Dear BCC Board:
I would like to address the BCC Board on the issues surrounding Ms. Cherokee Schill. My request to the Board is to act and not remain silent. After talking with numerous members at club rides, and as a paying-BCC member, I feel like my position represents many active members.
For those of you unfamiliar with the situation follow these links:
While I agree that the Board cannot speak adequately for all members, the Board was elected with an express purpose to speak for the BCC as an organization. The responsibility to speak for the club comes with running and managing the club on day-to-day basis. As leaders of the club, that means you have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the club and may not be popular with all members.
With that said, I believe the Board should be asking the following questions about the Cherokee Schill situation:
If the Board is unwilling to act or speak out publically, then Ms. Schill, with her BCC membership, her BCC cycling jersey and her bicycle will speak for all of us. Silence in this case means we condone and accept her behavior, actions and the corresponding public opinion.
I implore the Board to take a position that will impact all club riders in a positive way: Do not condone this dangerous behavior by silence. Speak out publicly in a way that sheds the BCC in a positive light and protect our members.
Tim Stout – A BCC Member
Co-Founder – RAM Cycling, LLC
I think since I first found my passion in road cycling, I have been somewhat lured to seek out big climbs and ride them. It probably started out as a means to test myself, prove to myself what I am capable of. On numerous climbs, I’ve witnessed riders have to stop and walk, and it’s always a goal of mine to finish on the bike and never walk. As my cycling passion has evolved, I believe I now seek out the beauty that lies along the roadway and especially at the top of long climbs, and I truly have a heightened sense of faith and closeness to God on the long, grueling climbs, but the challenge aspect is probably still the primary purpose for me to find and ride mountains and long, tough hills. I’m the type of person that wants to challenge myself to get better in everything I do, and while it’s pretty cool to do a 50 mile group ride and average 20 mph, I’d rather do a 70-100 mile ride and not care what my average speed is because I climbed 10,000 feet of elevation, or more!
Most anyone that has ever accepted an invite to join me on a ride that I pick the route, surely knows they will get to endure some hills. They also know, that my unsupported rides aren’t always planned for the “what if” factor. This makes for great bonding time among cyclists, and allows us to work together to solve problems as they arise, whether it’s a mechanical issue, route problem, weather doesn’t cooperate, or if the ride can’t be completed by one or all. This is the aspect that I am asking for help with as I plan a few RAM Cycling group rides next year in mountainous terrain.
My initial plan (and this is very early and bound to change somewhat as I figure out all the details) is to host at least 2, hopefully 3 “Mountain Challenge” rides. These will be century rides with some big climbing involved and I hope to be joined by as many friends of RAM Cycling and personal friends as possible. My plans for the first two will be loops that will ride out from Gatlinburg and cross the Smokies, including a ride up to Clingmans Dome and a route that will start/finish in Harlan, KY and cross the Appalachians via Black Mountain. Yes, since they will be loops, there will be some out and back, which means YES we will come back across the same mountain we climb earlier in the ride. The third location has not been determined yet but my initial thought process is to host one in spring, summer, and fall. There … we’ve all been forewarned. This ride series will test us both mentally and physically. I don’t care if you normally ride with a fast group or a slower pace group, I want you all to know that you are welcome to attempt these rides, since we all climb at our own pace.
The “Mountain Challenge Series” is not a race (not officially, but I know there will be some friendly competitiveness) and the best part is, they will be free! Sure, I could find a charity and really organize this thing to the point that it would take some of the fun out of it for me, then we could donate the profits to the charity, but if you really want to donate to a charity, pick one and do it on your own. This is all about the ride. I don’t want anyone to pay for a RAM Cycling ride ever, we want to raise awareness for cycling and more importantly, we want people to find lasting memories from our rides. I think it’s safe to say that so far, any cyclist that has ridden a ride that I planned, can recall a memory from the ride (maybe not a memory of bliss, but a memory of being on the bike with friends, no doubt)!
