutique machine shop that does fancy architectural parts, component design for some bike brands, and other random shit like steamer wands for espresso machines.
3) How did you hear about Project Y? What was the central reason you wanted to be a part of this project? You love gravel? Free Stuff? Fame? Etc.?
After years of listening to Robert Trombley obsess about this race and spend all year meticulously preparing, I was finally pushed over the edge when y’all said you wanted to do something about it.
4) You were selected for Project Y in part because you have experience with arduous, endurance-based activities. What has been the single hardest event/activity/pursuit that you’ve engaged in up to this point? Please explain.
Paris-Brest 2011. I had never done an event that length (my longest prior was 600k). It was super hot and humid after a cold wet spring and summer here at home. I pushed way too hard initially and suffered like a dog for the next day, then I started to feel better and had high hopes of a rally. I then blew up in the most spectacular fashion about 250k from the finish in the middle of the second night. My kidneys weren’t working properly so I started swelling up and having to pee constantly—to the point that I started to just pee off the bike on the downhills to avoid getting off the bike again. The last 200k was like crawling thru broken glass. Naked. I was broken, physically and mentally. I also couldn’t really communicate with the (also very tired) French people. I realized that I should abandon, but couldn’t figure out how to find a train back to Paris and simply decided to ride back, no matter how slow. At points I was walking up hills and coasting down the backside. Eventually the sun came up and I was able to keep some food and water down. It was harrowing and enlightening and I hope it never happens to anyone else.
5) Regarding the four pillars of Why: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, which will be your biggest challenge? Please explain?
I’m pretty resilient physically, and mentally tough as long as I can keep the stoke up. But when I lose the emotional part I also lose the ability to press my other abilities.
6) Which pillar are you most comfortable with? Please explain?
Mental most likely: I have spent a lot of time refining my ability to ignore discomfort and to not be overwhelmed by the scope of what is to come. I was really influenced by learning about Diane Van Deren and her brain injury and how it affected her ultra running. It made me realize that Yogi Berra was right. The game is ninety-percent mental, and the other half is physical.
Having said, that I am always amazed at the intertwined nature of emotion, mental state, and physical.
7) Do you have non-bike, non-athletic related hobbies/interests? If so, what are they?
I’m obsessed with design and more recently with the impacts of algorithms on the way I’m using my tools.
8) Do you have a power animal? If not you should, please assign yourself one? What is it?
As much as I’d like to say it’s the great horned owl, I think it’s much more likely that it’s a red heeler-pit bull mix. It throws the fucking ball or I’m going to chew my way out of here and find something to do.
9) What is your biggest fear?
Being trapped by mundane activity. Like being a lower level bureaucrat for the North Korean post office.
10) What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done, or thought about doing? Yes, we are going to publish this but that’s not relevant right now. More importantly, this is therapeutic. We’re asking this for your own good. Please take a solid step outside your comfort zone and tell us something you’ve never told anyone before. Trust, reach deep, it’s part of the process. Do it for Science.
SUBJECT-ATHLETE FAILED TO PROVIDE A RESPONSE TO THIS QUERY.
11) What happens to you if you don’t do this kind of thing? If you don’t exercise regularly, if you don’t push, if you don’t challenge yourself regularly, what goes wrong?
I’m really good at inventing challenges if I feel bored. It’s kind of like self-seeding for difficulty.
Example: a 24-hour team mountain bike race sounds too easy/boring, but let’s say I promised some teammates I would join. I set a goal of using only random junk in the basement to assemble a single speed. It took days to find a 26” rim brake front wheel… but there it was behind the furnace! Then, as if that wasn’t annoying enough to the culture, I raced the whole thing in a hi-viz skinsuit. Nobody likes getting passed by the guy in the skinsuit on the “meth bike” at 3:00 AM on the climb, as it turns out.
Another example: deciding that seeing who can drink more quarts of gatorade in a 24-hour period is a worthy game.
12) If you’re here answering this questionnaire it’s in part because you have exercise disease. Why do you have exercise disease? What happened to you when you were a child?
Mostly I blame it on a lack of television and having to invent a lot of stories to entertain myself as an only child surrounded by house cats and number theory journals. I read a lot of myths and believed every part of every one of them. Clearly, the hero had to suffer along the way to greatness. I was also exposed to Philip K. Dick at too young of an age; or maybe the perfect age, depending on which aunt you talk to.
13) Maybe you have a hero all lined up for this question, maybe you don’t. Either way, who is your hero and why? It does NOT need to be an athlete, but it’s okay if it is an athlete.
SUBJECT-ATHLETE FAILED TO PROVIDE A RESPONSE TO THIS QUERY.
14) What does existential you look like? Please tell us about existential you.
- “…hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like the roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.”—Lu Xun, 1921/1959, “My Old Home” (In Lu Xun Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 191)
- “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”—Sartre