The date is officially set for our second attempt at a RAM Cycling ascent to the highest elevation in Tennessee: April 4, 2017. The crew is planning to head down on Monday April 3, ride on Tuesday April 4, and stay to visit the lovely Gatlinburg area for a day before heading home on Thursday.
Ride details are posted on our Strava club page. We will roll out fairly early on Tuesday morning from the east side of downtown Gatlinburg, allowing us a few miles to warm up before the climbing starts at the Sugarlands Visitors Center area. It is about a 20 mile ascent to the top. We plan to take a group pic at the top and head back down. I arramged for a SAG vehicle to follow us and carry any drinks/snacks/clothing that any cyclist joining us may want to have access to. Just bring it to the start point and we’ll carry it for you.
Let’s just hope the weather is more kind to us this time than it was on our first group attempt! Anyone interested in joining us, please contact Tim or me directly for any specific details. Hope to see you there!
Tomorrow never really ever gets here. Yesterday is gone forever. Live for the moment and the moment now is Two-thousand Seventeen!! Happy New Year from Renaissance And Masher!! Personally, I’m happy to see 2017, it’s the beginning of something more than just a new year and new month…it’s the beginning of another cycling year!
Yes it’s early, but here’s a preview of what’s on my mind for cycling in 2017. I’ve contemplated ideas in the past of having more RAM Rides and why not now? I truly have put serious thought into the idea of expanding on our annual success that we’ve found from our Oktoberfest ride in autumn. This year seems like the perfect time to host multiple rides and bring friends together at various times and locations for the pure enjoyment of a great sport: CYCLING!
The first RAM ride will be in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee as we will ride from the Gatlinburg area up to Clingmans Dome (the highest elevation in Tennessee) and back down to base camp. This ride is not officially scheduled yet but it will fall in late March or early April and we plan to do it on a weekday with an early start in order to avoid as much traffic as possible. Keep in mind this will be around the time of many folks spring breaks, so it can get busy. Also, don’t forget that the weather in the mountains can be a little unpredictable at this time of year. Once this ride date is locked in, it will absolutely be a go unless the roads close due to weather. Consider this our spring event.
The second RAM ride of 2017 will come in the summer months, but also does not have a locked in date at this moment. This ride will take place in June or July probably and will not conflict with any of the Kentucky Century Challenge rides. My vision for this ride is two-fold. First, it will be somewhat of a homecoming ride for me, because it will ride out of Georgetown, and though the exact route is not locked in either, I feel confident it will travel over one of my all time favorite routes that passes through Colville covered bridge. Expect it to be hot, a little hilly, and fun for all. The second idea in my vision for this ride will incoorperate some fundraising for a great cause. I have already registered to again participate in the Bike To Beat Cancer sponsored by Norton’s Healthcare in Louisville, KY and am excited to ride and raise money for cancer research and treatment! I want as many friends as possible to join us at this RAM summer ride in Georgetown and while we won’t officially charge a ride fee, I will ask anyone that rides to please make a donation on my behalf for the 2017 Bike To Beat Cancer!!
Of course our final RAM ride will be the annual Oktoberfest ride and no date is set yet, but you can expect it to come in late September or early October once again as Tim and I celebrate our Libra birthdays. The relocated venue will remain the same and we will again depart from the state Capitol building near my new residence in Frankfort, KY however the route will change from last year, but you can always expect to find a few hills, a few sprints and finish with some bourbon!
Be on the lookout for the firm dates on all of these rides in the near future and refer to our Strava club page, Facebook and Twitter pages for more details as well. Please feel free to interact with us on all of the previously mentioned social media pages or by simply replying with a comment here on the website anytime. As always, best wishes to all of our friends for a great year of cycling in 2017 and we look forward to riding with you soon!
For several years now, as I’ve slightly expanded my social cycling network, I have been hounded by friends to try mountain biking. Quite of few of my closest cycling friends ride both road and mountain bikes. For years now, I’ve been feeding them a response that I can continue to ride on the road because I have the proper cold weather clothing gear. I’ve also joked with them that most of their mountain bicycling stories either include what they broke on their bike…or their body, and no part of me finds that a good attraction to the new discipline of cycling.
I changed my view point somewhat this this past summer when we moved back to Frankfort, where I grew up most of my young life. Frankfort is home to Capitol View Park, one of the nicest trail systems for mountain bicycling in the state, so I’ve heard from many folks that ride trails. I thought to myself, now that I basically have Capitol View in my backyard, I should at least give it a try. So I managed to find a decent mountain bike on Craig’s List for around $300 and made it my “Bessie.” I showed Bessie some love by riding around town a few times and even got her a little dirty on the seldom ridden trails behind Buffalo Trace distillery, but most of time, she sat in the sunroom and watched me take Roadie out trip after trip, while she collected dust.
