Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s already a new year, 2013! Time truly flies, it seems like only yesterday we were finishing with George at the “Gran Fondo Hincapie.” I went into this off-season with a head of steam from that great final group ride event, and have begun to train for the upcoming season that will be upon us before we know it. It is awesome to think that we have already passed the winter solstice and already the days will slowly begin to gradually shed more and more daylight. It is also a little scary to think about how soon the first century ride of the new season will be here, followed by what I hope to be my most challenging month ever in May.
What I Learned In 2012
End the season with a great group ride event as late as possible! It definitely helped keep me motivated to work hard going into the off-season, rather than just hang the bike up and get lazy for a couple of months. I came home from a very tough ride in the Blue Ridge foothills craving more, and it has translated to putting in work for this next season. I definitely plan to find another tough ride to tackle near late October, early November.
I’m putting GABRAKY back on the schedule. That is one ride I truly missed last year, that I have done frequently in the past. I wouldn’t dare trade the fall vacation I had with my wife from last year, because it was spot-on, but I will make my plans around that ride this year. I know averaging around 60 miles per day doesn’t sound like a whole lot towards the end of the season, but when you do it for 4 consecutive days over the rural bluegrass landscape of Kentucky’s back roads, it is challenging enough to give you a real sense of accomplishment and I’m always ready for that finish line. Not to mention the cycling camaraderie that is felt by the passionate cyclists I have met on GABRAKY. See you in the fall!
Maybe the most important lesson I learned from last year is to make plans for June and July. As I reflect on my riding from 2012, I notice a big fall off in rides and miles in the middle of the summer. This year I will find rides in those months to keep my cycling stamina strong throughout. I will also utilize a great cycling tip for the busy dad that came to me from my good friend Chris “Schmidty” Schmidt (a.k.a. the Big Dog): when my children play games on the weekends, I should ride my bike to the county where they play and then meet up with the family; and if parents have to go separate directions with children, just simply take your bike with you and ride in between games. Great tip, Schmidty, now I can be a multi-tasker like my wonderful wife. No more excuses.
On The Slate For 2013:
Slate is a great term for my proposed ride schedule for 2013, it should also be somewhat colorful and tough just like the rock. I definitely plan to continue what I started in ’12 by riding with my local club (Bluegrass Cycling Club) out of the Georgetown location on Tuesday nights, along with some of our varying local group rides on the weekends. As far as organized events, here’s what I am thinking for now, of coarse, always subject to change, but I’m confident that I will complete the century routes at these great venues:
1. Redbud Ride in London, KY on April 13
2. 3 State-3 Mountain Challenge in Chatanooga, TN on May 4
3. Assault On Mt. Mitchell in Spartanburg, NC on May 20
4. Horsey Hundred in Georgetown, KY on May 26
5. Preservation Pedal in Frankfort, KY on June 22
6. Old Kentucky Home Tour in Louisville, KY on September 7
7. GABRAKY across the state of Kentucky in early-mid October
I also plan to get some good rides in down in the south central heart of the bluegrass with Schmidty and some of the Lindsey Wilson College crew. There is an outside shot that I may tackle the RAIN Ride (Ride Across Indiana), but it will depend on summer vacation and my summer work schedule before I will commit. I would love to do another ride or two or more in other states as well, but it will have to depend on timing and investment, I do this as a recreational hobby. Please feel free to send us your favorite ride and I will attempt to get there and ride in it, then publish my official review!
You can also send us your thoughts or comments about various rides via Twitter, and consider following our journey: @RAMCycling
Cheers to a safe, happy, and healthy new year with plenty of cycling in 2013!
I met Chris Schmidt at my first GABRAKY (Governor’s Autumn Bicycle Ride Across Kentucky) in 2006, and at our brunch stop at his place of work on the third and final day of the ride, I learned that he is married to one of my wife’s friend and softball teammate from high school. Chris is the Dean of Students at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY and is an avid cyclist with infamously massive calf muscles on his legs. Funny as it may seem, those are the two things that I related to Chris when we came in contact after that first ride across the state together: his wife and his calves.
