I feel like 2014 was a solid year in my cycling lifestyle, but that I slacked on occasion and definitely left room for improvement in 2015! As I reflect on the highs and lows of last year, I have to admit, I came out of 2013 in much better form than I am now. I had began running to compliment my fitness on the bike in the fall of ’13 and it helped my strength and endurance for cycling, while also helping keep me motivated. But at some point in the summer of ’14 I developed nagging knee pain from running and had to halt it. I rested it and tried to restart a few times only to find the issue still lingers. I’m hopeful that it goes away soon and I can get back in full form by utilizing both sports to maintain my mental and physical fitness. My eating plan also gave way a little last year as I left 2014 about 20 pounds heavier than I entered it.
A very rough winter in Jan, Feb and even parts of March with multiple “polar vortexes” left our entire cycling community itching to get outside and ride. So my first big adventure of the year came at the end of March when I met a few friends in Gatlinburg, TN area and set out on a planned 75 mile roundtrip ride up in the Smoky Mtns to summit Clingmans Dome (the highest point in TN). As we rolled through the downtown area at the base of the mountain it was cloudy and upper 50s. There was a different story waiting for us in the elevation as temps dropped to the 30s with wind chills being possibly in the 20s, along with rain, sleet, and even the first snow of a storm that dumped 8+ inches of white powder on the landscape overnight. After making the summit, we were rescued and left with the confidence to achieve any goal we set out for. I’ve heard a popular quote “we don’t remember days, we remember moments” and this is very true, however this is one day I will always remember. And I can recall every moment!
April brought my first social gathering event that I can recall, as I met numerous cycling friends in London, KY for the Redbud Ride. I even saw two childhood friends Darin and Sean that I hadn’t seen since elementary school. I rode the century ride with some close friends Schmidty, Jim, Jeremy and hung on some sections with lots of my BCC pals. It was a blast. Early May brought about a good AOMM training ride as I completed my second century of the year on Masher’s Hilly Hundy. Gene, Tim, Curt, Linn, Chuck, and I rode a brutal loop on a hot day that found many of the steepest climbs in the area. Late May took me back to Spartanburg, SC for the 102 mile Assault on Mt Mitchell trek up to the Blue Ridge Mtns in NC and finishing at the summit of the highest point in NC and the eastern US. I was pretty stoked that I only had to stop three times and pushed myself to take off over 2 hrs total time from my first attempt in 2013. This was a great bonding weekend with nine other local BCC cyclists.
In the same week, we returned home for our annual Horsey Hundred event and I completed the 104 route on Saturday, then the 50 mile ride on Sunday and was ready for a brief break. Horsey has some of the prettiest landscape on any ride I do every year and the hills are very challenging. I rode it pretty strong even though it was just 4 days after AOMM, but it leaves you worn out both mentally and physically. My brief break turned out to be more than I wanted but I learned my grandmother (my last grandparent) had terminal cancer that would take her from us in late June, so I skipped some weekend riding to spend time with her. She passed on a Friday, the day before Preservation Pedal ride and since the visitation wasn’t until Sunday, I was able to meet my friends in Winchester, KY for another century. It was a pretty hot day and I realized I had lost some fitness over the month, but I enjoyed an ice cold Ale-8 after the ride, and decided it was time to get back at it.
RAM Cycling planned a Fourth of July ride where we met about 10 friends for a lovely 80 mile route around our area. Then I recommitted myself to catching back up on my cycling fitness. I kept getting popped off the “EF” group on the weekday club rides, but I just kept going out with them and on the Saturday rides, I would go out early and try to get in 15-25 miles before the start of the club rides. This helped bring me back up to my par by mid-August. In late August I helped put together a group ride that took me back to southeast KY in our Cumberland Mtns area where 4 of us rode a brutal challenge with 2 passes over Black Mtn (highest point in KY) along with 3 other endurance climbs that would be the longest, steepest climbs I would complete in ’14.
September found a new ride venue in Elizabethtown, KY for the Hub City Tour century ride. I drove down with Madara and again met many friends for another beautiful cycling ride over some new roads (for me). There was a neat art festival in the downtown area and it was cool that there was a big showing of cycling support there. This was the first “cold” ride of the season and the body was feeling it. My legs didn’t work as well in the lower temps, but it was a sign of what was to come, the changing of the season. I rode my last century of the year in early October when my wife and I took an overnight visit to my favorite city Louisville, KY and I decided to take my bike and ride it home on a chilly Sunday. I passed right by the waterfront and the park where I had a couple friends Chuck and Trevor racing in a local Cyclocross event, but I didn’t know it at the time. My route took me from Jefferson through Oldham, Shelby, Henry, Franklin and Woodford counties before bringing into my home town in Scott Co.
RAM Cycling Oktoberfest brought out a few friends for our fun 55 mile ride to kinda close out the bulk cycling season. We had a group ride where there were 5 race segments pre-marked on the road and this added to the fun and excitement. The ride was followed with more bonding time along with snacks and beverages as we awarded Makers Mark bourbon VIP bottles to the segment winners Linn and Adam. A few weeks later, I met Adam in Versailles for a pretty challenging 50 mile hilly route along parts of the toughest section on the Horsey route. By now, the time had changed and the temps/rain were making it very difficult for me to stay consistent. Not to mention, I lost focus on my diet and ate way too many Halloween candies along with too much desserts and snacks over the holidays.
I managed to get in multi-day rides during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas but the close of the year saw my distances dwindle down somewhat and definitely my speed and endurance had dropped off. I reviewed my final stats for 2014 on my Strava account and feel good about my achievements, but have a better feeling that I have room for improvement and plan to do so in ’15! I managed to ride 4,450 miles in just 98 total rides (all on the road, I don’t track my trainer time or miles). My total time on the bike was almost 268 hours and I ascended nearly 316,000 feet in elevation. My last ride of the year was a 22 mile ride with my oldest son who received a very nice Fuji bicycle from Santa. I hope it’s the start of a new lifestyle for him because he definitely enjoys riding, but for now, it will be one of my fondest memories from another great year on my bike back in 2014!
