The days are becoming shorter, the air is getting cooler, and a new season has officially arrived. With autumn, comes the opportunity for some beautiful scenery and easier cycling rides thanks to the cooler, lighter air than the heavy, thick heat and humidity associated with summer. However, cycling in the fall season also comes with a few new hazards.
The squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying about the roadways much more frequently as they attempt to stock up food for the following season. Watch out, they can be very dangerous to cyclists riding on the road. It happens to also be called fall season, and for good reason because many other road cycling hazards happen to be falling. Walnuts, hedge apples, acorns, and of course, tree leaves are just some of the objects to be aware of when riding a bicycle on the roads.
is traffic. In beautifully landscaped areas that cyclists love to ride in, such as the Smoky and Appalachian mountains, Red River Gorge, Blue Ridge Parkway, and other similar places, many other folks love to see Mother Nature at work, but in a motor vehicle. As is always the case, they’re not always watching out for people on bikes, and many of these roads have plenty of blind corners and hills. So just be aware of the possibility for more than usual traffic.
Another hazard is the weather, of course. Trying to figure out what to wear as the temps are transitioning can be a true challenge, especially on days when you may plan to cycle longer routes. The air temperature can change up to 40 degrees over the course of a long ride in our area of the country, so it’s important to protect yourself from over-chilling or over-heating.
Some quick tips for autumn cycling: dress in layers, and don’t be afraid to take them off or put them on to maintain your comfort on the bicycle (you want your body to feel comfortably cool, not hot or cold); continue to eat and drink as much as you would on a summer ride, it’s always important to stay hydrated and keep your energy level up; stay dry, getting wet when temps are cooler will make any ride miserable and can lead to hypothermia, plus wet roads are much more dangerous with all the fallen debris and animals; use lighter or even clear sunglasses on rides when there is limited sunlight; use front and rear lights on your bicycle to help you to be seen in low-light times.
The autumn season can be a very beautiful and comfortable time of year to ride a bicycle, so get out and continue to ride as much as possible, just be aware of some of the changing hazards that come with the season. Watch out for these hazards and keep the bike upright. Don’t let yourself become the namesake of the season!
It’s been an up and down year for my cycling, no doubt. I started off ready, willing, and able but shortly into the spring season I found some obstacles that slowed me down. In early summer I overcame a few struggles and fully hoped to get going steady again, however as July passed, I only managed to ride once the entire month. Trying to get some momentum again in August, I resorted to a tactic that I’m comfortable with, and at this point, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was ready to do whatever it takes to get back on my bike for good. So I committed to return to Assault On Mt. Mitchell in 2016, and immediately, my passion has returned. And with it, came my motivation and renewed consistency.
Before I can move on mentally, I feel as though I owe a few folks an apology for missing in action (though I’m sure these folks don’t feel it’s owed to them). So without further ado and in no particular order …
First to Tim, the Renaissance Man, sorry I haven’t been there as much this year to support your continued transformation and the beginning of your triathlon career. I’ve certainly missed the great conversation on our rides! Next, to Chris Big Dawg Schmidty, I’m sorry it took me 9 months to get down for a ride with you. For the last 3 years you’ve showed up at nearly every ride I invited you to and I’ve missed riding with you for so many reasons.
To the mass of close friends that I ride with regularly, either at a club ride, century challenge event, small local group ride, or the occasional one on one rides with St. Onge, Madara, Allran, Linn, Toby or anyone else, I’m truly sorry we haven’t gotten to bond on the bike this year. And last but not least, I owe myself an apology for not staying committed to one of my life’s greatest passions.
It it feels great to have renewed energy and be back to regular cycling. I’m very excited to reconnect with all my close cycling friends as soon as possible, in fact I hope all of you can show up for our annual RAM Cycling Oktoberfest ride next month. I’m also very excited to make up ground on my training through the off-season and get back to the Appalachians next May for AOMM and I look to PR once again on the mountain! I don’t use any mirrors on my bicycle, so now that my apologies are out of the way, I’m not looking back any more. The only thing that matters is moving forward and that’s exactly what I’m doing on my bike! Again.
Sincerely, KP masher
For those of our more loyal RAM Cycling followers that have been wondering what has happened to the content going stale on our site, or where has masher been, hopefully this message will answer your curiosity. First, in regards to why Masher has been missing in action, well it’s actually a combination of reasons that can be explained by priority change and a little bit of fear.
Cycling will always be a passion, a priority of mine. Sometimes priorities change though, and that’s exactly what has happened this year. The major priorities in my life are family, friends, religion, work, and hobbies. The last two years have demonstrated that my cycling hobby was near the top of that list, but this year it is a little further down the list and it’s also sharing time with fishing and soon to be boating, as we just bought our first family runabout. Our oldest son just graduated from high school last week, and back in the fall during his final football season, it dawned on me that this spring would also be his final baseball season, and I just wanted to be there a little more than I have in the past. It was my choice to be there for him and it felt good to be.