I have gotten to know Chris a little more each year as he is the face of Lindsey Wilson as an annual partner and one of the main sponsors of the GABRAKY ride. He is an intelligent, hard working, genuine family man, that has a passion for cycling, and really has a way of connecting with people of all different sorts of cultures. As we follow each other on Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice some of his posts from early in the year mentioning some cross training in swimming, cycling, and running. He confirmed that he was training for the Ironman Competition that comes to Louisville, KY every August. I was a little surprised to learn of his intentions, because I had never pictured Chris as a marathon runner, especially after swimming and cycling another 114.4 miles! After all, they don’t call him “Big Dog” for nothing. One thing that didn’t surprise me though, was when he tweeted: “I did it. I am an Ironman!” on the evening of the annual competition in Louisville. A little over a week ago Chris was part of a team that ran over 200 miles across Kentucky in the annual Bourbon Chase Race Event, then turned around and just completed the annual bicycle ride across the bluegrass state in GABRAKY covering nearly 250 miles on the bike from Ohio to Tennessee. I was lucky enough to catch up with him at Buddy’s Pizza, a local restaurant in Frankfort and hear all about his Ironman experience. Now, I’ll share it with you.
Chris has been a road cyclist for years as both recreational and some competitive. As he was helping his wife attempt to get into cycling, she decided to try a sprint distance duathlon, so he also gave it a try. After one race in the triathlon format, he decided he liked it much better than the road rage he had experienced in the criterium road racing, and hence he was ready to go all out. So in a round-about way, his wife was the initial inspiration to try the Ironman event. The family affair didn’t stop there though, in fact, his wife Becca and son Cole, both were his main trainers and coaches. “The whole family made sacrifices financially, and with their time, menu, and physically, as they both helped me train. I also had two friends also training for the Ironman competition, Claude in western KY, and Toby here in Columbia with me, and it made all the difference having others to help,” claims Chris. He also received some genuine advice from a friend Lyn Bessette, a former pro female road cyclist, Olympian, and spouse to his long time friend Tim Johnson, also a pro cyclist in road and cross. She told him to always end EVERY training ride with a run, even if it was only a mile or two. So he did, every time he finished a ride on the bike, he immediately went out for a minimum 5K run, and in the end, he felt this advice to be very beneficial.
I mentioned the financial sacrifice, let me elaborate on some stuff I had never given a thought to. Chris saved every receipt he had relating to anything that had to do with his Ironman registration, training, and actual competition weekend, so he could reflect at the end and see just how much it actually cost to pull it off. Registration is just the beginning. The real expense comes from proper training. There’s cost to set up your bike, everything from wheels, to seats, to aero bars, to tubes and tires, then running. Especially for someone who was not previously a runner. There is shoes, and shoes, and more shoes, trying to find the right pair for his style of stride and stature, and don’t forget, those shoes have to run miles and miles and miles, to ensure he could cover 26.2 on the day it all mattered. Oh, let’s don’t forget swimming! Goggles, polar or tinted lens, etc.? And we haven’t even mentioned clothing, socks, nutrition, gels, bars, energy drinks, and so on, and so on … not sure if he kept the receipts in a shoe box, or a treasure chest. It certainly mattered what it cost to pull off this great feat, but it wasn’t something that Chris and his family were going to allow to be a road block, only a hurdle, as he admitted to gathering and selling some of his cycling gear he was no longer using.
When he arrived at the venue for the 2012 Ironman Louisville Competition, his vision of having the Ironman logo tattoo came to light in his mind as he witnessed all those already proud to display their achievement. “I was amazed at all the Ironman ink. Young, old, fit, or fat, it seemed like everyone had IM ink to immortalize their accomplishment,” says Chris. “Big Dog’s” ink is the IM logo on his right calf, so you can imagine how noticeable it is! Something else that amazed him was how well organized the event is. He says they dot all the i’s, cross all the t’s, to pull off an outstanding competition weekend. He commended the Ironman team for what an excellent job they do throughout the entire event. Unfortunately, their organization, brought up some of his more sad memories also. “When the clock strikes midnight, it’s over! They roll it up, close it down, it’s over. That realization didn’t quite hit me until I witnessed some competitors coming in as I was still in the streets, beaming with confidence from the feeling of what I had just achieved, only to see them comforted by loved ones for finishing, but not in time to receive a medal or acknowledgement from Ironman officially. Once that feeling of sadness I felt for them and their families and friends set in, it was nearly as tough as any emotion I experienced during the actual race. They finished, they were all Ironmen and Ironwomen in my book.”
