A good workday for civil litigation attorney Auden L. Grumet ends with a night bike ride of 25 to 50 miles. There would be no crashes and he’d return home with the answer to a thorny legal issue or the persistent line for a poem running through his head.
“There’s no better feeling than getting back from a nice ride,” said solo practitioner Grumet. “But when I bang out a good poem — that feels really good, too.”
Grumet specializes in consumer protection and advocacy, credit disputes and real estate/mortgage issues, including home loan modifications.
The Daily Report spoke with Grumet about how his active lifestyle and his writing enhance his career and life.
When did you first become interested in cycling?
My first long cycling experience was with a school group in 1987. I was 16. We rode 600 miles to Dauphin, Ala., in five days. I was a terrible student when I was younger and was expelled from three schools. I didn’t do anything really bad, but I would get in trouble for running my mouth and not doing what I was told. My dad found a school that focused on vocational learning, biking and camping trips and, although I didn’t want to go there, it helped me get myself together.
As an adult, I started bike-riding for exercise and to help with back problems in 2005. I haven’t gone more than 10 days without being on a bike since, unless I’ve been out of town. My log shows 800 rides.
How many miles do you ride in a week?
Since my legal practice got busier, I’m averaging about 100 to 150 miles a week. I ride alone three to five times a week, mostly at night. I also take weekend rides with the North Georgia Cycling Association and Dunwoody Cycling groups.
How fast do you go?
I average 16 to 22 miles per hour in darkness and stop-and-go traffic.
Have you raced competitively?
I hold a Category 4 USCA Road Cycling License but haven’t raced in about a year. But every group ride is like a race, because you’ve got to keep up the high pace.
Do you worry about crashes?
If you race a lot, you’re going to crash pretty often. I went down for the first time in a long while last night, when I hit a deep pothole in the dark.
Were you hurt?
I got road rash, some bruises and tore my shirt, but I was concerned about the condition of my $7,000 bike.
Is cycling an expensive sport?
Yes, the expenses add up. Most race-level bikes cost between $2,000 and $5,000, and tubes, tires and chains need maintenance and wear out. Then there’s the kit—helmet, clothing, shoes ($300) and light ($200). I also ride with a Garmen Edge 805 GPS system ($1,000). It’s about the size of a cellphone and tracks everything from elevation and grade to my heart rate, cadence and speed. The best thing to have is a power meter that measures your energy output and performance, because it helps you gauge how you are training. Part of the fun of this sport is getting to shop for cool gear.
What would be an ideal ride?
If I can keep up with the group and my heart rate is not above 170 beats per minute, and I’m moving at the same speed despite the terrain, then I know I’m in good shape and that’s a good day.
Are you thinking while you’re riding?
Definitely. Sometimes I’m just thinking about whatever comes to mind, but often I’m thinking about cases and assessing what I can do better. Riding helps me think things through. I often send emails when I get back home.
Does cycling help you in your career?
Yes, it clears my mind, gets rid of stress and gives me energy, but I’ve also met a lot of other lawyers who ride. We’ve become friends, and it has generated business.
You’re also an avid hiker? What does hiking give you that cycling does not?
I backpack a couple of times a year, sometimes with three other guys, sometimes alone. When I’m hiking, I’m removed from the city and don’t have to worry about traffic, so I can let my guard down. There are beautiful views above tree line, wildlife and I enjoy cooking my meals outside. It’s easier to talk when you’re hiking, and when I’m alone, I enjoy the solitude.
What was your most challenging hike?
I did 480 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 1987 in 14 days. I would love to be able to do the whole trail and hike in exotic locations like Alaska or Baffin Island, Canada.
Do you participate in other sports?
Yes, I ski, play tennis and have even subbed on a local soccer team. Being active and fit is important to me.
How did you become a poet?
I was born into a family of writers. Dad was a psychiatrist and nonfiction writer, and my mom a freelance writer. Both wrote a little poetry. They named me for W.H. Auden. I began writing poetry seriously after a breakup with a woman in law school. We’d been together seven years.
Whose work do you admire?
I like contemporary poets mostly, including Donald Hall, Dave Smith, David Bottoms, J.D. McClatchy, Erica Funkhouser, Billy Collins, Louise Gluck, Meghan O’Rourke and Clive James.
Can you describe your work? What do you write about?
The poems may be five lines or five pages, and rhyme more often than not. I’ve written about cycling, the Concorde jet, the war in Iraq, watching my neighbor mow the lawn, phrases that fascinate me, childhood experiences or the view from my office window at night. Nostalgia and the passage of time are common themes.
Have you been published?
Only once, but I’ve submitted to The New Yorker and Poetry magazine. I’m more interested in publishing essays and journal articles at the moment. I consider writing one of my strengths. I can write a good persuasive brief easily, but it can take months to write and revise a poem.
Poetry seems to come from the heart and law from the head. Is there any common ground?
Yes, both require good writing skills, concentration, a good vocabulary and paying attention to details and grammar.
Do you consider your life full and balanced?
Yes, with one exception. I would like to have a significant other to share things with. Between running my practice and cycling, it’s tough to find time to meet new people.