After a dismal cycling month in November, I noticed I could possibly break 3000 miles for 2016 if I could muster up another 250 or so by the end of the year. So I took advantage of the occasional mild weather weekends and kept Roadie rolling…until his last ride a couple weeks ago, when I had multiple chain drop issues, and breaking my front shifter lever and had to spin my last 12 or so miles home in the small ring. I’ve been warned by Brian at my local bike shop, Small Batch Cyclery, that Roadie needed some major work including new front rings, new cassette, bottom bracket bearings, etc. and now I can add the shifter to the list. Not ready to make this investment right before Christmas, I decided to forget about my annual mileage and give Roadie the rest of the year off. To break 3000 miles for the year doesn’t seem like much for me, but given the additional time I required for recovery after knee surgery, then the precious time I lost while going through the moving process, would really have been a significant comeback accomplishment. Nevertheless, I have often said, I don’t ride to accumulate miles, which is also why I never upload my trainer activities to my Strava, I ride for pure enjoyment and physical fitness gains.
So last week I reached out to Nathan to see if he was ready to introduce Bessie and me to CVP. Thankfully, he was. He invited a few others, but it ended up just being the two of us on a bitter chilly December day. He was very informative about the different sections and where to enter and exit each trail area. He explained, and I experienced it firsthand on the bike, the differences in “rooty, rocky, and flowy” trail riding. Capitol View has all three of them in some sections. Several times, I ask if we had already been over a section of trail (I kept thinking we were looping around and then reconnecting back over the same trail), but Nathan ensured me it was not the case. The trail just has numerous areas that look alike.
A month or so ago, I saw where my friends Adam and Muhammad had been doing some night riding at CVP and I asked Adam how he has the nerve to ride in a pitch dark forest? I understand now, because unlike road riding where you have to pay attention to the road in front of you and the road ahead of you, the traffic and everything going on around you…with mountain biking, you just pay attention to what’s right in front of you! Nathan says it’s like playing a video game. True! Similar to playing Atari Frogger game growing up, I felt like I was weaving in and out, dodging trees and deer! I fell (was basically launched once) off the bike twice as I was unable to keep it upright going through slick turns. The first time caught me off guard but I wasn’t going too fast as I laid it down on my right side. The second time was a little more forceful when I felt myself losing it and nearly saved it only to not! And I had mud all up my right side and back that trip. I knew no other riders were near me so I just laid there for a few moments and laughed at myself.
Mountain biking compared to road riding is more of a cardio workout for sure, and definitely requires a little more focus. Capitol View has some fun areas, I think it’s a great park for me to learn how to ride a mountain bike. It has some short but steep switchback hills, some fun sink holes, plenty of rolling trail, a decent amount of scenery change and I like how there’s multiple sections where you can enter and exit so you don’t have to be stuck riding the entire trail at any spot. Hopefully, by the end of the “dark” months (while clocks are rolled back), I’ll learn the entire CVP and maybe attract a few other friends to join me in my new expedition with Bessie on the trails.
I’m already excited and anxious for my next trip to Capitol View! …@KPtheMasher
I’m focused to ride my bicycle up to Clingmmans Dome (the highest elevation in Tennessee) again next year and hope to take a few friends with me. For nearly two years now, I’ve struggled with knee agony. For a little over a year it was aggravation, swelling, and consistent pain, sometimes dull but sometimes excruciating. And now for a little under a year, in recovery from knee surgery to repair an injury and arthritis, I have found plenty of excuses to why I’m not back. Unfortunately, what I have not found, is enough fortitude to bring back the old masher.
Well, it’s time to let go of the excuses! I see a comeback in my future and I’m not waiting to make a New Years resolution. I have already made a resolution to make a full comeback and I have already set the wheels in motion. Sure, it’s a long winding road to the pinnacle of my comeback, just like it is to the top of the Smoky Mountians. I’ve completed the grueling climb to Clingmas Dome on my bicycle several times now, and I’m well aware that you can’t always see the bumps in the road, nor what lies around the next switchback. It’s a simple philosophy that I used in the past to transform my physical and mental fitness, and I’m confident it will work again.
I recently shared a video of a motivational speaker with my fellow employees at work. The message was one that has helped awaken my sleeping giant within. Of coarse, my biggest hope in seeking the old masher is to rid of my inner giant (meaning lose the excess weight, and the other problems will go away with it)! The speech goes like this…there was a younger, ambitious, excited person who was consumed with the idea of being successful. He was so in tune with becoming successful that he seeked out an older, wiser, very successful guru and he went to the guru and ask to learn his secret to success. The guru told him if he wanted to learn his secret to success he should meet him at 4:30 in the morning at the beach. The younger, ambitious guy thought to himself why so early and why the beach? Nevertheless, he ventured out in his 3 piece suit to the sands at the edge of the shore way before sunrise and there he met the guru who was wearing only swimming trunks.