Chris definitely thinks the mental aspect is more key to success than the physical. He said the whole event was an emotional roller coaster filled with highs and lows, and he doesn’t discount the physical aspect one bit, but he did mention seeing competitors he referred to as in much better physical condition than him laying on the side of the road, broke, done, finished but not completed. His plan had him committed to comfort and managing those emotions. Don’t let the highs get too high, likewise, don’t let a low, be too low. He placed simple items of comfort and happiness in his personal transition bags, and he contributes much of that tactic to his success. He even made a cycling sacrifice in training leading up to the competition and a running sacrifice on the fly in the actual race. Before the competition, he had his times checked and noticed he was laying down cycling time splits that rivaled the overall top 10 (yes this includes the pros) for half IM distances, and the top 5 for olympic and sprint distances. He dialed it back a little, to make sure he had enough gas to complete his first ever marathon run. Speaking of running, he had set out a plan to run four, walk one, and repeat until finished. As he approached the 10 mile mark of the run, he decided to change socks, since one foot was very sore and getting worse. This is when he found two toes that had blisters rubbed raw to the bone, so he altered his run plan to run six, walk one because it actually hurt worse to walk than run.
All of the pain was nowhere to be found as he saw the smiling faces of his wife and son waiting for him as he crossed the finish line and received his official Ironman medal! Chris is a very humble person, but he admitted confidently, that when he reflects on everything he went through to achieve the right to be called an Ironman, he feels like maybe his head is held just a little bit higher, and his chest stuck out just a little bit now. For those of you wondering about the total cost, how much all the receipts came up to when he got home, I offer this: “The second thing my wife told me after ‘Congratulations’ was that it didn’t matter what it had cost them, it was worth every penny they spent for him to accomplish what he did at that very moment! She was absolutely right. I went home and threw all those receipts in the trash and never once looked at them,” exclaimed Chris. In closing, he says that he is planning to do another Ironman competition next year. Not sure if it will be IM Louisville again or another venue, but now that I have the experience, I will set a lofty goal for my time, and set out to beat it! Congratulations Chris, you have always and continue to be an inspiration to me, both personally and physically. I don’t plan to join you in an Ironman any time soon, but I always look forward to you challenging me on the back roads of Kentucky on our road bikes.
ABOUT HORSEY HUNDRED
The “Horsey Hundred” is an annual bicycling ride hosted by the Bluegrass Cycling Club every Memorial Day weekend in Georgetown, KY. I happen to be pretty familiar with this bicycle social because I have now ridden in it five times, and it happens to be in my hometown! “Horsey Hundred” is the largest group ride I have participated in and this year was expected to host around 2000 cyclists that had 9 route options over Saturday & Sunday from 25 to 102 miles to choose from. That’s a remarkable statement considering all of the other rides I have attended only offered 3-4 routes. This year I was fortunate enough to complete the century route (102 miles) on Saturday, but was unable to ride on Sunday due to being out of town with family the rest of the holiday weekend.
The following paragraphs are my personal review of the 2012 Horsey Hundred including some of my struggles, some of my better memories, and please check out what some others have to say about the ride at the conclusion. Also, don’t forget to catch my overall rating for this ride at the end of the review!
PHASE I: TO SWITZER
All rides departed from Georgetown College in the heart of downtown Georgetown, KY with the routes of 102, 76, & 51 miles heading north, while the 26, 36, & 60 mile tours went south. The first 21 miles was a great start, I thought, because we had some short decent grade hills to get warmed up on with plenty of shade along the roadway. I felt great upon reaching the Switzer stop, where the line for water refill was fairly long.
PHASE II: TO MIDWAY
The next section of road was a little more flat with just a few small rises leaving Switzer, but still a beautiful section of road passing numerous farms en route to Midway about 16 miles away. By the time I reached the church stop here, I was pushing an 18 mph average and thought I better slow down and pace myself as I felt the heat starting to intensify slowly. This was a very busy rest stop because I think every route came through this spot.
