When I first began to cycle, I used excuses as my motivation to ride. One excuse was that I didn’t spend much time with my father, “Pops,” and since he was into cycling, I thought this would be a great way of bridging the gap. A second excuse was my fitness, or at this time, my lack there of. As a former multi-sport athlete in high school, and a U.S. Marine with a completed contract, I seemed to have lost good reason to stay in shape, and now I longed for the return of my athletic competitive edge. Finally, and possibly the most significant excuse for me to ride was GABRAKY. I always excel at achieving my goals when I challenge myself through personal determination. My good friend and close riding partner, Tim the Renaissance Man, says “Effort without execution equals failure.” I tend to agree, and I feel like a good start is wasted, if you don’t finish it.
GABRAKY is a fundraiser bicycle ride for the Grand Theatre in Frankfort, KY. It was started by my good friend, Ed Stodola, an avid cyclist who has ridden with me on every “Horsey Hundred” (an annual century ride on Memorial Day weekend sponsored by our local bike club, the Bluegrass Cycling Club) that I have completed. Last year, Ed rode across the United States from Washington state to Maine. GABRAKY was originally called “Grand Autumn Bicycle Ride Across Kentucky,” but in 2009 it gained a backing from the state government and the name changed to “Governor’s Autumn Bike Ride Across KY.” This year the ride takes on another name change because the format has been slightly altered to improve some of the event logistics and allow for a more accommodating finish. This year’s name is “Governor’s Autumn Bicycle Ride Around Kentucky,” and the ride will not travel coast to coast as it always has in the past. Initially, it may seem that this would cause the ride to lose some of its’ luster or attraction, however I believe the true experience of this awesome three day ride will still produce the same cycling and group connection results.
The primary reason that I highly recommend this ride to any and all cyclists is for the total experience it provides. Leading up to the ride tends to produce some anxiety, and on Day 1, I usually experience a “what was I thinking moment? 225 miles in 3 days over the hilly roads of Kentucky?” Then, you will begin to settle in to a certain comfort level by lunch time on Day 2, realizing that you are in a war, not a battle. You will begin to enjoy the “group connection” that is mutually shared by all riders. Then on Day 3, as your mind begins to wander from the doses of adrenaline, energy, and fatigue, you will reach a point where you realize you ARE going to make it, and at that very moment, your overall cycling passion level soars to a new high. This same moment also lets you know that you are capable of completing any bicycle ride you set out to. And although you reach a moment when you are ready for the ride to just be over, on Day 4, you will experience a void that was filled by your bike the previous three days.
The first year that “Pops” completed GABRAKY, he did it on his Trek hybrid bike. He immediately purchased a Giant carbon road bike afterwards, and he’s been hooked ever since. After riding GABRAKY near the end of my first ever cycling season, I discovered my passion for pedaling, and I haven’t used any excuse to ride since. I also bought a new Trek carbon frame road bike shortly after. My good friend, Tim the Renaissance Man, completed his first GABRAKY with only about 3 months of cycling under his belt, and he too rode it on his Giant hybrid, but is looking forward to completing it on his new Litespeed carbon frame road bike this year.
I could go on forever about my memories and awesome experiences of riding in GABRAKY, but the feeling of accomplishment you receive when you complete it yourself, will trump anything you can read about it. So, if you are passionate about pedaling, and want to experience a cycling euphoria, PLEASE give GABRAKY a chance! To register, simply go to www.gabraky.com. I hope to see you at the State Capitol on Friday morning, October 7, 2011, ready to ride. You won’t regret it, I promise.