Here’s the part I really need help with: Support! I’m very confident that I can plan the route, the dates, and communicate all the details to all that decide to join me, but I know my weakness and it’s providing proper SAG service. I would like to find a few sponsors, such as a bike shop that would be willing to send someone on the rides to help with potential bike issues, a store that could donate water and/or snacks for the ride, or any business that could donate money for purchasing the water and ride fuel snacks. I think it would also be cool to have a cycling kit made up for the riders that can complete all of the rides in the series. Obviously, we would do all we can to promote and patronize any business that would be willing to lend a hand of support and help make these ride more enjoyable for us! I won’t attempt to make a promise that your support for these events will increase your profits greatly, but I will guarantee that we will put your company logo as a supporter on our website and I will sing your praises on our social media outlets, and of course we will include your logo on the cycling kit if we decide to have one designed and made.
Please consider letting us know if you or anyone you know can help make the “Mountain Challenge Series” more enjoyable by your support and more importantly, please consider joining us on one or all of the rides in the series. We will still plan and host our shorter local group rides on occasion as we have done throughout this year, the series is just our way of saying “sometimes you gotta go big, or don’t go at all!” Stay tuned for more details to be published as they become available. I look forward to riding with all my friends at next year’s RAM Cycling Mountain Challenge Series …
On a miserably humid and very hot August 23 Saturday, a small group of our friends joined Masher on an endurance ride to remember. The group of guys, John, Adam, Patrick and Kevin, met up in Lexington at 5:30 am to depart and carpool to southeastern Kentucky for a RAM Cycling Strava club ride in the Appalachian mountains starting in the town of Cumberland in Harlan County. Rolling down Interstate-75 south, then across some rural mountain roads we arrived at the starting point around 9 am and got kitted up, then headed out in search of some climbing agony.
Leaving Cumberland, we headed toward Harlan on an old highway and found our first climb of the day around mile 13 on the Little Shepherd Trail. This road ranks near the top of the beauty category of roads I’ve climbed and was the perfect warm up hill to start the day. It is a 3.5 mile climb with an average grade of 7% and on a very rural road with many switchbacks and much of the pavement was rough and numerous spots with moss, plus the tree cover prevented the sun from drying it which proved to make it a sketchy descent down the other side. As the descent leveled out, we rode into our first rest stop of the day on this unsupported century ride. A brief stop at Turner’s Grocery in Big Laurel, KY for refueling and we headed back up the hill, in route to the next climb which led us past a local rock quarry and then onto the back entrance to Kingdome Come State Park.
This grueling challenge tested all of us deeply and put some hurt on the legs that would be lasting throughout the rest of the ride. Another nearly 3 miles of up pavement with an average grade at 9% and brief sections hitting 20+%, led us to a beautiful view at a mountain top overlook in the state park where we regrouped before descending the very steep front entrance to the park. This brought us back to our starting point in Cumberland and we stopped at the vehicles for another brief rest and refueling stop. The next climb would be the one that lured us to this area to begin with, as we headed toward crossing Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky. Riding quickly through the coal mining towns of Benham and Lynch (the base town), we began climbing with about a 5 mile warm up at a low grade, then with the final 5.5 miles at 6% to the top. I settled into a slow pace and slowly watched John and Adam disappear from sight as the hurt began to set in. My lack of more frequent climbing lately and the heat and humidity were beginning to lower my motivation, but about halfway up I remembered that I set a goal for this Strava segment and decided it was time to try a push and see if I could sustain. Sure enough, I found the energy and strength to continue the push and soon I could again see Adam. I passed him with about a mile to summit and kept grinding to the top where John had probably just woke up from a nap (joking, kinda).
Patrick had warned us at the bottom not to wait on him as his legs were hurting enough that he planned to turn around at the top. I wasn’t about to quit this good ole fashion ass kicking that Adam planned and routed out for us, but if anyone else had suggested it, I would have turned around at any point past this. So the three of us crossed the mountain and descended the other side into Virginia and stopped at the base town of Inman, VA for another rest and refuel stop. We then rode into Big Stone Gap and found another real test climb up to a state prison that was straight up for nearly 2 miles at almost 9% grade. We turned around at the top and headed back to Inman for one last stop to top off on water and roll out knowing there was only one climb left: the grueling ascent back across Black Mountain.