PHASE III: TO MILLVILLE
The next part of the route joined and left most of the other routes at one point or another, in fact, if folks had pondered about riding 76 or 102 miles they had to make their decision early on in this phase. There was no doubt in my mind, even though I knew it was going to heat up, I came to do the “Horsey Hundred!” Still somewhat flat with leisure rollers and continued beautiful farm scenery along the road way, I intentionally slowed my pace in an effort to not over work. I Had the advantage (or maybe disadvantage) of knowing the route somewhat, and knowing that the toughest climbing was coming after Millville. At Millville, I waited on my riding mate, the Renaissance Man, and he looked worn out stating, “I’m starting to feel the effects of the heat.” Inside I was proud of him, that he made the decision to continue on the 102 mile route, and I felt good knowing that thus far, I had not eaten any shot blocks or gels, only bananas and oranges and home-made trail mix. I would soon wish I had been fueling myself a little better.
PHASE IV: TO JACK JOUETT HOUSE
As we left the Millville stop, the route went up, climbing a hill immediately. A few miles later as we approached a long steep descent, I warned another rider to go slow until the sharp left curve. The Ride organizers also warned us with 3 or 4 road paintings in all caps: SLOW! It was a scary moment entering the sharp curve I spoke of as we witnessed a rider against the rock wall with several other cyclists tending to an obvious injury. I’m not sure how bad it was, but we heard an ambulance was called to pick them up. My route continued, and continued in low gears as we had a long normally fairly easy grade for me to climb, but I was starting to struggle. I could feel myself slowly starting to bonk, and I finally reached a nice flat spot and found a shade tree to stop under and rest. I ate 3 shot blocks and drank a bottle of water at mile 60, leaving me short on water for the next 10 miles which included even more tough climbing, especially for someone on the edge of exhaustion. I’ve never in my cycling career had to make an unscheduled stop on an organized ride (first time for everything). I was thrilled to see a water hose at the Capt. Jack Jouett house rest stop and I took a long break drinking water, and cooling off under the hose. This stop was exclusive for the century riders as we received our “2012 Horsey Hundred Century Rider” pin from a very pleasant gentleman proclaiming the worst was behind us and the next 30 miles was all downhill with the wind at our back. He was the same guy who had jokingly harassed me the night before at registration because I was wearing a Cardinals shirt. It was nice to hear his positive and cheerful voice, considering how rough I felt, and looking around, I was in common company! I went on and put my pin on, just to make sure I made myself make it.
PHASE V: TO KEENELAND RACE TRACK
The next 15 or so miles was still tough as we probably were now riding in the hottest temps of the day, and the rollers were starting to make me frustrated. I recall turning onto a road called “Dedman Lane” and thinking how appropriate. As we turned onto the Lexington airport property I passed one guy walking his bike up a short steep hill and another guy sitting on the guard rail at the top, as I reached the summit, I ask “why do we do this to ourselves?” He said, “No clue!” Again, I was more than happy to find a water hose with cool water at a barn area where we stopped for fuel at Keeneland Horse Track. I was past physical exhaustion by this point, but I still had it mentally, because I knew how close I was getting to home now. Three more shot blocks in and off I went.
PHASE VI: BETHEL ROAD STOP & FINISH
Only 8 miles down the road was our last stop and I stopped briefly to refill my water bottles again. Back on the road less than a mile from the last stop, I felt a wobble on my tires. I stopped to find that my front tube had somehow forced a small section of the tire off of the wheel. I was amazed that it had not popped, but mad that I had to deal with it. I let the air pressure down until I could re-seat the tire, the took my portable pump and went to work. It was at 40 psi when I began pumping, then about 15 minutes later, the Renaissance Man rolled up to find me struggling and offered a CO2 inflator. I was at 80 psi and I was whipped. Then the Scheller’s SAG van pulled up with a real pump, and I was relieved. I managed to break the stem trying to pull my pump off, so I gave the bike tech my spare tube and he generously changed it for me. Back on the road, I got to finish with my good friend Tim the Renaissance Man and was very happy to be done. His wife Kelly and son John were waiting on us with smiles, and soon after we finished my wife Maria along with my sons Charlie and Dawson arrived with my vehicle that conveniently had my bike rack mounted. We cycled to the start that morning from my home 2 miles away, but were more than happy to rack our bikes and sit in the air conditioning on the way home.
