HOW DO YOU KEEP a podcast going—and growing—in Spokane? OTM recently sat down with Mr. Bulger.
OTM: When you meet someone for the first time and they ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?
BULGER: I guess, full time, I could say that I teach high school. I could also say that I own my own media company. I do race event announcing and podcasting and race promotion.
My friend, my wife and I just started a [promotion] company. It’s called 2G1D events. It’s two girls and one guy, except we thought “2G1G” was stupid and my wife says I’m a dude.
We’re going to be putting on events around the area—some trail runs and a duathalon. We’re also striving to do the first Gran Fondo in Spokane, which is basically Italian for “Big Ride.” It’s like a timed, supported tour, but it has competitive routes along the way. It’s really making a big craze around the country. There’s one in Vancouver that attracts thousands of riders. I’ve always been blown away that that hasn’t been done here.
OTM: You were a highly competitive racer in high school. Can you tell us a bit about your racing career and what the Spokane road racing scene was like in the 80s and 90s?
BULGER: There was a local cycling club here [called] Arrivee Cycling Club. They were really instrumental in making road cycling what it became, and [they] started what was then called the Washington Trust Cycling Classic. They also brought the ’84 and ’88 Olympic trials here.
I got involved in the junior cycling version of the cycling club—we had 50 or 60 kids on the team. It was great. And so that’s where I really took off. Over the winter, you were able to send in your résumé to the Olympic Training Center. I did that, and I went down there a couple of winters.
During my senior year of high school, I was chosen as a permanent resident down there. They chose six junior [racers]. We lived down there, and raced and trained like crazy. I was considered [a member of] the junior national team at the time and raced there for quite a while.
OTM: How has the sport of junior cycling changed since you were young?
BULGER: I don’t think there’s the support base. The thing that really makes me crazy about road cycling is, many of the people you see competing are—take this as you will—successful white males.
Cycling wasn’t created, as a sport, to be a sport for the rich. These kids—I think it’s such a great sport for kids—but the equipment costs are so insane, and I just think that’s gotten out of hand.
What I always loved about it [was that] it was kind of a sport for the kids who fell between the cracks. The cross-country kind of kids, you know, who weren’t star athletes, weren’t football players but had gigantic lungs and hearts that could power themselves so well. I wish there was a way to make that happen. And we talk about that a lot on my show.
I have started a club at [the high school where I teach] and we’re trying to see what we can do. Kids who don’t have bikes—that’s our biggest problem, still.
OTM: How do we fix that?
BULGER: I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but it takes a little action on some people’s parts. And Mark told me that on the show: “Start a team then, you big weenie,” and so I did. We’ve got 20 kids at [the high school], one of which has a bike ready to race, but we’re getting something done. We’re trying to figure something out.
OTM: How important is it for kids to have a newer, carbon fiber bike for racing?
BULGER: The race bikes I had back in the ‘80s were sub-20 pounds. They’re out there to be found right now. I had a teammate, two years ago, before he bought his bike, who started racing on his bike from the ‘80s. He kept up just fine and made the rest of us with carbon fiber look really bad.
The equipment has changed, but when you’re talking kids and you’re talking about people starting out in the sport it’s all in the legs. My dad used to say that all the time. It’s about the love of the sport, it’s not necessarily about what you have.
OTM: Tell me about your business partner.
BULGER: Mark [Hodgson] and I were teammates back on Arrivee in the ‘80s. About five years ago, I was announcing a race. I needed a second announcer. I was thinking, “Who of my friends knows the sport of cycling and triathlon, is funny and is available?” Mark was the first guy to pop into my mind. I hadn’t talked to him for a long time. I called and said, “Hey, are you interested in doing this?” and I could have sworn [that] before I hung up the phone, he was at my house. We’ve been doing it ever since.
OTM: What kind of events do you announce?
BULGER: The majority of it is running, multi-sport events, cycling races. A lot of triathlon events and some trail runs—and events such as the Windermere Marathon and things like that.
OTM: Who listens to your podcast—packfiller.com?
BULGER: For some reason, when we first started out, we had a gigantic amount of listeners in—this sounds really stupid, like a rock band, “You know, I’m really big in England right now—but we had a lot of UK listeners and I had no idea why. And a lot of Australian listeners. I guess if you put something up there, you never really know where it’s going to land. It’s now starting to dial in a lot more in the Northwest and California.
OTM: What’s the coolest interview you’ve done on your show?
BULGER: Andy Hampson, who was the winner of the Tour of Italy—the Giro d’Italia—was a cool one. First American winner. Steve Bower, a man who wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for a very long time. I just recently got done interviewing Todd Gogulski, who does the broadcasts for Versus and for Universal Sports, just to get that perspective of somebody who’s going there to the races on a regular basis.
OTM: What goes into making a podcast?
BULGER: I have a studio based out of my house. It has taken many shapes and sizes, but it’s finally what I’d like to consider a full-on broadcasting studio. So Mark will just come over and—I’ll be honest—whoever’s turn it is has to bring a six-pack of beer and we’ll open a couple of those and sit back and drink and wax sentimental.
Recently, we’ve always ended the show with a rant of some sort. His will usually be more poetic, because he doubles as a lawyer, and mine will be a little bit more…immature..
2G1D Upcoming Events: Wednesday Night Trail Run Series: May 16-June 27; Off Road Duathlon: August 18; Spokane Gran Fondo: September 23rd More info : packfiller.com, 2G1DEvents.com, @packfiller on Twitter