I’ve also noticed that my work seems to be a little higher up the list this year also, not by design but hey, that’s life. Gotta make money to be able to spend it. So I’m perfectly fine and comfortable with my level of commitment to my cycling passion for now, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve as priorities are constantly changing. I am slowly trying to regain some of the fitness that I’ve lost during my recent temporary status, so if you wanna see the masher suffer a little (and I guess I have it coming since I’ve taken pleasure in dishing it out some in the past), come on out and ride with me now!
The other factor that’s kept me from consistent riding this year, the one that only a couple folks know about for now, is fear. Yes, I’m no longer afraid to admit it … I’ve been scared at times to ride on the road. On our last night of vacation back on spring break in Florida, we were on our way down to the beach to grab supper when we drove up on an accident scene. The area was on the other side of the 4-lane Beach Blvd ( the same road I had ridden my bicycle on all of my rides that week) and multiple emergency vehicles were blocking the west bound lanes with caution tape all around the area. As we passed the spot of the accident, all I saw was a mangled bicycle laying in the road and I immediately got sick to my stomach. That image is imbedded into my mind now and I’ve used it as an excuse to myself not to ride on multiple occasions. Now with the more recent, more close to home death of a cyclist in the Horsey Hundred on the same roads I ride all the time, I gave serious thought for a few days to give it up. I honestly did not want to ride my bike on the road again, in fear that my family could easily lose their husband, father, brother, and son on my next ride.
Luckily, I found the courage to admit my fear to a few people very close to me, and now I am getting through it, and excited to be back on the road! No doubt, the risks are still on my mind, but the advice I was given is worth sharing … we are not in control, don’t give up on something I love, let go and let God. And it’s all true. Yes there will always be risk of death when I climb aboard my bicycle and get on the road with vehicles, but that same risk is very real in many other aspects of our day to day activities also. And yes, even though we think we can shield ourselves from danger, the truth is accidents happen anywhere anytime, and we’re ultimately not in control. We do not choose when we go or how, but I agree with my friend Tim (the Renaissance Man), when God calls us, we go. So I’m happy to let that thought outweigh the negative, scared thoughts as I continue to ride my bike.
I did not share this fear in hopes of pushing God on anyone, it just happens to be my belief. I did share this with you, in hopes that if any of our followers have had similar experiences of fear of riding, to let you know it’s okay and it helps you to overcome it by talking about it and sharing your fear with the ones that are closest to you.
In closing, I hope we all see more updated content here at RAM Cycling now that I plan to be riding much more regularly, and I look forward to getting out on a group ride soon with all of my closest friends! I’ll try harder to do my part on both accounts.
In my own words, I hope that when God calls me home, I’m doing something I love, rather than avoiding it due to fear ….
Here it is the first part of March and the official Cycling Season is underway. AS I did last year, I completed the 2015 Tour of Sufferlandria during the “off-season” in preparation for 2015. I also made some other changes including a normal swimming routine and the addition of a power meter to my bike. All of these in hopes that 2015 brings a great cycling season and big improvement to my overall fitness. Another big off-season accomplishment is no winter weight gain!! I am hopeful that I will see 215 lbs. on the scale this year.
My Goals this year are as follows:
This is my tentative schedule and I hope that there are many other rides where the open road takes all of RAM Cycling and its followers. 2014 was a great year, but I am sure 2015 promises much more fun, excitement, challenges and personal bests.
Here’s a list of various rides and events I plan to participate in this year. Renaissance Man has already kicked his season off with an indoor challenge by joining the week long “Tour of Sufferlandria.” I certainly hope we get warm, mild spring weather earlier than last year because the indoor training (while necessary) just isn’t as fun. I hope and plan to continue my streak by completing all four Kentucky Century Challenge rides for the third consecutive year. As I roll out my calendar of events, please let me know if you have any interest in joining me on any of these cycling events.
1.) BCC Season Kick-off Ride
2.) Solo Secret Training Ride
1.) Redbud Ride
1.) TOSRV (Tour of Scioto River Valley)
2.) Horsey Hundred
* I know some friends plan to attend AOMM (Assault on Mt Mitchell)
1.) Cherohala Challenge
2.) Preservation Pedal
1.) RAM Cycling 4th of July social ride
2.) gRAM Fondo Lou to Lex (Churchill to Keeneland)
1.) MECCA (Masher’s Endurance Cycling Challenge Adventure)
2.) Mountains of Pain
1.) Hub City Tour
1.) Red River Rally
2.) RAM Cycling Oktoberfest
3.) Secret Group Ride
Again, please don’t hesitate to contact me (masher) if you’re interested in joining me on any event this year. Post comments here or contact me directly! Also, please let me know if you have a suggestion for a ride that you don’t see listed here and I’ll check my schedule and give it consideration. Cheers to 2015 … Let’s roll!