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY
* Karen G. from Denver, CO rode the 60 mile route and gave it an (A-) grade saying, “Long line for water at the first stop. The staff was very nice. Wanted a bench to sit on at Keeneland.” She told my wife how she had forgotten how beautiful this area is.
*A. E. U. from Richmond, KY rode the 50 mile route and gave it an (A+) grade saying, “There were plenty of stops with everything you needed to refuel. The road markings were very visible and easy to follow! I’ll come back again, just please put sprinklers at the finish line … too hot!”
* Larry Cheser from Harradsburg, KY finished the 76 mile tour and said of the ride, “Great and Excellent. It is well ran.”
* Libby Barnes of Nicholasville, KY rode the 102 mile route and gave it an (A-) overall grade commenting, “Wonderful, beautiful, scenic, and plenty of fuel.”
* Linda S. from Mansfield, OH finished the 60 mile route and gave it a grade of (B+) stating “The breaks could have had food variety and some seating. It was HOT and beautiful.”
CONCLUSION AND MASHER’S GRADE
I had set a personal fitness goal to complete the 102 mile tour in an average speed of 16 mph or better, but in the back of my mind was the knowledge that I had never ridden that far in that kind of heat, and the ultimate goal was to finish 102 miles. Well, after bonking around mile 60, I focused on the ultimate goal and achieved it. The stops were well positioned to enable riders the chance to complete the century ride in temps near mid 90s, and everyone was very friendly along the way. I saw no real traffic issues either. All things considered, I look forward to riding in the “Horsey Hundred” again next year and will definitely recommend it to followers of RAM Cycling as I give it an overall (A) grade! For the registration fee, I would like to receive a free t-shirt, but I will admit that the quality of the ride t-shirt is 2 or 3 times better than the ones you get free at other rides. Great job Bluegrass Cycling Club, I look forward to Memorial Day weekend next year!
If you think your ride is worthy of a rating from RAM Cycling please contact us, we are always looking for rides to complete and review. Please click on the “Contact Us” box in the right side column on the home page. Thanks.
If you were to look up the definition of bicycling it would probably read something like “the action of riding a bicycle.” I would also assume that the definition of a bicycle would state “a 2-wheeled mode of transportation with a seat, handlebars, and powered by pedals.”
If you were to ask RAM Cycling how we define bicycling, we would prefer to show you in person. There’s no better way to define bicycling than to experience it for yourself. I cannot list my personal definition of cycling passion in one simple article, because it is far too lengthy to tell my entire story, however I will try to touch on the highlights.
I define bicycling as: the act of pedaling a 2-wheeled vehicle over the roads that are less traveled, engulfing the air that surrounds this earth we live on, creeping up inclines while exerting all the energy I have stored, rapidly rolling down the descends recovering energy one mph at a time, viewing the awesome scenery that is my free and ever-changing art gallery offered by Mother Nature, releasing the weight of the stresses of everyday hustle and bustle in the real world, cleansing my soul, enjoying the moments of true friendship while riding with others, mashing the pedals when I need to or just want to, and coasting when I don’t, and relishing in the awesome joy of knowing that as long as I have my bike, I can go anywhere I want to!
IF I HAD TO DEFINE WHY I RIDE IN ONE SENTENCE:
Masher: “I ride because I am passionate about pedaling!”
Renaissance Man: “I ride because I feel that cycling is the ultimate form of prayer – taking God’s gifts, your life and your body, and you push them to your limits!”
Please post a comment below and let us know WHY YOU RIDE! Thanks
Working towards my personal goal to add more bikes to the road in my area, I had yet another coworker and good friend that called me this week inquiring about cycling. Exciting news to me, as I love to converse about cycling with anyone, especially someone that respects my opinion about the sport and wants to start riding. So now that I’ve recently been through this scenario more than once, I thought, it would be real helpful if new cyclists, or people considering cycling as a hobby, had a point of reference to get them started.
That’s the vision of this blog. Hopefully, it will prove helpful to anyone considering the opportunity to begin cycling, and more importantly, help them find a new passion. RAM Cycling is living proof that all it takes to become passionate about bicycling is to get started. I will address the introduction to cycling in an outline format with some FAQs to follow. As always, feel free to send any additional questions by posting a comment below, and we will do our best to find the correct answer for you!