I was thinking on the way down Black Mountain earlier, it was pretty steep and a little longer than the Kentucky side and I knew it was gonna suck having to come back up it, but I got motivated knowing this was the last climb of the day. I again settled into a nice slow pace rhythm and just kept grinding until I crossed the state line again after climbing nearly 7 miles around 6.5%. This time John had headed on down to the finish and Adam waited for me to summit, then we descended and rolled back to the parking spot together. With almost 97 miles on my odometer, I was perfectly comfortable with stopping, however Adam insisted on riding another 3 miles to get his century. He later thanked us for joining him on his birthday and making it a memorable one. Wow! What I sick way to spend a birthday, I thought, but in reality, it seems just like something I would plan too. I’m glad I got to share the day with you on your bday Adam, and despite the soreness I felt on the ride, I’m very glad I decided to do it with all of you guys.
I was mentally trying to compare this ride in toughness to Clingmans Dome and Assault on Mt. Mitchell, but it’s too hard to rank them, giving the differences in distance, support, weather, and of course the human element (my training before AOMM was much more rigorous than before this ride, plus I didn’t get the exact rest and fueling pre-ride that I needed to be stronger on this day). I guess if I had to rank them, I’d probably still hold AOMM at the top, followed by Mountains of Pain, then Clingmans Dome (only due to lack of added distance when I’ve ridden it). One thing’s for sure, although I endured some pain on all these challenging climbing rides, as soon as I complete them, I can’t wait to do another one!
I have ambitions of assembling a couple of mountain challenge rides next year in both the Appalachians with Black Mountain and the Smokies with Clingmans Dome. Hopefully, I can con a few good friends to join me again and help me make some more great memories on the bike. I’m thankful to have been joined on this one for sure. John is one of those cyclists that guarantees your fitness will improve when you ride with him. Adam is very closely matched with me in ability and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed riding with him on occasion this year. This was only my second ride with Patrick, and he had a gutty performance, I’m very glad he was able to make the summit of the highest point in Ky after the early punishment we suffered climbing.
Stay tuned for the next random ride with RAM Cycling! … masher
A few weeks ago, the Masher was able to enjoy a return visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, well part of his journey was enjoyable! The training ride we had planned for early spring turned out much more eventful than we had hoped, and it left us all yearning for another chance to conquer the climb to the highest elevation in Tennessee, after we had to stop at the summit due to inclimate winter weather setting in. There had been some recent discussion among RAM Cycling friends about planning another group ride from the Gatlinburg area up to the top and back down, but too many schedule challenges have prevented the group event. Maybe a spontaneous ride can happen, but not planned at this time.
Masher took advantage of a weekend get-away with his wife (one last break before school and fall sports crank up for the kiddos), and caught a break in the stormy weather long enough to make the trek back up to Clingmans! I departed my cabin in the mountain village of Cobbly Nob around 7:00am, about 15 miles east of Gatlinburg, and rode along Hwy 321 into and through downtown, in route to Hwy 441, which crosses the Smoky Mountains into Cherokee, NC.
The sky was pretty cloudy, and I had already decided that if I rode into rain, I would just turn back this time (to avoid another stuck atop the mountain adventure) and ride back to the cabin, not risking my safety or interrupting my wife’s get-away to rescue me. The local forecast predicted 60% chance for scattered thunderstorms, but I remained optimistic. It was more than humid, as I was sweating heavily only 5 miles into the climbing, and by the time I reached Newfound Gap, nearly seven miles below the summit, my entire kit was soaked, gloves and shorts included. While my solo ride was not a rapid pace pushing myself for speed, I had a strong ride making it all the way to the Clingmans parking lot from Gatlinburg without stopping a single time. I had planned to stop and rest at the Newfound Gap overlook and the traffic was a little congested at the time I rolled though, so I continued onto the Clingmans Dome access rode thinking I would pull off at the first pull out.