The guru ask the ambitious one if he trusted him and the younger one said yes, but was not too sure in his mind. Guru reached out his hand, and as the protege grasped it, they began to walk out into the ocean. Now the younger one was thinking he should have worn shorts instead of a suit and at the same time, was beginning to think the guru was a little crazy. They went from ankle deep to knee deep to chest deep. Guru ask if he still trusted him. Younger, ambitious one was now not sure and reminded the guru that he wanted him to teach him his secret to success, and was questioning his sanity at this point. Guru ask how bad he wanted to be successful. He answered, “more than anything.”
At that moment, the guru grabbed the younger one by the shoulders and pulled him into the deeper water until he was submerged and held his head down. The younger guy fought trying to come up for air, but the guru continued to hold his head below the ocean as a wave crashed, and then another. Finally, the younger one found the strength the emerge from the water and he opened his mouth and let in as much air as he could. Disgruntled, he ask the guru why he tried to drown him and the guru replied, ” when you were below the surface, what did you think about?” The younger, ambitious one stated all he could think about was breathing! The guru finally shared his secret to success with him: “When you want to be successful as bad as you wanted to just breathe, while you were drowning in the ocean, you will be successful. When you want to achieve anything as bad as you wanted to breathe, you will achieve it.”
I want to be the old masher as bad as he wanted to breathe! The trek to Clingmans Dome on my bicycle will be in late March or early April, however the official journey has already begun. Who’s with me?
Renaissance And Masher are both Libras, as Tim celebrates his birthday in late September and mine (Kevin) in mid October. Our idea to celebrate getting older by riding our bikes with friends seems like the perfect idea 3 years later now. Initially I thought it’d be a nice gesture to give away some Kentucky bourbon after the ride and then inform our guests this is how we celebrate our bdays, as opposed to telling them upfront and tempting them to bring gifts. It’s not about receiving, as much as it is about being connected.
RAM Cycling has planned/organized a couple other group rides, but none have become an annual event like Oktoberfest (or RAMtoberfest, as Tim calls it). It’s safe to say, I looked forward to this ride more than any other the past two years! I’m very thankful that the weather has cooperated each year, especially this year. We have hosted the ride early in October the previous two seasons, but due to some conflicting schedules, this year’s ride took place 1 day before Halloween. Ironically, it was much cooler the two years we had it in early October, this year it felt like how I would imagine Christmas in Florida feels…temps were in the upper 70s with a mild southern breeze. Everyone rode in shorts and short sleeves!
The venue was relocated this year to Masher’s new home turf in Frankfort, the Capital of Kentucky. The route left from the Capitol building and toured out towards the west side of the county finding some hills and beautiful scenery along Kentucky River valley. We left the valley and headed into Anderson Co briefly, then back into Franklin as we turned towards Shelby Co. Never leaving Franklin Co again, we then ventured along Taylor Branch and ridge before descending into Benson Creek valley. Another good hill climb and descent down Devils Hollow took us back into downtown. We rolled into Buffalo Trace distillery for a brief rest stop with snacks and beverages delivered by my sons Charlie and Dawson. The route continued north in the Owen Co direction for our steepest climb of the day up Lewis Ferry from the river behind Buffalo Trace. Then another ride along a ridge, and descent back into town took us home with a final sprint up to the Capitol building.
Historically, the bourbon is given to the overall points winners based on their performance in the segment challenges on several sprints and climbs. The bourbon went to newcomer Ryan this year, and the second bottle went to Tim for an honorary win. He learned his dad had passed away Friday night (after being sick in a Louisville hospital for nearly 9 weeks now), just two days before Oktoberfest ride and he wouldn’t let me postpone the ride. I did not expect him to ride and did not want to host our event without him, but I was very excited when he showed up. His dad was a bourbon guy, a fan of the Pappy, and Tim deserved a bottle of bourbon as much as anyone that rode! As far as Ryan, he earned it too! Several cyclists in the group are very strong, and rode hard in the segment challenges (unfortunately, I was not one of them), but none had the speed to match Ryan.
I have to give out a huge thanks to our loyal riders Linn and Adam! I really appreciate you guys joining us every year that we’ve hosted Oktoberfest. A special thanks also goes to our first-timers… Jeremy, Toby, Schmidty, Gene, Leighton, and Ryan. It’s always great to ride new roads, with new friends, anything new, as long as we’re riding. We definitely missed a few regulars… Bena, Phil, Oleg, Stephanie, and St. Onge! Hope you guys can make it back next year.
Speaking of next year, Gene asked me when the next big climb is. I’m thinking a return trip to Clingmans Dome in the spring sounds like a great idea. I know some of our friends get into the triathlon season early and may not want that much climbing as they train for flatter races, but logistically it seems to make the most sense to knock it out early (just don’t ask Linn and Tim how that worked out last time ;-). Be on the alert for the planning of this group ride in April 2017. In the past, I’ve found myself really get motivated to take on big things in the next season when I wrap up the previous season with some great events, and I’m feeling pretty motivated right now after a great ride first at the Bike To Beat Cancer event in September, and now following another very successful Oktoberfest.
Keep your wheels rolling … @KPtheMasher