RAM CYCLING: INTRO TO CYCLING
I. GEAR NECESSARY
A. Must Have
1. Bicycle (mountain, road, hybrid, commuter, etc. . . it’s your choice)
2. Helmet (please take our advice on this, I promise)
3. Air pump (inflate tires to proper pressure before every ride)
4. Bike All-Purpose Bag (mounts under seat or on handlebars)
5. Water (stay hydrated on every ride)
6. First Aid Kit (keep in AP bag for emergencies)
7. Compact Bike Tool Kit (needed for minor bike adjustments)
8. Spare Tube/Tire Repair Kit & Compact Pump or CO2 Inflator
B. Enhancement Items
1. Shoes & Clip-less Pedals (get comfortable with the bike first)
2. Cycling Shorts or Bibs (with built in chamois or padding)
3. Cycling Jersey (with front zipper and rear pockets)
4. Gloves (fingerless for summer, full finger for winter)
5. Lights/Reflectors (not just for seeing, but for being seen)
6. Sunglasses (or protective glasses to keep out flies, bugs, etc.)
7. Bike Computer (for tracking stats and knowing your speed at all times)
8. Money & Snacks ( store in AP bag or jersey pockets)
II. WHERE TO RIDE
A. Mountain Bikes
1. Trails or Trail Parks
2. Roads (not recommended)
B. Road Bikes
1. Paved Trails
2. Roads (and bike lanes in towns)
III. WHO TO RIDE WITH
A. Group Rides
1. Local Clubs (great way to learn road rules and safety habits)
2. Private Groups (not organized, but still a group)
B. Solo Rides
1. Alone (bicycling gives you freedom to ride anytime)
IV. FAQs SECTION
Q: Where can I ride on the road, and when?
A: Ride on the roads at any time, just be sure to be highly visible, especially in low lighted times of day, and follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a vehicle. Use arm signals in traffic and make eye contact with drivers. Not permitted to ride on parkways or interstates, everywhere else is fair game!
Q: What kind of bike should I buy? New or Used?
A: Consider what you plan to use the bike for most and start there. If you want to ride dirt tracks, get a mountain bike. If you want to commute to work, get a touring or commuter bike, and so on. I recommend starting out getting a used bike until you find the passion of cycling that interests you most, then spend the big bucks for the bike of your dreams.
Q: Where should I buy my bike?
A: Used bikes, you can find good deals on the Internet, just be sure to check out the seller’s background. New bikes are also on the web, but I recommend finding a local bike shop close to you and developing a relationship with them for buying and servicing your bike. They sometimes have used bikes for sale, as well.
Q: I want to ride a road bike, but the traffic scares me. How can I get over the fear of riding on the road?
A: Road fear affects us all to some extent. Join a local cycling club if possible, the group riding experience will help create a confidence for road riding. It will also teach you safe riding and group ride etiquette. Find a route and time of day for cycling that feels safe and comfortable, then plan to ride accordingly.
Q: What do I do if I have a flat tire on a ride?
A: It’s not if, it’s when. That’s why I highly recommend keeping an AP bag attached to your bike with all the necessities for bike or tire repair on the go. You can carry CO2 inflators or buy a compact pump that mounts to your bike’s frame.
Q: Do I really need cycling shorts, jersey, clip in shoes, and pedals?
A: If you are riding as a commute to work, no. For pretty much all other aspects of cycling, yes. Without going into a lot of detail about each enhancement item, once you get each, you will see and understand the difference.
Q: When is the best time of the year to start cycling?
A: TODAY! The sooner you start cycling, the sooner you may discover your hidden passion for the sport.
Hope this info helps you get started into cycling, and allows you to develop a love for the bike and the experience. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post a comment on this blog. I definitely recommend joining a local bike club if you have one available, because of the wealth of info they make available to you, as well as the experience and knowledge you gain by riding with groups. If you are in or near the Lexington, KY area, check out the Bluegrass Cycling Club at bgcycling.org . I also recommend finding a local bike shop to cater to your needs for clothing, gear, and more knowledge. Now get out there and get started CYCLING!!! *Masher