Hope to see you on the road soon … masher
Our version of wrapping up another successful cycling season by handing out a few accolades and honorable mentions to those moments or performances that left a lasting memory on us here at RAM Cycling! We don’t mean to single anyone out, you do that on your own. We just like to tell others about it and provide a little year-end motivation for next year’s season. So without further ado….
BEST SAG SERVICE: Dee … & Phillip
When I planned a group ride up Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains near the end of March, I left out a few important steps (like what if we get stranded on the mountain in a winter storm), but never fear, because friends and guardian angels were near! The group was Linn, Jim, Tim, and Kevin and thank goodness Linn’s close friend Dee decided to drive up the mountain to check on us. She rescued Linn, Jim, and me from a potential tragedy, while Tim found his guardian angel in an Appalachian Trail angel named Phillip. Real Life Savers!!!
MOST IMPROVED CYCLIST: Gene
This guy had a longest ride of 50 miles a year ago and mostly rode BCC club rides, but he completed at least 6 centuries this year and grew faster as the season went on, becoming one of the strongest climbers we rode with this year. Awesome job!
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE: Rusty
Recently retired, he rededicated his career to cycling … Rusty rode over a thousand miles and reached near 1k in many months. He led the Bluegrass Cycling Club in season miles, and the guy rode at least twice on a ton of days, sometimes three times!
BEST GROUP PERFORMANCE: Our Group at Mt. Mitchell
We had a group of ten local cyclists attend the annual Assault On Mt Mitchell/Assault On Marion back in May and every cyclist that set out to reach the summit of Mt Mitchell, did so on our bike! It was an amazing performance by all.
TOUGHEST RIDE: Madara’s Mountains of Pain
Adam decided to take a few of us to southeastern Kentucky for a torture chamber ride in late August that included two mountain passes, along with 3 other endurance climbs that totaled over 10,000 feet of elevation in just under 100 miles. The day was miserably hot and humid, and the climbs were just long enough and just steep enough that our legs were toast by the end of the day. All four of us were questioning our sanity at one occasion or another.
BEST POST RIDE MEAL: 4th of July at Red State BBQ
Our group at AOMM would probably all agree that the best post ride food was definitely Steph’s O-bars waiting on all of us atop Mt. Mitchell, but it wasn’t really a meal. A smaller group of us rode about 80 miles on a beautiful route through Colville covered bridge on Independence Day and upon completion of the ride we decided to grab a bite to eat since it was lunch time and we had ridden up an appetite. Luckily, a nice lady in the Legacy Trail parking lot sent us to Red State, since none of us guys were decisive enough to choose the venue. Her direction was great as the food and beverage hit the spot! It was the perfect end to our 4th of July ride!
COUNTY LINE WINNER: Schmidty … again
I gave him a run for his money early in the season, and lots of guys and gals I rode with this year impressed me in their ability to sprint, but none deserved more than the Big Dawg himself. Actually, as the season grew longer, he only grew stronger. Schmidty beat me in every sprint we had past mid-May.
BEST RIDE: RAM Cycling Oktoberfest
We may be a little biased on this decision, but my favorite ride of the year was the Oktoberfest ride. I only wish a few more of our closest friends could have joined us, but it was a great time by all that attended. The mix of a group ride with the brief sprint and climb races created a fun ride with a twist.
MOST LASTING MEMORY: Clingmans Dome ride (the first one)
I’ve ridden in some adverse conditions on numerous occasions, but I’ll never forget how cold I was at the highest point in Tennessee when we reached the summit of Clingmans Dome road. And the overall experience of the ride up, then uncontrolled shivering while waiting to get back down, then finding Tim at the bottom … I can still remember every detail like it was today. A brotherhood bond between Tim, Linn, Jim and I was formed that day that can’t be explained.
NEWCOMER AWARD: Wheatley brothers
I met my wife’s cousin Eric last fall for a ride in their hometown of Loretto, KY and on numerous occasions this season I got to ride with him and/or one of his brothers Chris and Jeremy. They are all strong cyclists and I have thoroughly enjoyed their company on rides. Now, I always look forward to visiting my in-laws and taking my bike (kind of a win-win situation)!
It’s truly tough to give out this recognition because every category could have easily been won by multiple people, so don’t feel heartbroken if your name didn’t appear on the 2014 list of RAMMYS! One thing’s for sure, reminiscing about the memories from this season only makes me more hungry for cycling in 2015. I do wanna give a few shout outs to folks that we loved riding with this year and I hope not to leave anyone out, but I will apologize in advance to anyone I may happen to forget. As always, I loved the times I got to ride with Timmy the Renaissance Man and my mentor Chris Schmidt. As usual, we didn’t ride together as often as I would have liked, but I cherished the time we did. I was especially proud to see Tim make that final turn on his bike at the top of Mt. Mitchell, and especially proud to see Schmidty cross the finish line at Ironman Louisville.
I missed riding with Chuck Allran as much as last year, but the void was filled by Adam Madara and John St. Onge most of the time. I also loved riding with Gene, Stephanie, Linn, Steve, Fred, Curt, John C, Mark, Rusty, Tim M, Oleg, Muhammad, Toby, Rhodes, Diane, Bena, Tracey, Chris W, Eric, Jeremy, Phil, Shar, Patrick, Tom, Mike, Ken, and countless others. Hopefully, I will get to hook up with Adam, Trish, Darin, Sean, and many others for a ride sometime next year!
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