As the temps become cooler, the days and rides slowly become shorter, and this is what we cyclists refer to as the off season. It’s not all that bad, if you’ve trained hard enough through the season, your body actually needs some rest. Last year, I found a slump in the middle of the summer and rekindled my passion with a challenging organized ride “Hincapie Gran Fondo” in the Blue Ridge foothills. That ride sent me into a proper training mode for the off season and now here we are again. But I’m not ready to just let go of this season without some reflection first, I think the rides have earned that due respect this year. So this will be my annual awards ceremony post. First time I’ve done this, and I have a feeling the bar is set high! Here goes.
TOUGHEST RIDE (Physical): Assault On Mt. Mitchell
This was a runaway, no contest winner. The Assault is without a doubt the toughest ride I’ve ever attempted, and I earned a real sense of increased fitness by training for and completing it, not to mention, the sense of accomplishment!
TOUGHEST RIDE (Mental): Solo Century
This ride was actually a narrow winner by edging out Redbud and Old KY Home Tour. Redbud was mentally tough for me because it was my first century this year and the guys I rode with set a blazing pace (my fastest century ever) and I was hanging on by a thread the last fifteen miles. It has some serious steep climbs. The OKHT was also a very challenging climbing ride but I failed to fuel and hydrate properly before and during the ride, and this caused my mental toughness to be tested on finishing strong. My solo century was my first and immediately upon completion, I hoped my last. It was supposed to just be a ride to find some tough climbs, but 60 miles in, I received a message from my wife that I had more time to ride and instantly I was determined to make it another 100. The solo climbing and heat of the day left me talking to myself the last twenty miles and it was not fun.
MOST ORGANIZED RIDE: Bluegrass Cycling Club Rides (in particular, Georgetown)
In full disclosure, I only rode club rides out of a few other locations on occasion, but I never showed up for a ride out of the Georgetown location on a Tuesday evening or Saturday morning that wasn’t ideal. Maps, cue sheets, water, cookies, ride leaders, rest stops on longer rides, bicycle friendly routes, ever changing routes, timely starts, all in all, it was just an awesome display of organized cycling hosted by the club and huge props to the location organizer Fran Bevins!
BEST SCENERY: Horsey Hundred
So I may be a little biased, and this was tough to pick just one, because the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains are beautiful at AOMM but they only make up a portion of the ride. All the rides I completed had their own signature beauty, but the Horsey Hundred boasts miles of river views, creeks, rock cliffs, rolling horse pastures, and miles and miles of plank fence farms with amazing thoroughbreds racing the cyclists!
BEST REST STOPS: Redbud
Again, another close call narrow win, because all the rides I did had excellent support and great stops. The two rides that I recall the most friendly volunteers were Redbud and Preservation Pedal, but I have to give the edge to Redbud because of the contest they host and the “prom queens” stop put them out in front!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY INDIVIDUAL: Renaissance Man
I’ve gotta give this one to my man Timmy (Tim Stout) on his riding accomplishments in the month of September! He rode over 480 miles while completing his first century of the year, then a second two weeks later just for good measure. Awesome job bro!
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A GROUP: All our Ironman Friends
Some finished pretty darn close to each other after 140.6 miles, so that’s good enough to be a group by my standard. Hats off to Chris “Schmidty” Schmidt, Toby Young, Stephanie Allen, Mark Rucker, and Courtney Greenlee! I’m amazed at your level of endurance fitness.
BEST POST RIDE MEAL: Bloomin’ Onion from Outback
At the summitt of Mt. Mitchell, the highest point in America east of the Mississippi, they serve tomato soup and bread to the finishers. I was not ready to eat until several hours later and when I was ready, I can’t imagine anything hitting the spot quite like that deep fried flavorful goodness. It was devoured so quick, I think the waitress was still at our table after sitting it down when the plate was empty!
COUNTY LINE CHAMPION: Chris “Schmidty” Schmidt
Well we all had our moments to shine. Toby Young and I did our best to steal a few sprints, but in the end it was the Big Dog who overtook the season on county line wins. He earned it for sure, winning the last four of the season coming off walking pneumonia and operating on a half a lung, what a gamer!
CLIMBING CHAMPION: Jim Simes
This is the RAMMY I would love to receive and I have made great strides in climbing this year, but until I can overtake the climbing phenom from Carolina, I’ll have to settle for back seat driver. Jim has nearly 6000 miles logged and almost 350000 feet in elevation climbed this year via Strava stats!
BEST SAG SERVICE: Charlsie Garrett
This was a dead heat finish from our last ride of the season at GABRAKY, between Mike Staten and Charlsie, but she won the tie breaker because she’s my big sis. Both of them did an awesome job, as did all of the volunteers at every event I attended, and it makes a huge difference having great support on a ride. Thanks.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Quotes From GABRAKY
Crossing the finish line at the summit at Mt. Mitchell will be my most memorable moment of 2013, but for RAM Cycling as a unit, there was such a great bonding experience on the ride across KY and it was enhanced by all the things we saw and said along the way. Just to name a few: “Do you have any ice cold water in the van?” … “No but we have van temp water.” // Having our scooper at Baskin Robbins remove her shoes and socks to show us her feet tattoos // Hearing “Hey, nice ass!!!” yelled by a very manly voice out of a rolled down window on a beat up pick up truck on the town square in Bardstown // Slowing the van down as we passed a newly wed bride having her picture taken in front of the church and saying out the window “beautiful, just beautiful” then having her reply in a sweet country voice “well thank ya” and the look on her face said she’d rather be in the van with us. This is only a few, I could go on all day with the hilarious, very unforgettable memories on this route.
HONORABLE MENTION: All our new and old Cycling Friends
This is the shout out to all those that are dear to our cycling heart. I am proud to welcome brand new cyclists this year Charlsie and Jamie “Jarrett” Garrett (my sis and brother-in-law). Also a shout out to my pops Charlie Pearl and his girlfriend Angela Mitchell. What a great year it was meeting and riding with new cycling friends: Chuck Allran, Toby Young, Lyn Laborda, Chuck Ellinger, Fran Bevins, Char Golding, Curt, Fred, Courtney Greenlee, Tim Melton, Gene Fowler, Stephanie Allen, Bryan Williams, Jon Wiesner, Adam Crowe, Aaron West, “Wisconsin” John St. Onge, Nathan Rome, Tommy Johnson, oh and of coarse, Bena! Also enjoyed cycling with some old school bike buds: Chris Schmidt, Steve Hughes, Ed Stodola, and Jim Simes! Hope I didn’t forget anybody, although I probably did. If so, sorry! Thanks for making the 2013 cycling season one that Renaissance And Masher will never forget! By the way, I was told multiple times on GABRAKY that I deserve a RAMMY for best dressed!