Into the clouds I rode, as the fog was very thick in this higher elevation. I guess the visibility was probably 20-40 yards, making me a little nervous about traffic, but the amount of vehicles on this road was much lower than on the main highway. The first pull out came and went, and I thought to myself “I just may make this complete climb without stopping … what an achievement that would be.” Well that’s all it took. Now my mind was set, there would be no stopping, although my legs and butt were very ready to get a break several times over the last seven mile climb. Especially after that one brief downhill/flat portion for about a mile and a half, with only about 3 miles to summit! Nevertheless, I pushed on, and rode strong into the parking lot with a smile on my face, as I reminisced about the first time I rode into this parking lot, thinking I may be suffering from hypothermia.
Immediately reaching the top, I was cooled down a little as I spun my road bike up the pedestrian trail to the sign located in front of the visitor’s center, and felt the stiff breeze pushing across the top of the mountains, as I enjoyed my first rest stop. I calmly ate a Cliff bar, while drinking a bottle of water and basked in the glory of my accomplishment cycling to the top of another mountain, and I relished the many compliments from passers by, as they walked up to the dome. What are the odds of running into someone I went to high school with at the summit? I have no idea about odds, but I bet they increase when you attend a different school every year … and yes indeed, I was greeted by Greg, whom I had graduated with twenty years ago. He and his wife (who also happen to be cyclists and runners, even coach cross country and track teams at schools in KY) were celebrating their wedding anniversary by driving up the mountain and hiking up to Clingmans Dome.
Not wanting to tighten up too much, I changed into a long sleeve dry jersey and saddled back up for the ride home. WOW! My first twenty mile mountain descent was awesome fun! The initial take-off from Clingmans parking lot was fast, and I was a little timid due to some stretches of the roadway still being damp. As I reached Hwy 441, there were a few technical curves rolling past the Newfound Gap and in the next few miles. After that, it is all out fun rolling down the mountain, weaving back and forth, through the short tunnels, and flat out flying. The clouds made it somewhat difficult to see some of the rough part of the pavement, but it didn’t slow me down as I got to the bottom pretty quickly. I would later learn that my top speed was just over 50 mph after I uploaded my ride to Strava. Fun, fun!
The descents I’ve ridden in the blue ridge foothills on the Hincapie Gran Fondo were too steep and too technical for me to enjoy. The Assault on Mt Mitchell I’ve ridden twice finishes at the summit of the highest elevation in North Carolina. The first time I rode up Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains stopped at the top due to weather. After cycling back down this time, I’m convinced, the ride back down is now my favorite part of taking on these challenging mountain climb rides! And, as usual, it has left me yearning for more.
In the middle of August, we are experiencing some of the best cycling weather imaginable. And for me, I have settled into a pretty regular cycling pattern. This pattern includes at least 3 rides per week with a longer ride on Saturday or Sunday. I am well over 3,000 miles for the year and know that 4-5,000 is reachable. This is well beyond my initial goal for the year.
And how has this occurred? I would say it is a direct result of some awesome weather. When have we ever experienced such a great moderate run of temps in July and August? There is nothing like going for a ride on July 4 and having a high temperature of 75 degrees. And this has occurred time after time here in the Bluegrass this year. This must be what it feels like to live in San Diego.
I have continued to improve my average speed and endurance. My cycling skills continue to improve. But the most important thing I have experienced: true friends in the BCC. There are many amazing people in the BCC, but I am fortunate to include some of the top riders as true friends; Rusty, Linn, Gene, Mark, Tim, Oleg, Ken, Stephanie, Adam, and Richard. But I am most fortunate to have the Masher (Kevin) as a true friend who has encouraged me to become the best cyclist and person I can be.
As we continue towards the end of August, I continue to believe this is and will continue to be my best cycling season. I am hopeful that I will continue to improve my speed and endurance. But I am most excited to continue developing true friendships with some amazing people.
Good riding!! And better friendships!